2 John – His Second Letter – Part 3

2 John 2 John begins to address disobedience and obedience, Gnosticism, False teachers, and the spirit of the antichrist. We are told to hold onto the truth that has been taught from the beginning.

In scripture, love is a verb, not a noun. Love isn’t something we feel for God; love is something we demonstrate to God through obedience.

So John connects the fact that you shall love your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. That implies obedient living according to his standards as a show, as a verb, love. Secondly, having become obedient to God, then we may love our neighbor. We can’t come to a complete and true love for our neighbor until we have reached the point of obedience to God. One is dependent on the other. Because if you are living in rebellion to God in any part of your life, you will not be 100% loving to other people. For example, if you disobey God’s word by gossiping, lying, cheating, hating, withholding charity, judging others… In each of those cases and a million others like it, you are automatically not loving someone because that is who the object is of your sin. To the extent you disobey God you have almost always put some kind of human relationship at risk.  2 John

So John emphasizes that we must walk in truth, which is the commandment to obey God’s word. When we do that, then we may truly love one another in the church. He says I command you to love one another and if we trivialize that and make it emotional based love and miss the point of its connection unto obedience, we have no hope to do anything close to what he is asking.  He is asking that the church would love one another through an obedient walk to God because that is the one true way you love one another. Is through that relationship.

John says the Lord has been preaching this requirement from the beginning. Why does John keep emphasizing this from the beginning? Because the church was under assault from false teachers. This begins to show where he is addressing the interest of false teachers. These false teachers have come claiming to bring new information to the church. The church, being under assault with this new information, they have begun to question whether the things they are being told now were true or the things they’ve been told in the past were true.  2 John

These new people who came in with false teaching, they mimicked the approach of the apostles. Remember, except for John, all the apostles were gone. This is a perfect opportunity for someone to come and claim the mantle of an apostle. To be the successors to that generation. To claim apostolic authority was supposed to continue and they were the new inheritors of that authority. So they mimicked the patterns of the apostles and they mimicked the teaching and pretended to have the same authority. This pattern began even while Paul was still around and while the other apostles were still alive and teaching. But now that only John was left, the false teachers were actively working to take his place. They introduced false doctrines of one kind or another. And they explained that their views were new, they explained away the novelty of them by claiming they have found or they have been given wisdom, hidden knowledge, something unknown until now that made them superior to the rest in the church.

One particularly powerful threat came from the Gnostics. The Gnostics were known for several heresies. First, Gnostics taught that knowledge of God was more important than living obediently to God’s word. The knowledge of it itself was a higher ethic than how you lived it. This reminds us of Jude’s teaching. Jude said the false teachers of the day were teaching lies and that gave the opportunity to engage in immoral behavior. The Gnostics commonly engaged in immoral behavior and they did it under the pretense that their superior knowledge in and of itself, sancti!ed them. That is the first heresy.

Secondly, Gnostic held that a nonliteral interpretation of scripture was required
(I.e., nonliteral, in other words, a mystical view of scripture’s meaning). It does’ t really mean what it says on the page, it means this higher thought that only I (false teacher) know and I will share with you. Only a few privileged could attain to that higher understanding of the mystery of the word according to the false teachers. As with Jude again, false teachers are unbelievers. And as a result, they do not have the capacity to understand scripture plainly because they lacked the Spirit. Therefore, they had no choice but to invent their own meanings. When they invented meanings the church hadn’t heard before because the church was influenced by the Spirit and they knew the truth. Then the false teachers explained that difference by saying they have been given higher knowledge than them. So with that story spun properly, they could engage the church and pretend to have some authority.  2 John

If this sounds familiar, it is because it is exactly the storyline of a fable. We call it, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.  Oh, you don’t see the clothes I see them, they are right there. You cannot see them? Well, you’re not really able to see those things yet, are you? It’s a spiritual con game. So, Gnosticism, in general, was a cult of sorts. A cult of teaching and masquerading as Christianity. We have the same sort of stuff today, by the way. We have Christian movements supposed Christian movements today that are just cults masquerading as Christianity.  Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and even Catholicism and its doctrines. That’s why John is so insistent that everything the Christian needed to please God and experience love in truth has been already delivered from the beginning. There is nothing new out there you weren’t given by the apostles. John is emphasizing, therefore, that the late arrival of all of this new teaching and all these false teachers that in itself is a sign they are illegitimate. More importantly, their teaching contradicts the Lord’s teaching and the apostles’ teaching. So John admonishes the church to remain in the truth, to walk in that truth, to rely on what was delivered in the beginning.

