By Charlie Garrett
and Rory Wilson
This page comprises the Daily Devotionals that I sent out while working through the book of 2 John. If there's a particular passage in this book that you don't understand, scroll down to read the analysis. I hope what you find will bless you. I want to give my sincere appreciation to Rory Wilson who took the time to compile and edit these for me. God bless you brother!
Daily Bible Verse
By Charlie Garrett
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth. Psalm 115:1
The Elder, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, 2 John -1
A new book, an exciting new adventure! Of the five books written by the Apostle John (John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation), this is the shortest of them all – containing only 13 verses and, hence, only 13 days to revel in it.
John’s first words state, “The Elder.” By the time this was written, John was more than likely the only surviving apostle. Calling himself the elder indicated both his age and his position. No other name would be needed as his identity would be well understood. He then opens this letter “To the elect lady and her children…” There are a couple of possibilities that have been debated as to the meaning of this –
1) The elect lady is a particular church body and “her children” are the parishioners.
2) The elect is a friend of John and her children are saved believers in Christ Jesus.
The Greek word for “lady” is kuria and was not an uncommon name at the time, like Sarah today. So this could be speaking of her name or as a designation – either for a church or a person. Therefore, it’s still not conclusive as to who is being addressed.
Whether a church and its congregants, or a lady and her children, John loved them personally and they were loved within the scope of the greater church. What he says in the letter could be addressed to a church group or a family as well. For all of these reasons, a broader picture of what is being said, without a final determination as to the addressee is the better choice.
The term “those who have known the truth” is stated in such a way as to refer to those who have personal knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This then is the initial greeting upon which John writes.
Lord God, I look forward with anticipation to the coming letter and the wonderful insights that you will reveal to us in the next two weeks. Thank You for having preserved these personal letters which allow us to peer into the heart of John and, in turn, into the intent You have by including them in Your Holy Bible. Amen.
…because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: 2 John -2
John gives the reason for his statements made in verse 1. These statements were that 1) he loves the elect lady and her children and 2) all those who have known the truth also love her. This isn’t because of some magnetic personality that makes everyone fawn over her, but “because of the truth which abides” in her and all believers. John says that this truth abides in us. This is a concept confirmed by Paul’s statement in Ephesians 1:13, 14 –
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:19)/the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), abides in us after we have believed the gospel message. Paul states this is a “guarantee of our inheritance” and John says in today’s verse that this truth “will be with us forever.” The term in Greek is literally “to the ages.”
If you’re in a Methodist Church, Church of God, or other denomination based on the doctrine of Jacob Arminius, you’re being trained in a theology which says that you can lose your salvation, but the Bible teaches otherwise. If God, who knows the end from the beginning, seals you with His Holy Spirit (as a guarantee) and then removes it, this shows that God has erred; an impossibility. Therefore, such doctrine is not only unsound; it is contrary to both reason and the surety of God’s word.
Talk to your pastor about these things. Find out where their doctrine is failing, and work within your denomination to stand on the purity of the gospel which teaches eternal salvation – despite ourselves.
Oh God, one thing I know for certain is that You are perfectly truthful and that what You do can never be thwarted by man or devil. Rather, Your decisions are eternal and they carry the weight and authority of the Creator of all things. Because I know this, I know that I can never be taken from Your strong grasp. I am saved, saved, saved! Hallelujah, I am saved! Amen.
Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. 2 John -3
In this letter, John follows a format used in letters throughout the ages – identify yourself, acknowledge the recipient, and then provide a greeting before engaging in the content of the letter; today’s verse is the greeting. However, unlike most greetings which state a wish (such as “I hope and pray you will be blessed”), he uses a prediction in the future tense for those he’s addressing. He says, “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you…” This is the assurance we have in Christ and it is therefore something we can all use in our future letters, never fearing that anything less will be the result in the lives of the saved believers we correspond with.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor – it will be with you; Mercy (used only here by John in his writings) is the compassion of God which provides both clemency from sin and eternal life in place of condemnation – it will be with you; and Peace is the state of perfect wholeness from God when sin and misery are eliminated in our glorification – it will be with you. He cites these as coming from “God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” By doing this, he acknowledges their distinctiveness and yet equal authority to grant such things. Each provides the blessings based on their particular working within the Godhead.
