LESSON 12 - DON'T LOSE OUT! (2 JOHN)
Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All Scripture references
are to the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are
found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses
INTRODUCTION: This week our study is the second book of John. It
is only 13 verses long, and the writer says that he has a lot more
to say, he just wants to deliver the message in person instead of
writing it down. Let's explore those important things which he
decided he should write down in this letter.
I. WHO ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
A. Read 2 John 1-2. What an elegant introduction! "The elder,
to the chosen lady." Let's sort this out:
1. Who do you think is the elder? (John. Remember that
John is believed to have lived a long time. In fact, the
rumor reported in John 21:23 was that he would not die!
However, this same text says the rumor (about not dying)
was not true. In any event, 2 John is believed to have
been written 85-95 A.D., which would make John an old
leader of the church.)
2. Who do you think is the chosen lady?
a. Is she a woman?
b. A church?
c. And who are all these children?
3. What evidence can you muster for the chosen lady being
an actual woman? (The reference to her as a person with
4. What evidence can you muster for the chosen lady being
a church? (In Revelation John often refers to "the
church" or a spiritual power as a woman. (Rev. 12; Rev.
17.) The fact that John says he loves the lady and her
children, and this love is also shown by "all who know
the truth," seems to fit for a church, but not very well
for an individual. The conclusive argument for me is at
the end of the book at 2 John 13: "The children of your
chosen sister send their greetings." What are the odds
of this being a letter involving two "chosen" women with
children? John seems to be closing with greetings from
the members of his home church.)
II. LOVE AND TRUTH
A. We have a lot of the word "truth" in vv. 1-2. John seems
to say we all know the truth and we love this lady because of
1. What is this "truth?"
2. Could you love an institution because of the truth? If
you think so, give me an example of this? (I think the
"truth" is the gospel, and he says that fellow believers
love each other and the group because they share this
truth of the gospel. We see this kind of group affinity
in a number of secular institutions. The Marines come to
mind for one.)
a. Does the fact that this truth is "with us
forever" cause part of this love? (Sure! Friends
for life! This "truth" caused them to believe that
Jesus was going to take them out of their present
circumstances and allow them to live with each
other in His presence forever!)
B. Read v. 3. John says that we can have "grace, mercy and
peace" from God if we are in "truth and love." Grace, mercy
and peace sound pretty good, do I have to possess BOTH truth
and love to get them?
1. If so, why are both necessary?
a. What do you have with a love that has no truth?
b. What do you have with a truth that has no love?
2. In your life, which do you think predominates? Do you
mostly have truth, or do you mostly have love?
a. How do you get more of what you lack? (1 John 5:2
"This is how we know that we love the children of
God: by loving God and carrying out his commands."
It seems that the key to truth and love is studying
God to learn about Him and what He requires of us.
Neither truth nor love are a warm, fuzzy feeling
separate from understanding God's will for us.)
C. Read vv. 4-6. Is "truth" something we learned from the Old
Testament, and "love" something that we learn from the New
Testament -- particularly the stories of Jesus' life? (No
doubt Jesus put a human face on the commands of the Old
Testament. No doubt Jesus' example helped us to understand
more than any command what God has in mind for us. But, this
text says that the command to love came from the very
1. Did you notice how John (just like in 1 John 5:2)
described love as obedience to God's commands?
a. How does obeying show love? (If the concept of
obedience being the essence of love is hard to
understand (and it is hard for me), it means that
we do not fully grasp what is meant by love or do
not fully grasp what is meant by obedience (truth).
Example: the whole world (both secular and
religious) talks about the homeless. Often when I
travel I see people who appear to be homeless. I
have no natural desire to help them, but I am
troubled by what responsibility, if any, I have
towards them. Love would give them money, at
least. Love would take them home with me, at most.
What does truth require? Is 2 Thessalonians 3:10
("If a man will not work, he shall not eat.") the
truth? Is 1 Timothy 5:9-10 the truth? (Only old,
faithful widows are to be put on the dole.) Does
love "moderate" the truth? Or is only faithful
obedience to the law (including its eligibility
III. FALSE DOCTRINE
A. Read vv. 7-9. We have previously discussed (in 1 John 2 &
4) this idea of those who do not acknowledge that Jesus was
fully God and fully man are the spirit of the antichrist.
1. How can a person "run ahead" as described in v.9?
2. In almost every area of science and learning we "look
ahead" to advance knowledge and learn new things. We try
to fit new theories into what we know so that we can
learn more. Is this all alien to Bible study? (In a
sense. Bible study is like the law. The law "looks back"
at "precedents" to decide what should be done in the
present case. (This is a reason why there is so much
uproar when "new rights" are suddenly discovered by
judges.) The stories and teachings of the Bible should
form the basis for our present doctrine.)
a. Is it only "running ahead" that is condemned?
("Running ahead" is not the defect, it is running
ahead without continuing "in the teaching of
Christ." Thus, the door to new understanding is not
bolted shut. John simply says that new
understanding must be built upon the solid
foundation of Christ's teaching -- and not depart
B. What does John say is at stake with new theories? (Verses
7-8 say we can be deceived and lose what we have worked for.)
C. Read vv. 10-11. Is being polite to those who do not have
the "teaching of Christ" (v.9) condemned here?
1. What is condemned? (sponsorship)
D. What is wrong with entering into (or helping to facilitate)
a robust debate over truth and error?
1. In what way do we share in "wicked work" just by
helping someone to be heard and others to choose? (One of
the main errors of our day is that idea that everyone's
sincerely-held belief is equally acceptable and equally
valid. John says there is right and wrong teaching. If
you help to support the propagation of wrong teaching you
take personal responsibility for it.)
a. No itinerant preachers have shown up at my door
looking for me to put them up for the night. I
assume that is true for you. So what is the
practical application for us today?
(1) What about taking the teaching of certain
TV programs into your home?
(2) The teaching of certain books?
(3) The teaching of certain movies?
(4) Certain magazines?
(5) Does John's advice cover purchases from
corporations or companies that support
concepts that are contrary to the gospel?
A. Read 2 John 12-13. John says he has much to communicate to
them, but does not want to write it all down.
1. What does that say about what he did write down? (That
they were the high points, the things he felt he must say
2. Is there joy in teaching and discussing the Bible?
(John says I have several things to tell you about, and
we will experience joy going over them together.)
3. Finally, John reminds us that we are all children of
V. NEXT WEEK: 3 John: "Imitating Good." Study!