As today’s is a short reading, my comments will be briefer than usual, so as to not overwhelm the passage. The introduction is fun and beautiful: “The elder to the elect lady and her children…” No doubt this is a veiled reference to the church – the bride of Christ – and to her dispersed congregations. This not only grants the letter a lyrical quality, but encrypts its author and recipients should it fall into the wrong hands.
There is a central concern here for the readers to “Watch [themselves], so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.” This is in response to the “…many deceivers who have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.” John does not write to these false teachers, but to the faithful, reminding them to “walk in the truth” and equipping them to stand up to the deceivers. He holds back nothing: anyone who denies the coming of Christ “is the deceiver and the antichrist.” Therefore, “If anyone [such as this] comes to you, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting…”
Such strong words are reminiscent of John’s treatment of Judas Iscariot, whom he never names without reminding us that he betrayed Jesus. Meditate on his instructions, on his attitude, and discern their implications for the “children of the elect lady” who will read them.
Our verse for this week is Luke 2:52: And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.
The Epistle of 2 John. Now let’s read it!
2 John -
1:1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love.
I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 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.
Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
The children of your elect sister greet you.