It’s unreasonable to assume, as the Gnostics whom he commonly refutes in his letters, that Jesus is somehow subordinate to or essentially separate from the Father – they are co-equal and of separate entities within one Essence. After stating “from the Lord Jesus Christ,” he provides a unique expression about Jesus – He is “the Son of the Father.” This is obviously stated to intimately connect the Father and the Son. This greeting, with its prediction of blessing from our faithful God is given “in truth and love.” What an honor to be so addressed and to know the surety of the words!
O God! To see the greeting of John today and know that I am indirectly included in such a greeting is a perfect blessing upon my soul. It is as receiving cold water on a hot day to know that the future holds the absolute surety of Grace, Mercy, and Peace for me as I await the coming of Jesus in this difficult and sin-stained world. And so I say, “Come Lord Jesus! Amen.
I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. 2 John -4
If you read the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, John follows a similar pattern to these letters because he first introduces a word of encouragement and commendation. This is a good way of setting the tone in any letter and makes saying any negative thoughts easier. It also allows those negatives aspects to be received more favorably. A note of encouragement should be repeated at the end of a letter as well if at all possible.
Here is John’s opening commendation, “I rejoice that…” His tone is acknowledging to his addressee that she has been a part of what brought her children to this state. The tense of what he’s saying is that they were not only found in a good light, but that they are continuing on in that same walk. When he says that “some of your children” are walking in the truth, it in no way implies that others aren’t. This could be the case, but it could also be the case that he only knew about the state of some of them, but he didn’t have any information about the others. This is more likely because if he knew that some of them were disobedient, he would certainly have made note of it, attempting to correct whatever was deficient.
In the final part of the verse we see “as we received commandment from the Father.” This is not speaking of a specific commandment, but rather it embodies the entire teaching of Scripture which was available at the time along with any oral directives from the apostles. Today, when we see someone who is faithfully following the Lord and is setting an example for those around them to act in the same manner, we should take the time to acknowledge their faithfulness. It’s good and proper and it will also likely spur them on to an even greater witness in the future.
Heavenly Father, give me the wisdom and desire to walk in Your truth and follow Your commands. And also give me the ability to lead others down that same path as well. May my walk be a faithful witness and light to those whose eyes are watching so that You will be glorified in their lives as well! Amen.
And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. 2 John -5
“And now” indicates that John is beginning the substance of his letter and its stated reason. When John says “I plead with you” he uses a term which indicates a personal rather than a general request, and as a request it is formal, but not as a command or directive. After this, he inserts long parenthetical statement.
First he reiterates that it is the same lady as in verse 1 who is the main addressee. Then he inserts that what he’s going to plead is nothing new, but rather something “which we have had from the beginning.” In other words, from the first moment of our faith we received it and understood it.
Finally, he comes to the point – “that we love one another.” Let’s reorder the verse so you can understand what is directly stated. “And now I plead with you, lady, that we love one another. It’s not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we’ve had from the beginning.” John’s going to explain what he means by loving one another in the verses ahead but be sure that this isn’t a gushy “must love everyone that I meet” type of love. In fact the opposite is the case as we will see.
John holds love within the Christian context in the highest place, but where anti-Christians are concerned, he takes a totally different view. This is completely in line with Jesus’ own teachings. People tend to quickly skim over Jesus words of judgment and cling to His words of love. It is inappropriate for us to tell others about the love of Christ without warning of the judgment to come. We need to have a careful balance in our Christian lives – loving as instructed and judging when necessary.
To love at the expense of judgment reduces the gospel to a meaningless social context and to judge at the expense of love reduces our religion to legalistic finger pointing and hypocritical demonstrations of superiority. Let us have balance just as our Lord has.
Lord Jesus, may what I present to others about You never fail to show the entire scope of what You expect. Where love is present, there is also judgment. Let me not shy away from a proper presentation of Your gospel message. Amen.
This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. 2 John -6
Yesterday we read about the commandment to love in verse five; today we learn about obeying that command, “This is love, that we walk according to the commandments.”
