2 John & 3 John Walking in Truth and Love

TMS Mt 28:19-20 The Great Omission
Mt 28:18 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19 Go therefore and
make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of 
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe/obey all things that I have commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age." Amen

Observations: 28:19-20 What is the Great Commission of Jesus, to make obedient disciples, has become the Great Omission of the modern church. With a focus on evangelism, growth, missions, outreach, and a host of other good, but secondary things. Churches exist to bring glory to God by making reproductive disciples. Anything less is missing the mark. Baptizing does presuppose converts which are the result of evangelism, but it is subordinate (grammatically and practically to making disciples).
There is one main verb in 19-20, the imperative command to make disciples (followers of Jesus). The imperative is modified by three participles:

  • as you go/going (which means it's a lifestyle thing, starting where you are);
  • baptizing is more than a ritualistic getting wet, but is an immersion in the name/power of the triune God (see the upcoming Catacomb Church Blog for more about how to help people get plugged into the power of God);
  • teaching them to obey; this is the missing link of ministry, many focus on belief, but the Scriptures and Jesus focus on obedience for those who have believed. In some churches, people just show up on Sunday every now and then to make sure salvation is still by faith, and then go home to live lives that bring no glory to God (nor themselves in the final accounting).
For those who do obey Jesus and follow this command to make disciples (who can teach others to obey this command, ie, reproductive disciples), Jesus makes a promise of His abiding presence until He comes back for them at the end of this present age.
Application: The key test of a reproductive disciple is that they can repeat the process with someone else. See (and obey) the 7PASSAGES in the Sidebar.
Prayer: Lord, thanks that You give meaning and purpose in this life, as well as Your presence to those who believe and obey You, and glory in the next.   Help me embrace Your commission as the guiding force for my life. Amen.

2John & 3John These two tiny letters from John the Apostle are much easier to understand than his other writings. The first is addressed to an elect/chosen lady and her children. It's most likely that John has personified the church as a chosen lady (matching the greeting in verse 13, possibly envisioning the church as the Bride of Christ, and the believers as her children). The second is to a man named Gaius, who might have been any one of the three men by that name mentioned in Acts 19-20 or Romans 16, or an unknown church leader. In both epistles John encourages his readers to walk in truth and love, and then gives some specific warnings and instructions to keep the believers from being sidetracked.

2John 1
1:1 The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not I only, but also all those who know the truth; 2 for the truth’s sake, which remains in us, and it will be with us forever: 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in/by/en truth and love.

4 I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, even as we have been commanded by the Father.
5 Now I beg you, dear lady, not as though I wrote to you a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning,
that we love one another.
6 This is love, that we should walk according to his commandments.
This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning,
that you should walk in it.

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don’t confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist.
8 Watch yourselves, that we don’t lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and doesn’t abide in the teaching of Christ, doesn’t have God. He who abides in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to you, and doesn’t bring this teaching, don’t receive him into your house, and don’t welcome him, 11 for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.
12 Having many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that our joy may be made full. 13 The children of your chosen sister greet you. Amen.

Observations: 1:1-3 John, the beloved disciple and apostle identifies himself as an elder (presbuteros cf 1Pt 5:1). He personifies the church he truly loves as a “chosen or elect lady” (cf verse 13), and the believers as her children (a verse demonstrating the corporate aspect of election). The reason for the figure of speech isn't given, but perhaps there was a need to keep the identity or location secret to avoid persecution. However, everyone who knows (perfect tense) the truth loves the recipients for the sake of the truth in them. He uses the perfect tense to indicate that the knowledge of the truth occurred in the past with continuing results into the present, and then he stresses the permanently abiding nature of the truth in the into the future (eis the Age). He then wishes them God's covenantal blessings of grace, mercy (usual translation of hesed) and peace which will be with them by means of (en) truth and love (themes in 1John).
1:4-6 John rejoices that he found “some” (no word in the Greek, but it fits the context from the preposition ek) of her children walking in the truth according to the commandment. He repeats the concept of walking according to the commandment in verse 6, forming an inclusio around “love” at the end of verse 5 and beginning of verse 6. The chief commandment Jesus gave His followers according to John in 13:34 is love, for one another. He exhorts the church to continue to manifest the love Jesus modeled (self-sacrificial service of another's needs).
1:7 He warns them of Satan's agents, the false teachers who seek to deceive believers to keep them from following the truth. They don't acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah in the flesh. In 1John 4:3-4, he wrote of Jesus having come in the flesh (perfect tense). Here he uses the present tense “coming” possibly looking forward to the second coming. In any event, the false teachers are anti-Messiah (Christ=Messiah, the Anointed One). They deny that the Messiah came, and would return, since He didn't come the first time.
1:8 John tells them to watch out that they aren't swayed from believing the truth, so that “we” don't lose (literally apolllumi “destroyed”) what “we've produced/worked for,” but might receive a full reward. Note three things: 1) John includes himself in those who would suffer loss if the readers stray from the truth; 2) reward is the result of laboring or working in helping others walk according the truth; 3) reward can be full, or partial, or lost (as in experience destruction). The word for reward is also used of paying wages. No work, no wages. This is one of the more ignored passages in modern evangelicalism, and it destroys a lot of bogus theology.
1:9 Whoever transgresses (steps over the line) and doesn't abide in the teaching of Christ (as in love one another) doesn't have God. To have God was explained in 1John, of having an abiding, intimate relationship with Him. To not have Him, is to not have that “abiding in the vine" relationship (Jn 15) which results in loss of reward (see comments on Mt 7 “I never knew you”). This does not mean that people never had, nor lose their forgiveness/justification, but they lose out on the blessings of God now, and in the future kingdom. Whoever abides in the teaching of Christ (through obedience) has both the Father and Son (Jn 14:21). The distinction between the Father and Son probably points to Judaizers who claimed God was their Father, and didn't give allegiance to His Son (Mt 3:9), but were instead trying to get believers to follow OT ritual.
1:10-13 John was all for love, but love must be guided by truth and discernment (Phil 1:9-10) if one is to reap reward. In fact those who don't bring the teaching about walking in love and obedience to gain and keep reward should not be welcomed, nor allowed into the house (church?) for those who welcome them share in their evil works and punishment. John has more to say, but wants to speak in person, so that his joy might be made full. He closes with a greeting from a sister church.
Application: What work have you done that God will reward? Are you in danger of losing it by valuing the acceptance of people more than the praise of God?
Prayer: God, may I abide in Your truth, and Your commandments, and You, so that I keep away from what is false, and do the things for which You will reward me. Thanks for abiding with me. Amen.

