Gracefully Truthful

Healing,Jesus,Justice,Love,Mercy,Power,Redemption

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

2 John 1:1-6

The elder:
To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth—and not only I, but also all who know the truth— 2 because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever. 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

4 I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father. 5 So now I ask you, dear lady—not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.

6 This is love: that we walk according to his commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: that you walk in love.

The Original Intent

1) What can we learn about Jesus and the Church from verses 1-2?

In an entirely patriarchal society where women were viewed as property without a voice or value, it was shockingly obvious, and uncomfortable for onlookers, when Jesus elevated women to a place of honor.

Always one to press against norms for the sake of justice, this was Jesus’ normative mode of operation. He regularly sought the lowest of the low, those caught in shame from sin, society, or oppression, and raised them up to enjoy fellowship with Him, find purpose, and be graced with honor. He didn’t do this out of pity or a hand-out, but because He valued the least and desired to honor them as His crowning creation. All human beings, regardless of social status, have innate value because they are created in the image of God. Imago Dei. (Genesis 1:27)

Jesus set about to bring attention to that glorious image and right the wrong that sin and society had forced upon His image bearers by demeaning and shaming them. This is a perfect picture of God’s righteous justice.

Centuries before Jesus would take our death on the cross in the greatest act of justification by raising the sinner to saint through faith in His work, the prophet Isaiah told of the Lord’s view of justice, “The sons of your oppressors will come and bow down to you; all who reviled you will fall facedown at your feet. They will call you the City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Instead of your being deserted and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you an object of eternal pride, a joy from age to age.” (Isaiah 60:14-15)

Christ’s overarching mission is to seek the lost and the oppressed, and offer them grace, mercy, forgiveness, and, the unimaginable, a place of honor! (Ephesians 2:6-7)

The Everyday Application

1) What can we learn about Jesus and the Church from verses 1-2?

Scholars disagree as to whether “the elect lady” recipient was a leading woman within a local church that gathered in her home, or if “lady” was meant to represent the church at large, giving her a personified gender. Either way, the ancient reader simply could not overlook the justice of God in elevating what was viewed in society as impotent and unimportant (a woman) to a place of honor with responsibility in God’s Kingdom on earth.

Whether the recipient was a woman, reviled and demeaned by society, or whether “she” was personified as “church”, persecuted for following Jesus, John’s words are meant to embolden and encourage. “She” is loved, not only by God, but by John, a fellow believer, who loves that local church or “her” as a fellow sister and saint in Christ. Because the same Spirit indwells both of them, the Spirit binds them together in love and truth, which John encourages “her” to continue holding steadfastly.

God’s love sees the least and the lowly and sets them firmly upon the solid rock of truth, freeing them to be found in fellowship with Him and other believers as they all abide together in God’s Spirit. In Christ’s love, we are Home!  

He is the God who daily stoops to bear our burdens. (Psalm 68:19) The Infinite Deity who chose to exhale His life so that life for the Lost may be made accessible. (Mark 10:45, Psalm 68:20) We are the shamed. He is the honorable. And He is at work, just as He always been, to seek the lost that they may be found and honored in His sight. (Luke 19:10 and James 4:10) See the breathtaking justice of God and participate in it to act justly toward the “least” in your world! (Matthew 10:42)

The Original Intent

2) How is John’s freshly written command an old one? (verse 5)

Jesus is quoted as saying, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” (John 13:34) But this was an old command! Dating back to the giving of the law!

Leviticus 19:18 says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”, finishing off with giving the reason why His people were to love, “I am the Lord”. Because the Lord is a God of love, and He is our Lord, we are called to uphold His name by loving as He loves. Period.

When Jesus said He was giving a new command, He was filling up the “old command” with a fuller definition. The Levitical command instructed God’s people to love simply because they were God’s people. Now, as Jesus prepared to lay down His life to rescue sinners, He expanded the motivation behind the “old law” and making it a “new command”.

Just as He would love His people by laying down His life, so were His followers to “love one another” by laying down their lives in sacrifice to all people. […] Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” (John 13:34)

When John wrote in verse 5, “So now I ask you, dear lady—not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another”, he was reminding “the elect lady”, that we obey the “old command” (Levitical) with the new, broader definition of Christ. In succinct language, John was hemming together the grand story of the whole of Scripture, bringing Old and New Testaments together because of Jesus!

