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II John-Jude Listen
More warnings against antichrists (II John)
1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
2 For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.
Here's a second and separate letter from John. He reinforces his theme of First John. Nobody knows the identity, specifically, to whom this letter is addressed. She is simply referred to as "elect lady." However, the purpose of the letter is very clear. As in his first epistle (I John, see notes), John is still dealing with the same false doctrines in this second epistle. His emphasis on "truth" in verses 1, 2 and 4 emphasizes the errant nature of two particular characteristics of the doctrine he is combating - that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh (verse 7) and the dismissal of the importance of brotherly love (verses 5-6). These characteristics of errant teaching were prominent in John's first epistle as well.
I think verses 9-11 offer a significant enhancement to his words in I John (see notes). II John 9-11 says, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." Well, so much for political correctness - John says that we should treat false teachers with ZERO hospitality.
Just how serious was this errant teaching? There's your answer in verse 7, "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." These false teachers were teaching something other than the deity of Jesus Christ and his fulfillment of the requirements of Messiahship. These Biblical truths may not be denied while retaining fellowship with Believers. Interestingly enough, John is the only writer in the Bible to use the term "antichrist" - once here and three times in his first epistle. John had previously written in I John 4:2-3 (see notes), "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." We get a glimpse of these particular false prophets' message in verse 2 when he says, "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." The inverse is stated in verse 3. These false prophets obviously preached a message that Jesus was all spirit - no flesh - a gnostic doctrine. For more information on gnosticism, click here. Here's the point: Jesus came as the Messiah...the flesh and blood Messiah. To teach that Jesus was anything less than that is heresy.
Let me clarify something. This is not the only doctrinal issue for which denial should cause Believers to break fellowship; there are others, and we typically call them the fundamentals of our faith.
What are the fundamentals of our faith?
John's second epistle focuses primarily on just one of these fundamentals, the identity of Jesus Christ. It was obviously the fundamental widely under attack among the recipients of John's second epistle. You will notice in verse 4 that John commends them for "walking in truth." However, as seen in verses 9-11, he's concerned about these false teachers wearing away at their spiritual resolve. When Believers entertain faith-threatening doctrines, it's a faith-weakening experience; discouragement follows and joy is arrested. How many Believers do you know who have fallen out of close fellowship with God and other Believers over a discouraging set of circumstances regarding their walk with the Lord? John issues a warning of the consequences in verse 8, "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward." LOSE WHAT!? He's not talking about salvation, but rather rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ (II Corinthians 5:10, see notes). With regard to the actual judgment scenario and rewards given, Paul explains it all in I Corinthians 3:11-15 (see notes).
Dealing with the evil workers (III John)
1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;
6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:
7 Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.
9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.
12 Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.
13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:
14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.
John's taking on the teaching of false doctrine here once again. He dealt with these same issues in I John (see notes) as well as II John (see above). We don't really know anything about Gaius, the man to whom the letter was addressed. Obviously he is influential in the church there. The key verse here is 4, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." As a matter of fact, the word "truth" is used six times and "true" once in these 14 verses. John is not expressing doctrinal opinions in degrees here; doctrines are either true or false. It is worth noting that this letter is written specifically to Gaius for delivery to the church. Apparently John's communications to the church had previously been blocked by a man named Diotrephes (verse 9) there. It would appear that this epistle serves as a warning against this man and his teaching.
What do we know about this evil man, Diotrephes?
And what about this man, Diotrephes, teaching false doctrine. Notice verse 11, "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God." That's a similar warning to the one he gave in II John 9-11 (see above). The phrase in that verse, "he that doeth evil," is one word in Greek "kakopoieo," and it's a present active participle specifying continuing action. This false teacher continually practices evil. John is harsh toward false teaching, but Jude goes into greater detail regarding the false teacher's motivation (see below). John closes with his intentions to come for a visit and straighten things out.
A warning against apostasy (Jude)
1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
This epistle was written by Jude - probably the Jude who was the half-brother of Jesus. The date of writing is somewhere between 40-80 A.D. It's a letter to Believers, as seen in verses 1-2. Jude ascribes three attributes to Believers:
3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Verses 3-4 give Jude's purpose for writing this epistle:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."
AVOID APOSTATES! That's Jude's warning here. Persevere in the faith! Notice the severe tone Jude takes with these false teachers. It's a no-mercy book about dealing with these wicked people.
Jude uses the term "common salvation" to describe the vehicle whereby Believers are counted righteous before God. The Greek adjective "koinos" is only used ten times in the New Testament - most often to describe that which is unclean by conventional standards. Jews considered Gentiles "common," as seen in Peter's experience with the Gentiles of Cornelius' household in Acts 10 (see notes). The Greek word "koinos" is used there to describe non-kosher foods and the Gentile people. Those Gentile people in Acts 10 received Christ as savior upon Peter's visit. Thus, the salvation of God that includes Jews and Gentiles alike is appropriately called "the common salvation." Later in verse 3 he simply refers to it as "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." That simple salvation message of faith in Christ was under attack by these apostates who sought to complicate salvation, but that's not the extent of their false teaching. They also promoted "lasciviousness" (Greek: "aselgeia" means "conduct lacking in moral restraint") along with a doctrine that Jesus was not deity. Likewise, John dealt with these same issues in I John (see notes) as well as II John (see above) and III John (see above).
