In our study of 2 John, we will look at the impossibility of fellowship with those who deny the deity of Jesus Christ. As we saw in his first letter, true fellowship is believers gathering to share in the things of God. That first letter was written to the church in general but this one is not. It was written to correct a situation that had invaded a local body of believers and that situation was fellowship with deceivers and antichrists.
The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth - and not I only, but also all who know the truth - because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
John introduces himself as "the elder" and it could be that he was talking about his office within the church or it could have been a reference to his age as he was about 90 years old when he wrote this letter. The letter is addressed to a certain woman who was a follower of Jesus Christ. It is interesting to note that the word "truth" appears alongside love and is repeated twice in this passage. He says that he loves her because of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit which leads us into truth which is Jesus Christ.
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love.
Truth is presented again alongside of love and we see here what is contained in them. God is love and, because of that, He could not leave us in our fallen state. We throw the word around without much thought in our world today but love is not passive; it is word backed by action. Love itself does not save us from our sinful state as God loves even those who are on the road to judgment and hell. That love led to the actions of mercy and grace. Mercy is the fact that God provided a replacement to take the judgment on our behalf and so we do not get what we deserved. Mercy itself does not save because it is the provision of the way but we would not have sought it on our own. Grace is the act of God coming to us individually and presenting to us what we could not get on our own. Jesus was and is that replacement and that is why He could say that He is the Truth (see John 14:6). Because of that mercy and grace, we have peace (a right relationship) with the Father.
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.
We see, here, that some of this woman's children were holding firm to Jesus Christ and some were not. John said it in a loving way but still points out that some of her children were not walking with the Lord. Love means that you tell someone the truth even when it is difficult for them to accept and it must have been difficult for this woman. This applies to the local bodies of believers (churches) of today as well in that many who enter the doors every week and profess to love God do not walk in the Truth which is Jesus Christ.
And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
In his first letter, we learned that we, as Christians, will be known by our love for each other. True love is only possible for a believer in Christ because God is love and Jesus is the Way to God. We demonstrate our love for God by walking with Him (following His lead). If we are following Him, then we will also demonstrate His love to those around us.
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Now, John gets down to the tough truth which is the fact that people who deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God are of the antichrist. This is the same thing that he told the church as a whole in his first letter.
Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.
John warns the believers of the danger in these people. He is not warning the believers that they could lose their salvation but is warning them that they could lose out on rewards as he describes that judgment in Revelation 20.
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.
When he says "runs ahead", he is talking about going further than is right. At this time, there were all kinds of people going around claiming to have a super knowledge of God. The deceivers had gone among them and claimed to have a deeper knowledge of God and that did not include Jesus as the Son of God. John was letting them know that, without the Son, they didn't have the Father either. Today, there are many who consider themselves to be "super saints" or holy rollers" because of some obscure bit of knowledge that they think they have. They get all caught up in what they think they know or their own actions and leave Jesus out. But, as John told them here, without Jesus at the center, we have no relationship with God the Father.
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.
Here we have the "apostle of love" telling this woman not to welcome (and show them love) these deceivers. He even warns her that to do so is to be a part of their evil work. This passage has been used to cause much division among believers but it was not intended to be that way. John gives a specific reason for not welcoming these people and that is the fact that they deny Jesus as being the Son of God. There are many people in the world today that are trying to get Muslims and Christians to join together for the common good in what has been commonly called "Chrislam". John is warning against that type of thing.
I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
In our world of cell phones and all of the gadgets, it may be hard for us to understand but John is telling them that he would prefer to talk to them face to face. That is how you have fellowship and joy in coming together around the things of Christ.
The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.
No one is quite sure about who this verse refers to. It could be a sister or a sister church.