The Second Epistle of John

The Second Epistle of John

A Transcript of James Battell’s Verse-By-Verse King James Bible Study

Available at: https://youtu.be/-Ai_LaqrArk

Please open your Bibles to 2 John. This will be the continuation from yesterday’s study from 1 Corinthians 15.

And you would have thought that 2 John would be a pretty easy book to exegete (just 13 verses), but in fact it’s very difficult to exegete. In fact, 1 John is 5 chapters, and that was pretty straightforward for me to do some years ago. But 2 John isn’t as easy as you would think. In fact, 3 John (which is 14 verses), is even trickier.

But 2 John was written by the apostle John, and I think 1 John, 2 John and 3 John were probably written earlier than we have been led to believe. We are told by Church tradition that 1 John, 2 John and 3 John were written around 90 AD, but I’m starting to think that perhaps they were written earlier, because the themes which are found in all three epistles are very similar to what Simon Peter was preaching back in the first 10, 11 chapters of the Book of Acts. And I just wonder if John 1, 2 and 3 were penned early, pre-Paul’s calling, I’m not sure.

But let’s take a look at 2 John this morning. Let’s see what the Lord will show us from His word:

2 John, verses 1-2: “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.”

“The elect lady and her children”. The world “elect”, “election” always refers to called for service. And yet Calvinists believe that it would be referring to one’s salvation. That’s what the Calvinists hold to, and later today we go to Geneva, the homeland, the heartland, the base of John Calvin’s Calvinist state.

He wasn’t born in Geneva; he was born in France. But if you were a Calvinist, if you are a Calvinist, you look up to Geneva. You look to John Calvin’s base, as I say, for your foundation for your service.

But here, it starts off by saying, “The elder”, being John, of course. Not pastor, not bishop, not the Holy Father! “The elder unto the elect lady and her children”.

So, I take this to be a literal woman with her children. And he’s writing to her. He’s an old man around this time, and yet we can’t be dogmatic as to when this was written, but if we take the traditional view that it was written late in John’s life (around 90 AD), then he was a very old man, hence why he calls himself an elder.

But we don’t need to re-date this piece of Scripture, because to be a leader in the early church, you would be an elder. Paul refers to himself as an elder, as does Simon Peter.

So, I think we can just leave it as it is, but he’s an older man. He’s writing to this woman and her children, “whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth [she’s got a good testimony, which is always important]; For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.”

Christ is the truth, and He also said: you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free, if you continue in my word (John 8).

Look at verse 3, please:

2 John, verse 3: “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

“Grace”, meaning God’s righteousness at Christ’s expense! God’s unmerited favour, something we receive through His gift to us. We don’t deserve grace. If we got what we deserved, we’d get judgment.

But by His mercy we are given grace, which is what saves us, which leads into mercy and peace. We have peace with God (Romans 5:1), through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are at peace now, through our sins being forgiven. We have peace in our hearts through the Word of God, and we have joy which is unspeakable from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

But look at this: “the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” Very interesting term, “the Son of the Father”.

If you speak to a Muslim, he or she will refer to Christ as the son of Mary, and that term, the son of Mary, is only found once in the word of God, from Mark 6. But Christ would call Himself the Son of God around 40 times, from memory, and the Son of Man, around 80 times.

But here the “Son of the Father” is a positional term to state that He is the second Member of the Godhead, and His relationship is such that He is the second to the Father, with the Holy Spirit being the third to the Father. But that doesn’t drop anyone down as far as their standing is concerned. They are all equal to one another, but it goes on to say “in truth and love.”

So far, it’s pretty straightforward to read and pretty straightforward to understand, but (as I say) that first piece from verse 1, in reference to the elect lady, does cause some problems to certain groups of people.

Let’s just leave it, as it is in reference to her service and her children, in reference to her standing, in reference to her relationship, and she’s being commended by John.

It’s also interesting to me that she’s not named. There are many women in Scripture that are named, and many that are not named.

