November 2011


To Love and Cherish

Doing Apologetics

Christianity: The Basics

What is Wrong with Social Justice

Christianity and Secularism

Evidence for the Bible

The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 2 John 8-11

Week Ten:  Nov 13, 2011

This week we finish the bulk of 2 John.


II. Body

a.      Reject False Teachers (7-11)

8 – See1 to it that you2 don’t destroy what we have3 worked for, but that you4 receive your5 full reward.

–          This is not talking about losing one’s salvation for John is talking about a reward that we work for (εἰργασάμεθα – eirgasametha).  The background here is that God has set aside a reward for us, but our unfaithfulness could destroy it.  This refers to loss of rewards that are earned, rather than loss of salvation which is by grace.

–          First and foremost when dealing with heresy, we must be careful that we don’t fall into the deception.   We should look to our own walk first.   As Jesus says in Luke 6:42, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?”

9a – Everyone who does not remain true to the teaching of the Messiah,6 but goes beyond it, does not have God.

–          Literally this says “stay in the teaching” where teaching is singular.  Teaching here is synonymous with the truth referred to earlier.   It is the teaching of the Lord, transmitted by the apostles down to us.

but goes beyond it

–          Literally but goes ahead of it. The picture here is that God has given us a place to be and we are not to go wandering off.  God has given us what we need to know.  Trying to go beyond this can lead to error.  For example, the heresies surrounding the Trinity all stem from trying to make sense of the statements of scripture, to force them into something we can understand, instead of just taking them for what they say.

–          This may also be a sarcastic statement against the deceivers mentioned in verse 8.   Again a key aspect about Gnosticism and proto-Gnosticism was the belief in secret knowledge.  Christianity is knowledge for everyone. Gnosticism is the secret knowledge only for the Gnostics.  Therefore, Gnostics could easily be seen as not remaining with the teaching of Jesus but going “going ahead” to the secret knowledge.

does not have God.

–          Is not in a personal relationship with God.   However, the focus here is not really on salvation, either having it or losing it.  The focus is on whom you should trust for teaching.  If a person does not have God, we should not be looking to them for teachings.

9b – The person who remains true to the teaching of the Messiah7 has both the Father and the Son.

–          The one who stays with the teaching of Jesus, rather than going ahead of the teachings is the person that has the Father and the Son.  To have one is to have the other.  This is the person you can trust.

10*-11 – If anyone comes to you8 but does not present this teachings,9 do not receive10 him into your house or even welcome11 him, because the one who welcomes him shares in his evil deeds

–          Verse 9 was the test we should use; now John gives us the application.

do not receive him into your house or even welcome him

–          Does this mean only Christians should enter our homes?  Here is a case where the historical context is important.   3 John 5-7 makes it clear the gospel was being spread through the efforts traveling missionaries.  These missionaries depended upon the support and hospitality of fellow Christians to do their work.  The core meaning here is that we should not to give aid and support to those spreading false teaching.  When applying this verse, this is the key question we should ask.  Are we giving aid and support?

Based on this, I do not believe this applies to non-Christians in a non-religious role.  As Walter Martin once pointed out, it is ok to have a non-Christian plumber enter your house if your basement is flooding.

How does this apply to missionaries such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who come to your house, should you invite them into your home?  Again the key question applies; are you supporting their efforts by your actions?   I do not believe you are for two reasons.  First you can challenge them in truth and love and in the process share the Gospel with them.  Secondly, while they are with you, they are no out spreading their errors to others.  So by inviting them in, you are actually inhibiting their efforts to get converts.  This, of course, assumes, you are grounded enough in the teaching of the Bible not to be deceived yourselves.

–          Another question is what about Christians who have different beliefs than we do?  What are the core teachings on which we should break fellowship? Different views of the millennium? Different views of rapture? Different views of Salvation? Election? Can you lose salvation? Different understandings of Genesis?  Inerrancy?  Where do we draw the line?

This is where John’s test is important.  What do they say about Jesus and how is their walk with the Lord?  With all of the issues just listed, there are Christians on both sides of the issue who would still agree about Jesus and whose walk with Lord is good.  This should be our primary focus.

because the one who welcomes him shares in his evil deeds

–          Literally:  the one speaking a greeting to him.  The concept here is of giving encouragement. To support evil is to do evil.  The concept here is the flip side of the point made in 3 John 8 “Therefore, we ought to support such people so that we can become fellow workers with them.”

–          The key point here is that we must be careful whom we support.  In a modern time this will largely be concerned with what charities do we give money to?  What do they do with that money?

Questions and Discussion.

A of lot of the discussion this week centered on verse 10-11, and was summarized in the verse above. The rest centered on what constitutes “going beyond” the teaching of Jesus.  Does, for example, liberation theology go beyond?   Liberation theology is a blend of the Gospel interpreted into Marxist ideology.   For example, the fact that there was no room at the inn for Joseph and Mary is interpreted in term of class struggle with them being homeless, and exploited by wealth elites.  This is going beyond what the gospel teachings.  From this we started to discuss what our duty to the poor is. Finally we spend some time discussing how to deal with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Next week we will continue in 2 John 8

If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

See here for references and more background on the class.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.

Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


1 v8 The Gk. verb is plural
2 v8 Lit. you (plural)
3 v8 Other mss. read you have
4 v8 Lit. you (plural)
5 v8 Lit. your (plural)
6 v9 Or Christ
7 v9 Or Christ
8 v10 Lit. you (plural)
9 v10 ISV:  his teaching
10 v10 The Gk. verb is plural
11 v10 The Gk. verb is plural

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