From politicians to marketers, people conveniently ignore or conceal facts and use words to enhance positions or sell products. Perjury is common, and integrity and credibility are endangered species. Words, twisted in meaning and torn from context, have become mere tools for ego building. It is not surprising that we have to “swear” to tell the truth.
And what about love? Our world is filled with its words: Popular songs, greeting cards, media counselors, and romantic novels shower us with notions and dreams of ethereal, idyllic relationships and feelings. Real love, however, is scarce—selfless giving, caring, sharing, and even dying. We yearn to love and be loved, but we see few living examples of real love. Plentiful are those who grasp, hoard, and watch out for “number one.”
Christ is the antithesis of society’s prevailing values, that is, falsehood and self-centeredness—for he is truth and love in person. Therefore, all who claim loyalty to him must be committed to these ideals—following the truth and living the truth, reflecting love and acting with love toward one another.
The apostle John had seen Truth and Love firsthand—he had been with Jesus. So affected was this disciple that all of his writings, from the Gospel to the book of Revelation, are filled with this theme: Truth and love are vital to the Christian and are inseparable in the Christian life. Second John, his brief letter to a dear friend, is no different. John says to live in the truth and obey God (1:4), watch out for deceivers (1:7), and love God and each other (1:6).
Second John will take just a few minutes to read, but its message should last a lifetime. As you reflect on these few paragraphs penned by the wise and aged follower of Christ, recommit yourself to being a person of truth, of love, and of obedience.
Purpose: To emphasize the basics of following Christ—truth and love—and to warn against false teachers
Author: The apostle John
Original Audience: To “the chosen lady” and her children—or possibly to a local church
Date Written: About the same time as 1 John, approximately A.D. 90 from Ephesus
Setting: Evidently this woman and her family were involved in one of the churches that John was overseeing—they had developed a strong friendship with John. John was warning her of the false teachers who were becoming prevalent in some of the churches.
Key Verse: “Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning” (1:6).
Key People: John, the chosen lady, and her children
- Watch out for false teachers (1:1-11)
- John’s final words (1:12,13)
False teachers were a dangerous problem for the church to which John was writing. His warning against showing hospitality to false teachers may sound harsh and unloving to many today. Yet these men were teaching heresy that could seriously harm many believers—for eternity.
|Truth||Following God’s Word, the Bible, is essential to Christian living because God is truth. Christ’s true followers consistently obey his truth.||To be loyal to Christ’s teaching, we must seek to know the Bible, but may never twist its message to our own needs or purposes or encourage others who misuse it.|
|Love||Christ’s command is for Christians to love one another. This is the basic ingredient of true Christianity.||To obey Christ fully, we must believe his command to love others. Helping, giving, and meeting needs put love into practice.|
|False Leaders||We must be wary of religious leaders who are not true to Christ’s teaching. We should not give them a platform to spread false teaching.||Don’t encourage those who are opposed to Christ. Politely remove yourself from association with false leaders. Be aware of what is being taught in your church.|
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Source: Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 2155-2156.