“Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” ~ 2 John 9b
Explanation of the Text: Perhaps John’s greatest known teaching is to abide both in Christ and in the Father. Of the 118 usages of the term, John alone uses it 67 times between three of his four writings. It is a word often used to describe God’s relationship with His people. Several times in the Psalms it is used to describe the continuing endurance forevermore of both His faithfulness and His righteousness (Psalm 112:3, 9; 117:2). For John, it is a term meant to emphasize the closeness of fellowship between believers and Christ with the concept that believers will remain in Christ, enduring with Him forevermore.
As we close out our devotions in 2 John, it is fitting for John to remind believers that a life in Christ endures, remaining steadfastly true to Him alone though false teachers may seek to deceive and destroy. John finds concern with the deception taking place as teachers seek to lure away from the truth. A concern such as this is greatly amplified when we recognize that while false teachers try to draw out people, those same people will seek out the false teaching that is pleasing to them (see 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The answer to this is the same for both Paul and John. Paul exhorts readers to ‘abide’ (preach) the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) while John exhorts readers to abide in Christ’s teachings. His warning to the elect lady and her children rings true today, that there is a need to watch ourselves (2 John 8). There is no greater defense than to know what is the truth. It is an exhortation to remain firmly rooted in the teachings that we know to be true so that we may continue to abide in Christ (John 15).
Examination & Application of the Text: John’s warnings and encouragements are clear: watch for false teachers and be in Christ and His teachings. It’s interesting how some of the most important concepts in our Christian walk are often some of the most unheeded. John’s writing falls into that category and while it is easy to say we simply need to read our Bible more, or something similar, the context of his letter draws forth something incredibly important. John indicates for us the connection between fellowship and faith.
As Paul writes to Timothy about reproving and rebuking, with the Word with complete patience and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2-4) John exemplifies it for us with his second epistle. More importantly, we can see John do it in compassion and love, for both the believers and for Christ. The very fact that he is able to do so demonstrates the relationship he has with them. First, he is aware of their situation, and second he has an authority to address them with expectation that they will respond. It is a true demonstration of how fellowship with one another is lived out in such a way to encourage and build up one another in their faith.
The depth of this relationship is underscored more when we look at verse 12 and see that John desires to visit them in person, preparing to spend time with them rather than use letters. Letters are great tools when other options do not exist (or e-mail in today’s culture) but personal contact is always best.
Let us desire then, to live within the body of Christ and not as an individual only. With love, we encourage one another, build up one another, and hold one another accountable in our relationship with the one, true God.