If this seems repetitious, it’s not. It’s really no different than being told that we’re not to kill another person and then being told that when we’re angry we need to act on the command we’re given. John is being thorough in his thoughts, understanding that both parts are necessary to successfully fulfill the Lord’s directives. One speaks of the action and the other speaks of the duty. As Plummer says in his commentary, “Love divorced from duty is will run riot, and duty divorced from love will starve.” As you can see, we can’t direct our attention to one without the other being off target; the two must complement each other.
Love then isn’t just a soup bowl full of feeling that we toss on the table of life for consumption. Instead, it’s the whole process involved in making the soup. We have to prepare, heat, ladle, etc. the love too. And then there’s the clean-up. When the love doesn’t sit quite right, we need to be ready to handle the unpleasant task of taking care of the after effects. All of this is involved in volitional love, not just haphazard feeling.
This then is the commandment – that we should walk in it. We need it to be a part of our daily life and actions as we go from place to place and meet with the various people with whom we come into contact. In the end, this commandment is given for our blessing and so that we will more closely resemble our Creator, and His very nature is love.
Lord, you know my proclivity for not being as loving as I should be. Help me to be more like you – loving and walking in that love as a part of my very being. You’re a great, wonderful, and loving God and if I can reflect You in my daily walk, then I will have succeeded at being a viable testimony to Your glory. Amen.
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. 2 John -7
John says “for” in today’s verse indicating the reason why he wrote verses 5 and 6. Let’s review them so you can put today’s verse in context –
And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
The problem that needed to be addressed is that “many deceivers have gone out into the world.” Imagine this! Within the lifetime of the apostle who had physically resided with, eaten with, and touched and heard the Word of God – Jesus – people were denying the very truth of the message he and the other apostles heralded. O man, o man... if people were already doing this then, how much more in the 2000 years since then.
False teachers fill our churches, our TVs, and our minds with deceit – for personal gain; it is always for personal gain. Some deceive for money, some for worldly power, and some for spiritual power, but the attack at its core comes down to personal gain. John again, as he has done in his gospel and in 1 John, focuses specifically on anyone who denies that Jesus Christ has come “in the flesh.” In other words, the incarnation ;God uniting with man. It is the continued focus of his writings and is the pivotal point on which all heresy revolves.
The claim is that He is either God, but not Man, or He is Man, but not God. Fanciful inventions of the mind all try to diminish the Person and work of Jesus. Such a teacher is “a deceiver and an antichrist.” We must remember that if the incarnation isn’t true, then there is absolutely no foundation on which the ethics of Christianity can be proclaimed – exactly what a deceiver is ultimately after – casting off the authority of God.
O God, You are God and I am Your creation. May I never attempt to diminish the work of Christ and thereby cast off Your rule and authority. Instead, may I proudly and boldly confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and it is to Him that my obedience is due. Hallelujah to the King of Glory!! Amen.
Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 2 John -8
This is the first command given in this letter and is therefore preeminent on the mind of John. He says this in the present tense so when he says “Look to yourselves,” he’s asking us to be continually watchful. This command pertains to all the addressees (both the “lady” and her children) and therefore it pertains to all the recipients as well. This means everyone who reads the Bible in which it’s included.
Why is he asking us to be watchful? It’s so that we don’t “lose those things…” This in no way means we can lose our salvation – an impossibility, but rather that we might lose our rewards. As you can see, he later says, “…that we may receive a full reward.” A full reward implies salvation hasn’t been lost, but rather the full rewards that would otherwise be due. The term “lose” is written to the believer in the immediate context of the statement and it means to “destroy.” To the unbeliever, it means their ultimate fate. When John says, “those things we worked for” he is speaking of himself and the other apostles who worked for the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is the warning that was given by Him to the apostles in Mark 13:9 –
But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. Mark 13:9
The apostles worked diligently to bring us this wonderful message of salvation and that we can even have rewards. Let us not lose such things but persevere in the power of our Lord!
Lord Jesus, I know that many have gone before me, giving up everything in order to bring Your word to me. Give me now the wisdom to walk in Your truth, persevere in faithfulness, and pass on to others the same message, without addition or manipulation. May the stream of full rewards be continued on until Your coming! Amen.
