Summary: John offers three practical ways to remain in the faith: Do not let others redefine who Jesus is; Grow your agape love; Do not listen to false teachers.
Katie and I got married a little over 21 years ago.
We wanted a simple wedding ceremony, a simple reception - a few friends, some family, a little cake, some punch and that was it. But then, the relatives got involved. Sound familiar?
What started out as an uncomplicated and straightforward wedding became a hand wringing, temper testing logistical nightmare - we wish it was over wedding. Over the months leading up to the wedding, ever single aspect, I mean every single aspect of the wedding changed with the exception of Katie and I being the Bride and Groom at the ceremony.
I remember arriving at the wedding reception thinking that we had arrived at the wrong place because it looked nothing like we had originally planned, the cake was just horrific, the band was right out of Vegas - I didn’t know that we even had a band!, I didn’t recognize a soul…..but then, I saw the relatives - I wasn’t in the wrong place - I was just naive.
I had imagined so many different kind of romantic emotions that we would have on our wedding day, but the one emotion that overwhelmed all the others that day was, relief that the wedding was over.
Then, a week later, the alarm clock went off at 4:00 am and I had to get back to work. Now, real life was about to set in.
We had planned, debated, discussed and argued every aspect of the wedding day, but now as I pour my coffee I realized that the vows and commitments I had made a week before weren’t about that wedding day at all, they were about living those vows and commitments for better or worse. Now I knew that, intellectually before I got married, but waking up at 4:00 am, rushing in and out of the shower and facing a serious commute with only a cup of coffee to fend off cold brought it all home to me: Getting started is the easy part and finishing is always great, but the day to day, that is hard work.
Here in our Scripture today, 2 John, we see the Apostle John encouraging the church to do the difficult thing, continue in the faith. John not only gives us encouragement, but he also outlines a couple of things that we are to keep in the forefront of our minds to help in continuing in the faith. Starting our faith in Jesus Christ is where is all begins, but continuing our faith in Jesus Christ is where it counts
Here we have the Apostle John who wrote the Gospel of John, Revelation, and also 1 John, 2 John and 3 John. Even though John does not identify himself in this letter, over the years biblical scholars have shown that the Apostle John did write 2 John and 3 John and he wrote them in the order of 1 John, 2 John and 3 John.
Here is the situation of 2 John: Scholars have put together that the Apostle John has had some visitors from the church he wrote to in 1 John. John is pleased with the faith and character of these visitors from the church and so as they return John gives them a note to take back with them.
Now John could have told the visitors, “Tell everyone hello for me back at the church.” But that wouldn’t be as effective or as powerful as a note containing his very own words. John could have verbally told the church folks what to say, but a letter carries more weight and John can use his own words, carefully chosen. So John writes this note of encouragement to the same church he wrote the letter of 1 John to.
This short letter would be carried by members visiting from the church being written to. Christianity was not under protection from any government, national or local and so an indirect recipient and an indirect author were used to avoid any trouble if the letter fell into hostile hands. See, the people carrying the letter were very vulnerable as they traveled the Roman Empire.
Here we see that John uses the title “The Elder” instead of his personal name (verse 1). It has been shown over the years that without a doubt the term “the Elder” is in fact, the Apostle John. John does this in this instance because his position is more important than his name. John is more than a local pastor, John has great authority over those he is writing to. Remember, the Apostle John is in his 90’s so in all ways John is the elder to those he is writing to.
The term “The Elder” is in the Greek text presbu/teroß (presbuteros) - from where we get the word Presbyterian. This literally means the old person. So if you take it literally, the name of our church is: First church of the old people.