Bible: What Does 2,3 John Teach Us About Faithfulness to the Truth, and AntiChristian Doctrine?
The Apostle John
The Site Where the Church Meets for Worship
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To the Elect Lady
Designating himself as “the elder,” John greets “the elect lady and her children” (v. 1a).
[The term “elect lady” sounds odd, no matter whether it refers to an individual Christian or to a local church.]
Knowing the abiding, eternal truth of the gospel causes the apostle and others to demonstrate God’s love for her and her loved ones (v. 2).
John prays God’s “grace, mercy, and peace” upon them from the Father and “the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (v. 3).
[This epistle begins in a manner similar to Paul’s writings.]
He expresses joy that “some of your children” were fashioning their lives by the Scriptures, just as the Father commanded them to live (v. 4).
[That John does not name the faithful ones or lament over those who have fallen away suggests that this “elect lady” is more likely a local assembly than the wife in a family.]
The apostle urges her to be diligent about obeying the commandment “which we have had from the beginning”; that is, love one another (v. 5).
John defines love as ordering one’s life in harmony with Christ’s commandments that they learned from the beginning (v. 6).
Heeding this exhortation to love one another would help them stand fast against the many current antichristian deceivers who were not only denying the Incarnation, but also Christ’s present resurrection state and His future return to reign on Earth (v. 7).
[Ryrie’s note on the present tense participle “coming” is a telling point (New Testament Study Bible 449.]
John exhorts them to keep a wary eye open so that they would not lose the progress they had made, but would receive a full reward from Christ at the bemata (v. 8).
Again, as is his wont, the apostle sets up a contrast between those who “go too far” and do not continue to adhere to the teachings of Jesus, and those who stick close to His doctrine.
The former group, he maintains, do not have a personal relationship with God, but the latter possess both the Father and the Son (v. 9).
[What exactly does it mean to “have” God?]
Believers should not give hospitality to or even greet itinerant evangelists who espouse antichristian doctrine (v. 10).
[That statement does not mean that Christians should avoid trying to win them to Christ, does it?]
John considers giving these deceivers a hot meal and a room as tantamount to fellowshipping with them in antichristian endeavors (v. 11).
The apostle ends this short epistle by explaining why he is not writing them a lengthy piece: he would rather talk and rejoice with them in person (v. 12).
At the last, he passes along a greeting from “the children of your elect sister”—probably another local church (v. 13).
Study Questions for 2 John
- Who do you believe are “the elect lady and her children”? Support your view)
- What commandment does the apostle urge her to obey? _____ ___ ___________
- How does John define love? (short answer)
- What doctrines were the current anti-Christians denying? (short answers)
- What does it mean “to have God”? (short answer)
- Discuss what John’s directive not to show hospitality to “cult” members means.
- Why is John not writing his readers a lengthy epistle? (short answer)
The Ministry of the Word
Example of Selfish Ambition and Empty Conceit
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The Third Epistle of John
Again, the apostle John calls himself “the Elder,” this time in an address to a man he truly loves in Christ, Gaius (v. 1).
He asks that God may prosper his business and family, and that his physical health may be as good as his spiritual well-being (v. 2).
John tells him that he was happy to hear from some fellow Christians that Gaius was conducting his life according to the truth (v. 3).
He confesses that nothing in life brings him greater joy than to hear that his disciples continue to live for Christ (v. 4).
John commends Gaius for serving Christians faithfully and for showing hospitality to strangers, too (v. 5).
Having heard that the latter testify in church meetings as to Gaius’ love, the apostle remarks that it would be a good thing if he could supply the travel needs of these missionaries, for they accept no support from Gentiles (vv. 6-7).
John considers such service as authentic participation in the ministry of the Word (v. 8).
Now John turns to a painful matter that transpired when he wrote the church, and power-hungry Diotrephes did not accept his message (v. 9).
The apostle promises to rehearse this fellow’s nonsensical prattle if he is able to visit (v. 10a).
Not only does Diotrephes speak against John, but he also refuses to receive other believers (“the brethren”) and excludes from fellowship those who wish to help them (v. 10b).
John instructs his beloved to follow a good example, not an evil one; good behavior originates with God, but evil works demonstrate that the doer has no faith in the Lord (v. 11).
The apostle then briefly mentions Demetrius as someone whom others commend, and he adds his hearty “Amen” to their testimony (v. 12).
As in an earlier epistle, John in his closing notes that he is not going to write much to Gaius, but wishes to visit with him personally to discuss matters (vv. 13-14a; cf. 2 John 12).
He asks God to grant him peace, and sends greetings to him from mutual friends.
He also desires that when he meets with these friends that he greet them by name (v. 14b).
Study Questions for 3 John
- To whom does “the Elder” address his third epistle?
- What brings John the greatest joy in life?
- For what two things does John command this man?
- Who in the congregation did not receive the message of John’s previous epistle?
- What has this troublemaker been doing to disrupt this local church?
- Who else has been serving the church acceptably?
- Instead of writing them extensively, what does John wish to do?
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