2 John – Being Chosen By The Lord

This letter was written by the elder, whom tradition says was John. It was written to a lady he knew. It was written toward the end of the first century, around 95 AD. John would have been an old man by then. Messiah’s Community would have been around 60 years old. This letter was one of the last things written that became part of the New Testament.

This letter was written to encourage this lady and warn her not to support any of the false teachers who may travel to her area.

Key ideas: Being chosen. Truth. Love. Obedience.

John was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was a member of the Chosen People. He was privileged to be alive when the Son of God came into this world. He met Messiah Yeshua, responded to Messiah, followed Messiah and became one of His most important disciples. He became an apostle, one of a very special group of men who became the leaders of Messiah’s Community. He wielded the greatest spiritual authority. And in the future, he will sit on one of twelve thrones, ruling the twelve tribes of a renewed Israel.

John wrote two of the greatest books that have ever been written, books which have been a blessing to billions of people – the Book of John, and the Book of Revelation. In addition, he wrote three divinely inspired letters that have been preserved for us. Let’s turn to John’s second letter.

John began by identifying himself as the elder. An elder refers to a man who is a leader of a community of Messiah’s followers. Being an elder means having the age, wisdom and dignity to lead a congregation. While that’s true that John was an elder, identifying himself as an elder, and no more, was a humble way to identify himself. For example, he could have written: one of the Son of God’s closest disciples; the only one who didn’t abandon Him in His time of need; the one He entrusted His mother to; an apostle who has great spiritual authority; someone who will sit on one of 12 thrones with my fellow apostles, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. By referring to himself simply as the elder, John exerted his authority while not exalting himself or calling unnecessary attention to himself.

Contrast the humble way John referred to himself to some men and women today who call themselves apostles and prophets.

We learn humility from the way John identified himself – that we shouldn’t exalt ourselves or call attention to ourselves.

Next, John identified those to whom he wrote: To the lady chosen by God and to her children. While some have interpreted that the lady chosen by God and her children was a church, I disagree based on the Golden Rule of Interpretation: If the literal sense makes sense seek no other sense, or you will get nonsense. John wrote to a lady and her children, not to a community of Messiah’s followers.

This was a woman whom John knew. And he knew she was chosen by God. I love that idea – chosen by God!

God has a chosen people – the Jewish people. From all the nations, God chose Israel to be a special nation, a nation close to Him, a priest nation, bringing the blessings of God to the other nations.

Not only is there a chosen nation – there are chosen individuals, people chosen before the foundation of the world to become the sons and daughters of God.

It’s an amazing thing to be chosen by God before the foundation of the world, chosen for salvation, chosen for eternal life, chosen to be a child of God. This lady was one of those chosen individuals.

Many are called. Few are chosen. If God has chosen you, you are amazingly special, amazingly blessed.

This letter was also written to this lady’s children, some of whom John also knew; some of whom had become believers. To the lady chosen by God and to her children whom I love in the truth – and not I only, but also all who know the truth – because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: This was a lady John knew and loved. This was a lady who responded to the truth – the truth being the gospel, the message that Yeshua is the Son of God and risen Messiah and Lord and Savior.

There is an emphasis in this letter on truth: knowing the truth; being faithful to the truth; living the truth; loving those who are in the truth; supporting those who proclaim the truth; not supporting those who reject the truth.

Deep calls to deep. Like processes attract. Things go with things. John knew that everyone who knew the truth would also love this woman. Why? Truth is wonderful. Delightful. Liberating. Helpful. Beneficial. Wholesome. Truth is loveable. And because the truth is lovable, those who know the truth love others who know the truth.

Someone may be a complete stranger to you. Then you find out he knows the truth. He is committed to the gospel. He follows the One who is the truth. You know there is a connection between you; you sense love him because you love those who are in the truth.

The truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever. It’s one thing for someone to know the truth. It’s another thing for the truth to live in a person. Many know the truth, but the truth is not living in them. The demons know the truth, but the truth is not living in them. Most of us know the truth. But is the truth living in us? Are we living according to the truth?

The truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever. Just as nothing can separate us from the love of God; just as no one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand; just as Messiah promised that He will be with us always; just as God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” – once the truth is living in us, it will be with us forever. What a great promise! What a great source of comfort!

John identified himself and those to whom he wrote. Next he assured this lady and her children that they could count on the Father and the Son to supply them with amazing blessings. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Messiah Yeshua, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.

Grace means receiving good things we don’t deserve – and the truth is that sinners like us don’t deserve God giving us good things. Nevertheless, He gives us grace – undeserved, unearned, unmerited help and blessings. What a great gift – grace.

Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve. All of us sin, fall short, miss the mark, yield to temptation, sin unknowingly, sin knowingly. We don’t do what we should do. We do what we shouldn’t do. For all of this, we deserve punishment. We deserve judgment. Instead, we receive mercy. What a great gift – mercy.

Peace is more than an absence of conflict. Peace is something positive. It’s a state of well-being, wholeness, completeness. Peace also means being in a right relationship with God, having a right standing with Him. What a great gift – peace.

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Messiah Yeshua, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.

The story of the Trojan Horse is a story from the Trojan War about the subterfuge that the Greeks used to enter the city of Troy and win the war. After a long siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid men inside. They pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, ending the war. The gift of the Trojan horse was a deceptive gift designed to harm the Trojans. In Virgil’s poem about this, there is a famous line that is often paraphrased into English as: “beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”

God’s gifts of grace, mercy and peace are not like the Trojan Horse. They are not given for some twisted purpose, to fool us, trick us or hurt us. They are given in truth. They are given in love – to do good to us, to bless us, to elevate us, to help us reach our highest potential.

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Messiah Yeshua, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. Notice that it’s both the Father and the Son who give grace, mercy and peace. Being the Son of the Father does not mean that God the Father created Messiah, or that the Son was in some way given birth by the Father or is younger than the Father. It means the exact opposite!

Just as a human son shares the nature of his human father, the Son shares the same nature as His Father. The Son of God is deity, divine, eternal, uncreated, with life within Himself, sharing all the essential attributes of God with His Father.

The Son is equal to the Father in divine nature, however the Father is superior to the Son in position and authority. The Son acknowledges that the Father is superior in position when He calls Him Father and God. The Son sits at the right hand of the Father. The Father sits on the main throne of Heaven, in the place of highest authority. The Son never sends the Father. The Father sends the Son. The Son never commands the Father. The Father commands the Son and the Son always obeys the Father. The Son is the Executor of the Father. Father speaks the word and the Son carries out the word of the Father.

The Father and the Son – two distinct Persons sharing the same divine nature; sharing the same Spirit – the Spirit, who is also a distinct Person, although without a body; with the Son submitting to the authority of the Father. That’s what the Apostle John believed. That’s what true believers from the earliest times have believed. That’s what true believers still believe. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Messiah Yeshua, the Father’s Son.

After he identified himself and ones he wrote to, and assured this lady and her children that they could count on grace, mercy and peace from the Father and the Son, John expressed his joy that some of the woman’s children were walking in the truth. It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. Walking in the truth means living according to the truth. When we are walking in the truth, it brings us joy to see others living according to the truth. Living according to the truth is what God has commanded us. The Father has commanded us to live according to the truth that Yeshua is the truth, and the holy Son of God and risen and righteous Messiah and Lord.

What does walking in the truth look like? It looks like Yeshua. It looks like the life of Yeshua. It looks like turning away from sin, from the world, from the pursuit of money, from selfish living. It looks like serving God by proclaiming the gospel to those around us; building up Messiah’s community; practicing the spiritual disciplines. Are you walking in the truth?

After he addressed the importance of living according to the truth, the apostle addressed the importance of believers loving one another. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. The command to love one another was not a new command that was instituted in the first century. It was there from the beginning. In the beginning, God was love. The Father loved the Son and the Son loved the Father. In the Garden of Eden, Adam loved Eve and Eve loved Adam. Under the Sinai Covenant, the Jewish people were commanded to love God and love their neighbors. And when the Son of God came into this world, His command was for us to love one another.