I remember speaking to a woman in the streets a few weeks ago in my town who came from a charismatic background, and she was asking me to recommend to her a good church. Always problematic, of course, and she said to me “I like to speak in tongues.” And I said to her, “Well, the word of God says that women are to be silent in the assembly, 1 Corinthians 14, and they’re not to speak, meaning they’re not to speak in tongues.” And she said to me, “Well, that may be so.” And I said to her, “Well, there aren’t any women found in Scripture that I can find who ever spoke in tongues.” So, she said to me, “Well, that may be so.” most women that are found in Scripture are pretty mute. The word of God doesn’t give us much about women in general.” So, I went back and forth with her. I said, “Well, if you want to believe that tongues are for women, then you can do so. But you have to do so by arguing from silence.” So, I went back and forth with her, saw her about a week later. And it was round two, same argument again with her. I saw her a third week, and she was sitting down smoking a cigarette. And I thought, “What a holy woman you must be! You spent 15 minutes the first week bending my ear about how holy you are, speaking in tongues. You spent the second weekend speaking to me, telling me about how you have this great gift of speaking in tongues, and the third week I see you, sitting on a bench in my town, smoking a cigarette, giving me dagger looks.”

But anyway, the point is this woman [in John 2] was elect. She was chosen for service post-her salvation. She’s being commended, and it’s a great testimony to say for this woman to be able to have enjoyed.

But let’s read on. Look at verse 4, please:

2 John, verse 4: “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.”

It’s one thing to be saved. It’s something else to have your children saved, and on top of that, it’s something else to have your children walking in the truth!

Verse 5:

2 John, verse 5: “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.”

A lady came up to me yesterday, read my tract in Lausanne, and she said to me, “I like your tract, but I’m not happy with the way the tract is laid out. It starts off on a negative note. You need to love people. Are you scaring people into believing in your God?” And I said to her, “Well, the word of God says how the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And I said to her, “If you were raised by good parents, you should love your parents. If you are a good citizen, you should have some fear of the state, fear of the police, fear of the army, even fear of your employer. It’s a normal feeling to have. It’s just fear that somebody’s more powerful than you are. They have more responsibility than you do.” And she said “Yes, but you’re trying to fear people into believing in your God.” And I said, “Listen, 150,000 people die every day, which is around 8,000 an hour. Time is precious. I could say to you that Christ has a great plan for you, He loves you very much, and you wouldn’t have stopped to talk to me. But you stopped to talk to me because my tract has pricked your conscience.” I said, “Christ came preaching love, which, yes, He is the personification of love, and they still crucified Him. So, the world doesn’t really want a loving Saviour. It’s only once you’re saved do you want a loving Saviour.” So, I said to her, “We start on a negative, because death is a negative. And we end on a positive, because Christ has overcome death for us.”

But this love in verse 5 is a Christian love. It’s a spiritual love; in fact, I would say it is a supernatural love. It’s quite rare for people to love other people they don’t even know. I mean, look at us today! There’s 5 of us from 3 countries, from 3 very different backgrounds, and we’ve come together for Christ.

But the point I’m trying to make is we’re very different people from very different backgrounds, different backgrounds in every possible way. And yet, for the Lord’s love, for His mercy (verse 5), we’ve come together to preach the word of God, to reach out to unsaved people.

On top of that we’ve had great fellowship these past few days. You know, we get along well. We enjoy each other’s company, and again I think that’s something to be spoken about, to be thankful for.

But it says, “Not as I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.” You were told to love one another. In fact, the Lord spoke about this in John 17 that you need to love one another so that the world may know that I’ve sent you.

But here’s the problem: the Calvinists will start off by quoting John 17, in reference to: I don’t pray for the world, I pray just for those that you’ve given Me. That’s true, but keep this in mind. He’s speaking as the high Priest; He’s speaking about the Church. He’s speaking about those He’s chosen, first of all, for service (Luke 6), and He’s speaking about those that He’s chosen to go out and preach the gospel.

But then, the Catholics come along and they pick up John 17: that we may all be one in Christ.

But we are one in Christ through the resurrection. We are one in Christ through the new birth. We don’t need to get together with other people from other backgrounds to become one. You’ve got to watch these verses. The Catholics will twist it, and the Calvinists will twist it! But we love one another because we are born again. But we were told to love the Lord thy God first of all, with all our minds, heart, soul and strength. And then to love one another. Don’t get that back to front. And if you do get that back to front, you’re going to be guilty of humanism.

Look at verse 6 please:

2 John, verse 6: “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”

That is love in a nutshell! Never mind preaching Christ loves you, He’s got a great plan for your life, come as you are, be wealthy and prosperous, your best life and all that jazz. No! Love is to walk after His commandments, plural!

And those commandments are clearly laid out in 1 John chapter 5, verse 2: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” Chapter 5, verse 1: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.”

