The Second and Third Epistles of John - Lesson 3

Scripture Passage: 
2 John 1:4-7

                         The Second Epistle of John                                     2 John 1:4-7                                  Balancing Truth and Love

  1. JOHN’S REJOICING (2 John 1:4)
    1. The Level of John’s Rejoicing
      1. John said that he rejoiced “greatly” (Proverbs 23:24).
      2. John said of his own children that he had no greater joy than to see them walking in truth (3 John 1:4).
    2. The Object of John’s Rejoicing
      1. Walking in truth
        1. The children of the elect lady
          1. John rejoiced that the children of the elect lady were found walking in truth.
          2. In his travels, John must have come across some of the children of this elect lady (“of thy children”).
          3. He is rejoicing that he found them faithful to the word of God.
        2. Demonstrated in two qualities
          1. The phrase in truth can mean to do something in sincerity; that is, without hypocrisy.
            1. David is said to have walked before the Lord in truth (1 Kings 3:6). He truly followed after the Lord with all his heart and soul (1 Kings 2:4).
            2. Isaiah joins the idea of walking in truth with walking with a perfect heart (Isaiah 38:3).
          2. The second quality is that of walking according to the truth of God, making His commandment and His word our guide.
            1. David declared, “I have walked in thy truth” (Psalm 26:3), and, “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth” (Psalm 86:11).
            2. This means to make the truth of God’s word the rule of life.
            3. We must walk within the bounds of the teachings of God’s Holy Bible.
      2. A commandment from the Father
        1. Taught by Christ
          1. Jesus emphasized that the words He spoke were by commandment of the Father (John 12:49).
          2. He also spoke of His submission to the commandment of the Father (John 14:31).
        2. The authoritative word of God
          1. From these passages we learn that the commandment of the Father is the absolutely authoritative word of God; that we received the commandment of the Father through His Son Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 1:2); and, that we are to submit to the commandment of the Father with Christ as our example.
          2. The children of the elect lady were obedient to the Lord in any area where they had received “a commandment from the Father.” The commandment they had received and obeyed was the commandment to walk in truth.
      3. The proper balance
        1. The children of the elect lady
          1. Truth - John said, “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth.”
          2. Love
            1. Some of the commandments of the Father pertain to love.
              1. The Father’s love for the Son (John 15:9)
              2. The Son’s love for the believer (John 15:9)
              3. The believer’s love for one another (John 15:12)
                1. A new commandment (John 13:34)
                2. A token of our discipleship (John 13:35)
                3. A token of our salvation (1 John 3:14)
                4. A sacrificial love (1 John 3:16)
                5. An evidence of our love for God (1 John 4:20)
            2. If the children of the elect lady were walking in truth, and love is part of the truth, then they were right in their love as well.
        2. The elect lady
          1. Truth – from the corrections in this epistle we are compelled to believe that the elect lady had compromised on truth.
          2. Love
            1. It appears as though this lady was erring to stand on the side of love.
            2. However, from our previous studies we understand that Biblical love never compromises truth.  Technically the elect lady erred in truth and love.
        3. The apostle Paul concerning John Mark
          1. Truth
            1. John Mark quit on Paul and Barnabas when they were on a missionary journey (Acts 13:13).
            2. When it was time for another missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas were ready to go.  Barnabas determined that they should take John Mark with them.  Paul disagreed and he and Barnabas split up. (Acts 15:36-40)
          2. Love
            1. We understand that the apostle Paul did not practice Biblical love in this case.
            2. Paul also understood this and later he made a correction (2 Timothy 4:11).
  2. JOHN’S BESEECHING (2 John 1:5)
    1. The Increase of John’s Plea
      1. Initially, John simply began to address the elect lady.
      2. Now, John here begins to beseech her. This is where he leaves the introduction and begins to deal with the true purpose of the letter.
        1. The word beseech is a strong word meaning to ask earnestly; to implore; even to beg.
        2. The word is used (as beseech, beseeching, or besought) 114 times in the English Bible. It is used of serious pleas:
          1. Of Moses desiring to see God’s glory (Exodus 33:18)
          2. Of David seeking the life of his son (2 Samuel 12:16)
          3. Of Esther crying with tears and seeking deliverance of the king for her people (Esther 8:3)
          4. Of Hezekiah asking for an extension of his life (Isaiah 38:3)
      3. John saw great danger in the direction this lady was going. He was not angry with her, but he feared the results of her compromise. Therefore, He pled with her to consider the consequences of her actions and to correct her ways.
    2. Concerning the Commandment
      1. An old commandment versus a new commandment
        1. An old commandment is one that has already been revealed (1 John 2:7).
        2. A new commandment is one that is being revealed as it is being stated.
          1. Jesus told His disciples that His command that they love one another as He loved them was a “new commandment” (John 13:34).