The Everyday Application

2) How is John’s freshly written command an old one? (verse 5)

God has always been a God of love, justice, and compassion as He has unveiled truth through His people. Now, after Jesus’ model of sacrificial love that made the mystery of the gospel” plain to the Jews and available to the Gentiles (1 Corinthians 2:1-2), living out the old command takes on new life.

Paul provides clarity in Romans 9:31-32, “Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law. Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were [possible] by works.”

We cannot simply “do the things” that check a box marked “love”, we must love from the roots of faith in Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself up for us. (Ephesians 5:2) We are to love like Him through faith at work in us to make us love others in the same way. (James 2:12-14)

Jesus’ love brings transformation. Counterfeit, man-made “love” brings only emptiness, a façade for the real thing. When we are loved by Christ’s sacrifice, accepting Him in all truth, we are made new to love others like He loves us. By this, “everyone will know” we belong to Jesus if we “love one another” in God’s way of love. (John 13:35)

If you’ve been remade by Jesus’ love, accessible by repenting of sin and accepting His forgiveness, you will find yourself loving others like never before. If you’re “forcing yourself” to “try to love” others on your own strength, you will quickly run out of “love”. Only those who have embraced Jesus’ love for themselves are fueled to love others like Jesus loves us!

Have you welcomed His love by confessing your sin and giving up control of your life to Him?

The Original Intent

3) With such a short letter, why does the author spend so much ink on “truth” and “love”? (verses 1-6)

Most scholars credit this letter to the apostle John who wrote the gospel of John, likely 1st and 2nd John, and Revelation as well, but there is some debate. One thing, scholars do agree on regarding authorship is that 2 John wasn’t written by the apostle Paul. We have many samples of Paul’s writing and his consistent marks are obviously missing from this letter. He doesn’t name himself and his handling of the gospel spelled out on repeat, his most common trademark, is also missing.

Though Paul’s style of explaining the gospel isn’t present in 2 John, the gospel still takes center stage by expounding on “truth” and “love”, which, by way of authorship connection, is very closely connected to John’s narrative which describes Jesus as “full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)

The gospel story begins and ends with truth and is woven through with a wondrous pairing of boundless grace, all held together by indescribable love. John’s note about unity among all believers resulting from this truth, “that remains in us and will be with us forever” (verse 2, emphasis mine) is a clear nod to John’s record of Jesus’ words in John 15:3-4, “You are already clean because of the word (Truth) I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in Me.” (emphasis mine)

Flourishing happens when we are bound tightly by Truth, choosing to saturate ourselves with us, letting it renew our minds and lead us on paths of righteousness. All truth is God’s truth, but the Truth John wrote of, and the Truth that both transforms us and binds fellow believers together is the truth of the gospel!

The Everyday Application

3) With such a short letter, why does the author spend so much ink on “truth” and “love”? (verses 1-6)

What is the “gospel” and how does it connect with truth, grace, and love? I’m so glad you asked! The author opens with confident rejoicing, and the binding unity provided, by Truth. Not any truth, not “your truth” or “my truth”, but the Truth.

1) We are sinners, eternally separated from God because of our sin. (Isaiah 59:2)
2) Only perfectly righteous beings can fellowship with God and receive adoption as His children. (Isaiah 59:15)
3) We are forever unrighteous because even our good deeds are stained with sin. (Isaiah 64:5-6)
4) Christ Jesus took the punishment for all sin, which is eternal death and separation from God, upon Himself when He laid down His life at the cross. (1 John 2:2)
5) Because Jesus is the perfectly holy God, it was impossible for Death to win over Him. By God’s Spirit, Christ was raised to life after three days, never to die again. (Acts 2:23-24)
6) Because Jesus will never die again, and holds eternal victory over Sin and Death, He has the right to give this victory to whoever willingly comes to Him. (Romans 6:9)
7) When we agree with God about the truth of our sin, come to Him with true repentance, He will faithfully forgive every sin, adopt us as His children, and give us His righteousness in exchange for our filthy rags of sin. (1 John 1:9, Ephesians 1:5, 2 Corinthians 5:21)
8) When this grand exchange happens, God deposits His Holy Spirit in us as a mark of authentic adoption. (Romans 8:9, Romans 8:15) The Spirit gives us life and shapes us to become like Jesus, walking in truth. (Romans 8:29)
9) Our life on earth, and in eternity, will never be the same for the Great God has Rescued and Redeemed us from Death, transferring us to His kingdom of Life forever! (Colossians 1:13-14)

This is the gospel!

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