357 - Two More Letters from John
December 23 - Nº 357 2 John; 3 John
In his first of three letters, John had warned the churches he pastored about false teachers (see #355 - December 21). Certain men, who had once claimed to be members and fellow believers, were now traveling from one house-church to another teaching that Jesus was not the son of God. They taught that he was merely a man who had been given special authority and power—not the Messiah the prophets had written about in the Old Testament. John warned his readers not to be influenced by such false teaching. In that same letter, he had urged his readers to love and take care of fellow believers (see #356 - December 22). They were to be known for their sacrificial love. Evidently there was a very special lady in one of these churches who was well-known and very well-thought-of for the kind of love and hospitality John had written about. It is possible that the church she belonged to even met in her home. John had recently run into some of her grown children who were solid in their faith. They evidently shared with him a concern they had about their mother, because after meeting them, John immediately sent her a letter with a warning. He told her not to be so hospitable that she was willing to receive false teachers into her home. He said, “If someone comes to you who does not teach that Jesus is the son of God, do not welcome them. Do not even let them in the front door! Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.” John wanted to explain this to her in greater detail, and he planned to do it in person. But since the matter was so urgent, he went ahead and sent this short letter—adding greetings from her sister. [Note: It is possible that the “lady” John addressed in his second letter referred to a certain church and “her children” were members of that church. Her “sister” then would have referenced another church John ministered in. Regardless of whether we are meant to take it literally or allegorically, the meaning of the letter does not change.] John also wrote a third letter, this time to a different house church. He addressed it to a friend of his named Gaius. John mentioned how pleased he was with Gaius’ faithfulness to the truth. He had not been influenced by the false teachers who no longer believed that Jesus was God’s son. Gaius also had been very hospitable to teachers John had sent who taught the truth. This brought John great joy. But there were others in the same church who were not doing so well. One of them was a man named Diotrephes. Because he wanted to be the one in charge of the church, he refused to welcome John and his fellow missionaries. He spread lies about them and threw anyone who disagreed with him out of the church. John said he planned to call attention to what Diotrephes was doing the next time he visited. But he wanted Gaius to realize that Diotrephes was evil and that he should not imitate him in any way. On the other hand, John spoke highly of a man named Demetrius. He was well-liked and well-grounded in the truth. This is the kind of man that John wanted Gaius to associate with. John had a lot more he wanted to say and promised to do so the next time he visited. Unfortunately, John was soon arrested.
Truth without love is harsh and legalistic. Love without truth is sentimental and deceptive. Truth and love must be equally exhibited in the life of a believer! Are you able to love your friends without compromising the truth of the Gospel?