When John wrote his second letter he was concerned with truth as well as with love. And when you think about it, these two go hand in hand: truth and love. In a world where “truth” seems to be defined as whatever a person wants it to be, it is refreshing to read about something definite and concrete called “truth” – and it is based in God’s word.
“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— because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever…” (2 John 1-2 NIV).
Although “the lady” could be a specific Christian woman, most believe that this is referring to a congregation. The text would seem to bear this out as “you” in Greek, throughout the letter, is plural rather than singular. Her “children” then would be the Christians who were part of that community of God’s people.
Notice how vital “truth” is to the apostle John – he loves them in truth, all who know the truth also love them, and this love is based on the truth that lives in us as Christians.
What is the truth that John refers to? A simple answer would seem to be “Jesus”. In the upper room the night of his betrayal Jesus told those with him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Doesn’t this make sense in the context John is using it? John loved “the lady” and “her children” in Jesus. All who knew Jesus loved them. They love them because Jesus lives in them and will be with them forever. Jesus is the truth. And truth is connected with love.
“It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (2 John 4-6).
He was full of joy because Christians were “walking in the truth” – they were living their lives in Jesus (and he in them!) and they were following what God has commanded. The way they were living was based on love. This wasn’t a new command but a command that has always been there: we need to “love one another”.
And what is love? “That we walk in obedience to his commands.” If we love, we are obedient. We cannot claim to love our parents and then not obey what they ask of us. Our actions would be in opposition to our words. And it is the same with our relationship with God. We cannot claim to love God and then not obey him. “His command is that you walk in love.”
Isn’t this the problem that he highlights in the rest of this letter? There were those who were claiming to be following God, claiming to be true teachers, yet were not obeying God. People can claim anything. They can claim to be full of love. Yet the proof of this is seen in their obedience.
“Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).
Love, truth, and obedience are inseparable. If we have these, “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love” (2 John 3).
Readings for next week:
28 May – Acts 28
29 May – 1 John 1-2
30 May – 1 John 3
31 May – 1 John 4-5
1 June – 2 John