Bible Studies: 2nd John

Give No Access to False Teachers

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
2nd John verse 10 has a dual focus: False teachers must have no access to the church, or to the believer's home and family - and by clear implication, to our minds anywhere, any time.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part four of a five-part series. Read part three.

2nd John verse 10 has a dual focus: False teachers must have no access to the church, or to the believer's home and family - and by clear implication, to our minds anywhere, any time.

In our last article, we focused on three particular elements of the imperative to act decisively against false teachers, as we find it in Second John.

First, when dealing with false teachers, it is vital for Christians to have a complete and well-balanced understanding of agape love. If Christians focus only on certain aspects of the Bible's teachings concerning love and ignore others, we will develop an unbalanced and harmful view of Christian love that will expose us to spiritual danger.

Secondly, we saw that acting in agape love toward our true fellow Christians requires us to act toward false teachers in a way that some would mistakenly label as "unloving." This false accusation stems from a myopic, unbalanced view of the Bible's imperatives.

Thirdly, we saw that agape love, which is always rooted in truth, demands that Christians act decisively to block the deadly influence of false teachers upon themselves, their homes, and their churches. That is the basis of the command we are given in verse ten: "[D]o not receive [the false teacher] into your house nor greet him, for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."

The agape love that is central to genuine Christian unity recognizes the fact that every believer in Christ is precious to God. Therefore, every one of your fellow believers in Christ should be precious to you. The climactic point of John's second epistle, found in verses nine and ten, is this: Agape love may require that you do the difficult thing by utterly rejecting false teachers, in order to maintain a church unity that is genuine, and not a counterfeit - but a Christian must never hesitate to do it, because God commands it.

The Climactic Point of John's Second Epistle

And so John gives clear instruction to the lady to whom his epistle is addressed, and to believers throughout all the subsequent history of the church:

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 9-11)

Earlier in his epistle, John has made it clear that he is not speaking of people who may disagree over minor matters but are still brethren in Christ. He is speaking of false teachers and their adherents who reject the fundamentals of the faith. Such individuals thus demonstrate that they are not regenerated, not true believers in Christ. They are engaged in an effort to undermine the church's hold upon essential truth concerning the person and work of Christ. Failure to reject such people has been one of the greatest sins, and one of the greatest perils, of the church over the centuries.

What Is "Your House"?

These considerations bring us back to the question many have asked us: Is John giving instruction concerning false teachers to the local church as a body of believers, or is his focus on an individual or perhaps a family unit? Three factors in the text bear upon the answer.

First, it is significant that John under divine inspiration shifts from the use of "you" in the singular in verses 4-5 to "you" in the plural for the rest of the letter, until the very last sentence in which he once again addresses "the elect lady" specifically. The instruction of verses 9-10 is a general instruction to all believers, not only to a specific individual.

Secondly, John's inspired use of the word oikia rather than oikos places the emphasis upon the house as a building. The primary consideration in the commandment of verse nine is to prevent the admission of false teachers to a physical place, and thereby giving them access to precious souls.

Thirdly, we understand from other passages in which both oikos and oikia are used, that the early church normally met in someone's home.

Conclusion: Give False Teachers No Access - Anywhere, Anytime

What, then, are we to learn from this? John's use of oikia in verse nine gives this force to the commandment: If a false teacher comes to your church or to your home, do not even let him cross the threshold. The danger of false teachers is so great, and the unity of the body of Christ in love grounded in truth is so urgent, that you must not allow false teachers to have any access to your home or your church.

"Do not receive him," God commands through John. The word in the original language has the force of "do not admit the false teacher; do not give him access."

How does this apply to the home? It means give the false teacher no access to your hospitality. Give the false teacher no access to your family - your spouse, your children. Give the false teacher no access to saved individuals in your household who might be led astray, or to unsaved individuals within household that they might prevent from receiving Christ.

The same holds true for the church. Give the false teacher no access to the members of the body of Christ, to their fellowship, to their worship. There is no fellowship between righteousness and lawlessness; no communion between light and darkness; no accord between Christ and Satan; no common spiritual ground between the believer and the unbeliever; no agreement between believers who are the temple of the living God and those who are, in fact, devoted to idols of their own making (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

God's command is unequivocal: Do not let false teachers cross the physical threshold of your home or your church. And, by clear implication, Second John verse nine further commands us not to allow false teachers to cross the threshold of our minds, any time or any place - not only through direct personal contact, but also through radio, television, books, magazines, the Internet, and so on.

In our time, many individuals and churches are being led away from the truth because they refuse to hold the line against false teachers. Far too often Christians are giving false teachers access to their homes, their churches, and their minds. The Holy Spirit through John clearly commands us not to grant any manner of access to false teachers, because the one who does so "shares in his evil deeds" (2nd John verse 11). The word translated "shares" is a form of the Greek koinoneo, the primary New Testament word for fellowship and communion.

Those who grant any manner of access to false teachers open themselves to spiritual ruin, because they put friendship or feelings above God's command to "have no fellowship (koinoneo) with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" (Ephesians 5:11). The Greek word translated "expose" is elencho, which includes the element of bringing shame, dishonor, and discredit upon the works of darkness.

How are we to implement these imperatives in our homes, churches, and minds day by day? That will be the subject of our final article in this series.

Next: Give No Encouragement to False Teachers

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