2 John 12-13

Key Verse(s):

2 John 12 (HCSB)

12 Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink. Instead, I hope to be with you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete.

Reflection/Application:

This is a two verse passage, the closing of the letter 2 John. Similar to the opening, we might not think there is much to notice here, but even here there is something profitable.

  1. “I have many things to write to you” – Are we ever done learning and growing as believers? Surely the constant stream of Christian literature, both academic and entertaining, suggests we continue to understand scripture and God in new and different ways, or at a minimum, we find new and different ways to convey His truth. So it was with the church that John was writing to, as it is with us now. My guess is that not only was there much more concerning all facets of Christianity that John would have liked to write to his audience, but there was likely plenty more he wanted to write concerning the core topic of this short letter!
  2. “Talk face to face” – There is nothing wrong with the written word, this is the foundation of revealed truth for us: the Bible! But, there are aspects of face to face interaction that writing simply cannot reproduce. As much as we can learn from reading, we must supplant our growth with personal engagement with other believers. I think that John reminds us, especially in our current high-tech world, which finds us closer than ever, yet further apart than ever, that we must engage to grow.
  3. “So that our joy may be complete” – I think that this last phrase in 2 John 12 has a dual meaning. On one hand, I think John is saying that the personal relationship, the deepening of it, between he and his audience, leads to a more complete joy. On the other hand, I think John is also alluding to the relation of teacher and student, and the instructing up of believers to be mature and holy. And we, as believers, fall into both roles at different times. We should embrace both, learning from the wisdom of others when we can, and imparting the knowledge we’ve been blessed with to others. These relational models certainly do lead to a more complete joy.

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for men and women such as John, who reach out and encourage the body of Your church. I pray that their influence would spread, and that their ranks would grow. Help each of us to embrace the core of John’s message, of Your message, and love each other. Amen.

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2 John 4-11

Key Verse(s):

2 John 6 (HCSB)

And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love.

Reflection/Application:

John gets right to the point of the letter: love one another. It sounds so simple, so good, so wonderful. But we should be careful not to be fooled into equating the love John means here with the “love” that our modern society defines.

First, John defines exactly what he means by love. He hinted at it in 2 John 5, when he says it was a command “we have had from the beginning”. And he spells it out in 2 John 6: it is “walking according to His commands”. This is not the love our world defines today. Walking in His commands means not endorsing and reveling in homosexuality, but instead recognizing it as sin, rebuking it, and repenting of it. But our western society certainly does not see that as love. His commands tell us to care for the widows and orphans, but our society looks different than that, as it slowly creeps towards a disregard of life. His love applies to the unborn, yet our society continues to murder with a stamp of approval from our government. What we see is that the more we stand firmly on God’s love, the more we are distanced from what the world defines as “love”.

John then addresses exactly what we know to be true: there are those that are the enemies of God, enemies of Christians, that deceive. And notice how simple things actually are: we are either with God, or against God. The world, and those that deceive, would have us believe that there are many shades, varieties, and paths to follow, but that simply is not true. Jesus is exclusive, there is no other way but through Him!

This warning from John, so needed at the early stages of the church, in order to protect it from the enemy, is equally applicable today. Nothing has changed. We still need to remain firm in God, and “remain in Christ’s teaching”. We should not fall short of that teaching (2 John 10), nor should we extend beyond it (2 John 9), nor should we entertain the words of those that would, lest we join them in their “evil works” (2 John 11).

And we must be careful: this is not a call to separate ourselves from the lost. Remember, this is a call for the church, that is the audience of John’s letter, to ensure false doctrine does not enter the church. The church should absolutely not welcome false teachers, deceivers, to spread poison doctrine. And at the same time, the church absolutely must reach out in love to the lost with the hope and love of the gospel message. The church must remain righteous in order to love people and do its part in God’s plan for redemption in the loves of His chosen.

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for protecting us, for sending men like John to encourage, rebuke, and teach us to remain in You. I pray for the wisdom to recognize false teaching, for the strength to oppose the enemy and stand with You. Help us to walk in righteous love, not in a watered down worldly love. Amen.

2 John 1-3

Key Verse(s):

2 John 1–2 (HCSB)

The Elder:

To the elect lady and her children: I love all of you in the truth—and not only I, but also all who have come to know the truth — because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever.

Reflection/Application:

2 John is a short book, comprising of only 13 verses in a single chapter. Yet, the HCSB separates the text into three pericopes. The first three verses comprise the greeting. We normally would not expect a whole lot of significance in a greeting, but we shall see that there is much to glean here.

First we look at how John introduces himself, done first in ancient letters. John refers to himself as “The Elder”. At first we might take this at face value and simply assume John is referring to himself as an older man. But it seems the title might have more meaning than that. First, John does not clarify his name as well, his title is left as “The Elder”, suggesting his audience knew him. Not only that, but the title conveys the sense of being an older, respected, leader in the community, in this case the church, and certainly John the Apostle meets that requirement. So we should also properly assume the author has a certain amount of authority, his words carry weight, and he has some sort of leadership qualities with the audience. Second, if the letter was written in the late first century, then it is likely that john was the only remaining apostle alive. Hence, “The Elder” likely had the additional meaning of John being the eldest apostle, and all the authority that would come along with that.

Next we come to the letter’s recipient: “the elect lady and her children”. It may be possible that the letter is written to a specific woman and her children, but the much more likely scenario here is that a church is the audience, and the people of the church would be her children.

And look at John’s comment about loving this church, and her people, he does so “in the truth”, as well as all people who “know the truth”. And this is “because of the truth that remains in us.” We know Christ is the truth (John 14:6), so it seems that John is telling us that when we join the body of Christ we are loved by the rest of the body, and at the same time we become lovers of the rest of the body, even new members that come after us. Isn’t this the kind of love we should be striving for? An everlasting, perfect love? And this is what John tells us we get to experience when we become Christians.

Finally, John blesses his reader, along with himself, or more aptly, the church. And again, just as Jesus was the foundation and fount of our love, so here He is the source of “grace, mercy, and peace.” Again, we see the focus is on God, not on man. And through a simple introduction, John has shown and reminded us of that.

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for being our fountain, our source of love, mercy, and grace. I pray that we would fully surrender to You, become a part of Your church, Your body, and exude Your love to the rest of the body, while we receive the same blessing. Amen.