Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard. 

INTRODUCTION: This week our study is the second book of John.  It is only 13 verses long, and the writer says that he has a lot more to say, he just wants to deliver the message in person instead of writing it down.  Let's explore those important things which he decided he should write down in this letter.


     A. Read 2 John 1-2.  What an elegant introduction! "The elder, to the chosen lady." Let's sort this out:

          1. Who do you think is the elder? (John. Remember that John is believed to have lived a long time. In fact, the rumor reported in John 21:23 was that he would not die! However, this same text says the rumor (about not dying) was not true.  In any event, 2 John is believed to have been written 85-95 A.D., which would make John an old leader of the church.)

          2. Who do you think is the chosen lady?

               a. Is she a woman?
               b. A church?
               c. And who are all these children?

          3. What evidence can you muster for the chosen lady being an actual woman? (The reference to her as a person with children.)

          4. What evidence can you muster for the chosen lady being a church? (In Revelation John often refers to "the church" or a spiritual power as a woman. (Rev. 12; Rev. 17.)  The fact that John says he loves the lady and her children, and this love is also shown by "all who know the truth," seems to fit for a church, but not very well for an individual.  The conclusive argument for me is at the end of the book at 2 John 13: "The children of your chosen sister send their greetings."  What are the odds of this being a letter involving two "chosen" women with children?   John seems to be closing with greetings from the members of his home church.)


     A. We have a lot of the word "truth" in vv. 1-2.  John seems to say we all know the truth and we love this lady because of the truth. 

          1. What is this "truth?"
          2. Could you love an institution because of the truth? If you think so, give me an example of this? (I think the "truth" is the gospel, and he says that fellow believers love each other and the group because they share this truth of the gospel. We see this kind of group affinity in a number of secular institutions.  The Marines come to mind for one.)

               a. Does the fact that this truth is "with us forever" cause part of this love? (Sure! Friends for life! This "truth" caused them to believe that Jesus was going to take them out of their present circumstances and allow them to live with each other in His presence forever!)

     B. Read v. 3. John says that we can have "grace, mercy and peace" from God if we are in "truth and love." Grace, mercy and peace sound pretty good, do I have to possess BOTH truth and love to get them?

          1. If so, why are both necessary?

               a. What do you have with a love that has no truth?

               b. What do you have with a truth that has no love?

          2. In your life, which do you think predominates? Do you mostly have truth, or do you mostly have love?

               a. How do you get more of what you lack? (1 John 5:2 "This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands." It seems that the key to truth and love is studying God to learn about Him and what He requires of us. Neither truth nor love are a warm, fuzzy feeling separate from understanding God's will for us.)

     C. Read vv. 4-6. Is "truth" something we learned from the Old Testament, and "love" something that we learn from the New Testament -- particularly the stories of Jesus' life? (No doubt Jesus put a human face on the commands of the Old Testament. No doubt Jesus' example helped us to understand more than any command what God has in mind for us. But, this text says that the command to love came from the very beginning.)

          1. Did you notice how John (just like in 1 John 5:2) described love as obedience to God's commands?

               a. How does obeying show love? (If the concept of obedience being the essence of love is hard to understand (and it is hard for me), it means that we do not fully grasp what is meant by love or do not fully grasp what is meant by obedience (truth). Example: the whole world (both secular and religious) talks about the homeless.  Often when I travel I see people who appear to be homeless.  I have no natural desire to help them, but I am troubled by what responsibility, if any, I have towards them.  Love would give them money, at least. Love would take them home with me, at most. What does truth require?  Is 2 Thessalonians 3:10 ("If a man will not work, he shall not eat.") the truth?  Is 1 Timothy 5:9-10 the truth? (Only old, faithful widows are to be put on the dole.)  Does love "moderate" the truth? Or is only faithful obedience to the law (including its eligibility requirements) love?


     A. Read vv. 7-9. We have previously discussed (in 1 John 2 & 4) this idea of those who do not acknowledge that Jesus was fully God and fully man are the spirit of the antichrist.

          1. How can a person "run ahead" as described in v.9?

          2. In almost every area of science and learning we "look ahead" to advance knowledge and learn new things.  We try to fit new theories into what we know so that we can learn more.  Is this all alien to Bible study? (In a sense. Bible study is like the law. The law "looks back" at "precedents" to decide what should be done in the present case. (This is a reason why there is so much uproar when "new rights" are suddenly discovered by judges.)  The stories and teachings of the Bible should form the basis for our present doctrine.)

               a. Is it only "running ahead" that is condemned? ("Running ahead" is not the defect, it is running ahead without continuing "in the teaching of Christ." Thus, the door to new understanding is not bolted shut. John simply says that new understanding must be built upon the solid foundation of Christ's teaching -- and not depart from it.)

     B. What does John say is at stake with new theories? (Verses 7-8 say we can be deceived and lose what we have worked for.)

     C. Read vv. 10-11. Is being polite to those who do not have the "teaching of Christ" (v.9)  condemned here?

          1. What is condemned? (sponsorship)

     D. What is wrong with entering into (or helping to facilitate) a robust debate over truth and error?

          1. In what way do we share in "wicked work" just by helping someone to be heard and others to choose? (One of the main errors of our day is that idea that everyone's sincerely-held belief is equally acceptable and equally valid. John says there is right and wrong teaching. If you help to support the propagation of wrong teaching you take personal responsibility for it.)

               a. No itinerant preachers have shown up at my door looking for me to put them up for the night.  I assume that is true for you.  So what is the practical application for us today?

                    (1) What about taking the teaching of certain TV programs into your home?

                    (2) The teaching of certain books?

                    (3) The teaching of certain movies?

                    (4) Certain magazines?

                    (5) Does John's advice cover purchases from corporations or companies that support concepts that are contrary to the gospel?


     A. Read 2 John 12-13. John says he has much to communicate to them, but does not want to write it all down.

          1. What does that say about what he did write down? (That they were the high points, the things he felt he must say now.)

          2. Is there joy in teaching and discussing the Bible? (John says I have several things to tell you about, and we will experience joy going over them together.)

          3. Finally, John reminds us that we are all children of God.

V. NEXT WEEK: 3 John: "Imitating Good."  Study!