This morning we are finishing up our study of 2 John. This brief letter was written to remind the readers of the command to love one another which they received "at the beginning" and to warn them about certain traveling false teachers.
In the first six verses, John talks about love. We have seen that you can only truly love in obedience to the Word of God. So then, you must know the Word of God in order to love God and to love each other. You cannot live and love in the truth unless you are walking in the truth.
In verse 7, John's attention is drawn to the dangers presented to the church through the teaching of false doctrine by those he calls deceivers and antichrists.
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Yeshua the 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. 2 John 1:7-9 ESV
The common error of the deceivers and the antichrists was Christological. They denied "the coming of Yeshua the Christ in the flesh." They were denying the Incarnation, the hypostatic union, and the theanthropic person. So, we spent some time last week talking about the hypostatic union.
John tells his readers to watch themselves so that they would win a full reward. Basically, telling them that to get involved in false doctrine could cost them their reward. The words "goes on ahead" in verse 9 are from the Greek word proago which means "to go farther than is right." They are going beyond the teachings of Christ.
John says that, "Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God." In John's literature, this is synonymous with to "know God" or to have "fellowship with God" or to "abide in Him." Remember John is writing to Christians. What John is conveying here is that whoever "goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ" does not have the Father abiding in him, and he is, therefore, not walking in the light. The one who "goes on ahead" does not have an abiding relationship with the Father.
When you embrace heresy, you necessarily abandon close fellowship with the Father and the Son. Orthodoxy is not just a matter of holding to biblical truth. It is also about walking in fellowship and obedience.
We need to constantly be on guard against false teaching. Be cautious about what you hear. Be a Berean and take everything you hear to the Word of God. To fall into false teaching is to lose your reward.
This morning we pick up our study at verse 10. In these final verses, John continues his warning to this church. The church was loving, and the church was hospitable, so John writes to establish the limits of loving. They are to love within the confines of the truth. John, the disciple of love, has just re-emphasized the need for them to love one another (v. 5). But now he says that they should not receive a false teacher into their homes or even give him a greeting.
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 2 John 1:10 ESV
"If" begins a first-class conditional sentence. It assumes reality for the sake of the argument.
"And does not bring this teaching"—what teaching? It is the teaching introduced in verse 9 as that of Christ himself concerning his person and work.
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. 2 John 1:9 ESV
We do not need to argue over whether the Greek subjective or objective genitive is in view here. There is nothing to choose between. Both are the same. The truth about Christ is taught by Christ. It is the teaching that they have heard from the beginning.
John instructs them that if someone comes along teaching something different than what Christ taught: "Do not receive him into your house." This is a present active imperative with the negative particle which often implies the stopping of an act in process.
It could be understood in two ways. It could, first of all, be a prohibition against showing hospitality to the traveling representatives of the secessionist opponents into one's own house or against receiving an itinerant preacher into the assembly. The provision of hospitality for itinerant Christians was very important in the early days of the church. In the culture of John's day, philosophers and teachers relied on the people to whom they spoke for lodging and financial assistance:
When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. Acts 21:7 ESV
Dr. Colin G. Kruse writes, "According to the norms of hospitality, the host was not only giving the guest food and lodging, but also providing patronage, guaranteeing the rest of the community that the guest was a worthy person" (Kruse, pp. 213, 215-216).
So, if you provided hospitality, you were changing the stranger's status from being under suspicion as an outsider to being a trusted guest. Bruce J. Malina provides a very helpful description of the nature of hospitality in the Mediterranean world.
Hospitality might be defined as the process by means of which an outsider's status is changed from stranger to guest. Hospitality, then, is not something a person provides for family or friends but for strangers. They need such hospitality, for otherwise they will be treated as nonhuman because they are potentially a threat to the community. Strangers had no standing in law or custom, and therefore they needed a patron in the community they were visiting. There was no universal brotherhood in the ancient Mediterranean world. [Malina, 'The Received View and What It Cannot Do', 182–83].
John is instructing his readers to refuse to help the false teachers by showing them hospitality. How does that square with what the writer of Hebrews says chapter 13?
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:1-2 ESV
Because he begins talking about loving brothers and sisters in verse 1 and is talking about loving them in verse 3, when he talks about "strangers" here in verse 2, he is probably talking about strangers in the family of God - people who are unfamiliar to those in a particular fellowship of believers.
