On the Epistles of John, Part 12: Guarding the Flock

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On the Epistles of John, Part 12: Guarding the Flock

We have recently completed our commentary on the first epistle of John, and now we shall move on to the second of the epistles attributed to the apostle. In our translation here we have either followed or considered the readings of the 4th century Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (B), the 5th century Codices Alexandrinus (A), and Vaticanus Graecus 2061 (048), and another 5th, or perhaps 6th century Codex known only as Uncial 0232, in which only the first nine verses of this epistle are attested, in whole or in part. These manuscripts and their differences with one another and with the Majority Text, as they are presented in the critical apparatus of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, were all considered in our translation or in the accompanying notes. Unfortunately, there are no ancient papyri which have yet been discovered which predate the 7th century and attest to the text of either the second or third epistles of John. For all of our translations, we only considered readings from manuscripts which are esteemed to date from the 6th century and earlier.

As I had also said in the preface of our presentation of the first epistle of John, while we possess a copy of the 28th edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece, which was first published in 2012, I have not yet had the opportunity to compare its Greek text and critical notes to these translations. Our translation and notes are based on the 27th edition, which was first published in 1993. The 28th edition does add 29 recently discovered papyri to the catalog of 98 New Testament papyri fragments from which readings were included in the 27th edition. But none of the newly added papyri fragments contain any portion of the epistles of John.

Now before we commence with a commentary on this rather short second epistle of John, I am compelled to recollect some of John’s most important teachings in that first epistle by comparing a passage from chapter 6 of the Wisdom of Solomon to aspects of the first epistle of John which we have recently seen and discussed. I feel compelled to do this in order to address some recent criticism which I have received, for which I am persuaded that this is a timely and appropriate occasion.

As we had explained in our commentary on chapter 4 of John’s first epistle, Love is in the Law, and in more ways than one, first, love is codified in the law as the law itself insists that we love both our God and our brethren. This is explicit in Deuteronomy chapter 6 and elsewhere where we read “thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart”, and also in Leviticus chapter 19 where it says “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Then immediately following that commandment there is an admonition that “Ye shall keep my statutes.” Furthermore, as the apostle John had attested in chapter 5 of that epistle, by keeping the commandments in the law we exhibit our love for both our God and our brethren, so love is in the law in that manner as well. John had written in the opening passage of that chapter that “2 By this we know that we should love the children of Yahweh, when we would love Yahweh and we would keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of Yahweh, that we should keep His commandments: and His commandments are not burdensome!” Keeping the law is therefore the manner by which we express our love for both our God and our brethren.

This is not something which I have only recently begun repeating, as we have presented these epistles of John. In our November, 2016 commentary on Hebrews chapter 9, verses 13 and 14, I said the following, in part:

Under the New Covenant, expiation for sin is not required, as Christ is the only propitiation. However He does require His people to love their brethren, and to keep His commandments. Love is keeping the commandments of God, as the apostle John wrote in his first epistle: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). John repeated that theme several times in his epistles. Therefore the children of Israel must know, that under the system of [the] Old Covenant they held off the wrath of God by making expiation for sin, while under the New Covenant they gain the love of God by loving their brethren. In turn, they express that love for their brethren by keeping the commandments of God…. The sacrifice of Christ represented the love of God for His people, where He died on their behalf, the devotion of His life on the altar of God in service to His brethren. In this manner the blood of Christ is far superior to the blood of the Old Testament sacrifices, where men are shown the true path to the love of God, in turn by devoting their lives to the brethren.

Furthermore, it must be known that the common morality founded in the commandments of God in the Scripture is not for the health of the individual only, but for the health of the community. When a man sins, he sins against the community not only for what he has done, but also for what he has neglected….

