Truth Unites . . . and Separates
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. 2 John 9
In John’s first epistle, he emphasized that those who truly know God walk in His truth and love His children—the recipe for unity among Christians. In his second epistle, he commended those who embraced his teaching—they were obeying God’s commands and loving each other (vv. 4-6).
But as surely as truth and love unite Christians, they also separate us from those John called “deceivers” in verse 7. These deceivers, he said, had left the church and “gone out into the world.” He classified them as false teachers because they “run ahead and do not continue in the teaching of Christ” (vv. 7, 9). The Greek word translated deceivers literally means “wandering, roving” and refers to those who lead others into error.*
Specifically, these false teachers denied the true identity of Jesus Christ. They didn’t believe Jesus was God the Father’s Son and therefore God “in the flesh” (vv. 3, 7). Neither did they accept that He was the Christ, the Messiah whose coming had been foretold in the Old Testament.
John recognized the danger of allowing false doctrine to enter the church. If “the chosen lady and her children”** welcomed it, he said, they might lose the spiritual insight and maturity they had gained (v. 8). Consequently, he warned them to stay spiritually healthy by prohibiting all deceivers from infiltrating their fellowship (vv.10-11).
Separating ourselves from deceivers can make walking in truth and love difficult. Walking in obedience to God’s commands means that sometimes we must walk away from those who don’t “continue in the teaching of Christ” (v. 9). But we don’t have to walk away in anger or in arrogance. By showing kindness and respect, we can demonstrate God’s love to other people without agreeing with their beliefs or condoning their actions. Instead, we point to what Jesus said about Himself, about God the Father, and about truth: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
To ensure that we are walking in truth and love, we fix our eyes on Jesus, the “author and perfector of our faith,” and follow His footsteps (Hebrews 12:2). He will always lead us away from error and toward truth.
Read Hebrews 1. The importance of the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ cannot be overemphasized. What does the writer of Hebrews emphasize about Jesus in this passage?
Read John 14:1-17. What does Jesus teach His disciples about Himself, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and truth? Which of these teachings is most difficult for you to grasp? Which is most comforting?
Read Romans 12:9-21. How can we reconcile what Paul is teaching in this passage with what John says in his second epistle?
Denise K. Loock
*”Greek Lexicon :: G4108 (NIV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 13 Jul, 2014. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4108&t=NIV
**Note: This may refer to a specific lady and her family or to the church that met in her home.