Good evening and welcome to eBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of 2nd John. Tonight is study number 8, and we will be reading 2 John 1:4 which says:
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
We discussed this verse in our previous study and we saw that God rejoices that the children of the elect lady are walking in the truth of the Bible, that is that they are giving evidence of a changed heart.
And then in 2 John 1:5, it goes on to say:
And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
There are two strong emphases in this Book, in this chapter of 2nd John and that is “truth” and “love.” We have already seen that in the first few verses God mentioned “truth” repeatedly. He also mentioned “love” in verse 3 and now again, in verse 5.
He speaks to the lady, and he is the apostle John who historically (we think) is writing this epistle, and he is writing it to individuals, who he believes, are the elect, that are alive upon the earth in his day, yet spiritually, it is God (who is “the Ancient of days,” and the true elder, that all elders typified) who is writing unto the body of believers (the elect). And God is saying, “And now I beseech thee, lady,” and He is talking to the elect lady and if we believe we are a child of God, we also believe we are elect, and therefore, God is talking directly to us.
And what does He beseech us? It goes on to say in 2 John 1:5:
…I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
This verse is packed with a filler really (all is Scripture and all is important), but when we see the LORD open up the verse by saying, “I beseech thee, lady,” and then we are looking for what is he beseeching us, and there is really a parenthetical thought, that is in between the opening statement where God is beseeching, and the ending statement of the verse, “that we love one another.” That is what the LORD is beseeching the elect to do, “that we love one another.”
And in between those statements we have this, in 2 John 1:5:
…not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning,…
And really, by telling us this information, the LORD is letting us know that this is not ground breaking commandment in any way and that this is not the first time that He has given this commandment to His people. No; it has been given from the beginning. The command of God to love other believers (or actually other man. God commands mankind to love each other), is from the beginning. It did not originate even in the person of Christ, during His years of earthly ministry. No.
It did originate in Christ, as He is the Word made flesh, and as God spoke the Word long ago. Yes; that was Christ, but we tend to read the Gospel accounts, and Christ speaks much of love and the church picks up on this, and we fail to realize that Jesus really was not giving a new commandment at all when He said that we were to love our neighbor.
We can prove this if we turn back to Leviticus chapter 19, in the Old Testament, and read Leviticus 19:18, and it says:
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am JEHOVAH.
That is in the law of God. God commanded, “thou shalt love thy neighbour,” and therefore, when Jesus would say, as He did in Matthew 22:35-40, when He was faced with a lawyer’s question, and it says in Matthew 22:35-40:
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
So the commandment of God to love Himself (God) and love our neighbor, were given long ago. What we are reading in 2nd John is nothing new at all, that God is telling us to love others, to love our fellow believers, that we love one another, to love our fellow man. That is not original. It is found throughout the Bible, throughout the Scripture.
God says that all the law and the prophets hang on this particular commandment. And, we can understand this once we understand the Bible’s definition of love, and we are going to get into that shortly. Remember what Christ said in John 14:15?
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
And the same criteria exists for loving the brethren, for loving our neighbor. In 1 John 5:1-3, it says there:
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Let us think about what God is saying to us here, for a little bit, before we move on. Christ said in John 14:15 (and it is also found in some other places):
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
And so, in other words, if we think that we love Christ, the proof of that love is not that we praise Jesus, that we speak well of Him, that we say that we love Him with our mouths, that if anyone asks us, we may say, “Oh, I love Jesus. I love Him so much.” And all kinds of people will believe that, “Oh that man, he loves Christ, just to no end. Just listen to him? Hear how much he loves him. He says it every day. Every time I am with that man, he talks about loving Christ and praising God and it is just so wonderful to see someone who loves Jesus, so dearly.”
It may be that that person does love Christ dearly, however the man’s words are not the proof of it. And we know that this is true because we have a church today, a corporate body, that numbers in the hundreds of millions (about two billion), and many of them, if you speak to them, would likewise say that they love Jesus, and they belong to churches that do not obey Jesus. They belong to churches and congregations that do not do the will of Christ. They fail to obey Him concerning salvation. Jesus says in the Word of God that God is the Saviour, that He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy, and multitudes in the churches say, “Oh, no! Oh, no! You can have a role, you can play your part. You can accept Christ and you can determine today, if you will choose Him and become saved.”
Jesus says to keep Sunday as His Holy day and do not seek your own pleasure on that day, and so on. And, the church today says, “Oh, do not worry about it. If you want to go to the game, if you want to cut your grass, if you have to work, do not worry about any of that. We cannot be legalistic, after all. God understands.” That is not what the Bible says.
The Bible says (Christ says) that deacons and elders are to meet certain qualifications: they are to be the husband of one wife, they are to raise their children well, and so on. And, the church says, “Oh, do not worry about that, if you are a single man and you have no wife, do not concern yourself. We do not want to ruin you. And, if you have no children, that is alright, we are just looking for a faithful man. And yes, it says, “the husbands of one wife,” and not “the wife of one husband” and yes, it is true that all the qualifications apply to a man only, but after all, we are living in a modern world and we have to keep up to date, so it is okay if a woman is a deacon, or if a woman is an elder, or even if a woman is a pastor.”
And on and on and on and on it goes, with Scripture after Scripture and doctrine after doctrine, the church mouths the words, “We love you God. We love you Jesus,” and at just about every opportunity to demonstrate that love, in an actual way, by keeping His commandments, the church denies Him. It rebels against Him. It does not do the will of God in any way, obviously, according to the Bible, therefore, the people in the churches today (and especially the leadership of the churches and congregations) do not love Christ.
