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. (II John verses 1-3)Whether or not the Apostle John wrote this short letter (II John) to a solitary Christian woman and her family or to a local congregation using figurative language is not important for us to know.
We do need to know that love and truth must co-exist within the churches of Jesus Christ. Love must be guided by truth; truth must be tempered by love. This message is as relevant today as it was when it was written to this chosen lady.
John gave a warning inspired by the Holy Spirit: “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.” (verse 7) He included a command: “Do not take him into your house or welcome him.” (verse 10)
This was not a prohibition against contact with people who have different beliefs or lifestyles. Otherwise, we would have to isolate ourselves which is not the will of God. (John 17:15-18; I Corinthians 5:9-13) John was issuing a warning against financially supporting false teachers.
These false teachers were traveling from place to place relying upon the hospitality of generous Christians who gave them food and lodging. John was warning this lady (or church) to make certain the assistance she gave was not helping to spread a false gospel or a misrepresentation of Jesus.
Hospitality and charitable giving express the love of God to others. But, along with that generous giving comes the responsibility for the giver to make sure she is not promoting false teaching. We Christians must not only show love; we must also promote truth.
No Christian individual or church has a complete knowledge of the things of God (I Corinthians 13:8-13) and there is room for some difference of opinion about various matters. We are all in the process of growing in the knowledge of the truth of God. (Romans 14:1-12)
God made it clear through the Apostles in the Scriptures that the facts about Jesus and the way we live must be taught completely and without distortion. We must not tolerate false, misleading teaching in our congregations. (Revelation 2:20-25) The love of God is kind and forgiving, but the love of God is also faithful to the truth of God. We do not express the love of God when we fail to warn people that sin (rebellion and disobedience to God) has consequences. (Galatians 5:19-21) We are not expressing the love of God when we tolerate teaching that encourages sinning against God and one another.
The knowledge of what is right and wrong comes through the study of the Bible, the word of God, and through Jesus, the living Word of God. (John 1) The strength and desire to do the right thing comes through the character and nature of Jesus within us by the Holy Spirit. (Philippians 2:12-13)
The Bible is not a “rule” book. There are commands in it and principles to live by, but the primary purpose of the Bible is to reveal the purpose of God. The Bible from Genesis through Revelation is a record of God seeking to be reconciled with humanity one person at a time through God-made-flesh, Jesus the Messiah (Christ.)
The Bible also contains instructions from our loving Father God about how to conduct our lives for our well-being. These instructions are meant to be acted upon, not just to be a collection of interesting stories. (James 1:21-25) Yes, salvation is by faith, not by deeds. (Romans 3:21-26) But our salvation includes being saved out of and being cleansed from our wrongdoing. (Romans 6:15-18) This is as much the work of Jesus our High Priest as being freely forgiven of all of our sins, past, present, and future. (Hebrews 10:8-23)
As God’s children, and his chosen lady,
the church, let us read and act on the message given in the letter John
wrote. Let us live in both love and truth.
For the Scripture References and
related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible
Study Guide: Know the Truth