The New Testament book of 2 John was written to emphasize the basics of following Christ – truth and love – and to warn against false teachers. Since Christ is the antithesis of society’s prevailing values – falsehood and self-centeredness – all who claim loyalty to, and a relationship with, Him must be committed to the ideals of truth and selfless love: following and living the truth, and reflecting love, and acting with love, one to another.
The apostle John had seen truth and love in its purest forms – he had been with Jesus. So affected was John by this personal relationship with Jesus Christ that all of his writings, from the Gospel to the Book of Revelation, are filled with two predominant themes: truth and love are vital to the Christian, and are inseperable from life itself. In this letter, to a dear friend, John reflects these themes.
John opens the letter by saying to walk in the truth and to obey God (1:4), to love God and each other (1:6), and to be on the lookout for deceivers (1:7).
The Layout of 2 John
Watch Out For False Teachers:
This is concentrated in (1:1-11) … False teachers were a dangerous problem for the church to which John was writing. His warning against showing hospitality to false teachers may sound harsh and unloving, however – these teachers were teaching heresy that could seriously harm believers for all eternity.
John’s Final Words:
This is concentrated in (1:12-13) … the impending joy of being in the company of true believers.
Themes: Explanation and Importance
Following God’s Word, the Bible, is essential to Christian living, because God is truth. Christ’s true followers consistently obey his truth.
To be loyal to Christ’s teaching we must seek to know the Bible, but we may never twist its message to our own needs or purposes, nor encourage others who misuse it.
Christ’s command is for Christians to love one another. This is the basic ingredient of true Christianity.
To obey Christ fully, we must believe his command to love others. Helping, giving and meeting needs puts love into practice.
We must be wary of religious leaders who are not true to Christ’s teachings. They must not be given a platform upon which to spread such false teachings.
Don’t encourage those who are opposed to Christ. Politely remove yourself from associations with false teachers. Be aware of what is being taught to ensure that it is perfectly aligned with the truths in the Bible.
A Closer Look… 2 Jn. 1:1-13
John opens the letter and expresses joy for those walking in the truth and the freedom of Jesus Christ, reiterating the greatest commandment that Jesus gave:
The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth – and not I only, but also all who know the truth – because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. (2 Jn. 1:1-6)
John warns very strictly against false teachers:
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. (2 Jn. 1:7-11)
John gives his final words to close the letter, expressing what will be his joy:
I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. The children of your chosen sister send their greetings. (2 Jn. 1:12-13)