It is noteworthy that Jude points out that these apostates arrived in the midst of these Believers by having "crept in unawares." In other words, they seemed to be doctrinally compatible coming in, but turned out, instead, to be men who were "ordained to this condemnation." Remember this: Every false doctrine has just enough truth associated with it to make it appealing. It is vitally important that Believers look at every aspect of the basic teachings of any teacher before they embrace his teaching.
5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Jude points out in verses 5-7 that those who defy sound doctrine are condemned as were:
These examples serve to drive home the danger of judgment facing those who do likewise.
8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Verse 8 further identifies the wicked deeds of these apostates. Jude makes it clear in verse 8 that our responsibility is to shun apostasy and the apostates while turning the battle over to God himself. However, in verses 10-13 we see that the Believers to whom Jude is writing were apparently tolerant of these apostates to the extent that they enjoyed full fellowship with them. Notice that specifically in verse 12, "...when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear:"
Jude's statement of verse 9 regarding Michael and the body of Moses cannot be found elsewhere in scripture. Some scholars have concluded that Jude is citing a Jewish apocryphal pseudepigraphical work referred to as "The Assumption of Moses" aka "The Testament of Moses." The only extant copy of that manuscript dates to the sixth century A.D. and is written in Latin. It may or may not be a translation of a manuscript that existed in Jude's day in Greek or Hebrew. However, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jude was compelled to reference an incident that involved a dispute between Michael and Satan regarding the body of Moses. In doing so, Jude may or may not have been referencing an extant document at the time of his writing. Nonetheless, Jude's inclusion of this incident is enough evidence for us to conclude that there was, indeed, a dispute.
In verse 11 three men get dishonorable mention, Cain (Genesis 4, see notes), Balaam (Numbers 22, see notes) and Core (aka Korah, Numbers 16, see notes). All three men epitomize rebellion against God. Hospitality toward those who blatantly rebel against God in the name of God is not acceptable, according to Jude here in verses 12-13. These are notoriously unregenerate men who falsely presented themselves as having a relationship with God.
The "feasts of charity" (verse 12) were communal meals in which the early church apparently ate together and observed the Lord’s Supper. The fact that these false teachers were not forbidden from dining with the brethren on such occasions is listed here as an indictment against the leadership of the church there. The vivid metaphorical description of the spiritual status of these men in verses 12-13 can leave little doubt that these are unregenerate men for whom are "reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." Hmmmm...sounds like eternal damnation to me...definitely unregenerate men. Further evidence of their spiritual state is seen in the verses that follow.
14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Verse 14 has caused some controversy among Bible teachers as well. Jude seems to quote from the Book of Enoch here. The event accurately describes the return of Christ in Revelation 19:11-16 (see notes), which probably had not been written yet by John. So, if Jude quotes from the Book of Enoch, why is that book not included in our canon of scripture? Perhaps the number one reason is that it did not exist as a manuscript in its original language. The only copy that exists today is one translated into Greek. The Jewish scholars were meticulous about the integrity of the writings they included in the canon of scripture; one of those criteria was the existence of the book in its original language - not Greek. Nonetheless, Jude seems to quote from that book a well-established truth regarding the second coming of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, in Titus 1:12 (see notes) Paul quotes favorably from Epimenides, a Cretan poet and philosopher from the sixth century B.C. who was widely believed to be a religious prophet. From this, we should deduct two truths: (1) Just because it is not part of the canon doesn't make it not so. (2) Just because a book is quoted in the scripture, doesn't mean it should be included in the canon of scripture.
So...Jude...what do you really think about these false teachers? Answer, verse 16: "These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having mens persons in admiration because of advantage." Verses 17-19 identify these men as "mockers" and as those who "walk after their own ungodly lusts." Moreover, and here's the clincher, verse 19 says of them regarding their relationship with God, "having not the Spirit." Romans 8:9 (see notes) says, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Well...all righty then, do we just write them off? Verses 20-23 seem to indicate that mature Believers should make an attempt to present saving faith to them. Notice the reference to "pulling them out of the fire" in verse 23. That's right; give 'em the Gospel message. After all, Romans 10:17 (see notes) says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Many will reject the truth, but some may receive Christ.
Here's the simple message of Jude: NO TOLERANCE FOR APOSTATES! So much for showing an appreciation for diversity when it comes to religion. But what about their influence over Believers? Verse 24 is our security verse, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." My salvation does not depend upon my abilities, but on those of Christ. He keeps me saved. He will safely deliver me to Heaven.