Part I: John 1:1-18 | Part II: John 1:19-12:50 | Part III: John 13:1-20:31
Part IV: John 21:1-25 | Interlude: Gnosticism | Part V: 1 John

“Because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever” (2 John 2) is the Apostle John’s purpose behind writing these two epistles (similarly see, 3 John 2-3). John commends those believers who are upholding Christ’s obedience and truly being a conduit of love (see previous post on 1 John). Notice the focus of his argument, “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” (2 John 6). John is talking of the perfected love of Christ flowing through obedient believers; likewise in his third epistle John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). As the title of this essay asserts, John is speaking of proper Biblical relationships; however, he takes this idea of showing true love a step further by including interactions with bearers of false doctrine (regardless of their supposed faith). Hence, John is writing to correct these believers pertaining to what true love and obedience to the truth comprises.

Biblical relationships must include a proper view of the doctrine of separation. John clearly asserts those who are not faithful to Scripture and proclaim false doctrine are not to be treated with hospitality, “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” (2 John 9-10 emphasis added). Any person who does not preach the good news of Christ’s defeat over death is teaching another doctrine. Heresy is a serious threat to Christianity, many have been (and continue to be) led astray into false religions claiming to be Christian. Therefore, when people come to your door claiming to be Christian, talk of bringing families together, or ushering in a society of peace: do not receive them into your home for all you are doing is allowing their false ministry to take root and acknowledging their work. Furthermore, by not allowing these people in to your home you are showing true Biblical love to those around you by protecting them from false teachings.

The question must then be asked, does evangelizing the lost and correcting those who have embraced a false gospel trump teachings of separation; especially to a strong Christian committed to the faith? No. While spreading the Gospel is of great importance, obedience to God trumps all; for obedience brings glory to God. John has exactingly provided instructions to guide us, as followers of Christ we are to glorify Him through obedience to His Word. Tolerating false teachers and opening discussion with them only displays a misunderstanding of true love.

Proper biblical relationships are illustrated further in John’s third letter. Writing to Gaius, John commends him for not only the good service rendered to others but, “because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles” (3 John 7). John commends Gaius for not moralizing doctrine and personal actions. In everything he did, God was given the glory through the preeminence of Christ in every action and fellow Christians and strangers bore witness to the church (3 John 5-6). In contrast is Diotrephes, “who loves to have the preeminence among them” (3 John 9). The actions of Diotrephes do not illustrate a proper relationship founded in love; instead he exhibits sin by placing himself over God.

The answer: “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” (3 John 11). John focuses on Biblical relationships and love; he focuses on truly residing in Christ: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). Proper relationships are founded in the imitation of what is good, whether that is not bringing false doctrine into one’s house or giving glory to God by acknowledging His sovereignty in one’s accomplishments. Everything in John’s epistles points back to a proper relationship with God, founded in love, so that a Christian’s joy may be complete.

– Last, John’s Apocalypse.