Wednesday, September 09, 2009

2 John 7-13

V7-13 – 7Many 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. 8Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9Anyone 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. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. 12I 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. 13The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.

John, having discussed the moral test of authentic Christianity, moves to the doctrinal test, where he spends most of his word count. Just as Jesus and the other disciples foretold, deceivers and false teachers have arisen from within the group of believers to lead astray those who are not watchful. So John says to “watch out.” These deceivers, failing to acknowledge the humanity of Jesus Christ, went out into the world, just as Christian missionaries, relying on Christian hospitality, going from city to city and meeting with the local congregations. But they weren’t sent by God; rather they literally are “of antichrist,” or Satan. Elaborating on the false teaching they were promoting, one commentator says, “They call into question what Jesus said about Himself; they call into question what the apostles preached and wrote about Jesus; they call into question the Bible’s testimony as to who Jesus was; they call into question the reality of His deity by denying the fullness of the truth of the incarnation; they call into question the truth about His full humanity by calling into question the incarnation.” They did not “continue in the teaching of Christ,” and thereby prove that they do not “have God.” Those who persevere in the teaching of Christ prove that they have God, both Father and Son (by the presence of the Holy Spirit). Many people today want God but not Jesus. John says you can’t run ahead of Jesus, because God isn’t there. When you leave Jesus behind, you leave the possibility of relationship to God behind. It’s the claim of Jesus’ exclusivity that John is making.

In v10, John is saying that believers must not dabble or mingle in false teaching, especially in that which claims to be Christian – such as JW or Mormonism. Otherwise, we may be sucked in to false teaching that’s going to cut us off from our only hope of salvation through a personal relationship with someone who doesn’t have God. One commentator says, “John is so emphatic that he even says that we shouldn’t show hospitality to a false teacher. That is an amazing statement for the New Testament that is always exhorting the Christian to show hospitality to fellow Christians. Christians are not to receive or welcome false teachers into their fellowship, because he who denies Christ forfeits God and cannot have fellowship with those whose only hope and trust is in Jesus Christ for salvation as He is offered in the gospel.” Perhaps it is because this command to abstain from hospitality to false teachers seems so contrary to Christian love that John makes sure the cover the command to love before addressing non-hospitality to false teachers. Love is concerned about truth.

John wraps up here without discussing in great detail the third evidence of true Christianity. Instead of writing paragraphs about fellowship and the tangible expression of Christian love and care for each other, John hopes to visit and engage in this right and holy behavior in person. John wants an opportunity to live out the truth that he professes and teaches. Friendship and relationship are crucial aspects of humanity; but we must not seek this out with unbelievers, lest we be drawn into their heresy. Rather fellowship is to be sought and exhibited. John is saying that the fullness of joy is experienced only in fellowship with believers. Many professing Christians today say something like, “I worship God on my own. I don’t need to come to church on Sunday.” But John would reply to that sentiment, “There is no experience of the fullness of joy in the Christian life without fellowship with other believers, without gathering around the Lord’s means of grace on the Lord’s Day, fellowshipping with one another in worship, encouraging one another to love and to good deeds; because all those who are united in Christ are united to all those who are united to Christ.” In other words, as one commentator concluded, “We can’t be indifferent about fellowship with one another. We need one another. God didn’t intend us to grow in grace or experience joy apart from one another.”

By closing with the greeting from “the children of your chosen sister,” we might conclude that another local church, which John is visiting, has members that are aware of the situation in Ephesus. That local congregation cares for Ephesus and its membership and wants the best for them. Do we consider other local congregations in this manner? Why or why not? It’s another evidence that John demands what Jesus demands. Love one another.

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