A Curious Letter

John’s second letter begins by referencing its recipient as a “chosen lady” without ever mentioning a name.  Some have voiced speculation over the years as to who that lady might have been, but since the text doesn’t say, I will leave it alone.  The rest of the first six verses read much like 1 John, but verse 7 begins a particular warning that is the purpose of the letter.

John is warning the lady about antichrist! As in the previous letter, he describes an antichrist as one who “does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.”

Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.

2 John 8-11

This is a very stern warning indeed, and it seems to me that John is telling the lady that if we allow ourselves to be deceived by these antichrists, we run the risk of losing what we have in Christ. You might recall John’s teaching about “sins that lead to death” as opposed to “sins that do not lead to death.”  However you might prefer to explain this passage, John is clearly talking about a danger of being deceived into “sin that leads to death.” He even goes so far as to say that we mustn’t welcome or allow into our homes such an individual, or we will share in their wicked ways.

You just don’t see things like this very often in New Testament Scripture!

Apparently, these antichrists bring with them a clear and present danger to a believer with their ability to deceive.  I think it’s particularly interesting that John notes at the end of the letter that he has more to say on the subject, but wants to speak to this lady in person.  He wants to do some disciplining, it would seem.

You might recall that in 1 John, we had assurances that by the Spirit within us, we can overcome this “spirit of antichrist.”  What I am taking away from all of this, is that as mature believers, we should have no problem identifying antichrist, but as less than mature believers, we might be vulnerable. I could be wrong of course, since John hasn’t said that explicitly, but it seems likely. With that said, what shall we do?  In discussing the first letter, much was said both in posts and comments about “making disciples.”  I’ve pointed out many times here, that there are a few facets of this making disciples business.  First, for the maker of disciples, there are two aspects: First is to lead the non-believer into relationship with Jesus Christ.  Second is to lead the new Christian to maturity in Christ so they may also make disciples.  But there is a third aspect, and that is for those of us who are not yet mature believers to make ourselves available to be led, nurtured and guided through this process of growth.

We must remember that Jesus’ first command to His disciples was to follow Him.  His last command was to Go and make disciples.  In between these two commands was three years of training, teaching, relationship and learning.  They didn’t skip from following to leading over night.  If you consider the example of Paul, he encountered Jesus on that famous road to Damascus, but he didn’t jump right in to a leadership role.  After that, he went home to Tarsus and remained for several years. It is likely that he grew into maturity in that time.

When I was a very young Christian, I was sure that if I ever ran into a demonic situation, or a face to face with the devil, that I could easily recognize and handle the situation.  Lucky for me, God knew better and kept me from such things. If He hadn’t, I would surely have been consumed by my immaturity and folly.  With some maturity and experience, not to mention growth in my faith, I’m not so easy to deceive as I once was.  Even so, John’s warning is one that I take to heart, and I hope the lady he sent the letter to, and all of you will do the same.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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6 Responses to A Curious Letter

  1. Pingback: A Curious Letter | A disciple's study

  2. Laurie says:

    I think it is a mistake to think one has ever fully matured in Christ. Being a Christian is a lifelong learning process, not relegated only to those who attend seminary. Also, it is quite clear in Christ’s teachings that we will not all learn the same way, the same things – or at the same depth as another.

  3. pipermac5 says:

    People who hold to false-doctrines aren’t always easy to spot, and may even rise to positions of leadership within churches, and if those false-doctrines seem to be “socially-acceptable”, they worm their way in quite-easily. I know a man who holds to a “socially-acceptable” version of Gnosticism, so he was elected and installed as an Elder in a PCA church. He and his wife left that church because the church refused to elect, ordain and install women as Elders and Deacons. Then, they came to the PCA church I belong too. No, he hasn’t sought an elected position, but he has wormed his way into leading the men’s discipleship group. What other false-doctrines does he hold to, and how many parts of the Bible is he willing to “throw-away” because they conflict with what he wants to believe?

    I had an encounter with him during a study in John’s Epistles. He didn’t like what I said, because I had done a “soft-challenge” of his Gnostic views, and he and his wife became noticeably “colder” towards me after that. He didn’t like it when I presented him with truth.



  4. Citizen Tom says:

    People who hold to false-doctrines aren’t always easy to spot, and may even rise to positions of leadership within churches, and if those false-doctrines seem to be “socially-acceptable”, they worm their way in quite-easily.

    What an understatement! As I understand correctly, the PCA is a Conservative offshoot of a mainstream church that strayed from Biblical teaching. It is sad how much effort is required to keep the apostates at bay. If only more who call themselves Christian would study the Bible.

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