          2. The saints of old had been told to love God with all their heart and to love their neighbor as themselves, but they had not been told to love each other as Christ loved them.
          3. This was a new commandment.
        3. John wanted the lady to know that the commandment on which he based his argument was not new, but had already been established.
      2. The origin of the commandment
        1. In scripture, a reference to a beginning can refer to a number of beginnings.
        2. The exact nature of the beginning must be determined by context.
        3. Here, John referred to the time that the commandment to love one another was given.
          1. This commandment was given as a new commandment by Jesus during His earthly ministry (John 13:34-35).
          2. Therefore, this beginning must refer to the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ when He lived and ministered on the earth.
          3. 1 John 3:11 states, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
          4. Mark 1:1 refers to the “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
          5. John wants the lady to consider that the commandment he is quoting to her goes back to the earthly ministry of Jesus.
      3. The object of the commandment
        1. The original commandment as given by Christ was not just that we love one another, but that we love one another as Christ loved us (John 13:34-35). “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
        2. This love that we have for one another has three inherent characteristics:
          1. As the distribution of His love for us
            1. That is, the love that flows out from us to other believers is the same love that has already flowed into us from the Father and the Son.
            2. We are to “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (Ephesians 5:2).
            3. As we grow in the Lord, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).
            4. The love that we have received from the Lord is distributed to others.
          2. As the demonstration of His love for us
            1. God sent His Son to die in order to manifest, or demonstrate, His love to us (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9).
            2. In like manner, we demonstrate the love of God in our love for one another. “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12).
            3. In this way, the lost can see the love of God demonstrated in the love of believers for one another. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
          3. As the definition of the love of God
            1. The world wrongly defines love one way or another.
              1. To some, it is lust.
              2. To some, it is the giving of total independence without any need to answer for sin.
              3. To others, it is a granting of every selfish request and a protection from every evil.
            2. But none of these define the love of God. The believer comes to know the love of God in their hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17-19).
            3. The lost are to learn the meaning of true love from seeing it in believers. As we “are taught of God to love one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:9), so we teach others the true meaning of the love of God.
        3. We see then the nature of this love, but what about its practical expression in our lives? Here are several ways we express this love:
          1. First, we must be willing to give our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16).
          2. One sure expression of godly love for the brethren is our ability to overlook their sins (1 Peter 4:8).
          3. We love the brethren by caring for them in time of need (1 John 3:17).
          4. Though it may at first seem strange, we show our love for the brethren by walking after the commandments given to us by the Lord. This is the argument of the next verse and it is critical to John’s persuasion of the lady to whom he writes.
  3. LOVE DEFINED (2 John 1:6)
    1. His Commandments
      1. The antecedent to the pronoun his in this verse is the Father in verse four, which states that “we have received a commandment from the Father.”
      2. The commandments we obey are the commandments of the Father.
      3. However, the particular commandment expressed in verse five – “that we love one another” – is a commandment that was given by the Son (John 13:34-35; John 15:12). Yet, this is no contradiction.
      4. The commandments given by the Son were the commandments of the Father.
    2. God’s Commandments Defined as Love
      1. God Himself makes the connection between love and obeying His commandments.
      2. The first connection is found in the giving of the Ten Commandments where God identifies Himself as “shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:6).
      3. Several New Testament verses emphasize this connection:
        1. John 14:15 – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
        2. John 14:21 – “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
        3. John 14:31 – “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.”
        4. 1 John 5:2 – “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.”
        5. 1 John 5:3 – “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
      4. It seems that the elect lady was using the importance of love as an excuse to overlook doctrinal heresy. John points out that one of the most important expressions of our love to God is the keeping of His commandments.
      5. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments. And, if we love Him, we will reject those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ (see 2 John 1:9-10).
Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.