Good evening and welcome to eBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of 2nd John. Tonight is study number 18. We are going to be looking at 2 John 1:12, which says:
Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
Once again, we have to remember that, historically, the elder (who was probably the Apostle John) is writing to some woman and her children and the woman is called the elect lady. And yet, spiritually, the elder is a type and figure of God Himself, and it is God writing to all the elect throughout the centuries. And that is the truth, because the LORD is the one who moved the prophets of old, holy men of old, to write down the things we have in the Bible, and all scripture is given by the inspiration of God. So, on that level alone, we know that is a fact, but spiritually, the picture of the elder writing to the elect lady and her children, is the elder, Eternal God Himself, the Ancient of Days, writing to His people that He has elected unto salvation.
Notice that it says here in 2 John 1:12, that He has “many things to write unto you.” So again, historically, the elder John has a great deal to write to this woman and her children. After all he was a witness of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. He saw the tremendous miracles. Remember what God moved the Apostle John to write in 1 John 1:1-4:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
So there, God is moving John to record the incredible thing it was that they saw the Word of God, Eternal God, the great JEHOVAH, in the flesh, the God who is Spirit, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the great I AM, was manifested. He was born of a virgin and entered into the human race, and they saw Him, they heard Him and they handled Him, they touched Him, and they wrote these things to us that our joy might be full. LORD willing, a little later we will look at that expression because it is also in our verse in 2nd John, that “our joy may be full.”
Here, John is being moved to write the things that he has witnessed. Remember in the Gospel of John (and I am not saying that John is the author of the gospel of John), but this statement here is really true of all the disciples, where it says in John 20:30-31:
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Certainly, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, a witness of the miraculous deeds that He performed, could write of a great many things to the elect lady and her children. We know that the disciples even witnessed things that are not written in this book, and so, historically, we are not troubled at all that the Apostle John, in all probability, is moved to say to the elect lady that he has many things to write unto you. Many things. Of course he does, and yet, he also says that he will not write with paper and ink.
So historically, that makes sense. He has so much to say and maybe he is just not someone who has the time at this point, or for whatever reason, historically, the elder is not going to write all of these things down. But here is his solution, because he has many things to say to her and her children, and he wants to communicate them, because that is the nature of a believer, that we want to share what we know of Christ. So the solution is stated in the end of the verse, in 2 John 1:12:
…but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
That solves the problem. Maybe he had a problem with arthritis in his hand by this point, that would just be speculation. Or it could be that he, indeed, did not have time to write these things down. After all, the Gospel accounts were written and this was just a letter, an epistle, to this woman and her children, and so it would suffice for them to wait until he could visit, and he seemingly intended to visit: “I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face.” That is, they would sit down and have a meal and communicate face to face.
After all, it is said that speaking to someone face to face is the best form of communication. There is a lot less possibility that things might be understood, and so the elder will wait for a future time when he will come and speak to the elect lady and her children, face to face.
So that is the case, historically, but spiritually, we know that it is God writing to all the elect throughout the centuries. Understanding this spiritual context is very important because, again, it is one thing for John the elder, who is a man, to have more to say, and to indicate that he will say these things, once they meet in person, but it is quite another thing for God to say this to His people.
A man will have words to say, and yet, man’s words are not the Word of God. And so, we are very interested in the spiritual context of this verse, and how God is laying this out because, after all, this is the first century A.D. and God is just about to complete His Word, the Bible. And, we know that once it is completed, God will not add unto His word nor subtract from it. Revelation 22, verse 18 gives a severe warning to anyone who would dare add a single word to the Bible. Anyone found doing that would be subject to the plagues written herein.
What could it mean that the elder, God Himself, would not write unto the elect, these many things that He has to say with paper and ink? Paper and ink are what our Bibles are written on. Not all Scripture was written on paper, as some was written on other items, but, in all probability, much of the Bible, as God moved holy men of old to record these things, was written down with paper and ink, papyrus and an ink, in which the word of God was recorded on the paper. And so, we can definitely see that the “paper and ink” would relate to the Bible itself. We are really very interested in what God is saying here.
And it becomes even more interesting because it reminds us of Jesus’ statement in John, chapter 16. Let us turn there and read in John 16, beginning in verse 12, and this is Christ who is speaking. In John 16:12, we read:
I have yet many things to say unto you,…
Now does that sound familiar? And John the elder said, “Having many things to write unto you.” To write is a form of communication, like speech, and Christ is saying, in John 16:12:
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Now that is strange. Why could they not bear them at that point in time? What are these “many things” that the LORD has to say to His people that could not be born by them in the first century? He goes on to say in John 16:13:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Jesus, like the elder in 2nd John, has more to say, but Jesus says the disciples could not “bear His words” at that time, and so He says that the Holy Spirit will come and guide them into all truth. This would seem to indicate that the “many things” that the LORD has to say will somehow fill up the total of truth until it is complete, and then it will be all truth; that is, Christ, or the Bible, has already spoken many things and given many truths, yet, it is God’s plan that there are more things and more truth to come. It is also His plan that Christ would not be the one to reveal these things, but the Holy Spirit would be the guide into all truth, as Jesus said in John 16:13.
