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"Walking in Truth"
2 John 1-4

Wednesday AM Bible Study
March 22, 2006

There is a relationship between John's letters; and they have a connection to John's Gospel. The Gospel of John presents Christ to us as the one with whom we have fellowship. His first letter teaches us how to know for sure that we are in the family circle of those who are in fellowship with Him. His second letter warns us not to consider anyone in that circle who is actually out of it; and the third letter warns us not to keep anyone out of that circle who actually belongs in it.

John's first letter appears to be "circular" - that is, it was a letter that John wrote to be read by many different churches. But the second and third letters appear to be intended for a specific audience; the second being to a particular local church (called "the elect lady"), and the third to a man named Gaius (who may have been a pastor of a particular church).

John's second letter picks up many of the same themes of the first. There are three important tests, expressed in John's letter, that help us to know for sure that we have fellowship with Christ. And each of these three tests are repeated in John's second letter. The test of "obedience" is found in the first letter (e.g, 1 John 1:5-7); and it is repeated in 2 John 1-4. The test of "love toward the brethren" is found in the first letter (e.g., 1 John 2:7-11); and it is repeated in 2 John 5-6). The test of "belief" (i.e., faithfulness to apostolic doctrine about Christ) is found in the first letter (e.g., 1 John 2:18-23); and it is repeated in 2 John 7-11).

The closing words of both 2 John (vv. 12-13) and 3 John (vv. 13-14) are very similar. But the beginning words are quite different. John introduces himself as "the elder" in both - which may speak of his authority as an apostle; but may also speak of his great age as the last living apostle (see John 21:21-23). He writes in the second letter to "the elect lady" or "the elect mistress"; and sends the letter on behalf of "the children of your elect sister" (v. 13). It's doubtful that this is a literal woman (see verse 5). Rather, this is most likely John's way of addressing a local church - which, of course, is the Bride of Christ (Eph. 5:25-27). It underscores both the church's dignity in this world, and its preciousness to the Savior.

* * * * * * * * * *

In the opening words of his first letter, John deals with a theme that is very relevant today. It's a call to the church to let people see the truth of the gospel lived out by us faithfully in the context of a loving relationship with one another in Christ. John here refers to our "walk" - which is a figure of speech for our daily conduct. And here, he calls us to "walk in the truth". Here, we see that the "walk in truth" is a walk . . .


A. "Truth" is mentioned five times in the first four verses. It speaks of something objective; and that can be known in an objective way. Here, it is the basis of the shared love of John and for all others who love the truth (see 1 John 5:1).

B. We should never down-play doctrine in an effort to be unified with others. It is not God's way of advancing love among His people. "Love" separated from truth leads to sentimentality. "Truth" separated from love leads to divisions. Both love and truth are necessary in the Body of Christ. But truth precedes the love and is a basis for it.


A. It's no wonder that truth unifies in love; because it is "the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever". John here speaks of truth as something that can "abide" or "remain" in a person. It involves "relationship". It is impossible to be related to the truth without having a relationship with Christ. He Himself is truth (John 14:6; see also 1 John 2:24).

B. Note that it will abide in us forever. It is as eternal as Christ Himself is. This is not like a man-made philosophy, which will become outdated soon. His words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).


A. Grace, mercy and peace are three aspects of the walk in truth. They are said to come from God Himself, and from our Lord Jesus Christ. The truth we walk in is truth about both God the Father and His Son.

B. Grace describes God's unmerited favor toward a sinner; mercy describes God's willingness to meet that sinner's need, and peace describes the relationship He has with the sinner who has experienced His grace and mercy!

C. These three things thrive in "truth" and "love". They are the "gold standard" that backs up His grace, mercy and peace. We would not be able to experience them without His truth and love. Note that truth precedes love (see 1 John 3:23).


John's great joy in all of this is that the individual believers in this church are walking in the truth. There was no greater joy for him.

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