The words "show hospitality" are one word in the Greek, philonexia. It comes from "philos" (love) and "xenos (stranger). It means "loving strangers or a fondness, affection to strangers, hospitableness, hospitality."
The New Testament gives us a number of exhortations to hospitality:
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9 ESV
How, then, do we balance this with what John is saying? John's warning is against false teachers. If they are teaching false doctrine, we must not show them hospitality.
As already stated, the admonition "Do not receive him into your house" could be understood in two ways. It could be a prohibition against showing hospitality in one's house, or it could be taken to mean receiving an itinerant preacher into the assembly of a house church. If this is the case, John is saying the opponents should not be given an opportunity as traveling teachers to speak to the house church.
I take the first view here that this is a prohibition against showing hospitality to false teachers because the churches were to be protected by the Elders.
Therefore, an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 1 Timothy 3:2 ESV
Paul says that the elders are to be "Able to Teach"—which is from the Greek word didaktikos, which means "skilled in teaching." In Acts Paul tells the Ephesian elders to protect the flock.
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; Acts 20:28-29 ESV
Because it was the elders' job to protect the flock from false teaching, I see John here giving a warning to believers about showing hospitality to false teachers. He urges them not to provide hospitality to anyone who comes with a gospel different from the one they received.
Paul's view of those who teach another gospel is also very strong.
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! Galatians 1:8-9 NASB
These false teachers are accursed so do not show them hospitality.
John warns them against showing them hospitality or even to "give him any greeting." This is another present active imperative with the negative particle which often implies the stopping of an act in process.
"Greeting" is the Greek word chairein. It means to give a greeting (literally, to rejoice). That was the standard Christian greeting, to rejoice. It is to say to someone, "Rejoice." In other words, this is a happy occasion. To see someone produces joy. Someone's presence was a source of joy. Welcoming someone to the fellowship was an affirmation of solidarity.
If John's readers greeted these people or took them into their houses, they would be associating themselves with the work the secessionists did. Notice the next verse.
for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. 2 John 1:11 NASB
The word "participates" here is from the Greek word koinōneō. This is the word fellowship. Paul uses this word Romans 12.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:13 ESV
The word "contribute" is the Greek word is koinonia which means communion, sharing, partnership, fellowship. We are partners with other saints in their needs. Our resources are for each other, right?
In Acts chapter 2 and 4 it describes the early church. They were selling the things they had when someone had need, taking the money gained from the sale, and giving it to the people who had the need.
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Acts 2:44-45 ESV
The Greek word translated as "common" is from the same root as the word for "fellowship" in verse 42. That tells me something about Christian fellowship. Fellowship is more than merely hanging out with other Christians. It involves a commitment to one another.
John is saying that to show hospitality or even greet these false teachers is to
fellowship with them. It is to partake literally in their evil works. That's amazing! We are not even to give verbal encouragement to apostates.
There is a superficial sentimentalism today which recoils from John's words because it views them as unloving. We say, "That's harsh." Yes, it is. We say, "That's unloving." Absolutely. But nothing is as dangerous as deception because nothing is as precious as truth. John is speaking of dangerous wolves (see Acts 20). He is using the language of Yeshua found in John 10 concerning thieves who come to kill and destroy the flock. You cannot overstate this. It would be impossible to overstate this.
Believers, we must understand that there is an inseparable connection between truth and love. Biblical love seeks the highest good of the one loved. If false teachers are actively involved in deceiving people about the truth, then we are not acting in love if we do anything to encourage them in their evil deeds.
Plummer's comment is appropriate here: "Charity has its limits: it must not be shewn to one man in such a way as to do grievous harm to others; still less must it be shewn in such a way as to do more harm than good to the recipient of it." [A. Plummer, The Epistles of S. John, Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges (Cambridge: University Press, 1886)].
John is teaching that the only grounds for Christian fellowship is truth. He is also instructing us that love has limits. Notice what Paul says in Philippians 1 verse 9.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, Philippians 1:9 ESV
The word "discernment" is the Greek word aisthesis. It means discernment. It is only used here. First of all, we have knowledge then aisthesis. People who do not know doctrine have no discernment. It has to do with practical application of that deep knowledge. Our love is controlled by our theology, and our insight comes in the application of that theology.