So, you believe that Christ is the Son of God. That saves you. And then you love those that are begotten of Him.

But most people will read these verses and think it’s speaking about the Ten Commandments. It’s not! The Ten Commandments (if we’re going to be picky now) were given to the children of Israel (Exodus chapter 20), not the Church! And when we were told if we love one another, from Romans 13, we have fulfilled the law. But I won’t get into that this morning.

But this love here in verse 6, feeding into the commandments, plural, those have been defined to you to you from 1 John 5:1 and 1 John 5:2 that, “as ye have heard from the beginning, you should walk in them.” From the beginning of your salvation, and from the beginning of the early church! This is a real picture of love: loving the brethren, loving one another, denying yourselves.

That’s the pickup from Acts 15, in reference to abstaining from meats offered to idols, abstaining from fornication, abstaining from eating things that were strangled. The whole point of Acts 15, as far as the Gentiles are concerned, would be to abstain from doing anything that would cause the Jewish remnant to stumble. It’s putting others first, it’s denying yourself, it’s picking up your cross daily and following the Lord. It’s hard! The flesh is powerful. You could be saved 25 or 30 years, that flesh is powerful! That flesh wants to do what it wants to do, and you’ve got to put it to death! You’ve got to mortify the flesh. It’s pretty difficult, I will tell you that.

Look at verse 7, please, from 2 John:

2 John, verse 7: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

And we meet them every day. “For many deceivers”, not some! But “many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” It could be a Jew. A Jew won’t have any time for Jesus Christ, Jesus being “Jehovah saves”, Christ being “Messiah”, “Ha-Mashiach” as the Jews would pronounce it. They have no time for Jesus being the Messiah, but He’s come in the flesh.

On top of that, you’ve got the whole error of the Gnostics in the background in John’s mind. The Gnostics having this warped understanding that, well, first of all, they believe that there’s truth outside of Scripture, which the Catholic church still believes, they think there’s truth outside of Scripture. On top of that, they also believe that the notion that there was sin within one’s soul was problematic. But you’re born in sin! David said he came out of his mother’s womb. He was conceived in sin. Christ said that there’s nobody good but God. Paul would say that we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. So, we know we’re no good, and I was trying to explain this to this girl yesterday at the station: that we’re no good in ourselves, and yet Christ is a friend of sinners. God came to the earth in Christ Jesus to save sinners.

But let’s read this bit more carefully:

“For many deceivers are entered into the world [unclean spirits in people, sometimes intentionally, going around to cause mischief, sometimes in ignorance: but it makes no difference; what they are saying and doing is going to cause people to go to Hell], who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

An antichrist can be against Christ, and an antichrist can stand in the presence or in the place of Christ. The Catholic church is antichrist on multiple counts. They believe when their bishop of Rome is ordained, the pope of Rome, he is the vicar of Christ, and he stands on earth as Christ.

But I believe the vicar of Christ, if we’re going to be honest about this, would be the Holy Spirit because He is infallible! He’s everywhere at the same time.

But the pope of Rome is just a man, he doesn’t know any more than you or I know. He doesn’t know when the Lord’s going to come back, he doesn’t know who the false prophets or the Antichrist will be.

And our Calvinist friends will refer to the pope being the Antichrist, and when we get to Geneva later today, we’ll have a look around that city, and maybe speak to some Calvinists if they are still around, though I think most Genevans are probably liberal, secular. In fact, I’m told that the church in Geneva where Calvin pastored is now run by a woman. It’s in a pretty poor state.

But we’ll go there, do some work. But a Calvinist will tell you that the pope is the Antichrist. But that’s problematic, because the Antichrist, who’s clearly found in the Book of Revelation, works with the false prophet and the beast. And I think to myself, if the pope is the Antichrist, who’s the false prophet? Who’s the beast? And if you take the historical view of Revelation, that it’s unfolding throughout church history, who are the two witnesses?

I hold to the view that the Bible presents a future Antichrist, a future false prophet, that’s called futurism. I don’t think that the pope is the Antichrist, but he is an antichrist, or a antichrist. He is a antichrist. A deceiver, as I say, could be somebody who is intentionally going out to cause you problems or somebody who is just simply ignorant. But it makes no difference. Both people, ignorant or intentionally deceiving, are lost, and they’re going to take you to Hell with them if you’re not careful.