While Solomon’s method of teaching differed somewhat from that of both John and Paul, he used the love of Wisdom as a metaphor for the love of the Word of God, as Wisdom is communicated to man through His Word. So in chapter 6 of Wisdom, which we first discussed in a presentation titled The Wisdom of Kings, we read, with some of our own translations: “12 Wisdom is glorious, and never fades away: yea, she is easily seen of them that love her, and found of such as seek her. 13 She comes upon those who desire to know her beforehand. 14 He arising for her in the morning shall not be wearied, for he shall find her sitting beside his gates. 15 To think therefore upon her is perfection of wisdom: and whoso watches for her shall quickly be without care. 16 For she goeth about seeking such as are worthy of her, sheweth herself favorably unto them in the ways, and meeteth them in every thought. 17 For the very true beginning of her is the desire of discipline; and the care of discipline is love; 18 And love is the keeping of her laws; and the giving heed unto her laws is the assurance of incorruption; 19 And incorruption maketh us near unto God: 20 Therefore the desire of wisdom bringeth to a kingdom.”

So according to Solomon, incorruption is a result of keeping the commandments of God, and that leads to the building of the Kingdom of God. That also helps us to understand the parable of the leaven in the Gospels. The word for discipline is παιδεία, which is the training or education of a child. Likewise, Paul of Tarsus had written that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ,” and the word for schoolmaster is the Greek word παιδαγωγός, which is a guide of young boys who imparts παιδεία, which is education or discipline. Then Solomon explains that the care of such discipline is love, and love is the keeping of the law, just as we have seen in the words of John in the later chapters of his first epistle.

Then just as incorruption makes us near to God, Christ Himself had said, as it is recorded in chapter 14 of John’s Gospel: “ 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever… 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” And a little further on in chapter 15: “10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.”

Paul of Tarsus also taught this same thing in a different manner, for example in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 where he wrote: “2 For you know what instructions we gave to you by Prince Yahshua. 3 For this is the will of Yahweh: your sanctification; you are to abstain from fornication; 4 each of you are to know to possess one’s own vessel in sanctification and in honor, 5 not in emotions of passion just as even the nations who do not know Yahweh; 6 not to be excessive and to be greedy in business with one’s brother, since the Prince is an avenger concerning all these things, just as also we have forewarned and affirmed to you. 7 For Yahweh has not called us to uncleanness, but in sanctification. 8 So then, he who is rejecting rejects not man, but Yahweh, who is also giving His Holy Spirit to you. 9 Now concerning brotherly love, you have no need to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by Yahweh for which to love one another.”

Therefore we see that John, Paul, Solomon and Christ Himself had all taught essentially the same message concerning the need to keep the commandments of God found in the law, and related them both to the love of God and to the love of one’s brethren.

Of course, in other epistles and on many occasions Paul had mentioned many of the other sins which his Christian readers must not commit. However in that passage from 1 Thessalonians he singled out fornication, which is how he had described race-mixing in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, but also other illicit sexual relationships in 1 Corinthians chapter 5. A careful reading of these words of Paul from 1 Thessalonians reveals that he is contrasting fornication with the possession of “one’s own vessel in sanctification and in honor, not in emotions of passion”, and then later on he contrasts sanctification with uncleanness. Then, admonishing those who reject that teaching as having rejected the Holy Spirit of God, he contrasts that to the brotherly love of those who have accepted the Word of God.

As we have seen in our recent commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon, he had also described fornication as the result, or the end of other sins, the outcome of other sins. So in the opening chapters of Wisdom, Solomon described the attitudes of the ungodly, those who would rule by their own might rather than heed the commandments of God, who turned their backs on their own people and lusted for material satisfaction, whom he later described as having neglected and even having persecuted the righteous as they had forsaken Yahweh (Wisdom 2:12, 3:10). The end of such men, The End of the Wicked, is then described in their choosing of foolish wives, which we explained is the meaning of the phrase “their wives are foolish”, because as Solomon himself proceeded to explain, for that reason they are called adulterers and their children are both wicked and cursed. So towards the end of Wisdom chapter 3, Solomon concluded that “16 As for the children of adulterers, they shall not come to their perfection, and the seed of an unrighteous bed shall be rooted out.” Then in chapter 4 he further attested: “3 But the multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take deep rooting from bastard slips, nor lay any fast foundation.” As we have explained in our commentary on Wisdom and elsewhere, the Greek word for adultery was also used to describe race-mixing in the Classics. So it is evident that the progression of the wicked described in the Wisdom of Solomon is from committing idolatry to despising and persecuting one’s own people to race-mixing and spawning bastard children.

