Tuesday, September 08, 2009

2 John - Introduction

This tiny book – written by the apostle John – is John’s personal letter to “the chosen lady and her children.” It is thought likely that the lady and her children were either specific members of the church at Ephesus (who needed to be urged not to show hospitality to false teachers), or the very congregation itself (the chosen lady) and its membership (her children), since John had ties to that church late in his life. Paul had founded and pastored that church; and Timothy followed him there. Now John, as “the elder,” takes that role. And, though there is some speculation, it appears likely, as one preacher noted, that “this is a church where there has been a heart-rending, congregation-splitting schism…occasioned by certain false teachers who were denying and calling into question certain key, central elements of…who Jesus was, …the Bible’s testimony as to the divinity and humanity and Messianic lordship of Jesus Christ. They were distorting the doctrine of the person and work of Christ. And faithful members of that congregation had held fast to John’s teaching, to Paul’s teaching, to the apostolic teaching, to Bible teaching – but a split had occurred nevertheless. We’re told about the division in 1 John 2, that a whole group had left the church.”

In fact, 1 John sets forth the context for understanding 2 and 3 John. In 1 John, the author clearly and repeatedly sets forth, as one preacher clarifies, “three tests, or evidences, of true Christianity. There was a doctrinal test: that is, fidelity to what the apostles taught about Jesus Christ in His person and work. There was a moral test, a love for God’s commands and a walking in accordance with Scripture. And there was a social, or relational, test: that is, a real and tangible expression of love and care and concern on the part of believers for other believers, Christians truly loving and caring for their fellow Christians in the local congregation and elsewhere. And John brings to bear this as a test against certain false teachers.” 2 John applies many of the principles found in 1 John, in a gentle way, to a few individual Christians within a larger Christian congregation. Let’s read 2 John and take a deeper look.

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