|<< 1 John 5|
|This is the New King James text of the passages.|
II John-Jude Listen
More warnings against antichrists (II John)
1 The Elder, ¶ To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth,
2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:
3 ¶ Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you 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 have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.
5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.
6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
7 ¶ 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.
8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
9 ¶ 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.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;
11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
12 ¶ 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.
13 ¶ The children of your elect sister greet you. 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, "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. 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." 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 have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming 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), "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." We get a glimpse of these particular false prophets' message in verse 2 when he says, "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has 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 do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may 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, ¶ To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:
2 ¶ Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth.
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
5 ¶ Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers,
6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well,
7 because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles.
8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.
9 ¶ I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.
10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
11 ¶ Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.
12 ¶ Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.
13 ¶ I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink;
14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. ¶ Peace to you. Our friends greet you. 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, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has 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 who does 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, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, ¶ To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:
2 ¶ Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
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, 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.
4 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.
Verses 3-4 give Jude's purpose for writing this epistle:
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. 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.
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 for all delivered to 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 "lewdness" (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 unnoticed." In other words, they seemed to be doctrinally compatible coming in, but turned out, instead, to be men who were "marked out for 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 ¶ But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as 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 dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.
11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
12 ¶ These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;
13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
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 "love feasts" (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 forever." Hmmmm...sounds like eternal damnation to me...definitely unregenerate men. Further evidence of their spiritual state is seen in the verses that follow.
14 ¶ Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,
15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
16 ¶ These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:
18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
20 ¶ But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 ¶ And on some have compassion, making a distinction;
23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
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 grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage." Verses 17-19 identify these men as "mockers" and as those who "walk according to 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 anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not 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 comes 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 to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, 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.