2 John: On What is Living in Truth

2 John 1:1-13   

The elder,  

This guy knows what he is talking about.  He is presbyteros (πρεσβύτερος) of the Early Church.  We identify him as John the son of Zebedee who walked and talked with Jesus.  He received care for Mary when the Lord was on the cross (John 19:26).  He is half of Boanerges (Mark 3:17) and was loud and in-charge in the Early Church. 

In 2 John, we have a letter of one who is well acquainted with Jesus as his Lord, his Jewish brother, and his Friend, but more importantly He is the Gateway to Life Itself.  John himself writes the words of Jesus in John 14:6, “the way truth and life.”  Moreover, John in 1 John emphasizes to need to live in the Spirit.  Jesus put it in different words Himself (recorded in the Gospel of John) to “worship God in spirit and truth.”  The action of that type of living is referred to as “walking in the Spirit” or as Jesus Christ puts it, “deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23).    

Such a lifestyle in the Spirit and the way of Christ will result in walking in love.  John echoes what other apostles, such as Paul, write as well.  In Romans 2:7, Paul says that those who by patience in well-doing seek glory and honor and immortality, He (God) will give eternal life.  Romans 8:17 tells us that if we walk in suffering with Him that we will also be glorified with Him. Also, in Colossians 1:23, Paul writes that we must remain in the faith, established and firm without shifting from the hope of the gospel that we have heard.  All those passages are about walking with Christ. 

John, Paul, and any other inspired writer of the Scriptures are reiterating what Jesus Christ had already taught in the Gospels.  In John 15, Jesus uses the words “remain in Me,” clarifying that relationally those who believe in Jesus must live as He lives and walk as He walks.  Only such living produces the fruit God desires of human life!  All other methods of producing substance for comfortable living is good for nothing and will be burned up.  This means holding hands with the ways of the world means standing in resistance to the Christ.   

To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth And not I only, but also all who know the truth—  2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:   

Consider this code for John writing to a house church.  The “chosen lady” echoes the chosen-ness of God’s people and her children are all the people of the church.  What binds John to these believers he is writing to is the “truth.” 

What is truth? 

God the Father is the Creator and Sustainer of the World Who Sent His Son because of His great love. 

Jesus Christ is the Son of God Whom God sent into the world to save the world through His sacrifice. 

The Holy Spirit now resides in each believer who are marked by faith in Jesus Christ. 

That is truth. 

It is the chosen nature of believers that we should pause for a moment to consider in these verses.  Deuteronomy 7:6 is among those passages that introduce the idea of a holy people chosen by God out of all the peoples of the earth.  Deuteronomy 7:6 says, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”  Such identity is all throughout the Bible and culminates in passages such as 1 Peter 2:9-10 which says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 

What marks the people of God who are chosen? 

  • Holiness given by God 
  • Chosen from among all peoples 
  • Treasured by God 
  • Royal priesthood before God 
  • Purpose is to declare the message of God 
  • Receivers of mercy 

The value of God’s people is not a value that comes from them (built-in or intrinsic), but rather a value that is acquired and God-given.  God makes His people holy, royal, purpose-centered, and merciful because He chose them and gives such graces to them.  John knew this.  John knew this from the time Jesus Christ chose he and his fishing companions to become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19/Mark 1:17) to the time at the Last Supper to witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  John was part of that chosen people who accepted Jesus Christ.  John was speaking to others who were also part of that peculiar people.   

3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.  4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.   

People who are introduced to Christ do not always follow Him.  Not everyone in a Church is a believer.  Not everyone who says they are a Christian are actually believers or followers of Jesus Christ.  John is commenting that there are folks in the Church to which he is speaking who are actual followers and are not playing at church or giving faith some kind of soft touch.  He is speaking to believers. 

5 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.  6 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.  

I looked up the phrase “love one another” in the Bible.  That phrase or phrases like it are used often in the New Testament: 

John = 10x Paul = 4x Peter = 3x 

John is all about love.  If you have been following this arc of blogs on the site, you will know that the Apostle John interprets much of what Jesus did based on love.  It is what he learned from Him.  It was love that Jesus modeled often.  It was love that Jesus taught.  It was a love-lifestyle Jesus was commanding of John from the cross when He sent His mother into John’s home. 

7 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.  8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.  9 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.  10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.  11 Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.   

John warns his fellow “walkers in the Word” to be careful about false teachings.  He expands the idea of the “walking metaphor” and says to us not to “run ahead.”  This is an important phrase.  The Apostle Paul too speaks to believers about not mixing with folks that call themselves Christian, yet, live separately from Christ.  In John’s words here, they are living with (persisting in) the spirit of antichrist.  

This brings us back to the main point John is making in this small letter… we must remain in the love of God if we are to live in the truth.  He started his letter with the emphasis of living in the truth.  This should be simple for us to understand, but it is not.  We are morally weak compared to the Living One.  We want to get ahead fast.  We want to be like God instantly (sounds similar to the Garden of Eden).  Because we want to get ahead, we can find ourselves in a bind doing things in our own strength rather than in the love of God.  We get separated from living in the truth. 

I think we need to understand that the antichrist-ian spirit is more about what doesn’t remain in Christ than wrongdoing.  For the Apostle John in this letter, the life of the antichrist is not living life Christ’s way.  That’s it.  Elsewhere the Antichrist (big ‘A’) is a particular person with a particular agenda, but in the end the result is the same… living the opposite as Christ would have us live.    

What does this mean for us?  Enduring is for the Christian not about survival in the here and now, but residing in active participation in what is right.  Christians persist in a community of love.  Christians abide in life that is centered on the way Jesus Christ taught us to live and love.  Christians walk with Christ in truth.   

12 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.  13 The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.

BMD & TMB

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