In Wisdom chapter 14 Solomon attested that “the devising of idols was the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them the corruption of life”, according to our more accurate translation. Saying fornication here, Solomon described the same process which he described at greater length in the early chapters of the work, where fornication is the end result of idolatry. Then in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul also once again set fornication apart from other sins where he wrote urging his readers to “18 Flee fornication. Every error which perhaps a man may make is outside of the body, but he committing fornication, for his own body he fails. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you? Which you have from Yahweh, and you are not your own? 20 Indeed you have been purchased for a price; so then you honor Yahweh in your body.”

Yet we are often criticized for our explanation that race-mixing fornication is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the sin which cannot be forgiven, which causes death, a sin which John had also mentioned in the closing chapter of his first epistle. So my critic wrote in a recent personal message that “You also have set yourself up as judge over sin because you have set up race mixing as the primal sin and downplayed everything else in the form of mere lip service (meaning you condone such things as they come up in the scriptures, but it gets maybe .5% of the attention that race mixing does).” Somehow I do not believe that our critics actually read or listen to any of our commentaries.

As we have explained in Scatterers and Gatherers, it is Christ Himself who connected blasphemy of the Holy Spirit with the assertion that good trees cannot bring forth bad fruit, nor can bad trees produce good fruit, and He also asserted that all other sins would be forgiven men. Then He connected that same teaching about good and bad trees to the gathering of grapes from thorns and figs from thistles. So in the final chapter of his first epistle, John attested that there was a sin unto death so grievous that men should not pray for those who commit it, and he also said earlier in that same epistle, in chapter 3, that “9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” If one’s seed is in him, he is evidently not a child of fornication, he is a son and not a bastard. If His seed is in him, then he could not possibly commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, because as John had said, for that reason alone he cannot sin. But for bastards, there is no prayer because there is no propitiation in Christ. That alone proves sufficiently that race-mixing is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit of which Christ had spoken.

For that same reason, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 6: “12 To me all is possible, but all does not profit; to me all is possible, but I will not yield authority to be brought under any. 13 Foods are for the belly, and the belly for foods, but Yahweh will do away with both this and these. Now the body is not in fornication, but in the Prince, and the Prince in the body. 14 And Yahweh has both raised the Prince, and will raise us through His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Then having raised the members of the Christ, shall I make members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he joining himself to the harlot is one body? ‘They shall be,’ He declares, ‘two into one flesh.’ 17 But he joining himself to the Prince is one Spirit.” That is the context in which he then wrote, as we have just cited: “18 Flee fornication. Every error which perhaps a man may make is outside of the body, but he committing fornication, for his own body he fails….”

Ostensibly, as we understand Genesis chapter 3, fornication was the first sin in the garden, which caused the fall of Adam. It cannot be forgiven, as Solomon explained, because “the children of adulterers, they shall not come to their perfection, and the seed of an unrighteous bed shall be rooted out.” But all other sins shall be forgiven, if a man has His seed in him, as the apostle John had explained. This is a very simple concept, but perhaps I have failed to explain it adequately. Christ taught that all sins would be forgiven men except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. John taught that even if we sin, we are forgiven, having a propitiation in Christ. So for that same reason, that all sins are forgiven, John also taught that a man cannot sin if his seed is in him. Therefore the sin that cannot be forgiven is because a man does not have his seed in him, and that essentially means that he is a bastard. Therefore bastards are blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and Yahweh will never forgive bastards. I would challenge my critics to prove me wrong from scripture, not from their feelings.

