Faithlife Sermons

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Little Books with a Big Message
Living Together in Christian Love
2 John
Pastor Pat Damiani
August 5, 2018
We live in a rapidly changing world in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
We have now taken those things which the Bible defines as sin and not only tolerate them, but actually celebrate
them in our culture.
And not only have we lost our moral compass, we see an increasing trend toward a loss of
religious freedoms and governmental compulsion to adhere to unbiblical views.
In many places around the world,
and even here in the United States, those who espouse biblical views are often called bigoted and hateful and, in
some cases, have even been prosecuted for “hate speech”.
So, I suppose it’s only natural for us to long for the “good old days”.
But even the good old days weren’t free from
difficulties.
I think many of us here would be surprised to learn that even in the very early days of the church, they
faced many of the same problems we face today.
And this morning, we’re going to look at a short letter that
addressed how we are to live in the face of those kinds of attacks on our faith.
This morning, as we continue our sermon series on “Little Books with a Big Message”, we will look at the shortest
book in the Bible.
And next week, we’ll look at the second shortest book.
Both of these letters would have been
written on a single piece of papyrus and delivered to the addressee by a trusted person who was going in that
direction.
So go ahead and take out your Bibles and turn to the book of 2 John, which, not surprisingly is found right after the
book of 1 John.
If you get to Jude or Revelation, you’ve gone a little too far.
[Read 2 John 1-13]
You’ll notice here that the author refers to himself merely as “the elder”.
That word has several possible meanings
in the underlying Greek.
It can refer merely to a person who is older in age.
It is also used elsewhere in the New
Testament to describe a leader in the early church.
Were that all we had to go on, it might be difficult to
determine who wrote the letter, but a quick comparison with the Gospel of John and the other letters we call 1
John and 3 John clearly point to John the apostle as the author of the letter.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, John was likely the youngest of the apostles.
He never identifies himself by name in
his gospel account or his letters.
In his gospel account, he refers to himself merely as “the disciple whom Jesus
loved”.
He lived the longest of any of the apostles and was the only one who died of natural causes.
This letter was
likely written near the end of his life, probably toward the end of the first century AD.
The letter is addressed to “the elect lady and her children”.
There has been a lot of speculation and debate about
the identity of the addressee and since you will likely run into some of that commentary in your own studies I’m
going to speak to it briefly, although, as we’ll see, it’s not really all that important in applying the message of the
letter.
There are three main possibilities here:
1) The letter could be addressed to some unnamed woman that John knew and had been in communication
with and her children.
Given that this was a time of great persecution of the church, it would make sense that
neither the author nor the recipient of the letter were identified by name in case the letter ever came into the
hands of those who opposed the church.
2) It is possible that the phrase “elect lady” was actually the name of a specific woman.
Since the Greek of the
day did not employ capitalization, it is possible the letter was addressed to a woman named Eklekte Kyria.
3) The phrase “elect lady” is code for a specific local church and “her children” were members of that church.
I
personally think this is the most likely case, especially given that most of the pronouns and verbs in the body of
the letter are plural.
For those of you who aren’t grammar experts, that just means that every time you see the word “you”, just
substitute “y’all” and every time you see the word “your” you can substitute “yall’s”.
But there are a lot of
people way smarter than I am who think differently so I can’t be dogmatic here.
Regardless of which explanation is correct, I am confident in saying that the main message is found right in the
middle of the letter in verses 6 and 7.
In verse 6, John exhorts his audience to love one another by walking
according to the commandments.
And then in verse 7, he tells them why they need to do that – because there are
many deceivers who have gone out into the world.
So John is really addressing the very same issue that we face today, nearly 2,000 years later – how are we to live so
that we are not influenced by these deceivers in a way that we are pulled away from God and, as John writes
about in verse 8, lose the rewards that we have worked for.
Before we go any further, I think it’s important to understand what John is not saying in that verse.
First of all, He is not referring in any way to our salvation.
It is clear from all his other writings that he does not view
salvation as something that any man can earn, but rather as a gift from God.
So therefore it is not something that
a genuine disciple of Jesus can lose.
What he is referring to here are the rewards that Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 5.
There we learn that every
believer will one day stand before God to be judged – not for the purpose of determining our eternal destiny, but
rather to be rewarded for the good that we have done here on earth.
That is completely different from what is
known as the Great White Throne judgment where those who have never put their faith in Jesus will be judged for
their sins and thrown into the lake of fire.
If you have put your faith in Jesus, you will never face that judgment
because Jesus has already taken the punishment you deserve for you sins upon Himself on the cross.
I hope I’ve made that really clear, but if you have any questions at all on that, please don’t hesitate to ask me
about that, since that is such an important idea, even though it’s not really the main theme of the letter.
Here’s how I would put that main idea:
Life lived together in Christian love
is the best protection against deception
Today, we basically face the same problem that the church faced in John’s day.
There were many deceivers who
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