Summary: Many of the New Testament epistles were written to combat false teachings that threatened the church. The epistles of John are no exception. The letter of 2 John is the shortest letter in the New Testament. Yet, this little letter speaks powerfully to
TRUTH UNDER FIRE
A STUDY OF 2 JOHN
In John 14:6, Jesus made a statement that has become His most controversial claim. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” In that declaration, Jesus claimed to be the personification of truth. He is, “The Truth” incarnate.
Yet “the Truth” is under fire in our day. One so called professor told his students, “There is no absolute truth.” A Christian student asked him, “Are you certain about that.” The professor answered, “Absolutely:”
One way truth is under fire is the return of ancient heresies such as “Gnosticism.” The Gnostics clamed to have special knowledge and sought to pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gnostic teachings were present in seed form in the latter part of the first Christian century. They rose to full bloom during the second and third centuries of the church. Some Gnostics claimed that Jesus was a mere man and that the “Christ spirit” came upon him at baptism and left him prior to the cross. Others taught that Jesus only seemed to be but that He really wasn’t real. In other words, these false teachers denied the deity of Christ. They were causing such problems by the end of the first century, that the beloved apostle John described them as having the spirit of antichrist (Read 1 John 2:18-24).
The current fad led by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code is nothing new. His false information comes from heretical cults that were rejected by the true church long ago. The same is true regarding the so-called Gospel of Judas. I learned about those false teachings when I entered seminary forty years ago. Those false gospels were written long after the fact and were quickly rejected by the church. Contrary to what Dan Brown wrote, the church overwhelmingly rejected the Gnostic teachings.
Many of the New Testament epistles were written to combat false teachings that threatened the church. The epistles of John are no exception. The letter of 2 John is the shortest letter in the New Testament. Yet, this little letter speaks powerfully to our generation, especially concerning our relationship to the truth as it is in Jesus.
The key word in 2 John is the word “truth.” John uses the word “truth” several times in the first few verses. When Jesus said, “I am…the Truth,” He was not speaking of merely ethical truth, but truth in all its fullness and scope, as embodied in Him. Jesus was and is the perfect expression of the truth. He is truth personified. Moreover, Jesus is absolute truth.
I. WE MUST POSSESS THE TRUTH (1-3)
John addresses this letter “to the elect (chosen) lady and her children.” Some Bible teachers believe this is a reference to a literal Christian lady and her believing children. Others believe this is a reference to a particular church and the children are members of that church. I will not go to jail over this interpretation, but I do tend to lean towards the belief that this is a reference to a church personified as a lady. The last verse also seems to testify to this. “The children of your elect (chosen) sister greet you.”
John goes on to say concerning this “chosen lady” as being one whom “I love in truth.” Then he adds, “And not only I, but also all those who have known the truth.” In these first two verses we learn three important facts about the truth.
A. First, truth is a person: Note that John uses the phrases “in truth” and “the truth” in verses one and two. “In truth” means in reality or genuinely. There is no definite article. Yet the phrase “the truth” in verses one and two have a definite article. By using a definite article, John is speaking of “the truth” as a person. He is speaking of “the truth” as it is in Jesus. To know “the truth” is to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. Such knowledge of the truth produces a special bond between all true believers. To know Christ is to love Him and to love Him is to love all who are united to Him by faith.
B. Second, truth is internal: In verse two John writes, “Because of the truth which abides in us….” The Amplified Bible puts it this way, “Because of the Truth which lives and stays on in our hearts….” Note that the Amplified Bible capitalizes the word “Truth” because it is a reference to the person of Jesus Christ. When a sinner turns from his sin and receives Jesus Christ into his life as Lord and Savior, “The Truth” indwells his very being. The truth as it is in Jesus is true whether we believe it or not. The truth becomes real in us when Christ comes into our lives.