Let us think about this and, when we do, we realize that this is referring to the fact that God sealed up His word until the time of the end. The Holy Spirit would then reveal these truths, once that point in time was reached. Remember, this is what it says in Daniel 12:4:
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
It also says in Daniel 12:9:
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
The implication is that at the time of the end, the words will no longer be closed up and no longer be sealed, but they will be open, and that is why knowledge shall increase. Not just any kind of knowledge, but knowledge of the Word of God. Knowledge of the words of Christ. We need to keep in mind that Christ is the word made flesh; He is the personification of the Bible, in other words, and when Jesus says, “I have yet many things to say unto you,” He is speaking as the Word, as the Scriptures themselves. It is the Scriptures and the word of the Bible that could not be born by the disciples in the first century A.D., or could not be carried by the believers throughout the centuries of the church age.
As a result, God sealed up these words. It was not necessary for the believers of the first or fifth or 10th or 16th centuries to have understanding of a good many truths of the Bible. No; they did not need to know about the end of the church age, and they did not need to know certain things. God revealed things partially to them and therefore, they “prophesied in part,” as 1 Corinthians 13 says. But it was the LORD’S plan that when we reached the end of time, He would take the seals (and the Book of Revelation speaks of seven seals), off the Book, the Bible, and open it up to the understanding of His people. At the time of the end, the Holy Spirit would come and guide His people into all truth.
Remember what we read in Mark 13, and Mark 13 is a chapter that discusses the end of the world and the time of great tribulation that comes at the end, and it says in Mark 13:10-11:
And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
In this verse God was giving wise counsel to all and, especially, to the churches, which they ignored. They did not understand it to be fair, and so, they did not follow it, and because they did not follow God’s directions here to “take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate.” And is that not incredible that the LORD says not to premeditate and to think before? when that is exactly what He wants us to do about the Bible. We are to meditate upon these things. Yet, concerning the things of the end, no; do not give forethought and do not premeditate.
Why not? For the obvious reason that the information was sealed up and could not be known any way. Therefore, any attempt to develop an eschatology, which is the study of the end times, would prove to be in error and it would not be correct.
And yet, the churches did just this. They developed all sorts of eschatologies over the centuries, and they did not follow God’s direction here at all. As a result of all of their end time scenarios being developed before we reached that hour, and “that hour” is a reference to the hour of the great tribulation, because at that time, God opened up the Bible, and therefore, before we reached that point, all of the end time scenarios, about the end—the amillennial scenario, the premillenial, and the postmillenial—proved themselves wrong.
And yet, we now have the vantage point of living after the hour of great tribulation. That time has come and gone, and we see that God did as He had said, and He did open up the Scriptures in that hour and He began to reveal many things, as the LORD said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now,” and as the elder says to the elect lady, “Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face.”
This was God’s plan, to open up His word during the “hour of judgment,” the hour of the great tribulation, and to reveal them by His Spirit, as Christ said also in John 16:13:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:…
Notice it says here in Mark 13:11, in the last part of the verse:
…but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye:…
That is being said to you and me, to the child of God. We will be given information in that hour when the seals are taken off the Book, the Bible, and that we are to speak. And yet, the LORD goes on:
…for it is not ye (the body of believers) that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
How can that be that we are to speak it, but we will not actually be the one speaking, but the Holy Ghost? It is actually simple once we realize what 1 Corinthians 2 says, that we compare spiritual things with spiritual things, or Scripture with Scripture, and as we faithfully do this, the Holy Ghost teacheth. That is, it will be God’s plan, and it is through the methodology of Scripture with Scripture, here a little, there a little, that He will open up the information that has been sealed and closed to the time of the end, and then we will declare it with our mouths.
Yet in our speaking it, it does not mean that it comes from us. No; the LORD takes personal responsibility: “…it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.” And therefore, Christ is now speaking the things that the people of God were not able to bear, throughout the earlier centuries, but at the time of the end, He will declare them.
And so, in some way, it must mean that the LORD is speaking with us, not with paper and ink, as this information is being revealed. It has always been there. God did not add a word. He did not add a new book, or chapter or sentence or verse to the Scriptures, but He is adding to our understanding by the opening of the Scriptures. So it is communication to us, not with paper and ink, but in some way He is speaking very directly to us, as though face to face.
When we get together in our next study, we will look into that phrase, “face to face,” further.