But of course, contrary to the claims of our critics we do not downplay other sins, or any of the balance of the law. A search of the 1090 podcasts which we have publicly posted at Christogenea as of this day shows that we quoted the instruction of Christ to “keep my commandments” in 94 different podcasts. We may have cited it in others in different ways, since the word commandments is found in 329 podcasts, which is over a quarter of the total although sometimes it appears in other contexts. Sodomy is mentioned in 71 podcasts, murder in 143, and the commandment not to steal in 28. Is that number too few? The same commandment is repeated only 5 times in the entire King James New Testament, and the commandment not to kill is mentioned seven times, twice as murder (Matthew 19:18 and Romans 1:29). We have mentioned covetousness in 35 podcasts, and the word covet appears in 19, but the commandment not to covet is only mentioned four times in the New Testament, in Matthew 5:28 and James 4:2 where it is translated as lust, and twice by Paul in his epistle to the Romans.

Furthermore, the book of Deuteronomy is mentioned or cited at least once, and usually more often, in 350 of our podcasts, nearly a third of the total. Leviticus is mentioned or cited at least once in 172 podcasts. Now perhaps it is arguable that some of these sins may have been mentioned more often than what these figures reflect, but it is not very much more often. The fact that many of our podcasts are focused on historical topics rather than Biblical subjects means that the ratio of our discussions of such sins in Biblical contexts are much higher than these figures reflect. But my critic wrote that “As soon as any issues with idolatry, sexual immorality, drunkeness or just generally unrighteous living, you immediately pass the buck right on down to the serpent instead of pointing the finger where God ultimately wants you to point it, at yourself…” Yet I consistently speak against adultery, sodomy, idolatry, drunkenness and other even less grievous sins. For example, drunkenness is mentioned in 44 podcasts at Christogenea, but it is only mentioned in the New Testament on three occasions. In a September, 2018 presentation with Dr. Michael Hill titled The Role of Faith in a Successful Insurgency, Movement, or Community, a podcast which I had purposely written to define the most basic elements of our faith, I wrote in part that:

Modern denominations have gradually become more and more tolerant of every sort of deviancy. Those who accept vice are every bit as guilty as those who commit it, as Paul of Tarsus had explained (Romans chapter 1). Vice destroys us, it destroys our families, and we cannot accept it at any level. This means giving up pornography, licentiousness, drunkenness, remaining chaste to one's own wife, not coveting thy neighbor's goods. We must sacrifice the satisfaction of our own lusts for the sake of our community.

For my part, I am of the opinion that this is the attitude which I have always displayed towards all such sin during the entire course of my ministry at Christogenea. So our critic is a liar and a fool to claim that we ignore or gloss or “pass the buck” over sins such as drunkenness, or that we place the blame on anything but the weakness of those who commit them. Nowhere have I ever said that Jews make us sin, but rather, I have always explained that Jews rule over us on account of our sin, even if it is clear that Jews have always been the purveyors of many of the sins which plague our society.

In fact, in our March, 2011 commentary on Revelation Chapters 17 and 18 I wrote the following:

After the French Revolution, the jew was free to disseminate not only countless false religions and false philosophies, but also all of the fleshly distractions of which he is history's most famous propagator: pornography in pulp novels, pornography in the theater, gambling houses, prostitution, the corruption of children, and every other vice imaginable has become commonplace in modern White – formerly Christian – society. The jew, the eternal panderer, has now come to rule over White society because White Christians participated in the sins of the jew, or at least permitted them under the guise of “freedom”, rather than taking a stand against them at the start. For that reason, because White Christians were smitten by the vices of the jew, Yahweh God has put it into their hearts to hand their kingdom over to the beast.

