because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
2 John was written to the lady chosen by God and to her children [2 John 1:1] in the old age of John the apostle. While some may interpret the lady as a church and the children as the followers, there seems to be no reason not to adopt the literal meaning of the text. By now, John was quite advanced in age, old enough to be older than most people and act as an elder figure to many believers. 2 John is a short chapter, and other than his commend of the elect lady and her children, John’s most significant point in this letter was to warn against showing hospitality to false preachers of the word of God. Noting John’s emphasis on the importance of the true gospel in this letter, we’ll focus on his justification on his declaration of love towards the lady and her children. In this study, we will examine what it means to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and why it is so important.
because – verses get sliced up halfway (I’m not complaining), which really drives the point that we cannot take a single verse (or a single passage) and run away with it, without the context. Connectors like this makes it easy for us to know that we need to refer to the context, and in this case, we have to look at the only preceding verse: the elder, to the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth—[2 John 1:1]. Basically, John is saying that he loves the children of the lady, because of the truth:
the truth – he loves them not because they are beautiful, not because they are kind, not because they are noble or share a high status. He loves them not because they have been hospitable to him, or have been his good friends. No, not all of that. He loves them because of the truth, and he repeated it twice (mentioned it thrice) – whom I love in the truth, also all who know the truth, because of the truth. That is good to know, but the unstated question here is, as Pilate once famously asked, what is the truth? [John 18:38|Article]. It is also a question Jesus once answered (although not to Pilate) – I am the truth, the way and the life [John 14:6]. I think there are two answers, which basically form the same answer, but since this is an analysis, let us examine both answers:
- Jesus Christ is the truth. Undeniably, as so declared by the man himself in John 14:6. We belong to him, and through him and in him we are able to love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, for we’re all connected and rooted spiritually through him. He is the sustenance of our faith, and the one whom we set our sights on, the one we try (but always fail) to emulate. The one who died on the cross to save our souls, the one whose name we pray by, whose name we preach with.
- The gospel is the truth. It’s pretty much the same thing, but still. What is the gospel? There are many ways to describe it, but in essence, the gospel is Jesus Christ our Lord of all. The gospel is about Jesus Christ, and God’s redemption plan for all of us. The gospel is the message of the cross, and what is the message of the cross? Jesus Christ. There is an inseparable relationship between the gospel and Jesus Christ, to the point where if a man claims to be preaching the gospel but speaks not of Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour, then he must have been one of those false preachers that John was warning about, no?
which lives in us – Jesus Christ our Lord of all, he lives in us. Us, here, must refer to John himself and to whom he addressed the letter to – be it the children of the Lady chosen by God, or the churchgoers to the church he was writing to, whichever interpretation you prefer. It really doesn’t matter. This is an idea that Paul preached about as well – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me [Gal 2:20]. For all who believes, the gospel has a place in our hearts, in our minds – within us. And it is really because all believers have Christ in us, that we’re able to love one another and support one another spiritually.
and will be with us forever – and here John – the disciple of love, the apostle who wrote the only non-synoptic gospel book, and the book of Revelations – promises us that once Christ has dwelt in us, he will never depart from us, he will never leave nor abandon us. Forever is a long promise, a promise man cannot make, but a promise only God is justified in making. Once you truly accept that Jesus is Lord, the truth resides in us forever.
John loved his brothers and sisters in Christ, because of the truth. Because they shared the same truth, the same gospel, the same Lord, John was able to love them and profess it like that. It is a form of true love made possible only through God and by our obedience to the word of the Lord – we wouldn’t have been capable of such a form of love by our own volition. Were they especially deserving of praise, or did they do anything good that John should love them specially? Perhaps they did – my suspicion is that John wouldn’t have written specially to them if he wasn’t especially close to them or if there wasn’t anything exemplary about them. However, none of those were mentioned – the focus was really upon the truth. If you live in the truth, and the truth lives in you, you will obey the word of God, and in doing so, it will be certain that they were people who have led good, Christian lifestyles.
In our modern context, many of us as Christians quite usually surround ourselves with at least a few Christian friends, whether from church or elsewhere. In our fellowships, in our cell groups, in our care groups, as we show care and concern with one another, let it be a form of genuine love that’s rooted in the truth; and not pure emotional or physical attachment. Not that emotional or physical love isn’t important, but what sustains us has got to be our spiritual relationship, granted to us by the same truth that is in us.