Next, verse 7, like Jude, John highlights the key errors of the false teachers and
their evil origins:

2 John 7 New King James Version (NKJV)

Beware of Antichrist Deceivers

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.

Many deceivers are in the world. The world is filled with many liars. That’s no surprise for us. John defines liar here by a speci!c criteria. These are men and women who have denied that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This was one of the key heresies of the Gnostics in Jesus’ day. The Gnostics held that deity could not be united with flesh
because it was beneath deity to be associated with that material, flesh. That is why they denied the incarnation of Christ. And John has said, here are deceivers who have gone out into the world. They are those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. That is the Gnostic heresy. We may not have Gnostics called by that name today, but this heresy is still very much alive. In fact, it is one of the principal heresies that is often propagated upon the faith. The Mormons, for example, do not believe in the incarnation as the Bible teaches it. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe Jesus was God incarnate. Many unbelievers who don’t necessarily adhere to any specific faith, but just love to tear down Christianity, their first and biggest concern is that Jesus even  though they say He was an influential world figure certainly, a wonderful teacher and made great things happen for various people, but they deny He was God in the flesh. They say He was just a prophet, a teacher, a revolutionary. All they are saying is He is not incarnate. That is the cheap heresy John is dealing with. John is calling any person who brings that thought a liar.

This issue of Jesus being God in the form of flesh will forever remain the central disagreement between those who believe and those who are liars. Whatever concessions an unbeliever is willing to make toward Jesus, few would agree that Jesus was literally God in human form. For if they agree to this principle, then they will have to give a whole lot of credit to everything Jesus said. which I am sure they won’t. In verse 7, John says they have gone out. That is an interesting phrase. This phrase in Greek implies they were sent from a common source or origin. Like an army following the orders of a commanding general on a battle !eld, they have gone out. Though they might not realize they are working for a common boss, John indicates they are nonetheless. And John names that commanding general. He says “this” is the deceiver and antichrist. Notice John uses singular at the end of verse 7. He started with a plural thought (many) but ends with a singular reference. The many were those unbelievers and liars who deny the truth of Jesus in the form of man. Who then is the singular? He is the deceiver and antichrist, John says. John is the only New Testament writer to use the term antichrist, in fact, that is where we get it from. He uses it here and in 1 John, for example:

1 John 4:3 (NKJV)

and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming and is now already in the world.

John says that every spirit who does not agree that Jesus is from God is operating in the spirit of the Antichrist. In the case of the first spirit, when he says every spirit that does not confess, that first spirit is the one that lives inside every man. John is describing the spiritual nature of a person. He is saying every person who rejects the truth of the Gospel is demonstrating a spirit that is under the influence and authority of
another spirit. That second spirit, he calls the spirit of the Antichrist. So he says every person who does not agree with the Gospel and he refers to those people as spirits, speaking of our eternal element. When you don’t confess Jesus as Lord, you are showing you are operating under another spirit’s influence who he calls the spirit of the Antichrist.

We know the word Antichrist refers to a specific person, a man who comes in the very last days of God’s Tribulation on earth. He is called by many names in scripture. Paul calls him the man of lawlessness. Daniel and Ezekiel call him the prince. John is the one who names him the Antichrist. But then John says there is also a spirit of the antichrist. So there is the Antichrist and there is a spirit of the antichrist. The spirit is the spiritual power behind the man. Notice in 1 John 4:3 John says the antichrist is coming (future tense) and is already in the world (present tense).How can he be future and present? He’s referring to both the man and the spiritual force behind the man. The man is coming in the future. According to Daniel 9, he will arrive at a specific appointed time in the very last days about midway through the tribulation. Or he will be known at that point certainly. He will seize power in the world in those last days.

But the spirit that gives him his power and allows him to do what he is doing is a spirit that John says is even now operating in the world. It is the spirit of the antichrist, Satan who is this power behind this man. So John ends this verse by saying “this” is the deceiver and antichrist. Meaning this, the work of those who deny Christ is the work of the deceiver, the work of the spirit of the Antichrist. The work of Satan. Who is, at all times behind the liars of the world, the father of lies as he is called. Working to deny Christ as Christ. So the spirit of the world, Paul uses that same term in Ephesians, that he is the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, the one today who is responsible for their blindness. Paul says.having blinded the eyes of the unbeliever. That spirit even now is operating in the world. So John ends that verse by saying, Satan is the commanding general sending out liars into the world to oppose the Gospel.

 

 

 

“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”

 

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