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2 John 1-3, 12-13

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We know the truth and because of that we love the church and her children. Because we know the truth grace, mercy and peace are with us and in us forever.


2 John 1-3; 12-13

2 John 1-3, 12-13
Today we are going to start our look into 2 John. It has been a while since we finished 1 John but much of what was pointed out in 1 John is covered again in 2 John. It is believed to have been written sometime between 80 and 90 AD but most definitely after 70 AD when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the Christians were scattered. The same author that penned the Gospel of John and 1 John wrote 2 and 3 John and we will look at that again in a moment. In the original Greek language this letter has less than 300 words and most likely took just one sheet of papyri. It has taken me almost 3000 words just to cover the first three verses of the 13 verses found in the letter. The letter was written mostly to warn against false teachers who had crept in and led many away from the faith. As we mentioned in our look at 1 John the false teachers were teaching a brand of Gnosticism that is called Docetism. Docetism taught that the truth was that Jesus really did not come in the flesh but just appeared to be in the flesh. He wasn’t here physically, only spiritually therefore He did not and could not have died for our sin as our substitute. He could not have been our substitutionary atonement if He was not a man. The two major themes in the letter of 2 John is love and truth and we will begin to look at both of them this morning. We will read the entire letter but we will only focus in on the first three verses and the last two verses. Let’s pray.
2 John 1-13 1 The Elder, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, 2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. 4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received a commandment from the Father. 5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.12 Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.13 The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.[1]
Looking at the first three verses and the last two verses first we need to establish who “The Elder” is and who the “elect lady and her children are”. As in the debate we talked about concerning 1 John the overwhelming conclusion is that it is the Apostle John who wrote the Gospel of John, 1 John along with 2nd and 3rd John and also the Revelation of Jesus Christ. If you read these works side by side even the person untrained in literary criticism can tell that they are written by the same person. I am not going to give you all the possible authors; just understand that I believe it was written by the Apostle John. As to calling himself the elder it is perfectly consistent with his position as an Apostle if he was the under-shepherd or the overseer of the recipient of the letter. Granted the word elder literally means an older person but it is also used of overseers or bishops of the church; we would most likely call him Pastor John. So who is the elect lady and her children. Some have said that John is writing to a particular lady and her household where a church likely met. Some have named her Kyria or Lady Electa but that is pure speculation based on the Greek words used. Most scholars agree with me and believe that John is referring to a local congregation that he has a close relationship with. The church is often referred to as “she” as Israel was in the Old Testament and the church is indeed the “bride of Christ”. In the last two verses of 2 John John states very clearly that he wants to come and speak with them face to face or literally mouth to mouth so that everyone’s joy would be full. Then he says this; “The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.” We speak today of “sister churches” and we know that John was the Elder of the church at Ephesus for many years. Very probably John is writing from Ephesus or some other church (a sister) in the area to another church in the area that he is spiritually responsible for. So there we have the first seven words and the last 9 words of the letter of 2 John and now we can get on to the good stuff.
John is writing this letter to a church and the people in that church that he admittedly has a close love relationship with and that relationship is based on truth. And not only does John love them but all those who have known the truth love them. Let’s slow down here for a moment and see what it is that John is saying. There is a bond, a union that occurs due to truth. This love is not because we all like the Dallas Cowboys, if that were the case then I wouldn’t love you as much as I might love someone else because I’m not a fan of the Cowboys. We don’t all love one another because we all are drawn to the river to kayak. Social groups gather and bond together because of a shared pleasure or activity (coin collector clubs, book clubs…)but that is not what we do. We love and we love because we know the truth. Truth must be a very important topic because John mentions it 5 times in this letter and 4 of them are in these first three verses we are looking at this morning. John tells us in verse 2 that truth abides in us, will be with us not just for today but for eternity or forever. There are three things we see there; Truth is in us, truth is with us and it is in us and with us forever. So let me ask you; in your vast religious knowledge can you think of anything or anyone that this can be said of? Let me give you a few hints: Psalm 31:3-5 3For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me. 4Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength.5Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.[2] Hebrews 6:18 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie[3] John 14:6 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.[4] John 1:17 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.[5] John 17:17-19 17Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. And we can’t forget John 14:17 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.[6] When John says that we love one another because we have known the truth he is talking about an intimate knowledge of the Person of God, not about God but of God. We must know Him who is Truth; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Everything that proceeds from God is truth because God cannot lie. God in His Holy Trinity is ultimate truth. The Truth abides in us and will be with us forever.