John Stott writes, "If John's instruction still seems harsh, it is perhaps because his concern for the glory of the Son and the good of men's souls is greater than ours, and because 'the tolerance on which we pride ourselves' is in reality an 'indifference to truth'" [The Epistles of John [Eerdmans], p. 214].
True love is not embracing false teachers concerning the person and the work of Christ.
Now, let me say here that the issue here involved more than disagreements in interpretation or personal misunderstandings among members of the body of Christ. It was radical and clearly defined unbelief, and it involved active and aggressive promotion of perversions of truth and practice.
In the study of Systematic Theology, we see that there are many different doctrines. You have Theology Proper which deals with the existence of and attributes of God. There is Anthropology or the doctrine of man. Another is Christology or the doctrine of Christ. Soteriology is the doctrine of salvation. Ecclesiology provides the doctrine of the church. Eschatology gives us the doctrine of end times. And Bibliology is the doctrine of the Bible.
Do all these areas of theology carry the same level of importance? What would you say was the most important doctrine? Theology Proper, Christology and Soteriology? I think that there is a danger within Preterism of elevating eschatology to prime importance. Eschatology it is not a denomination, but it seems to have become that. To me the danger within Preterism is that many have put eschatology above all other doctrines.
I think that Preterism has become an umbrella under which many false doctrines are gathering. Too many people, when they join the Preterist movement, bring their doctrinal errors with them. And because they say they are Preterists, they discredit the eschatological view by their doctrinal errors. We need to be careful about embracing someone just because they say their eschatology is Preterist. We cannot line up and associate with people based strictly on their eschatology. There are other doctrines that are much more important.
In our remaining time this morning I want to look at the four major false doctrines that are gathering under the umbrella of Preterism. As we look at these false doctrines, I want you to keep John's words in mind: "Do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting."
This is the teaching that God, through the atonement of Yeshua, will ultimately bring reconciliation between Himself and all people throughout history. This reconciliation will occur regardless of whether one has trusted in or rejected Yeshua as Savior during his lifetime.
Former Mars Hill pastor, Rob Bell, ignited a theological controversy over Universalism with his book, Love Wins. The gist of Bell's book is this: Every sinner will turn to God and realize he has already been reconciled to God, in this life or in the next. In the end, love wins.
The basic presupposition of Universalism is that God's nature is love, and He loves everybody. I see Universalism as the logical outcome of Arminianism. If God loves everyone, then it only makes sense that He will save everyone. The Universalists go through the Scriptures and pull out all the verses that mention "all" and "world" in their attempt to prove their point that "all" will be saved.
A Universalist writes: "Belief is not a 'requirement' to be returned back to God in spirit when you die. Belief is that thing that gives us joy RIGHT NOW, KNOWING that it has been accomplished, that the works of the Devil have been undone, and Jesus is the Savior of the world."
The Bible does not say that those who believe will have joy but that they will have eternal life. To not believe is to not have eternal life.
he who is believing in the Son, hath life age-during; and he who is not believing the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God doth remain upon him.' John 3:36 YLT
The Scripture from beginning to end proclaims the necessity of faith. Apart from faith in Christ, men will perish. Eternal life is only for believers.
There is, then, now no condemnation to those in Christ Yeshua, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; Romans 8:1 YLT
"No condemnation" here refers to spiritual death. All are condemned in Adam, but those who are in Christ, those who believe in Christ have "no condemnation." If Paul was a Universalist he would have said, "There is therefore now no condemnation to anyone!" But he did not. He said that only those in Christ, those who believe in Christ, are not condemned.
It is only those who believe in Him that do not perish. All who do not believe in Him perish.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18 ESV
The unbeliever is condemned under the wrath of God.
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins." John 8:24 ESV
There is only one thing that prevents you from dying in your sin and being damned forever and that is belief that Yeshua is Yahweh. Belief of the truth, nothing more and nothing less, is what separates the saved from the damned.
I see Universalism as an attack on the Gospel. Over and over the Bible calls upon man to "believe on the Lord Yeshua the Christ" for salvation. But Universalism says, "You don't need to believe in Yeshua; all will be saved."
