“It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
(2 John 4-6 NIV)
John continues his letter to the unnamed lady, the lady who is a devoted Christ-follower.
In verse 4, John has crossed paths with some of her children (most likely grown children), and was impressed with their walk with the Lord. John did not say he was impressed with their knowledge of scripture, or following some rules to look good on the outside. John says he was rejoicing in how her children were walking around in God’s truth, living out God’s truth and commands day-by-day, just as the Lord commands all of us.
In verse 5, John begins with “And now…”. John is linking what he just wrote about (truth) to a new subject (love). John is saying that with truth comes love – the two comes as a matched pair.
John knows that truth without love is legalism, and love without truth is sentimentalism. Truth and love must be inseparable. Both are part of God’s message, and both are lived out in Jesus’ life.
As John calls for both truth and love, he tells the lady that this is nothing new to her – it’s a gentle reminder, of what she already knows. John says that we have had this command “..from the beginning”.
We must ask ourselves, what is the beginning? When did this start? Most likely, John is saying that the beginning is marked by when she decided to follow Christ as her Lord and Savior.
John understands, and implies that the coupling of truth and love is, in fact, the very nature of God. We can start in Genesis and see God’s truth and love in creation, in His promise to restore mankind after the fall. We see truth and love in the Ten Commandments, by how we are to love and relate to God and to one another. We see truth and love embodied in Jesus, in how He lived and loved and taught.
In verse 6, John defines love: by walking in obedience to God’s commands. John reminds the lady that from the first time she heard the Good News of the Gospel, the message has been consistent – to walk in love.
The Greek word for “love” is “agape”. This is the highest form of love expressed in both the Greek language, as well as in the Bible. This kind of love surpasses emotional love, physical love, and even friendship love. Agape love is unconditional love, undeserving love, the kind of love that God extends to us. This is not love based on merit, because we deserved love, and it is not love in return for something that we did for God.
Instead, agape love is God loving us where we are, as we are, in our sinful state before we came to Christ, as God’s enemy, as sinners. God knew the state of our hearts before we came to Christ, and chose to love us anyway.
May you stand for God’s truth today, and do so in love. The two are inseparable.
“… speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15 NIV)