Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Did Jesus come in the flesh?

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2 John 1:1 (ESV) The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. 4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you.

John the Elder

John calls himself “The Elder” which could be a title or a reference to his advancement in years. The word used however alludes to age as opposed to church office. Based on the time this was written John was very advanced in years, so Elder would be a very appropriate title to call himself as a veteran campaigner for the Christian faith.

History does not tell us who “The elect lady” was, possibly an actual person or perhaps even a name of a church or a metaphor due to persecution. The latter is just me throwing some balls in the air as stated prior, we have little to go on who the recipient was. It is clear; however from the writing that John was very fond of them and was familiar with them on a personal level. He addresses the letter also to the wider Christian church (all who know the truth) as a whole. John talks of a spiritual truth that will be with us forever, how true this is. Truth and correction is the thread this very short letter is based on. John uses truth in the introduction and then further in the letter. In Matthew 24 Jesus said that “Heaven and earth shall pass away, my words shall not pass away” this is in line with Johns teaching here.

John mentions in this letter the deity (v3) as well as the human form (v7) of Jesus Christ. This was not any new doctrine (v5) but merely a re-iteration of a common doctrine that they should already have. This is the issue in the church then, purely doctrine. (I would also argue that this is an issue today! See below for more information!) I love that John loved these people so much to deal with this in such a loving fashion.

Jesus the God or Jesus the man?

John reiterates that Jesus was not just a “prophet” or a “holy man” that he was in fact the Son of God. In that day we had creeping into the doctrines of the church a Gnosticism that tried to redefine who Christ was, they would attack one of Christ’s attributes, they would attack the account that he was either God, or that he was a man. John writes in verse 3

…3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love…

John really leaves no doubt on whom Jesus is in regards to being fully God, however he goes on to speak about whether Jesus was actually here in human flesh:

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

History teaches us (both Biblical and extra-biblical) that there was a figure in that time called Jesus. I do find it hard (but not all that surprising) that such a short time after Christ was crucified and resurrected that false teaching was starting to creep in on a fundamental doctrine. How much more must we be two millennia later? We have to test the spirits (1 John 4:1-3) to see if they be of God.

I call this “rat poison” doctrine. Rat poison is only between 3-5% poison and the rest is made up with foods and fatty stuffs that the rat is attracted to. If your doctrine allows falsehoods and anti-biblical stances, it becomes like rat poison. Rat poison works at varying speeds, good poison works and shuts down the healthy organs some time after it was ingested. Same with doctrine, its not the ingestion that is an issue, it is the damage done further down the line.

I know why this is done, if Christ can be stripped of his deity then he is simply a “prophet” or a “good man” then he becomes the same as a “Muhammad” a “Buddha” or the same as a man made prophet or focal point of just another religion. This is not the case! Jesus was uniquely God and uniquely man! He came down as a man, was born the same way we were, in a womb, grew up as a man and ministered here on earth to be firstly the Jewish messiah and then the messiah to the whole world. (John 3:16-17)

This was done to fulfill the Old Testament scriptures and to fulfill the Jewish sacrificial system. When I read Leviticus I get excited because I see where this is going and I grieve for the Jewish folks that know their tradition but have missed their messiah!

These guys deny Jesus came in the flesh, I thought the Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t come over until much later.

John mentions the word “antichrist” which is also mentioned in four verses and all authored by John (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3; 2 John 7); and he is as the name suggests a Christ-like creature who is against Christ, the opposite of Christ. Set up to deceive people and take them away from the word.

 

This Antichrist goes by many titles:

– The little horn (Daniel 7:8)
– The king of fierce countenance (Daniel 8:23)
– The Prince that shall come (Daniel 9:26)
– The willful king (Daniel 11:36-45)
– The one who comes in his own name (John 5:43)
– The son of perdition, the man of sin, and the lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:3, and 2:8)

 

He will build a kingdom not dedicated to God, but to the evil one! As a Christian I am astounded this would be able to happen, but many will follow him and rise up against God. This reminds me of the account in the gospel of Mark when the crowd wished a murderer to be released. They would have that rather than Jesus, this happened in the trial of Jesus before Pilate. (Mark 15:34)

Love one another

…4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it…

How do we know we are walking in the truth? If we are loving one another (John 13:34-35) this is something that we need to work on as a church. There have been times that I myself (and this is shocking as I am a believer) have felt unwelcome in a place that is supposed to be a light to the world. We have to have that self sacrificing agape love that we keep talking about.

 

…8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you…

 

John requests that the church be careful, that we are watchful (v8) but we have even today, folks that travel to our house on a daily basis that try to peddle a false doctrine. The JW’s (remember them from earlier) and the LDS church come by and we are told how to deal with them. My wife is home often times and she is awesome at dealing with these guys, she has them in, shows them their bible and lets them question each other. Despite promises to come back and give answers to the questions she has raised, they never do! (I actually think our house is black listed)

I am not having a go at these denominations other than on this area they are preaching a different Jesus that the Jesus whom I follow. (They require prayer as well as re-education in correct doctrine.) For me that is the sign of erroneous doctrine, if you have to add something to the bible to make your doctrine work, such as Jesus and something as if the cross wasn’t enough, or taking away from Jesus the Messiah such as calling him the devil’s brother or claiming that Jesus was not in the flesh.

John closes by reiterating the closeness he has for the recipient and that he could have written another gospel in what he had to say to them but he refrained and waited until he could share sweet koinonia with them. When I was at Calvary Glasgow, I was bummed if I went two days in a row without seeing someone from church, I worked with folks from church, I moved to be geographically closer to where we met on a Sunday, we arranged coffee evenings, we spoke online, we texted, we were in and out of each others houses, we genuinely loved and invested in each other in a real way. That is true church, let’s get to it!

I pray this bible study was a blessing and please feel free to comment on your thoughts, both positive and negative.
God bless you one and all
TTE

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