What would that mean? That would mean that God did not first love them, because the only way that anyone can possibly respond in love to God is if He first loved us, according to 1 John chapter 4. And therefore, we have churches filled, if those churches happened to be filled with individuals, we have congregation after congregation filled with professing Christians that mouth words, that speak well of God, and in reality, they do not love Him at all because He did not love them at all, to begin with.
This is the sorrowful, tragic experience of the churches and congregations of the world, in our present day. They are not truly the people of God. They are no longer His representatives. They do not represent the Kingdom of God upon earth, any longer. God has given them up, and judged them, and completed the judgment, and it is done. He will not look back towards them, just as He finished the judgment on Israel long ago, now the judgment is finished on the church.
Let us continue on in our study of 2nd John and look at 2 John 1:6. It is again, mentioning love and it says:
And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
That is another theme of this epistle, and that is walking in truth, walking in the commandment, which are synonymous statements. They are one and the same, as “thy word is truth,” and God’s Word is His commandment to mankind. The Bible is a law Book from front to end. It is full of commandments. And so, here again, God is defining “love” for us. “This is love, that we walk after his commandments.”
We saw when Jesus said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” We saw “to love our neighbor” and “to love the brethren,” that God also said in 1 John 5:2:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
There is a relationship when we love Christ, we love God, we desire to do the will of God, which is only possible because He has saved us and given us a new heart, that seeks to do His will and since that heart is without sin, it can, in fact, do the will of God. And this is the desire of the believer, and in fulfilling our love to Christ by keeping His commandments, we are at the very same time fulfilling our obligation to our fellow man to love them.
Of course, we can see how this would be. God says to the husband, “Love your wife. Raise your children in the fear and admonition of the LORD. Love thy neighbor.” These are the commandments. They all involve treating people in a good and kind and gentle way, in a loving way, in wanting the best for them and in desiring salvation for them also. It is all part of the law of God.
We do not have to wonder, “How can we love anyone?” The world is quite confused about love. The definition of the world is that “love” is a feeling, it is a strong emotion and it is something that brings a sparkle to your eye. When you meet a woman, you fall in love and you just feel so wonderful and you have that sparkle in your eye and you love her with strong feeling. The emphasis is on feeling, how you feel about that woman and how she makes you feel, or turn it the other way around, how he makes you feel. It is all starry eyed type love. It is a love that affects how you feel your senses in that way, you are attracted to the individual.
But, it is not the Bible’s definition of love. No; the Bible’s definition is quite different than the world’s definition. The Bible defines love as action in keeping the commandments of God, and those commandments will result in treating people very well and kindly, and so on. But the world’s definition is all about feelings and this is why, that when the feeling leaves, when “the honeymoon is over” (as the expression goes), so often today, so does the man leave or so does the woman leave. Why would they leave after a year, or five or 10 or 20? If you ask them and they would tell you, “The love is gone. The love has just left our relationship.” “Really? And you did love them before?” “Oh, I loved them so much at the beginning. Oh, I felt this way about them. Oh, I really had strong feelings and now, I just do not feel that same way any more.” The feeling goes, the love goes.
And of course, it is a very rare marriage or relationship, where the strong feeling (that intense physical attraction and just being attracted on other levels) stays at a consistent basis, throughout the length of a marriage. Of course it does not. The feelings go up and the feelings go down and maybe for quite a period of time the feelings are not there, but does that mean that now there is no love? By the world’s definition, yes, and the world recognizes this and the world supports people by saying, “Oh, you better get out of that loveless marriage and get a divorce.”
But of course, God does not know anything about that. He is fully aware of feelings. He is able to emote. God is the one who gave man feelings. But as far as love being defined by feelings, God does not know anything about that. No; love is when the husband says to the wife that he will marry her and stay with her, “for better or for worse, till death do us part.” And so, love is maintaining the marriage, in sickness and in health, in the face of strong attractiveness and strong emotion and desirous feelings, and in the face of losing attraction and losing that great desire or the strong feelings. It is just maintaining the marriage and doing the will of God.
As God says to husbands, “Love your wives and remember how Christ loved His wife, the whole company of the elect. And so, forgive your wife if she does wrong. Be not bitter against her. Have compassion towards her, as I have had compassion towards you. Be an example of Myself towards her, in that relationship.”
And to the wife, God says, “Submit yourself to your husband. Yes; you may not feel the same way, but treat him in the way that the body of believers should treat Christ, in humility, in a submissive way. Allow him to be the head of the home, and so on.” And so the wife submits, if she is a true believer.
The husband loves his wife: he reads her the Bible. He prays for her. He tries to do what he can, to be kind to her, and so on, out of a desire to do the will of God.
This should never end. It is not based on feelings. And so the wife can have confidence, “Oh, my husband loves me and it is not because he feels a certain way to me or that he is attracted to me, and therefore, if he loses that feeling or if I put on a few pounds and he loses the attraction, that then I have to worry. No; he loves me because he is doing things God’s way.”
And so, the wife has a sense of security, and that is how God has established things. The Bible, or God’s love, is superior, greatly superior and tremendously superior to the world’s love. Just look at the Lord Jesus Christ, when He entered into the world to do the will of His Father. Did He show forth love to the Father by being obedient in keeping the Father’s commandments, when He entered into the Garden of Gethsemane? And how beautiful it was when He went and besought the Father that the cup might pass from Him, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
What a great demonstration of love! Has anyone ever showed love, more than Christ? And it was all action. It was all the performing of the doing of the will of God. Love is not word. Love is not a feeling. Love is action, in obedient response to God’s commandments.