Of course, I stand by these words today, but by no means do they place the blame for our sins on the Jews. Rather, those words place the blame for sin on Christians for tolerating such sins in the first place. Then in my August, 2018 presentation titled Why Do We Suffer?, I said in part in reference to Leviticus chapter 5 that “It is not enough for us as individuals to simply be ‘good’. Rather, it is a matter of God's law, that if we do not stand against the evil which we witness, then we become just as responsible for it as those who partake in it. Likewise, Paul tells us the reasons for the decadence and immorality in ancient Rome, in Romans chapter 1” and I went on to cite Paul’s teaching in that same chapter, that not only those who sin are responsible for their sins, but those who approve of the sinners. So it is evident that our critic has not read or listened to many of our presentations, and perhaps he only knows of us through the words of our enemies, men such as Ryan Brennan, Michael Brandenburg and Nathan Thom, who all began to slander us when we rejected their heresies.

Admittedly, we do speak more often of the sins of fornication and sodomy because those are the most grievous sins which are now being accepted by the greater society, even by the vast majority of supposedly Christian churches. If a man does not know that it is a sin to steal or to be a drunkard, then perhaps he belongs in Sunday School, rather than at Christogenea, and I never heard of a church which would advocate such behavior. Growing up in Catholic school and being compelled to attend church, the few sermons which I may recall had condemned drunkness and lust. But many modern churches are permitting, or even advocating, race-mixing and sodomy. These sins are the most prevalent in our society today, and that is the signal reason why I mention them more frequently.

Those two sins have destroyed our race beyond all others. But just as Solomon had described fornication as a progression from other sins, starting with idolatry, in Romans chapter 1 Paul of Tarsus said the same thing of sodomy, that Yahweh had given the Romans up to sodomy on account of their having forsaken Him in their idolatry.

But in the fact that we mention fornication more than all other sins, we also follow the New Testament. While the commandments not to steal or commit murder are mentioned about a half dozen times each, fornication is mentioned in 28 verses in the New Testament. So were Paul of Tarsus and Yahshua Christ wrong for that? Half of those 28 verses are in Paul’s epistles and the Book of Acts, and all but two of the remaining half are in the words of Christ in the Gospels and the Revelation. Once it is found in Jude, and once in the words of the enemies of Christ. While we are certainly not perfect, and therefore we are not above criticism, our critics are mostly just fools. They should write us with the facts of Scripture to show us where we may be wrong, rather than whining because they themselves are not man enough to stomach our disposition. If we place greater significance on the grievousness of fornication, it is because Christ and His apostles also placed greater significance on the grievousness of that sin, and also taught that one’s seed must be undefiled if one is to be found without sin, because there is no propitiation for bastards.

Now turning our attention to this second epistle of John, we shall commence with our presentation and commentary:

1 The elder to the elect mistress and her children, whom I love in truth, and not I only but also all those knowing the truth, 2 on which account the truth abides [A and 048 have “dwells”] in us and shall be with us forever.

Here John the apostle refers to himself simply as the elder, or presbyter, the Greek word being πρεσβύτερος, an adjective which describes an elder. He introduces himself in the same manner in his third epistle. As we have already demonstrated at length, John did not refer to himself with his own name in his Gospel or in any of his three epistles. But in his Gospel he did describe himself in ways by which we can understand that he certainly is the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, who was mentioned by name in the other Gospel accounts.

Then, in his first epistle, although he did not mention his own name, he had attested in its opening verses that he is the same John as the author of the Gospel by that name. The content matter throughout the first epistle, and other features such as the poetic references to Christ, also indicate that the author is the John of the Gospel. In turn, there is much internal evidence within that Gospel which proves that John the son of Zebedee is its author. The same John is the author of the Revelation which he had received from Yahshua Christ. Which is attested in the opening verses of the Revelation in the same manner as it is in the opening verses of the first epistle of John. One further indication that the author of this epistle is the same as 1 John is the appearance of the word antichrist in verse 7, a word which only appears in Scripture in the first and second epistles of John. Other indications are in the general content of the epistle, which is very similar to much of the content of the first.

