This brief and rather curious letter begins by referencing its recipient as a “chosen lady” without ever mentioning a name. Some have voiced speculation over the years as to who that lady might have been, but since the text doesn’t say, I will leave it alone. The rest of the first six verses read much like 1 John, but verse 7 begins a particular warning that is the purpose of the letter.
John is warning the lady about antichrist! As in the previous letter, he describes the antichrist as one who “does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.”
Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 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. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.
2 John 8-11
This is a very stern warning indeed! It seems to me that John is telling the lady that if we allow ourselves to be deceived by these antichrists, we run the risk of losing what we have in Christ. Now I realize that many may disagree with me, but that is how I read it. You might recall John’s teaching about “sins that lead to death” as opposed to “sins that do not lead to death.” However you might prefer to explain this passage, John is clearly talking about a danger of being deceived into “sin that leads to death.” He even goes so far as to say that we mustn’t welcome or allow into our homes such an individual, or we will share in their wicked ways.
You just don’t see things like this very often in New Testament Scripture.
Apparently, these antichrists bring with them a clear and present danger to a believer with their ability to deceive. I think it’s particularly interesting that John notes at the end of the letter that he has more to say on the subject, but wants to speak to this lady in person. He wants to do some disciplining, it would seem.
You might recall that in 1 John, we had assurances that by the Spirit within us, we can overcome this “spirit of antichrist.” What I am taking away from all of this, is that as mature believers, we should have no problem identifying antichrist, but as less than mature believers, we might be vulnerable. I could be wrong of course, since John hasn’t said that explicitly, but it seems likely. With that said, what shall we do? In discussing the first letter, much was said both in posts and comments about “making disciples.” I’ve pointed out many times here, that there are a few facets of this making disciples business. First, for the maker of disciples, there are two aspects: First is to lead the non-believer into relationship with Jesus Christ. Second is to lead the new Christian to maturity in Christ so they may also make disciples. But there is a third aspect, and that is for those of us who are not yet mature believers to make ourselves available to be led, nurtured and guided through this process of growth.
We must remember that Jesus’ first command to His disciples was to follow Him. His last command was to Go and make disciples. In between these two commands was three years of training, teaching, relationship and learning. They didn’t skip from following to leading over night. If you consider the example of Paul, he encountered Jesus of that famous road to Damascus, but he didn’t jump right in to a leadership role. After that, he went home to Tarsus and remained for several years. It is likely that he grew into maturity during that time.
When I was a very young Christian, I was sure that if I ever ran into a demonic situation, or a face to face with the devil, that I could easily recognize and handle the situation. Lucky for me, God knew better and kept me from such things: If He hadn’t, I would surely have been consumed by my immaturity and folly. With some maturity and experience, not to mention growth in my faith, I’m not so easy to deceive as I once was. Even so, John’s warning is one that I take to heart, and I hope the lady he sent the letter to, and all of you will do the same.