Because the Truth (God) abides in us and is with us forever then grace, mercy and peace will be with us as we see in verse 3. This is not a wish or a prayer that John has for the elect it is a statement of fact. God’s grace, God’s mercy and God’s peace s with you because we know the truth. So let’s look at each aspect of this statement.
Mostly we believe we know what God’s grace is, it is His unmerited favor but its more than that, grace is an activity of God. Yes Ephesians 2:8-9 says that by grace you are save through faith and that not of yourself it is a gift of God not of works least any man should boast. God has used His graciousness to give us salvation by giving us faith to believe but He has also, through His grace, made us His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible says it this way: Grace is the dimension of divine activity that enables God to confront human indifference and rebellion with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to bless. God is gracious in action.[7]It is by God’s grace that we can forgive our enemies, it is by His grace that we are being conformed into the image of Christ, it is by His grace that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. It is by His grace that we are children of God instead of enemies of God and it is also by His grace that we live like children of God instead of enemies of God. This is how Paul speaks about the continuing work of grace in the life of the one who knows the truth: Titus 2:11-14 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.[8] His grace cleanses us of our sin, teaches us to live soberly, and makes us zealous for good works. Because we know the Truth and it abides with us and in us forever, God’s grace abides with us as well.
Now let’s look at mercy. Mercy is that quality in God by which he faithfully keeps his promises and maintains his covenant relationship with his chosen people despite their unworthiness and unfaithfulness [9] While His grace is conforming us into the image of Christ and we continue to rebel at times, in His mercy He continues to bless us. Again from Baker’s Encyclopedia of the Bible: “Prominent in the concept of mercy is the compassionate disposition of God to forgive an offender or adversary and to help or spare him in his sorry plight.”[10] Let me make this very clear about mercy; neither you nor I deserve it. The moment we begin to think that we deserve God’s mercy then we are not longer thinking about mercy, we are thinking of payment or reward and God owes no man anything. So if we do not deserve mercy what do we deserve? We deserve justice from God. We deserve justice but because we know the truth which abides with us and in us forever God shows us mercy forever.
Finally let’s look at peace. Usually when a preacher talks about peace he is quick to say that peace is not a lack of conflict or struggles but a calm assurance in the face of conflict or struggle which is true. But when John put the word peace in with grace and mercy we have to look at it a little differently. What John is describing by using grace, mercy and peace together is our salvation, the state of being justified before God. So in this case he is saying that peace is a lack of conflict; a lack of conflict between those who know the truth in Christ and the almighty God of creation. Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The justice we talked about a minute ago that we deserve was satisfied on the cross so we who are in Christ are at peace with God. Later on in Romans 8 it says that those who have a carnal mind, do not know the truth of Christ, are at enmity with God, there is no peace with Him. But we are as verse 9 says we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Because we know the truth of God in Christ and that truth abides in us and with us forever we are at peace with God through the work of Jesus on the cross.
Let me just say in closing; this is one of the most encouraging passages I have ever gotten to look deeply into. In these three short verses we see so much about the church and our relationship with one another and about our God who called the people of God to be His. We see in this passage that unlike the world that is bound together by common affections we are bound together by love. Not the love of activities or things but the love that our God, the truth, has for us and our love for Him. The love that bonds us together is a love that is outside ourselves and is centered on the truth of God the Father and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. This truth abides or stays with us and is in us forever. That most certainly is not our doing but His; how many of us stick to anything for very long, we are transient by nature. Because the truth of God abides in us and is with us forever His grace that saves us and makes us zealous for good works abides in us and is with us forever. Because He is in us and with us and His grace abides with us we know that His mercy is shown to us instead of the justice that we deserve. Finally, because of this truth that we know and the grace and mercy that has been shown and given we are at peace with God. We are not longer enemies but children of God who behave as children of God and this is bestowed upon us from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ the son of the Father. And in this God is glorified forever. Let’s pray.
[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (2 Jn 1–13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ps 31:3–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[3] The New King James Version. (1982). (Heb 6:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[4] The New King James Version. (1982). (Jn 14:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[5] The New King James Version. (1982). (Jn 1:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[6] The New King James Version. (1982). (Jn 14:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[7] Bilezikian, G. (1988). Grace. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 898). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
[8] The New King James Version. (1982). (Tt 2:11–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[9] Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Mercy. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1440). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
[10] Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Mercy. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1440). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
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