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The Second Epistle of John

 

Theme- To emphasize truth, love and to warn against False teachers

 

Introduction- John is the author of this epistle. This epistle was probably written about the same time as 1st John being AD 85-90 and at Ephesus. It is noted that the exact date the epistle was written seems to be subject to debate and controversy. In writing this sermon outline I consulted some commentaries and my KJV Study Bible and noted that different commentaries dated this epistle at different times, so the exact date of writing has been hidden from us by the Lord. This epistle was written to the “chosen lady” and her children. The purpose of this letter is twofold as the recipient of the letter was urged to live in the truth and to continue practicing Christian love. The second purpose of the letter was to warn against false teachers who refused to acknowledge Christ and his lordship and deity and they taught others to do the same. The deceivers mentioned in this letter were probably the same as those mentioned in the 1st letter.

 

I.                     Salutations and Greetings (v. 1-3).

A.    The letter is addressed to a “elect lady” and her children (v.1). The word “children” does not necessarily mean literally children, but members of a house church or congregation. It is noted that proponents of feminist theology an those in favor of women pastors will use verses like these out of context to support their argument that women can and ought to be pastors. Such an argument is taken out of context since we do not know that the lady mentioned in the letter is actually a pastor or leader of the church. Many translators of the letter do not identify the lady as an actual individual or female church leader. There are no details about this “chosen lady” and many commentaries therefore conclude that the “chosen lady” is a church. Paul also refers to the church with the female pronoun (Eph 5:25). So therefore the “chosen lady” addressed here or the “elect lady” (KJV) speak of a church. John in this letter does not boast nor stand on his authority as an apostle, but speaks of himself as a loving caring elder. He speaks as if he was watching over believers and is very concerned about their spiritual well being. Biblical elders are concerned with the spiritual well being of their flock, and it’s obvious that John was concerned with the flock. Unlike many pastors and elders in today’s church, John cared about believers in all churches.

B.      In the second verse does John state that “truth dwells inside of us.” This implies that the audience is believers and is written to a church as already mentioned previously. Truth is centered in Jesus Christ as he is all truth (John 14:6, Eph 4:21). Its very important that the author makes this very clear from the beginning of the letter as obviously the focus of false teachers is a important theme in this letter. Truth is eternal, immutable and indivisible and because someone chooses to dissociate with the church and to reject Christ does not mean that His truth has changed. One of the flaws with the Emerging Church and Church growth movements, is that leaders in these movements play with truth and alter it to attract people to their churches.

 

II.                  The truth put into practice (v. 4-6).

A.    In verse 4 John says that he rejoices greatly that he has found his children walking in the truth. Living in the truth is the Christian conducting his or her lives as commanded by the father. The commandment to live in the truth was taught by Jesus in John 15:15. Living entirely in the truth is a twofold process. First and foremost it involves believing in the name of Jesus Christ and believing in His divine nature and sacrifice for ones sins. Second to live in the truth involves loving your neighbor as yourself. It’s not enough to simply claim to believe in Christ, yet not to love others. If someone claims to love God, yet hates his neighbor then is the truth in him?

B.      In verse 5 does John urge the church even more to practice living in the truth and to love one another. The commandment to love each other is not new, but an old command that was passed down from the beginning. Loving each other is a central theme in the New Testament. Moses first wrote about this in Lev 19:18. There are many ways that believers can show love for each other and some of these are as follows. By avoiding discrimination, by forgiving each other, by embracing people not like us as friends, by listening, helping, caring, serving and not hypocritically judging each other and so forth.

(Application)
Judging is often misunderstood, as there are many that believe that you are judging them when you point out the errors in their doctrines, or when you tell them that they are false teachers. However there is a difference between judging biblically, and judging hypocritically. It’s not unwise and is commanded to judge and test the doctrine and teachings of others, but it’s not wise to hypocritically judge others.

C.     In verse 6 does John say that love means to walk after his commandments. Love is not focused on emotions or feelings but by abiding in the Lord’s commands. Love means to do what God has commanded.

 

III.              Watching out for False Teachers (v. 7-11)

A.    Many false teachers have entered into the world and many seek to enter the flock of God or many are in the flock of God (v.7). John MacArthur calls false teachers “Spiritual Terrorists.” He addresses false teachers in his highly recommended book The Truth War. The false teachers mentioned in this verse are also mentioned in 1 Jn 4:2-3.

 

(Application) False teachers were not only alive and active in John’s day but they are alive and active in today’s day. The details of their lies have changed, however they all deny Christ and the teachings of scripture. False teachers are not only males, but also may come as females.

 

B.      John warns believers to watch out and not to be deceived in verse 8. John does not want the believers to lose their reward which would happen if they started following other gospel messages and did not do the work of God (Mt 7:21-23).

C.     In verse 9 does John state clearly that those that do not walk or abideth in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. This basically means that those that do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and those that deny Christ’s divinity and Lordship are not saved believers. In addition, Christ taught to love others, and those that teach hate are not teaching one fundamental of the faith.

(Illustration)
Pastor Fred Phelps is a fundamentalist who claims to be a follower of Christ, yet teaches a gospel of hatred. Phelps pickets funerals of fallen soldiers, and scoffs his hate at Homosexuals. Phelps is an example of someone that may know the Bible intellectually, but may not have a real conversion to Jesus Christ.

D.    Verses 10-11 teach separation from false teachers. When separation is practiced then associations with those that teach different gospels are not practiced. In today’s vernacular separation from false teachers would be practiced by disassociations from Mormons, JW’s, OneNess Pentecostals, and any cult group that teaches a different gospel message that the one clearly taught in the scriptures. Associating with such false teachers would give a testimony to others that true believers partake and associate with the teachings of the false teachers.

 

Conclusion: The themes of 2 John are truth, love and warnings against false teachers. Loving God has taught here is to do what the Lord has commanded, and in following His commandments, we will have love for each other. Loving “all believers” is the intended application of loving each other. Truth is another central theme and truth is defined in nothing but Christ, for He is all truth and the only way to Heaven. The false teachers were such a threat, that John had to address them in this letter and to warn believers against associating with them. The type of heresies in John’s day may not be in practice in their original form today, however the teachings have not changed, and Christians today need to disassociate with false teachers and their false gospels.

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