Wednesday, November 26, 2014


2 John 7-11, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.  Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.  Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.  Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God.  Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”

John, who had much to say about the need to “love one another” (Cf. 2 John 5-6), had tough words for those who were walking and teaching contrary to the truth.  He called them deceivers (2 John 7).  He warned his recipients to watch themselves lest they lose, through acceptance of the false teaching, what they had worked for (2 John 8).  He indicted the false teachers for straying from the truth (2 John 9).  Hospitality was considered to be a great virtue in John’s day, but John counseled the recipients of his epistle to not receive the false teachers into their homes or even give them a greeting (2 John 10-11).  Albert Barnes commented on this, “The friends of truth and piety we should receive cordially to our dwellings, and should account ourselves honored by their presence (Psalms 101:6-7), strangers we should not forget to entertain, for thereby we may entertain angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2), but the open advocate of what we regard as dangerous error, we are not to receive in any such sense or way as to have our treatment of him fairly construed as patronizing his errors, or commending him as a teacher to the favorable regards of our fellow-men….In all this there is no breach of charity, and no want of true love, for we are to love the truth more than we are the persons of men.”

In this postmodern day a counterfeit version of “love” is much loved, but truth is as an orphan.  In the name of this contemporarily fashionable kind of love the modern church has broadened its umbrella to encompass all kinds of divergent beliefs and practices.   But love and truth are inseparable twins.  If they are to be adopted by us, we must take them both.  One cannot exist—at least in a God-defined sense—apart from the other.  Believers are to be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  To speak the truth apart from love is to speak as “a noisy gong or clanging symbol” (1 Corinthians 13:1; i.e. in a harsh and annoying manner).  To attempt to love apart from truth is to love in mere human terms, inconsistent to God’s definition and objectives. Love needs to be practiced “with knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9). Jesus is the perfect example to us.  He embodied truth and love, walked in both, and responded to others accordingly (Cf. John 1:17). 

The Intervarsity Press Commentary offers this insight, “We would do well to take note of the corporate focus of the Elder's concern, for he is particularly worried lest the false teachers be granted an opening to teach and propagate their doctrine within the church. It is the church's responsibility to teach people and to nurture them in faith, righteousness and love. As a church, it must draw the lines that exclude teaching and practice it deems out of harmony with the revelation of the Scripture. It has this right and responsibility. To be sure, in the effort to guard truth with zeal, some churches draw the lines too soon and too narrowly. But in the effort to exhibit Christian charity and tolerance, some churches refuse to draw the line at all. The continuing challenge to the church is to "speak the truth in love." Unfortunately, as one wag has said, this generally leads to a lot of speaking, little truth and even less love!”

John MacArthur has likewise commented on this, “John’s teaching stands in direct antithesis to the frequent cry for ecumenism and Christian unity among believers.  Love and truth are inseparable in Christianity.  Truth must always guide the exercise of love (Ephesians 4:5).  Love must stand the test of truth.  The main lesson of John’s second letter is that truth determines the bounds of love and, as a consequence, the bounds of unity.  Therefore, truth must exist before love can unite, for truth generates love (1 Peter 1:22).  When someone compromises the truth, true Christian love and unity are destroyed.  Only shallow sentimentalism exists where truth is not the foundation of unity.”

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