As it is recorded by early Christian writers among the so-called “Church Fathers”, John survived the exile in Patmos to return to Ephesus, where he recorded the Revelation. It is our opinion, although it cannot be proven, that John was in Ephesus and wrote his Gospel before his exile, and that may have also been a reason for his exile. But in the Revelation, the message to the seven churches is described as being delivered through John himself, where we read in the opening verses: “4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come…”

So while these epistles of John cannot be dated, it is evident that they too were written to Christians in Ephesus at a later point in John’s life, probably around the same time when he had published the Revelation. While the first epistle is a general epistle, the second and third are personal epistles written by the apostle and addressed to particular individuals. Addressing this woman with the title κυρία, or as we have it here, mistress, it is apparent that she is a woman of means, the head of her household and perhaps a widow. The word κυρία is the feminine form of κύριος, or lord, which was a title of respect for men of means. It is plausible that she is a widow as John writes to her directly, making no mention of her husband.

Where John had attested by addressing this woman as one “whom I love in truth, and not I only but also all those knowing the truth”, he professes that he loves her because she herself is in the truth, and expects all men who are found in the truth to love her for that same reason. Then where he wrote in verse 2 that “on which account the truth abides in us and shall be with us forever”, this is also a lesson from chapter 14 of his Gospel, where he recorded the words of Christ which had promised another “16… comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth...” So as we had often observed in our commentary on the first epistle of John, this one also teaches a practical application of things which John had learned from Christ and recorded in his Gospel account.

3 Favor, mercy, peace shall be with [A has “among”; the text follows א, B and 0232] us from Yahweh the Father and from Yahshua Christ the Son of the Father in truth and in love.

The King James Version has you rather than us, “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace”, contrary to the Majority Text but in agreement with some manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate and a few late Greek manuscripts.

In truth and in love: John must be referring to that same brotherly love which Christ had taught his disciples, which can only be the love which is also expressed in the law in Leviticus chapter 19, that the children of Israel should love their own people, as the word neighbor is defined in the law.

4 I have rejoiced exceedingly because I found some from among your children walking in truth, just as we [א has “they”] have received a commandment from the Father.

The epistle is addressed to the elect mistress and her children, so here where John refers to ἐκ τῶν τέκνων, which is literally only “from of your children”, followed by a plural participle describing a plurality of children walking, it is evident that this woman may have had quite a large family of children. At least some of them were walking in the truth as John describes, and were with John, while her other children remained with her and here they were addressed along with her by John.

5 And now I ask you, mistress, not as if writing a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that you should love one another.

Now there must be a particular reason why John felt an urge to write this particular message to this woman, as if there were some fault which had been observed by him, or reported to him, when he met her children. We see at the end of this epistle, that those children were still with John as he wrote this epistle. That reason for which he admonishes her shall become evident as we proceed with the additional admonishments which follow.

The woman was already a Christian, as John had professed in the opening verses, as she was already established in the truth. But it is not clear as to whether this is truly John’s second epistle, so it cannot be taken for granted that the woman has had an occasion to read the first, or perhaps she would have already received this teaching. It is very possible that these three epistles of John were written in a completely different order than the manner in which they are popularly arranged in our Bibles. So John continues his first admonishment:

6 And this is the love: that you would walk in accordance with His commandments [א has the singular form, “commandment”]. This is the commandment, [א, A and 0232 insert “that”] just as you have heard from the beginning, that in this you should walk.

Of course John is still referring to the same commandment which he had mentioned in verse 5, “that you should love one another.” In his first epistle, John had first mentioned this in chapter 2, and then in chapter 3 he wrote “11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”

In reference to John’s statement that this commandment was “heard from the beginning”, we commented on that passage from the first epistle and wrote: “Here John also makes the assertion that to love one another is ‘the message which you have heard from the beginning’. Throughout the Gospel Christ had admonished His followers to love their neighbors, and He even called that admonishment the second greatest commandment of the law, where a lawyer had attempted to try Him and we read in Matthew chapter 22 where he asked Him: ‘36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Then answering: ‘37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’”

We also wrote in part in relation to 1 John 3:11, in Separating the Wheat, our commentary on that chapter of John’s first epistle, that “In chapter 5 of this epistle, the apostle explains how to love one’s brother, where he wrote: “2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” So if the love of God is to keep His commandments, that is also how men should express love for their brethren: simply by keeping the commandments of God. While a man may add to that with good works of charity, there is no love for one’s brethren apart from keeping the commandments of God.”