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 2 John -9
Today’s verse is very similar to 1 John 2:22, 23 –
Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
As in these verses, today’s verse begins with a negative and ends on a positive. The negative is speaking of those who transgress – or violate the truth of the doctrine of Christ. Such a person “does not have God.”
That the Messiah, or Christ, would be fully God is revealed not only in the New Testament, but in both testaments of the Bible – for example, the book of Zechariah teaches this in the Old. To read the Bible and deny this then means one “does not abide in the doctrine of Christ.” False teachers, either explicitly denying this truth, or making up other aberrant doctrines have no part in God. However, John completes his thought on a positive note – “He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”
The doctrine of Christ is the full teaching and reality of who Jesus is. He is the Son of God the Father and therefore has all the characteristics of His Father. He is also the Son of Man and therefore has all the characteristics of Man. This is the doctrine of Christ and this is what we are expected to accept at face value. Denying one or the other, or making something up in our heads which has no basis in reality (such as the Mormon teaching that Jehovah God was once a man who became God) therefore excludes these adherents from any relationship at all with Christ and thus with the Father.
How much better is it that we put aside our lying and deceitfulness and simply trust God and His word! By doing this, He is properly glorified and we are eternally saved.
What a waste of the most precious gift of all…to deny the one and only possibility of reconciliation to You, O God. Keep me from ever being seduced by such twisted and heretical doctrines and allow me the joy of honoring You for eternity – reconciled by the precious blood of Christ! Hallelujah and Amen.
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;… 2 John -10
Verses 4-6 spoke of love in the Christian context, not an “all inclusive must love unconditionally despite bad doctrine” type of love. From verses 7-9, John speaks of deceivers who have neither the Father nor the Son. Now in today’s verse, John says “If…” When he says this it isn’t a “whether” but rather he’s implying that they will come. And when they do (meaning those described in verses 7-9), they are not to be received into your house, nor even greeted.
Because these people are deceivers, they will come with a friendly guise and speak as if they are competent and correct on matters of faith. Such is how the devil swayed Adam and Eve and such is how he attempted to sway Jesus. The defining line is Jesus and therefore one must be aware of who Jesus is and which “Jesus” is being presented.
The most flagrant cases of false doctrine which you can expect at your door in the modern world are the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They bring a false Jesus. John’s injunction is that these people are not to be received or even greeted. They are not to be given common Christian hospitality. This may seem hard to reconcile with other New Testament teachings, but it’s really not.
Jesus said “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). We cannot demonstrate love to our enemies if we condone the very teaching in their lives that condemns them to hell. By greeting them and receiving them, we are implicitly acknowledging that what they are teaching is valid when it clearly isn’t. So instead of demonstrating love by greeting them, we are actually demonstrating a lack of it.
To love them is to reject them from fellowship and to pray for them. Don’t be misled by anyone who says it’s ok to condone heresy. Instead, ignore them as well. Be strong in your faith and be firm in your convictions. Souls are in the balance and you bear responsibility.
Lord, even in my small circle of acquaintances, family, co-workers, etc, I know that there are those who hold to heretical teachings. Help me to be the proper example of how to demonstrate firmness by rejecting their lies. May this example lead them to repentance and salvation. Amen.
…for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. 2 John -11
Let’s look at yesterday’s verse along with today’s and then we can analyze it –
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
Suppose someone from the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or any other faith or organization that denies the fundamental tenets of Christianity comes to your door. What do you do? Yesterday John gave us the answer – “Do not receive him into your house nor greet him.” Today John gives us the reason – “For he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
The stress in this verse is on the word “evil” and shows the severity of their actions. Welcoming them isn’t a light and simple matter; it is light vs. darkness and life vs. death. Ultimately, we are in a battle against the evil forces of this world. Anything which contradicts the truth of Jesus Christ is of the devil (1 John 3:8). By greeting someone who is actively promoting their anti-Christian cause, we are in effect condoning their work. When we do this, we solidify the thinking that what they are doing is acceptable.