Since we are commanded to love one another, John made sure those he wrote to knew what love is. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. Love means walking in obedience to God’s commands. Love and obedience are connected. There is no love apart from obedience to God’s commands.

And what are God’s commands for those living under Messiah’s New Covenant? They’re not the 613 commands of the Sinai Covenant. They’re not the Ten Commandments, which are a summary of the Sinai Covenant given to Israel. They’re not a mixture of holidays and dietary laws given to Israel, or other commands in the Torah that you like and want to observe.

If you want to obey holidays and sabbaths and food commands and other commands of the Sinai Covenant, you have the freedom to do so – but those are not the commands John referred to here.

Walking in obedience to God’s commands for us today means loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; loving our neighbor as we love ourselves; loving the truth; loving the gospel.

Love and obedience are connected. Love and truth are connected. To love, we need to know the truth. Love means doing good to others. However, if we don’t know what is good, we are not waking in love. For example, the father who takes his teenage son to a prostitute for his first sexual experience is not loving his son. The man who has sex with a woman outside of marriage, and will not commit himself to her and the children they may produce does not love her. We aren’t walking in love if we are deceived and helping to deceive others.

John wrote: I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Messiah Yeshua as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. We live in a fallen world that is satanically controlled and is in rebellion against God and is under a curse. In such a world, there will be many deceivers. There will be many false teachers and false prophets and antichrists – enemies of the Messiah who work against the Messiah. We must not pay attention to them or their teachings. We must not follow them. We must not support them financially. If we do, we will harm ourselves. We will suffer loss.

What kind of loss? Loss of rewards for a life well lived. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. This lady needed to be careful not to support any of the false teachers who were operating in her area.

Another warning: Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Messiah does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. We must know the truth and remain in the truth. We must know the gospel and continue in the gospel. We must know the teaching of Messiah and continue in the teaching of Messiah. If we do, we have the Father and the Son. If we don’t, it means that we may never have been a true believer. We may have never had God.

We must know the truth. We must know the gospel. We must know and support those who teach the truth about the Messiah. We must identify and not support deceivers and false teachers and false prophets and antichrists. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work. While there may have been inns in some places, they may have been of low quality, or the owners of the inns may have been greedy and overcharged. Therefore believers were expected to welcome traveling evangelists and teachers into their homes and house and feed them while they proclaimed the good news and taught. It was right to support those who brought the truth, and those who did would receive a reward. However, the opposite was true: it was wrong to support false teachers. Those who welcomed and supported the enemies of the Messiah made themselves enemies of the Messiah and would lose their reward.

What does this mean for us today? Don’t support false teachers. Identify and expose them, don’t support them.

A wise man knows the best way to communicate – whether to write a letter, email or text; whether to talk by phone or talk in person. John knew the best way to communicate further with this woman was to talk to her in person. I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. There is a joy that comes from talking to fellow believers. That’s one of the reasons I love our Onegs. That’s why I encourage everyone to come to the service early and stay late, and talk to people and get to know them and encourage them and find out how you might be able to help them.

John not only knew this woman, he knew her sister, who was also chosen by God, and he knew her sister’s children. And some of them were with him. And, so John ended this letter passing along their greetings to their aunt, which I’m sure encouraged her. The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings. It’s a blessing to have family who are believers, and who are being influenced by godly men like John.

What a great little letter!

Let’s pray:

Father, thank You for this letter; for John who wrote it; for those who faithfully preserved it; for the truths it teaches us; for the ways it challenges us.

Thank You for all those You have chosen.

Thank You and Your Son for grace, mercy and peace.

Help us to obey Your commandments, especially the command to love one another.

Thank You for the truth which lives in us and will be with us forever.

Help us to know the truth and live according to the truth, identify and support those who teach the truth and identify and not support those who don’t teach the truth.