2 John – The doctrine of Christ
“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 1:9
The Apostle John refers to the church to whom he is writing as ‘the elect lady and her children.’ Then closing the letter, John concludes, ‘the children of your elect sister greet you.’ Have you ever referred to your church as an ‘elect lady’? You may have used or heard the term ‘sister’ churches, and here is where that idea is from. What a beautiful expression of the local church as the bride of Christ, “the elect lady”.
In this brief letter written near the end of the first century, John simply reiterates the two most important things the ‘elect lady’, the local church, should do; “love one another” (1:5-6) and “abide in the doctrine of Christ,” (7-10).
Of these, abiding in the doctrine of Christ comes first. Because if we do not abide in Christ, John writes that we do not ‘have God.’ And what good is love without God?
In his first letter John wrote: “Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).
Truly being able to express the love of God to one another in meaningful, redemptive ways, requires knowing Him, abiding in Him. For this, we must understand the doctrine of Christ.
John points to those who ‘do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” (1:7) And this is the essence of the doctrine of Christ; that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was fully human and fully God. Jesus was/is God incarnate, in flesh.
So important and yet so easily misunderstood, this is the key to understanding everything else about Christianity.
Early in church history all the Bishops gathered over several sessions (councils) and hashed out a Statement of Faith, now called The Nicene Creed, which presents the key points of accepted Christian doctrine in one memorable document.
The most detailed part of the Creed is the second part which explains the doctrine of Christ. As the Apostle John had warned, deceivers had gone into the world seeking to customize the Christian faith into one that fit their personal taste or bias. So the Bishops systematically address each of these heresies.
The second part of the Creed reads:
“And (we believe) in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end.”
There is more to the Creed that is essential to our faith as Christians. But this is the doctrine of Christ. Each of the points taken from passages of Scripture in order to refute bad doctrine.
Paul told Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” 1 Timothy 4:16.
What you believe is important. “He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9)