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. 2 John 9
The apostle John’s second letter, though brief, speaks volumes about the Christian walk and how we are to keep ourselves from the many deceivers who do not teach the true doctrine of Christ.
John addresses his letter to the “elect lady and her children” (Verse 1). Apparently this was his cryptic way of referring to the congregation of Christians wherever they were. John’s complementary ending, which mentions “your elect sister” (Verse 13) as another congregation of God’s Church where John wrote his letter from, shows this.
John expresses his love for the brethren “in truth” as well as that of others “who have known the truth,” which “abides in us and will be with us forever” (Verses 1 and 2).
John wishes his readers God’s grace, mercy, and peace — all in truth and love (Verse 3). Then he rejoices that some of the Christians there are found walking in truth, as the Father has commanded. Next, John reminds them about God’s commandment to love one another as a “walk” — a way of life (Verses 5 -6; compare with John 15:12, 17).
John reiterates what he had written in his previous (first) letter: “This is love: that we walk according to His commandments.” This compares with 1 John 5:3: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
Love. Truth. Commandments. Grace. Mercy. Peace. All these are a part of the doctrine of Christ that should guide our everyday walk, and should abide in us. And this is possible only if we have God — both the Father and the Son, through their Spirit — in us, by God’s grace, mercy and peace in Christ.
Challenge to the doctrine
As he did in his first letter (1 John 4:1-3), John warns the brethren that “…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. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (Verses 7-8).
Like many today, deceivers in John’s day denied the “incarnation” — the doctrine that God (the LORD of the Old Testament), at one definite point in man’s history, became a mortal human being in the Person of Jesus Christ.
In addition deceivers then, as now, believed that Christ could not “come in the flesh” or into human beings — that is, that Christ (and the Father) cannot live in the lives of His disciples. This is contrary to the doctrine that Christ taught.
Jesus plainly told His disciples: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:21, 23-24). [For more on this, see: The True Christ, especially the box titled “What do you mean — ‘Jesus Christ has come in the flesh?'”]
God abiding in us
It is thus clear that if we want God the Father and Jesus Christ to make their home (to “abide”) in us, we need to keep Jesus’ word and commandments — His doctrine — as proof that we do love Him.
Jesus had said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6). He is the truth personified — and His words [as commanded by His Father] are truth (John 17:17; 12:49-50). Jesus told Pilate: “I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
How do we come to know the doctrine of Christ, or ever come to Him, so that His doctrine — and His Person — can abide in us?
It’s a matter of God’s choice. Jesus said: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him….no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (John 6:44, 66).
In this his second letter John refers to “the elect lady” and her “elect sister” (Verses 1 and 13).
As Sovereign over this world and the whole vast universe, God has the prerogative to choose whom He will save in this present age — His “elect” now — and those others whom He will save at a later time. [See: The Divine Prerogatives, Predestination, This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation, Of Elections and Appointments, and The Value of the “Firstborn.“]
Of such “elect” Jesus said: “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Just as He had said about His true “sheep”: “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own…My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:14, 27).
In Verses 3- 5 Jesus had said about the true “doorkeeper” of the sheepfold: “…the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him for they do not know the voice of strangers.” [See: “I Never Knew You!“]
Those who “practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23) — who transgress God’s commandments, and who teach others to do the same — do not have God living in them, nor do they “abide in the doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9).
But those who are Christ’s — those who have the “firstfruits” of God’s Holy Spirit, and have Christ’s Spirit in them (Romans 8:23, 9) — understand, believe and practice Christ’s doctrines. [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience, The Higher Law of the Spirit, and Saved for Good Works.]
Those who truly have God the Father and Jesus Christ in their lives can well say, with the apostle Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The doctrines of Christ
The doctrines of Christ are simply all that He taught as recorded in the Holy Scriptures — both the Old Testament and the New. He was the “Word” (Greek, logos) who is God and is with God the Father, and who created all that there is (John 1:3). He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Verse 14) in Jesus Christ.
As Jesus said, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Those who teach contrary to God’s “every word” — who do not teach the truth of God but rather lies and deceptions — will (unless they repent) have their part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8) and will be excluded forever from entering the New Jerusalem, the holy city that will come down with God the Father to this renewed earth (Revelation 22:14-15;; 21:1-3). [See: Beware of False Prophets, Fake News, and “Whoever Loves and Practices a Lie.”]
This website seeks to teach as accurately as possible, all the words that Christ has spoken in the Holy Scriptures. It is up to every reader to “Test all things [KJV, ‘prove all things’]; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). [See: Leanings — and all other articles on this website, for that matter!]
May God grant you His Spirit of understanding, may Christ abide in you, and may you abide in His doctrine always!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.