Verse 8:

2 John, verse 8: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”

If you’re saved, then one thing you need to be very careful about is that you don’t arrive at the Judgment Seat with nothing to show for your life. This is the real potential situation for people that are going to find themselves in if they’re not careful: that you could arrive in eternity with nothing whatsoever.

Now, your salvation has been dealt with. Praise the Lord for that! If you’re saved, you’re kept saved no matter what. And that’s a great doctrine to hold to.

When we get to verse 9 and 10, you’ll see why that can be troublesome to some people, because most Christians believe you can lose it. Most think you can lose it! But I don’t believe that. I won’t talk about that in depth this morning, but what you can lose are rewards. That is a real reality amongst some groups of Christians. In fact, I think most Christians, according to my understanding of the word of God, are going to arrive at the Judgment Seat with nothing to show for their lives.

But it says, one more time, from verse 8: “Look to yourselves [be careful, be mindful] that we [those of us which have appropriated the atonement, those of us which are born again] lose not those things which we have wrought [which we have gained, which we have achieved, which we have received] but that we receive a full reward.” It’s all to play for.

And I tell people who contact me wanting to do something for the Lord to get busy for the Lord. I mean we’ve been here for two days now. We’ve given out a thousand tracts yesterday. We’re not bragging about it; we’re just giving the Lord glory that we were able to do a thousand tracts on day one, two hours in the morning at the train station, two hours in the evening at the train station, travelling around to different parts of Lausanne.

And as I say, we go to Geneva today, and if we can keep up this schedule for the next couple of days, there’s no reason why we couldn’t give out two and a half or three thousand tracts by the time we go home on Friday.

It’s about service! It’s about doing something for the Lord! Like verse 1, the elect lady and her children. Verse 4, walking in the truth. They’re known amongst the apostles.

It’s a great thing to be saved! It’s a great thing to be working for the Lord, and yet most Christians are lazy. Most Christians need to be motivated. So, it’s all to play for, as far as I’m concerned.

Let’s read on, look at verse 9, please:

2 John, verse 9: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

This is where it gets somewhat tricky now, because most believers believe you have to do something to stay saved.

It’s bad enough sitting down with these people and speaking about salvation, because most people think you have to stop doing something before you can be saved. If I have to stop sinning, if I had to stop doing this, or if I start doing that, then I can get saved. I’m not ready yet to be saved. My heart’s not right with the Lord yet. I don’t feel clean enough, I don’t feel ready enough to be saved. That’s a dangerous set of beliefs to have!

You come as you are, broken. You should be convicted over your sins. You should be sorry for who you are and what you are. And I spent nearly 40 minutes yesterday trying to speak to that young lady at the train station, trying to show her she’s no good. And yet she knew she was no good: she knew that she was a sinner. So, she’s got some advantage to most people I speak to. And she could see that Christ died for her sins, but she wasn’t yet ready to receive Him. Why? Because her heart hasn’t yet been circumcised. She’s not clean, she hasn’t been regenerated, she’s not humble enough. She’s near the kingdom of God but not quite there yet.

But it says here “whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” Now, the doctrine of Christ, in a nutshell, is first of all to receive Him; it’s to believe on Him. And of course, if you don’t abide in Him, John 15, you’ve got a problem. Because it says here if you transgress and don’t abide in the doctrine of Christ, you haven’t got God.

Now you could take that to be in reference to Judas, for example. He comes into the presence of the Lord. He has a revelation of the Lord. He has many revelations of the Lord, but his first revelation of the Lord is that Christ is the Son of God. But he doesn’t abide in Christ, and yet it’s problematic to cite Judas, because according to John 6, he was a devil. So, you see, it’s difficult, and yet most people go to John 6 to teach conditional security, which I think is problematic, if not foolish, but let’s read on.

“He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

My feeling when I was looking at this some weeks ago, before we came out here, and reading it again last night and also this morning, is that John is speaking about mixing law with grace. This was a big problem for the early church, and I spoke about this yesterday. Because the early church were predominately Jewish, they come from Jewry. They knew that they were something different or something special, as far as the Gentiles were concerned, and yet according to Deuteronomy 7, they were chosen not because of themselves, but in spite of themselves. And they were the least of the nations and yet this was a problem: can we become Christians and continue in the law? And the answer, of course, is no.

But let’s read on and see what verse 10 shows us, and then try and harmonize these two verses with verse 11.

