False Teaching is Immoral

         In II John 1:7-11 John brings us to the primary reason for his letter.  The verse begins with Greek word “hoti.” This word often shows a connection between the verses that follow and the verses that come before.  The connection here is that a failure to guard against false teachers will lead this “elect lady” and her children to leave the Christian faith. The truth and love are of the utmost importance. But there are many deceivers, men who will lead you away from the truth. These verses are important because they show how doctrine and the Christian life interlock. 
a.       The issue here is not a moral false teaching, but rather a theological one. The problem is not that false teachers are sexually immoral. But rather they are teaching that Christ did not come in the flesh. This is important because we often put theology and action in two separate spheres. A pedophile is wicked.  A moral man who denies Christ came in the flesh is not usually put in the same category.  But for John, a theological failure, especially one so closely connected to Christ and his work, is a moral failure. 
b.      To attack Christ’s person and work is a sin of the first order.  It puts someone in the category of “antichrist.” So many of the moral failings we see in society today, pornography, abortion, sodomy, etc., began with theological heresy, especially heresy about Christ.  The person and work of Christ ought to be our highest possession. Those who tamper with Him and his work are to be cursed.
c.       Like I John, II John gives us a clue as to who the real Christians are. Anyone who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ is not regenerate. They do not have God.
d.      John is telling the church that he is writing to avoid false teachers.  Unlike Adam, John is protecting his bride from the serpent.  He tells them to not give any official recognition to these false teachers. If they do they are sharers in their evil. This is an important truth.  It is not okay to give a public forum to those who deny Jesus or teach some heresy about his person or work.  You do not dialogue with heretics. You kick them out.

The Truth in II John

1.      Truth dominates I John 1:1-4. It is used five times.  John says he loves the elect lady and her children “in truth.”  He then says all who have known the truth love her also. This truth abides in them and will be with them forever. Jesus is the Son of the Father “in truth.” Finally, John rejoices that some of her children are walking in the truth. These verses show the various ways John uses the word “truth.”  Truth is a path, a way of living (See I John 1:6, 2:4). Those who claim Christ, but do not obey Him are not walking in the truth. Truth also abides within us.  In particular this is a reference to the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth who lives in us (John 14:17, 15:26, I John 4:6, 5:6).  The truth also binds us together in love. John loves this elect lady because they are both in the truth. Truth is something we know (John 8:32).  But ultimately truth is Jesus Christ himself (John 14:6).  He is who we know, the foundation for all our doctrine and theology. He is the one who showed us the Father’s love that we might love one another. He is the one who binds together various people and churches in truth.  He is the one that sent the Spirit of truth to dwell among us. Finally, he is the path of truth we are to walk. If we want to know if we are walking in truth, we need only look as far as Christ himself.

2.      Verses 4-6 undoes many of our ideas about truth, love, and obedience. We like to separate these things.  For example, truth and love are often put at odds with one another. Love is a feeling for someone. It is usually seen as warm and affectionate.  Truth is doctrine. It is usually seen as cold and harsh.  But for John he easily transitions from truth to obedience to love.  They are not enemies, but companions. Note the flow of thought:
a.       John rejoices that some are walking in the truth, just as they received a commandment from the Father. (For some reason, the ESV turns the noun “commandment” into a verb “commanded.” It makes it easier to miss the connection between verse 4 and the following verses.)
b.      This commandment is an old one.
c.       This commandment is to love one another.
d.      We love one another by obeying his commandments.
e.       We should walk in this commandment.
John does not see any conflict between love, truth, and obedience. For him they are all threads in the same tapestry.  If you pull one string out the whole thing begins to unravel.

The Elect Lady in II John

1.      John opens his second epistle by referring to the elect lady and her children.  In verse 13 John closes his letter with a very similar phrase; “The children of your elect sister greet you.” It is usually thought that these two references are to a literal woman and her children. For example, my Reformation Study Bible says these two verses cannot refer to churches, but refer to real women for whom John had pastoral care. It is possible that John is referring to two blood sisters that he knew. However, it is more likely that this is a reference to two churches, especially when we examine his use of the term “children.”  John’s uses the term “children” frequently in I John (See I John 2:1, 12, 13, 18, 28, 3:1, 2, 7, 10, 18, 4:4, 5:2, 21).  The only place where it is possible he is referring to real children is 2:12-13, but even here it is not likely.  So here in II John, where children is used three times (vs. 1, 4, 13), it is likely John is referring to disciples, not to literal children. This means the phrases “elect lady” at the beginning and “elect sister” at the end are probably referring to two churches.  Paul frequently sends greetings from one church to another (See Romans 16:23, I Corinthians 16:19, II Corinthians 13:13, and Philippians 4:21-22). John is doing the same thing here though using different language. 

2.      This also has some bearing on John’s command in verse 10 about avoiding false teachers.  He tells the church that if someone does not teach that Jesus came in the flesh (vs. 7) they are to not “receive him into your house or greet him.”  We usually interpret this as meaning we should not allow a person teaching this doctrine into our home. However, if the letter is to a church, it is more likely that “house” here means the church. John is exhorting them to make sure they do not give these false teachers any welcome or any opportunity to teach in the church. It might have application in our homes. But the more direct application is that churches and denominations should not give any forum to false teachers. 

3.      The term for “lady” in verses 1 and 5 is, kuria, the feminine form of lord, kurios. It is only used in II John.  This is not just any woman. She is a queen who sits beside her Lord.