But now John changes the subject from an admonishment to love to another to an admonishment warning the woman of those whom Christians should hate. Doing this, we see that John is guarding the flock, which his the very purpose of his having written this epistle:

7 For many deceivers have come [the MT has “entered”; the text follows א, A, B and 0232] into Society, those not agreeing that Yahshua Christ comes in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist.

So here once again, John describes a singular antichrist as the plural collective of “those not agreeing” that Yahshua is the Christ. In chapter 3 of John’s first epistle, we commented at length on Christ and Antichrist where he had written that “even now many Antichrists have been born” and he had then attested that “They came out from us but they were not from of us.” As we also explained, those words in John’s time could only describe the Edomite Judaeans, who were converted to Judaism in the late second and early first century BC, and who under the family of the Edomite king Herod had come to control the Province under the Romans, who had opposed Christ himself, and whom Christ had told “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.” These people, called by the name Jews today, are indeed the antichrist, as John also describes them as a collective here since he uses the term to describe “many deceivers” and “those not agreeing”, and not just some single deceiver who would only come at some time still far off in John’s future. John’s antichrists were many, and they were already born into the world.

Among these antichrists must have been some of the very same hypocrites whom Christ had upbraided for raiding the houses of widows, and we have already presented the very plausible reasons for believing that this woman is a widow. So we read in words attributed to Christ in Matthew chapter 23: “14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”

So perhaps this is the very reason why John had first admonished the woman to “love one another”, and after this he further admonishes her not to accept anyone who does not abide in the teachings of Christ. Allowing a wolf into your home or community, you are not loving your brethren, but instead, you are helping to scatter the sheep. So we may conclude that this woman has accepted the company of a devil, an antichrist Jew, and in that context everything which John admonished her in this epistle falls into place. Therefore continuing his warning, he tells the woman and her children who are still with her:

8 Watch yourselves, that you [the MT has “we”] would not lose the things which we [א, A and 0232 have “you”; the text follows B and the MT] have accomplished, but you [the MT has “we”] would receive a full reward.

The word translated as lose, ἀπόλλυμι, may have been rendered more severely as destroy. While the full extent of “the things which we have accomplished” are not evident to us now, as we do not know the condition of the development of the church at the time when John was writing, perhaps he is referring to the development of the church in Ephesus, as he is evidently in Ephesus, that as antichrists infiltrated it, then it would eventually become corrupt. Christians should not be concerned with their own personal salvation, but rather they should be seeking to establish the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the Revelation, in the message which John had delivered for the church at Ephesus, it is evident that there was already some corruption, and perhaps John was trying to hold the line. In Revelation chapter 2 we read something which John’s statement here seems to reflect: “1 For the messenger of the assembly in Ephesos, write: Thus says He commanding the seven stars in His right hand, He walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your works and your toil and patience, and that you are not able to bear evils, and have tried those calling themselves ambassadors yet they are not, and you have found them liars, 3 and you have patience and have endured on account of My Name and have not grown weary. 4 But I hold against you that you have left your first love. 5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen and repent and do these first works. But if not, I shall come to you and I shall remove your lampstand from its place, if you should not repent. 6 This other thing you have: that you hate the works of the people-conquerors [Nicolaitans], which I also hate. 7 He having an ear must hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies! To he who prevails I shall give to him to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of Yahweh.” One overcomes when his seed is in him, as John had explained.

The Nicolaitans, or “people-conquerors”, certainly seem to be the same false brethren of which Paul of Tarsus had warned the Galatians in chapter 2 of his epistle to them where he wrote: “4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” This describes the rejection of Nicolaitans, of those who would rule over the assemblies of Christ. Ostensibly, the teachings of Paul, who spent three years in Ephesus and founded the churches there perhaps thirty-five years before John wrote the Revelation, must have been the “first love” which they had later abandoned.

