Truth Matters

Bible Book: 2 John  1 : 1-13
Subject: Truth; False Teachers;

Truth Matters in this age of “neo-toleration” or the new tolerance. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the word "tolerate" means "to recognize and respect [others' beliefs, practices, etc.] without sharing them" and "to bear or put up with [someone or something not especially liked]."


Dr. Josh McDowell explains, “I would estimate that approximately 80 percent of the time that the word ‘tolerance’ is used today - by teachers, the media, government officials, and perhaps even your own children - it is being used to mean the ‘new tolerance,’ which says that what every individual believes or says is equally right and equally valid. In other words, all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth claims are equal.” We must never underestimate the importance of truth!

Dr. W. H. Griffith Thomas (1861-1924) shares this outline:

1 Truth as a SPHERE (verses 1, 3, 4)

2 Truth as an EXPERIENCE (verse 1)

3 Truth as a MOTIVE (verse 2)

4 Truth as a STANDARD (verse 4)

5 Truth as a POWER (verses 5, 6 and 8)

6 Truth as a HOME (verse 9)

7 Truth as a TEST (verses 10-11)

John the Apostle wrote five books recorded in the New Testament, namely, the Gospel of John, the three Epistles, and the Revelation. The Epistle of 2 John is the shortest book in the Bible in terms of the number of verses, while 3 John has the least amount of words. This little book carries a big message. Dynamite comes in small packages! This sermon focuses on truth.

I. Loving in Truth (2 John 1:1)

We read in our passage John’s term of endearment, “Whom I love in truth. . .” (v. 1). He also uses this phrase to Gaius in 3 John 1:1.

An unknown writer shares the following uncommon wisdom, “Three things tell a man: his eyes, his friends, and his favorite quotes.”

John writes, “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. . . . We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. . . . Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” (1 John 3:10-12, 14-18; 1 John 4:11-12).

Paul the Apostle writes, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). He also writes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

John writes in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Later in John 13:34-35, he writes, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

We read in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”

Dr. Wayne Grudem shares the following in Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than One Hundred Disputed Questions, “Thomas Schreiner has listed several factors that make it much more likely that 2 John is addressed to a whole church, and the "elect lady" is John's way of referring to the church metaphorically:

Some have argued for women elders...from the ‘chosen lady’ in 2 John... The ‘chosen lady’ in 2 John is almost certainly not an individual woman but a reference to the church. (1) John uses the second person plural in verses __2 John 1:6, 8, 10, 12__. The plural demonstrates that he is not writing to one person only; he is writing to an entire church. (2) Second John is much more general and less specific than 3 John. Third John was clearly written to an individual, Gaius, but the lack of specificity in 2 John suggests that a community is being addressed rather than an individual. (3) The description of the church as a ‘lady’ accords well with the rest of Scripture. Paul and John both portray the church as Christ's bride (Ephesians 5:22-33; Revelation 19:7). The new Jerusalem is described as a bride (Revelation 21:2). In the Old Testament, Israel is often portrayed as a woman (Isaiah 54:1; Jeremiah 6:23; 31:21; Lamentations 4:3, 22). (4) The distinction between the ‘lady’ and ‘her children’ in 2 John does not suggest that she is distinct from her children. The ‘lady’ is the church as a whole; the ‘children’ are simply the individual members of the church.”[1]

II. Living in Truth (2 John 1:2-6)

In our passage we find the following phrases related to truth: “the truth which abides with us and will be with us forever” (v.2); “walking in truth” (v. 4) [“walk” (1 John 2:6)]; “walk according to His commandment” (v. 6).

We read in 1 John 4:20-21, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth” and in verse 15 He states, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

John writes in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

III. Lacking in Truth (2 John 1:7-11)

On August 25, 1835, the New York Sun carried a report that Sir John Herschel, an eminent British astronomer, discovered life on the moon; blue unicorns, tailless beavers walking on two legs, and most spectacular of all, batlike, four-foot-tall moon people covered with copper-colored fir! Males and females supposedly had animated conversations, leaving no doubt about their rationality. But the excitement halted abruptly when reporter Richard Adams Locke confessed he had made the whole thing up.

Down through the years deceivers and pranksters have reveled in their ability to mislead the unsuspecting public.

From our passage we read about “deceivers . . . [who] do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh . . . [one who does this is described as] a deceiver and an antichrist” (v. 7).

Drs. Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney share, “The basic error of the false teachers was a denial of the incarnation of Christ (cf. John 1:14).”[2] Here, John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Our passage highlights “the doctrine of Christ” (vv. 8-11). There is a danger in a defective Christology. Christology is the study of Christ or the teaching about Jesus Christ. It is important to pray that we may know “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Gnostics claimed to have superior knowledge or some esoteric truth, but they deny the basic teaching about the incarnation and identity of Jesus Christ. The person and work of Jesus Christ are of critical importance. These days many conclude doctrine is unimportant. This is a fallacy indeed.

We read in Jude 1:3, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Paul writes in Philippians 1:15-18, “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

We read in 1 John 4:1-6, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

On false teachers and false teaching Dr. Luke writes in Acts 20:28-30, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.”

Paul the Apostle writes in Colossians 2:6-8, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

He also writes in 2 Timothy 2:15 and 4:1-5, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. . . . I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

From Jude1:4, 8, 16-19 we read the following about the apostates, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. . . . These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”

In 2 John 1:7-9, John warns, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”

John warns about heretics and hospitality in 2 John 1:10-11, where we read, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” Someone states, “When grave issues arise between truth and error, your failure to stand for the right and against the wrong is an indication that you condone what God condemns--a sin which He will not overlook.”

Dr. Andrew Telford (1895-1997) explains, "False teachers were going from place to place trying to gain an audience. They sought to advance some new theory, or to further a variation on an old theme. They deviated from the true stream of teaching that had been given to the apostles. These false teachers were called deceivers (vs. 7). Their numbers were multiplied—‘For many deceivers.’ They were known better by what they left out rather than by what they taught. Their teaching is characterized by three negatives. First, they denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. This was a serious matter. To the Apostle John, as to all true believers, the truth of the incarnation is of great importance. It is directly related to the foundation of Christian faith. Whoever denies this fact, John says, is an antichrist and is not to be received. John says that these deceivers deviate from the teachings of Christ. ‘Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God’ (vs. 9). They twisted the Scriptures and in doing so deceived new converts to their own advantage. By so doing, the converts were in danger of losing the value of Christian truth, as well as losing certain rewards (vs. 8). These deceivers did not declare the truth (vs. 10). They came preaching another so-called gospel. They presented a different christ from the One John's converts knew. ‘From such turn away’ (II Tim. 3:5). Don't even welcome them, nor bid them Godspeed."[3]

John closes this letter in the following way, “Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen” (2 John 1:12-13). This is a farewell greeting.


Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) said, "The primary business of the Christian faith is not to give us peace and joy, it is to bring us to the knowledge of truth."

Several years ago someone observed, "It is strange that we look so readily for antichrists within the church, and tolerate them so uncritically outside of it." Today, it seems the church is losing the will to discern antichrists within the church.

John makes it emphatically clear in his second epistle that truth matters.

[1]Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than One Hundred Disputed Questions (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2004), Database © 2005 WORDsearch Corp.

[2]Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990), p. 717, Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.


[3]Andrew Telford, “Danger! Be Careful” (2 John 1:4-10)


By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / / (251) 626-6210

© July 24, 2011 All Rights Reserved