This is no different than having inter-faith prayer meetings. Christians must never hold prayer meetings with those of other faiths or heretical beliefs because by doing so they implicitly acknowledge that the person of the other faith is praying to a real god who really hears, even though this is not the case.
There is One God and He has revealed Himself in the Trinitarian model of Christianity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are to hold to this truth as the supreme test of what is and what is not acceptable within the confines of our faith. Jesus Christ is the second member of this eternal Godhead – fully God and fully Man. If agreement on this cannot be reached, the person is to be rejected as a member of the family of faith. God doesn’t condone heresy and neither can we.
Heavenly Father, today’s lesson is a strong and sober reminder that I am a participant in the great spiritual battle for human souls. It reminds me that I am accountable for my actions when dealing with others who believe differently from me and that You will not look with favor upon my rebellion in these cases. Lead me properly as I walk through this world of sin and heresy that I may be a proper light, shining forth the truth of Your gospel. Amen.
Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 2 John -12
John’s short letter begins its closing remarks today and in a manner which you will see is very similar to his next letter, 3 John. It’s apparent that he had a lot on his mind when he started writing, but wearied of “paper and ink.” Instead, he decided to hold off on his thoughts until he could speak with the lady “face to face” or literally in the Greek “mouth to mouth.” This term is more personal than the English translation and it certainly expresses the joy John would have at hearing the voice while seeing the person.
The writing material that he would have used is most likely papyrus which was common at the time he wrote this. Papyrus was made from the stem of the papyrus reed – a reed which can grow in water or in arid conditions and was readily available for use throughout the region. The ink he used to write with was probably made of soot of some sort and then was mixed with water and gum and allowed to dry into sticks. These would be remoistened as needed for use. As a side note, a fragment of one such papyrus, known as the John Ryland Papyrus contains a portion of the Gospel of John and dates back to the early 1st century and is the oldest known portion of any New Testament writing.
When John would meet up with the lady, he says their conversation would make his joy full. The way he says it brings about the thought of not only being full, but continuing to be full, even to overflowing. He gives the same sentiment in 1 John 1:4 – “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” John had a passion for those he addressed and it’s apparent that he truly reveled in them and their company. We can learn a great deal from such an attitude as we relate to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ – not only sharing time with them, but truly reveling in their company and sharing the close bond which is our Lord and Savior.
Heavenly Father, what a joy it is to read John’s words and to share in his personal thoughts – thoughts which deal with his relationship with you, with other believers, and how we also should interact between each other. Thank You for including these treasures in Your word. Amen.
The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen. 2 John -13
Incredibly, we’ve come to the end of John’s second letter already. From the pen of the heartfelt and beloved apostle of the Lord Jesus, we’ve searched the intimate words of John to “the elect lady and her children.” Today he ends his letter with the sending of greetings from “the children of your elect sister.”
As we discussed at the beginning of the letter, “the elect lady” may be referring to a real person with real offspring, or it could be referring to another church of saved believers. If the first is the case, we notice that the sister (the mother of the children) isn’t mentioned as being a part of the greeting. This may indicate she had already died. If it’s speaking of a church body, then it means that the congregation as a whole, which John attended, was sending a collective salutation. Either way, the purpose of the epistle is maintained and nothing is lost in intent or meaning.
We can be pleased that God kept the nature of the true recipient from us so that we can use this letter as a guide when addressing individuals or church bodies. Take time to re-read the letter one more time before you finish your devotional today and think on the layout and theme of it. In the future, try to use it as a guideline when writing on similar issues. If this is a part of the Bible, then it is approved of God in both style and content.
John closes the letter with “Amen.” This indicates a sense of completion or “so be it” and it also indicates “truth.” And truth has been the very focus of the letter. Where truth is, there will be no tendency to demonstrate love without correction – something John has carefully pointed out. Love without truth is ultimately a condemning love. Let us remember this as we speak and write about the truth of God’s plan for humanity.
Lord Jesus, what a treat it was to study and think on the depth of this short letter from John. You included it for our edification and today I feel so edified – having peered into its love and truth and come away with a deeper knowledge of what touches Your very heart. Until You come for me, may I only demonstrate love when it is combined with truth. Amen.