Bereans, just because someone holds a correct doctrine of eschatology or just because they believe that the Lord returned in AD 70, does not make him our brother. Much more important than the Doctrine of Eschatology is the Doctrine of Soteriology, (how a person is saved). And the Bible teaches we are saved by faith.
2. Israel Only
This is another doctrinal error that gathers under the umbrella of Preterism. Those who hold this false teaching say that the term "Gentiles" refers ONLY to the ten northern tribes of Israel, and thus the Bible is written solely and entirely to national Israel. Therefore, there is nothing in the Bible for US; it is all about Israel.
They also believe that "everything" ended in AD 70. And I mean everything— salvation, sin, spiritual death, the Church, the Law of Christ. If you believe that this is true, why would you even bother with the Bible? Once you learned that none of it applied to you, including salvation, why would you not just throw your Bible out and go on with your miserable life? I do not say that to be mean, but if you believe what they are teaching, then life is without Yahweh and without hope, and that is a miserable life.
I believe that Yahweh has always had a plan for Gentiles. He loves Gentiles, I believe that He saves them. I also believe that the Bible is the Word of the Living God and is relevant to us today.
Now the IO people are right when they say that the term "nations or Gentiles" is used of the northern kingdom of Israel. But let me make this clear: the northern kingdom of Israel is included in the term "nations or Gentiles," but it is not exclusive of it. The Greek term ethnos can be used of the ten Northern tribes. At times they are referred to as "goy or ethnos." But these terms are not exclusive to the Northern kingdom of Israel. For example:
saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. Mark 10:33 ESV
Here Gentiles/ethnos is not referring to the Northern Kingdom of Israel but to the Romans who were non-Israelites.
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Yeshua, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, Acts 4:27 ESV
Here the Gentiles are a distinct group from Israel. Here "ethnos" is non-Israelites.
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15 ESV
Paul was to take the Gospel to the "nations" and to the sons of Israel. Therefore, the term "nations" is sometimes used of the nation of Israel, sometimes of the dispersed ten Northern tribes, sometimes for non-Israelites, and sometimes of everybody. Its meaning must be determined by its context which means we must do our homework.
The body of Christ is made up of the regathered twelve tribes of Israel and many non-Israelites who have been called of Yahweh and trusted in Christ. The term "Gentiles" is far more expansive than the IO people claim.
Those who hold to the IO false doctrine are cessationists because they believe "everything" ended in AD 70. They take the principle of "audience relevance" to such an extreme that none of the Bible even applies to us today. They contend that the Bible is written solely and entirely to national Israel. They accuse us of using audience relevance only for the time statements. What they assert is that there is no audience relevance to us today.
These false teachers could
not be more wrong when they claim that the Bible is
all about Israel, their sin, their salvation, and their Messiah. These folks go so far as to say that sin was done away with in AD 70. Therefore, we do not sin today and do not need salvation.
Paul taught that the Gentiles in the Church shared in the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant with Israel.
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. Galatians 3:16 ESV
The promises were to one Seed who was Christ. Yeshua is the seed of Abraham.
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:29 ESV
Is the "you" here limited to those in Galatia in the first century? No, it is not! If you by faith belong to Christ, you are Abraham's seed and an heir according to the promise. It does not matter whose blood you have in your veins. What matters is what faith you have in your heart.
3. Baptismal Regeneration
This is another doctrinal error that gathers under the umbrella of Preterism. Baptismal regeneration means that the act of water baptism conducted by a pastor or priest contains regenerative or life-giving power.
One of the largest religious groups in the world today teaches that unless you are water baptized, you cannot be saved. It is the religious group known as Roman Catholics. The other prominent group that teaches a similar heresy is the Church of Christ. They also make it clear that unless you are water baptized, you cannot possibly be saved.
Under the umbrella of Preterism, there are many who are Church of Christ. By coming to believe in the eschatology of Preterism, they have a correct eschatology, but their soteriology is false. They teach that the ritual of water baptism saves you.
