Summary: As believers, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are also expected to stand boldly upon the Word regarding the faith. This requires a delicate balance that is only possible through a close relationship with Christ.
Abiding in Love and Faith
As we begin our study today, it is important to remember the context of John’s second epistle. The Gospel was being shared throughout the world and people were responding to the Lord as they heard and received the Gospel. Much of the appeal for the Gospel could be attributed to the faithful witness of believers. They had received Christ by faith, and their lives had been transformed. They did not possess a mere religion or some new philosophy, they had been born again in Christ, becoming new creatures in Him. Such a change was noticed by others, creating a desire in unbelievers to know more about Christianity.
However, opposition was experienced by those committed to sharing the Gospel. All did not believe, and some sought to hinder the furtherance of the Gospel. Others had heard portions of the Gospel but did not rightly understand the true Gospel. These sought to add the Gospel to other faiths or religious practices, while some taught a false gospel entirely.
This is the environment in which the early believers found themselves. They had received the Gospel, having a desire to share the truth and love others as Christ commanded, and yet they were forced to deal with those who sought to pervert or dilute the Gospel. This created the need for a critical balance – loving others as they should while having the courage to stand for truth and confront error. Such a balance required a close relationship with the Lord.
While our culture is vastly different, there are many similarities. The challenge to find that balance remains for us today. Like the elect lady and her children, we too must possess the ability to love others while standing for truth and confronting error. As we discuss the admonitions within the text, I want us to consider: Abiding in Love and Faith.
I. The Priority of Love (5-6) – And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.  And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. As John began to counsel the elect lady, he reminded her of the significance of love within her life and the lives of all believers. Consider:
A. The Necessity (5a) – And now I beseech thee, lady. John offered a strong word regarding her love for others. The word beseech has the idea of “urging or entreating.” It speaks of urgency and necessity. Love for others was not optional. John knew if they were to be effective in ministry, love would have to be present in their lives and shown to others. (The same is true for our lives as well.)
B. The Authority (5) – And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning. John affirmed that his command to love had not originated with him. In fact, he had given nothing new. This had been commanded from the beginning. John offered the same foundational instruction Jesus had given. He was there when Jesus was questioned about the great commandment, hearing Jesus command the scribe to love his neighbor as himself. Jesus actually referred to the commandment given of God to Moses. Lev.19:18 – Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
We live in a culture that often lacks tolerance and genuine love for others, especially those who hold a viewpoint different than our own. However, this commandment is not negotiable. If we are to honor the Lord by keeping His commandments, living in a way that pleases Him, we must heed His Word and love our neighbors as we do ourselves!
C. The Consistency (5) – And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. John was aware of the struggles the elect lady faced. In fact, he will instruct her in dealing with those who taught false doctrine. However, she was expected to love others, revealing the great love she had received in Christ to all, even those with whom she disagreed. This was not an easy task to complete. Loving those willing to return her love was easy, but what about those who were not her friends, actually her enemies? She had to love those who were good and those who were bad. She had not been called to reserve her love for those within the church, but also show love for the sinful. She was expected to love those who had wronged or mistreated her, the gracious along with the abusive.