2 John is a single short chapter, easily overlooked, and yet deeply relevant to our situation as Christians today, 1,930 years after he wrote.
John is writing to his dear friend, and in extension to all Christians, and he is warning us about the danger of compromising the truth, using the themes of truth, love, and abiding/walking in truth and love.
Let’s see if I’m right, using a little color to highlight the themes:
1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
John is an old man, and the last living Apostle. His stature in the early church is beyond authoritative: he is the most important man alive. Jesus had personally commanded him to take care of his mother Mary (John 19:26-27)!!
He greets “the elect lady” whom he “love[s] in truth. . .” Here he is possibly calling a whole church the elect lady metaphorically, but the plain use of language calls us to interpret this as an individual woman – could it even have been Mary, mother of Jesus as a very old woman? Maybe! Think about it – Mary truly was the elect among the elect, only less than her Son Jesus in importance in redemptive history.
But notice how he addresses her: he uses the word “truth” four times in the first three verses, and “love“ twice – and all of this he connects with the eternal life and presence of Jesus abiding with us. But look at this:
Walking in Truth and Love
4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.
And what does that look like, John?
6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world,those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
13 The children of your elect sister greet you.
Why shouldn’t we share the apostle’s love of the truth? We ought to be as focused, and diligent concerning what is true, false, right, and wrong. Let us follow what is true and right, and let the Lord Himself sort out the critics who will call us cruel, mean-spirited, or divisive.
Thanks for reading,