2 John, verses 10-11: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

And I spoke about this yesterday. You’ve got to be careful when you speak to Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons, or anybody from a false religion; it could be the Catholics coming to your house.

In fact, I was looking at Facebook last night and a friend of ours was saying that she received a phone call yesterday. She’s American, and it was a Jehovah’s Witness, witnessing over the phone! This is now a new scheme they’re now using, a new method of witnessing, through the phone. And she gave this JW the word of God. She witnessed to her, but she was pretty surprised that they’re now phoning up people to witness to people. Wow! But if this person comes into your home, without this doctrine (I think “Christ alone”)! Don’t receive them into your home, don’t even bid them God speed. Don’t even wish him well, because if you do so you’re going to be partaker of his evil deeds.

But keep your hand there, in 2 John, and jump back to 2 Timothy, so we get a bit more light on this theory of mine.

2 Timothy, let’s see now, 2 Timothy chapter 4. Look at verse 3, please: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

There you are! They won’t endure sound doctrine. This is speaking about saved people. The time will come (and it’s probably now) when they will not endure sound doctrine (very much today): “I love Benny Hinn,” “I love Joyce Meyer,” “I love TD Jakes,” “I love John MacArthur,” “I love John Piper,” “I love James White.” We get it all the time.

“But after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” Dominion theology, name it and claim it, so on, so forth. “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” And if they’re not careful, they’re going to fall from grace and lose their rewards.

Jump over to Titus chapter 3, please, Titus chapter 3, and look at verse 9: “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.”

There’s the word again “vain” from 1 Corinthians 15: “unless you have believed in vain”, 2 Corinthians 6: “unless you have believed in vain”, “a man that is an heretick [verse 10] after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”

A heretic, a heresy, a false teacher, deceiver (feeding back into 2 John) “after the first and second admonition [warning] reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth [he’s a deceiver], being condemned of himself.” And on top of that he’s probably deceiving himself, which is even worse.

Jump over to Philippians chapter 3, please. Philippians chapter 3, and take a look at verse 2, please: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” Those that teach works! If you do this, if you do that, you can be saved. You must keep the law, Acts 15:1, in order to be saved. It’s heresy and it all feeds nicely into 2 John.

Go back to 2 John, please, and let’s wrap this up. 2 John 12, please:

2 John, verse 12: “Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.”

This is too important to put down on paper, I’ll give them the basic points for now. I’m going to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full, which goes back to the beginning of this epistle, we have peace and mercy but we need joy as well. If you’re a saved person, you have joy which is unspeakable, which is supernatural.

And this girl I was speaking to yesterday, I tried to explain to her that without Christ, she’s lost, which she understood. Without a new birth she’s damned, which she understood. But she needs joy and peace and mercy, which she doesn’t understand. She won’t, of course. But that was a great witness, that was a great conversation, and Lord willing we’ll have many more conversations as we continue our time in Switzerland.

But look at verse 13, and we’ll finish there:

2 John, verse 13: “The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.”

On top of these verses, please understand that John was an old man. I’ve already said that, I know. But I want to make that –one more time– clear: that he was a man, he was an elder, he was an older man, hence why he’s calling these people ‘children’. He wasn’t referred to as Father John. I want to say that because the Catholics are very good at calling themselves “Father.” And yet we’re told not to do so in Matthew 28. In fact, rabbis that call themselves “Rabbi,” if they are in the Messianic movement, according to Matthew 23, are also out of order.

On top of that, “holy and reverend is thy name” [Psalm 111:9]. I don’t believe that we should call anyone “Reverend” either.

So, there you are, thirteen verses from 2 John. Not a particularly easy epistle to read, but for the sake of time, for the sake of ETC radio, I wanted to get it done in 30 minutes. And maybe I will come back and look at these verses in some more depth at a later time, but I think you’ve got the general gist. I hope, anyway. That’s what this epistle is all about, but in a nutshell, don’t mix law and grace! If you do, you’ll fall from grace, Galatians chapter 5.

On top of that, don’t allow anybody into your home with another gospel, and if you’re not careful you could arrive at the Judgment Seat with nothing to show for your life. But your salvation, praise the Lord, isn’t the issue here, but your service certainly is.

And I think the verses from 2 Timothy, Titus and Philippians hopefully added to my theory that he’s speaking about law and grace, false teachers coming into the assembly, causing great problems and distress and how we need to be careful of such people, but on top of that to rejoice in the grace that we have and to rest in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.