Commanded from the Beginning

by Wayne Barber

Wayne BarberEditor's note: Wayne continues his series on 2 John.

Walking in Truth is loving God. How many times have I heard someone beat the drum that we must love one another in the body of Christ. But the more I tried to do that the worse it got! There are some weird people in the body of Christ!

But when we finally realize that loving others is simply a consequence of loving God by walking in the truth, then it becomes much simpler. It's not us loving anyone; it's Christ living in us loving others through us.

Christ lives in us to do through us what we cannot do ourselves. Only when we are loving God by obeying His Word does His Spirit produce His love for others through us.

John writes in 2 John 5: "Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another." There is something very subtle in this verse that is so important about the kind of love that Christ produces, but it can be missed if we are not careful with the text. John, the apostle of love, who was totally changed by Christ's love for him and in him, has been humbled by this love-humbled to the point that he doesn't think of himself, even though he is an apostle, more highly than he ought to think.

The verb "ask" in the phrase "Now I ask you, lady" is ero to  in the Greek. When it is used in the context of prayer it is never to be used of you and me asking the Father anything. It is only used of the Lord Jesus asking something of His Father. Why? Because the word refers to asking as if the one asking is on the same level with the person being asked. It expresses equality, and only Jesus is equal with the Father.

When we pray we use instead the word aitéo, which means to ask as an inferior. But here in 2nd John, it is very proper for the apostle to use ero to , as a believer to believers. He is asking as one of them.

The words "not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another" in verse 5 are the same words he used in 1st John 2:7-8, showing that he wasn't asking them to do something that is new to them.

John was referring to three possible things in both epistles. He could be referring to Leviticus 19:18 where the commandment "to love your neighbor as yourself" is first mentioned. Or he could be referring to Jesus' quotation of the Leviticus text in Matthew 5. Or John could be referring to the occasion when his audience first became believers and learned this commandment. Or, finally, it is possible John was referring to all three possibilities.

Loving one another is the litmus test of those who are truly walking under the influence of God's Word. Since the verb "love" is in the present tense and the active voice, he is asking that they keep on choosing to love one another! He puts it in the subjunctive mood, which means that a choice is involved. Loving one another will depend on our daily choosing to walk in the truth. You cannot choose to walk in the Truth of God's Word and not choose to love one another in the body of Christ. John is saying "Let us keep on choosing to walk in the truth which is producing a love for one another that is undeniable."

But we must see that loving God is where this love for one another begins. "And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it" (v. 6). Once again, love cannot be separated from truth.

And then John describes the place where real love begins. "And this is love," he says "that we walk according to His commandments." He is not talking about loving each other, which will be the final outcome, but about loving God by loving His Word. Walking in the truth, walking according to His commandments, is the expression of true love for God.

Our daily life as believers on planet earth is to live; to be influenced by; to be transformed by, walking according to His commandments. The word "according" is kat; it reflects the exact measure of something.

This is not new! It is what we all knew from the very beginning when we got saved! "And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it."

That you should "walk" (fixed in its sphere) totally influenced by what it says. Wow! This is where love begins. First, it is our expression of our love for God; but secondly, it is then that we experience His expression of His love for others. How about it? Are you walking in the truth?

Let me ask you: Is your daily life totally influenced by the Word of God, which contains in it the will of God? Are you living under His Lordship? Do you really love God?

Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad