There is some debate as to who exactly the “elect lady” is in the opening line of John’s second epistle. Some believe it’s a translation error and that “elect lady” could be the proper female name “Cyria” or “Kyria.” Other scholars believe it was actually just a code name for a “sister congregation” that was used in a time where many were hostile toward Christians, but it’s impossible to say for sure who the elect lady actually is:
To the elect lady and her children…
2 John 1
Another interesting fact I found in Easton’s Bible Dictionary is that seven of the thirteen verses in this epistle appear in John’s first epistle, indicating that the author was probably the same John who wrote the other letters (or his amanuensis).
John’s main message in this letter was to warn the church not to welcome any false teachers and remain steadfast in the truth that they had originally heard:
Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.
2 John 7
This verse was probably referring to the false teachings that emerged in the earlier centuries that taught Christ’s coming was an illusion (I spoke a bit about this in my post on 1 John).
Although that false teaching today isn’t prevalent (I’m not sure if any “Christians” really do believe that Christ didn’t die as God in flesh), there are still so many false beliefs and interpretations of Scripture that can lead us further away from God.
I’m neither condemning nor endorsing the Osteens’ teaching, but they are a modern-day example of why truth is so incredibly important for each individual to go after in the myriad of voices. There are so many articles out there that both reject the Osteens’ teaching and accept it as sound Christian doctrine that it can be confusing!
I know for me personally, reading all of the different commentaries on the Osteens (and any Christian concept for that matter) is not enough for me. They can be great for supplemental knowledge, but they are not enough alone for me personally to come to any conviction of truth. They are, after all, just mans’ opinions whose own interpretations of Scripture can be way off.
No wonder John was careful to warn the original reader of his epistle to stay on guard. There are so many teachings out there, it’s impossible without God to remain in the absolute truth!
Be on your guard, so that you do not lose what we have worked for, but may receive a full reward.
2 John 8
I have come to realize that my only safeguard against false teaching is the Holy Spirit. I can do my part by reading the Bible and learning from others (which is why I highly recommend the CSBS course with YWAM), but without my ongoing personal relationship with the Spirit (who is my guide and convicts me of truth), I will inevitably quench God’s wisdom:
And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.
1 John 5:6
Do not quench the Spirit.
1 Thess 5:19
Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom…these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
2 Corinthians 2:6,10
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…
Some of the best advice in my journey with God has been to focus on my relationship with the Holy Spirit and learn how to discern His guidance. This has kept me in the truth and kept me from going too far to the left or to the right as human nature tends to take me. I have to be careful to remain open to His guidance and not let pride or fear block me from continually learning.
It definitely takes faith to start trusting God for truth and not solely the teachings of pastors, scholars, trusted mentors, and theologians. I know that God can and does speak through them, but it’s still important to test what they say by bringing the teaching to God and discover the truth about even the fundamentals of the Bible for ourselves. That’s what seeking His wisdom means
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity…
…have the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him.
Since God gives every believer His Spirit who receives Him, then all believers have the same opportunity to know God’s wisdom and live out of absolute truth. The Spirit is the One who will keep us from being “tossed to and fro” and can bring everyone into unity regarding Scripture!:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all…We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…