The Christian Response to False Teachers

2 John 1:7-11

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

2 John 7–11

In this short letter, John begins with a traditional greeting, but this time, he uses his title, “The elder.” His recipient is the church, by which he refers to as “the lady.” This would be a respectful term that uses the typical feminine reference of the church as in the “bride of Christ.”[1] No specific church is named, so it should be assumed per the context of the letter, there was but only a single recipient, so no further name would be needed. John’s purpose of the letter was to protect the faithful from the false teachers that would abuse their hospitality to deceive others and increase their personal gain.[2]

In the body of his letter, John starts his main thrust by recalling the Truth that is found in Christ and the love they should have for one another (v. 4-6). If one were to be outside of this orthodox, they would be in falsehood, just as the ones deceiving others. The love and Truth are contrasted with John’s excursion into further details regarding the false teachers in the following verses (v. 7-11).

Jesus had prophesied that deceivers would come one day, and during the time of John’s letter, they had certainly become a reality.[3] Such false teaching caused John to fear that it would lead people away from the Truth and Christian love that Jesus taught.[4] The false teachers did not merely have disagreement upon less important theological differences, but the necessary foundational Truths of the faith. John proposes a simple test for the deceivers—”those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh” (v. 7). If they deny Jesus came in the flesh, then they are deemed antichrist. While the term antichrist is used elsewhere for different meanings, here, it referred to those that are antithetical to core Christian beliefs and evil.[5]

Johns’ stern words are then explained as he fears the deceivers will lead the faithful away from the true faith, and then lose their eternal salvation (v. 8).[6] Additionally, it may destroy the church he and others worked so hard to establish. These false teachers do not have God if they go against the true teachings that had been received directly from Jesus (v. 9). If they go against Jesus, then they are also separated from God. The Father and the Son are inseparable, so one cannot have a relationship with God without both.[7]

Because these false teachers were abusing the hospitality of Christians, John warns them to not provide for them (v. 10-11). As these false teachers traveled for their “ministry,” they relied upon others for housing, food, and other means.[8] John wanted the faithful to have no association with them as to avoid being encouraged to deceive others. At the same time, John does not say they should not show love and have concern for the false teachers, but they should not allow them to abuse their hospitality.[9] Such hospitality would essentially be funding the work of the false teachers.

Christians still face a similar situation today. False teachers have not disappeared, but instead, there are more. Indeed, there are many powerful organizations promoting false teaching. As Christians desire to help others, they continue to be abused by those that wish to promote deception. It is a complex issue as it can be difficult to know which people or organizations that intend to do evil. Each Christian must use careful consideration before making their choices to help others. Ultimately, it comes to a matter of conscience, and motive—if the Christian does something out of love, but later finds out the person used it for evil, they did not sin, but they should use it as a learning moment as to not support further evil.

[1] I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978), 60–61.

[2] John R. W. Stott, The Letters of John: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 19, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 200.

[3] Marshall, 69.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Marshall., 71.

[6] Ibid., 72.

[7] Ibid., 73.

[8] Ibid. 73-74.

[9] Marshall, 75.

Gordon Bland
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Gordon Bland

I am a seminary student working toward my M.Div. While I grew up Pentecostal, within my first semester of seminary, I came to a different understanding of the Word and theology. I am now Reformed Baptist. #1689 I love teaching others about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, for it was Christ that transformed me. For a number of years, I was a militant atheist and substance abuser. If God can change me, I know he can do the same for you! I am but a wretch, yet He still chose to give me grace. He truly is amazing and deserves all our praise!

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