Part 37 – False Teachers
Being that this was the last message in 2 John I began with a brief summary of the main points concerning the intent of this Second Letter of the Apostle John.
1. Written by the Apostle John in his old age.
2. Written either to a Christian lady friend and her believing children, or two a particular church and its members.
3. Main concern is the influx of false teachers into the church or area, specifically Gnostic and Docetists, who flatly denied the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus Christ.
4. John's emphasis was two-fold: a. Remind the Christians the basic Gospel, and to cling to that Truth that saved and transformed them; b. Refute the false teachers and their heretical teaching.
A third emphasis – and the main theme of this last message on 2 John – concerned the mistaken or supposed act of mercy, grace, generosity, and hospitality that some Christians were showing the false teachers by allowing them to stay in their homes for a protracted amount of time – time that was used to propagate their false teachings to anyone who would listen.
Either the Christians were not aware of the extent of the heretical teachings, or they were flat out deceived or lied to about the false teacher's intent; or maybe the Christians just simply thought that by being gracious to the heretics that somehow this would turn their hearts to the Lord. What the people may not have understood is that by showing them this extended amount of hospitality, they were actually participating in their heresy. And not only that, but it was a poor witness to other Christians, and to unbelieves who may have thought that since these people were staying lengthy amounts of time in the homes of Christians, then the teachings of these false teachers may be acceptable.
We are certainly called to be hospitable, and to care for the stranger who is hungry, thirsty, and without shelter; and we are certainly to let a false teacher into our home (as in the case of Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons who come to our doors to share their false teaching) so that we can share our faith, testimony and the Gospel with them. The problem comes when we allow them to stay with us for lengthy periods of time (weeks, months) while they continue in their false teaching.
Since most of us won't be in the position of taking in false teachers/prophets for extended amounts of time, this issue is still relevant to us as 21st-century Christians. We are told throughout the scriptures that we are NOT to have fellowship with the world of unbelievers. This does NOT mean that we are not to interact, be friends with, be involved with, have fun with, work with, or play with, because how else are they going to hear the Gospel, or see it acted out in us?
Fellowship in the Greek is koinonia, and it implies an intimate relationship centered on a common heritage or genetic disposition. You can only fellowship with those you are related to. As Christians we share the same spiritual genetic character as Christ – our life is His life – through and in Christ all believers are brothers and sisters with the same heavenly Father. Our true fellowship is with each others as believers, and it is those relationships that we are to nurture and spend the most and intimate time with. Yes, yes, yes we are to interact and love those who are NOT in the family of God, but the greatest and most common source of encouragement should be spent with believers who are of like mind – like Spirit as us.
So, just as John warned the Christians in his Second Letter to be careful of the amount of intimate time they spent with unbeliever, so should we be careful.