So John strengthens his admonitions concerning the antichrist and says:

9 Each who going forth and not abiding in the teaching of Christ has not Yahweh. He abiding in the teaching, he also has the Father and the Son.

Rather than going forth here, the Majority Text, and therefore also the King James Version, have transgressing, a form of the verb παραβαίνω rather than of προάγω. The difference is significant. John is not speaking of sinners here, but of those antichrists whom, as he had written in 1 John chapter 2, “went out from us, but they were not of us”. Our text, which has “going forth”, follows the 4th century Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (B), and the 5th century Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Uncial 0232.

John had written in this same manner in the opening verses of chapter 4 of his first epistle: “1 Beloved, do not have trust in every spirit, but scrutinize whether the spirits are from of Yahweh, because many false prophets have gone out into Society. 2 By this you know the Spirit of Yahweh: each spirit which professes that Yahshua Christ has come in the flesh is from of Yahweh, 3 and each spirit which does not profess Yahshua is not from of Yahweh, and this is the Antichrist, whom you have heard that it comes, and is already now in Society.” Now here he seems to be offering a practical application of that teaching, and next he offers a practical Christian response to those antichrists:

10 If one comes to you and does not bear this teaching, do not receive him into the house and do not speak to welcome him!

By this we are further assured that he was indeed speaking of people where he said that “each spirit which does not profess Yahshua is not from of Yahweh, and this is the Antichrist.” So once again John is speaking of the Jews who had denied the Christ. In chapter 5 of his own first epistle, Peter had written a similar warning speaking of the same Jews where he said “8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” Evidently, one of the same party of antichrist Jews sought to devour this woman’s house in the same manner.

The world is more complex today, as much confusion has been sown these past two thousand years. But Christians should not receive Jews and other antichrists, such as Muslims or even Buddhists or those of any other race or religion into their houses, and Christians should not even speak to welcome them simply because they do not bear the teachings of the Christ. How far we have fallen from the teachings of the apostles of Christ. So John makes an even more ominous warning:

11 For he speaking to welcome him takes a share in his evil works.

As we have already mentioned this evening, by welcoming a sinner one is approving of their sins, as Paul of Tarsus had explained in Romans chapter 1. Speaking of the children of disobedience who await the wrath of God, in Ephesians chapter 5 Paul had offered his own similar warning where he said: “11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” So by welcoming a Jew into one’s home or community, one takes a share in the responsibility for all of the evil which the Jew is certain to commit so long as he is there.

Now John indicates that there is much more that he would like to say to this woman:

12 Having [א and A have “I have”] many things to write to you I have not had desire by paper and ink, but I hope to come to you and speak face to face [literally “mouth to mouth”], that your [א and the MT have “our”; the text follows A and B] joy would be fulfilled.

John had many more things to say to the woman, and he was reluctant to have to do so in writing. Here it is evident that she was close enough to him so that he could travel to see her, and ostensibly, this letter said what things John thought were most important for this woman to hear, while it also served as a means by which he may introduce himself to her.

But it is evident that the things which he did tell her were calculated, and her children must have come to John as an elder because they thought she needed to hear these things. Ostensibly, John’s warnings were guarding the flock against those very same wolves about which Paul had warned the elders of Ephesus over thirty years earlier, in Acts chapter 20 where he had told them: “29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.”

13 The children of your elect sister greet you.

The Majority Text appends ἀμήν, or Amen to the end of the epistle. The text here follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B).

Here we learn that John is with some of the children of this woman, but the children are not necessarily the ones delivering this message, or perhaps John would not have passed along a greeting from them. As we had just suggested, perhaps these children had come to John in Ephesus for this very purpose, because here it is evident that their mother needed such a warning.

This concludes our brief commentary on this second epistle of John.

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