3John 1 Imitate what is Good
1:1 The elder to Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth. 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers.
3 For I rejoiced greatly, when brothers came and testified about your truth, even as you walk in truth. 4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth.
5 Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers. 6 They have testified about your love before the assembly. You will do well to send them forward on their journey in a way worthy of God, 7 because for the sake of the Name they went out, taking nothing from the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
9 I wrote to the assembly, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn’t accept what we say. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words. Not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and those who would, he forbids and throws out of the assembly. 11 Beloved, don’t imitate that which is evil, but that which is good. He who does good is of God. He who does evil hasn’t seen God.
12 Demetrius has the testimony of all, and of the truth itself; yes, we also testify, and you know that our testimony is true. 13 I had many things to write to you, but I am unwilling to write to you with ink and pen; 14 but I hope to see you soon, and we will speak face to face. Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

Observations: 1:1-4 John writes to Gaius, whom he loves in truth (truly), and prays that Gaius might prosper in all things physical, including health, just as he is prospering spiritually. This raises the question of: “How does one have a prosperous soul?” Our soul consists of our mind, will/values, and emotions, and is what makes us distinctively us. It is what we exchange for things during our time on earth. It is what we must deny if we are to follow Christ, and lose if we are to gain heavenly or kingdom rewards (Lk 9:23-26). The testimony of the brothers let John know that his soul was prospering, by reporting how Gaius walked/live in the truth. He particularly demonstrated his commitment to truth by his love and service for others. John has no greater joy (as do most Biblical parents) than to hear that their children (in this case a spiritual one) walk in the truth. Worldling parents are proud that their children are successful in the world's eyes. Those who love God are most proud that their children are successful in God's sight. Being righteous is all about being careful to do what is right in God's sight, which means walking according to His commands, and loving others Biblically.
1:5-8 John commends Gaius for faithfully seeing to the needs of those itinerant ministers who were at or passing through his location. They were workers for the truth (verse 8) who went out (missionaries) for the sake of the Name of Jesus, receiving no support from the Gentiles (to whom they ministered). The recipients of Gaius' hospitality testified to the love he had shown them. John says he does well/good (good works) in sending them to their next destination provisioned in a manner worthy of the ambassadors of the Most High God. John says believers ought to receive/welcome such workers of the truth (as contrasted with 2John 10, where believers are told to reject the false teachers). Those who welcome and encourage workers for the truth (financially and otherwise) share in their work (sun-ergos) as fellow-workers.
1:9-11 John said he wrote (instruction/truth) to the church but one of Satan's agents, Diotrephes, was taken captive by pride (loves to be first) to do his will (cf 2Tim 2:24-26), and was opposing the written revelation of the apostles. If John comes to visit, he will highlight and admonish his deeds, which include maligning the apostles with wicked words (this usually happens to all who speak God's words, because Satan's agents are ubiquitous). Diotrophes wasn't just content to speak against the truth and those who communicated it, but he would reject those who brought itinerant workers who brought the truth and toss out of the chuch those who would welcome them. Here is a clear example of what Paul talked about in Acts 20:29-30. People would rise to position of power in the church, not to help others obey Jesus, but to do the devil's work. John counsels Gaius (in a good lesson for all believers) to not imitate what is evil, but follow the good examples. Those who do good, are of God. Those who do evil haven't seen God. In 1John is was made clear that to see God in John's thinking is to have an abiding, intimate relationship with Him.
1:12 In contrast to Diotrephes, Demetrius had a good testimony from all, and the truth as well. John even gave him honor with apostolic approval. We're not told what he did, but it would have been the opposite of Diotrephes, walking in truth and love for the service of others.
Like his last letter, John wants to say more, but hopes to do so in person. He wishes Gaius the covenantal blessing of peace, and extends greetings.
Application: Believers need to be workers for the truth and join with others in imitating what is good, and opposing evil in the church.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray You would encourage and support those who work for sharing Your truth with others, and that You would restrain and rebuke the agents of the evil one who lead others astray. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God loves it when His children walk in the truth.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is the Messiah, who came in the flesh, and will come again to reward His faithful servants, who obey His command to love one another.

Us in a nutshell: We need to walk in truth and love to gain our reward, welcoming those who do so, and rejecting those who don't.

Where to Go for More:

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