Jack Cottrell, in his book, Baptism: A Biblical Study (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Co., 1989, p. 84.) represents the denominational view of the "Churches of Christ" and "Christian Churches." He says,
Every Christian has come within the scope of this sin-destroying force of the death of Christ; we have tapped into its lethal power. When did we do this? In our baptism. There is absolutely no indication that this union with Christ in His death happened as soon as we believed or repented. We did not believe into His death; we did not repent into His death. Paul explicitly says we "have been baptized into His death" (v. 3) (p. 84).
Advocates of baptismal regeneration teach that in the act of water baptism a person is born again rather than in the sovereign act of God by the Holy Spirit. What was John's purpose in writing the Gospel of John?
but these are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31 ESV
The Gospel of John was written so that people would believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, they would have eternal life. John has a lot to say about belief, but nothing about water baptism. Now think with me. Does it make sense that John wrote his Gospel specifically to bring people to eternal life yet not mention the need for baptism? If baptism is essential for salvation, John messed up. But the fact that John did not mention baptism speaks volumes. He did not mention it, because it is not necessary for salvation.
This is another doctrinal error that gathers under the umbrella of Preterism. According to the website, https://www.unitarian.org.uk/pages/frequently-asked-questions-faq, "Unitarians believe that Jesus was a man, unequivocally human. It has long been our view that to talk of Him as God is unfaithful to His own understanding of Himself. While honoring Him we do not worship Him, something we believe He would not have wanted."
On the contrary, Yeshua Himself said that honoring Him is the same as honoring the Father.
that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. John 5:23 ESV
The Father has guaranteed that the Son would receive equal honor with Himself by committing to Him the entire role of judgment. Therefore, failure to honor the Son reflects failure to honor the Father. In other words, honoring the Son honors the Father.
The Unitarian assertion that Jesus never claimed to be God exposes total ignorance of the Bible. Over and over Yeshua claims to be Yahweh. An example is found in John 5. There He insists that He is to be worshiped in the same way Yahweh is. He is to be honored, praised, adored, respected, trusted, obeyed in the same way as God the Father.
When the Unitarian states that "While honoring Him, we do not worship Him," he is not only not honoring the Son—he is dishonoring the Father. That is a serious thing. When a man proclaims that Yeshua is ONLY the Son of God, he is denying Him the honor of the Father. Again, he is not only not honoring Christ; he is dishonoring God the Father.
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." John 8:24 ESV
According to the Greek, what Yeshua actually says here is that "Unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins." Unfortunately, the translators added the pronoun "He," but it is not in the Greek text. What is Yeshua boldly claiming? He is claiming to be "I Am." And by doing so, He was asserting equality with God Himself who was revealed as the "I Am That I Am" —the self-existent, eternal God.
No one can know God who does not know His Son, and conversely, no one can honor or praise the Father who does not honor and praise the Son! Anyone who says that he worships God but denies the deity of Christ has neither the Father nor the Son! These people include Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Unitarians.
Just because these people claim to hold to the preterist view of eschatology does not mean that they are our brothers. We need to heed John's words about these false teachers.
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. 2 John 1:10-11 ESV
John closes with these words:
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. 2 John 1:12 ESV
The expression "talk face to face" in the Greek is stoma pros stoma which is literally "to talk mouth to mouth.'" John wanted to be with them to talk to them in person. By speaking to them face to face, he would be able to say much more than he could put on paper at the time.
By referring to "our joy" here, John means simply "your joy and mine." The completion of the joy is probably the joy they will experience in genuine Christian fellowship when they share in the things of God with those who have experienced His grace.
The children of your elect sister greet you. 2 John 1:13 ESV
This verse, like verse 1, uses metaphorical language to speak of a sister church and its members. Those who understand the "lady" of verse 1 to be a real individual have difficulty with this verse.
The "elect sister" mentioned here is another reference to a particular local church, a "sister-church" of the church to whom 2 John is written. It is the church in the place where the author happened to be residing at the time when he wrote this.
The word "greet" here is aspazetai which simply means to greet. It is not the word greet that we saw back in verse 10 which is the Christian greeting, chairein.
Let me close with the words of John Stott, "If John's instruction still seems harsh, it is perhaps because his concern for the glory of the Son and the good of men's souls is greater than ours, and because 'the tolerance on which we pride ourselves' is in reality an 'indifference to truth'" [The Epistles of John [Eerdmans], p. 214].