Posted by: mattcolvin | December 18, 2011

Thoughts on 2 John

Monday of the fourth week in Advent: 2 John.

4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. 5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we[b] do not lose those things we worked for, but that we[c] may receive a full reward.

John makes a chain of several terms: “the commandment”, “love”,”what you heard from the beginning.” If you believe in — are loyal to — Jesus, the one in whom you believed “in the beginning”, then you will walk according to His commandments and love one another.

These elements form a chain, the loss of any one of its links means that the entire chain fails: if anyone preaches that Jesus is not the Messiah, or that He did not come in the flesh, then you are dealing with a false Messiah. But equally, if anyone preaches a Jesus who does not require us to love one another, that too is not the Jesus we have first received.

“Deceiver” is a technical term in Judaism for “false messiah.” The Jews use it when requesting a guard from Pilate: “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said…” Jesus uses it as well when warning his disciples of false messiahs: “they will come in my name and will deceive many.”

The letter closes with the words:

Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

Again, personal fellowship is better than writing. This is an out working of the fact that we worship the Trinity, in which the relationship of the Father and the Son is by the Spirit — in other words, by a person. This is also what it means to say that the Church is “apostolic”: with the Holy Spirit, the Church is the personal agency by which God especially relates to the world.

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