(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, I would title 2 and 3 John, “Contending for the Gospel.” I’ve decided to handle these two little letters together because first, their size, there are a total of 28 verses together. And so, it seemed wise to handle that as a piece.
But there are, again, this two sides of the same coin; the content of 2 John is guarding the truth. Let me read verse 1, “The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.” I'm writing because I love the truth, and I want to talk about what it means to love the truth, the truth or the word ‘teaching’ is in, literally, every other verse in 1 John. It's about the truth, it’s about the teaching of the gospel. And again, it's about the importance of the theology of Christ and the theology of His return.
And John's counsel is, do not have fellowship with deceivers, be careful. Be careful whom you listen to, be careful who interrupts your gospel conversation, be careful who has your ear, guard the truth, and guarding the truth really does mean guard your heart, guard that body of teaching that is so central to the gospel, that body of teaching that we have been looking at that is a thread through every portion of the Word of God. So, 2 John is about guarding the truth.
3 John is about guarding the truth too, but it really has the theme of supporting those who contend for the truth. If we’re going to guard the truth, we should love our teachers; we should love those who give themselves to helping us understand the gospel. That means we want to refuse those who teach what John would call wicked nonsense; and acknowledge, support, and honor those who work for the truth, who do what is good, who have a good testimony, a good reputation. John says this, “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” That's 2 and 3 John.
I think that 2 and 3 John are in the Bible as values clarification to remind us of the unprecedented incalculable value of the gospel that has been given to us. There are so many things that can distract us, so many things that take up our time, so many things to take up our mind, so many things that become more valuable to us than they really should be. Is the gospel a treasure to us; a treasure worth fighting for, a treasure worth protecting, and because it is, do we honor and support those who labor to teach us and to deepen our understanding of the gospel? Is the gospel worth contending for? We need that values clarification because we’re often gospel distracted, we’re often gospel amnesiacs. You can go through a gospel-forgetting day or a gospel-devaluing day. And, so it's great to be called to guard the truth and support those who are in the frontlines, contending for the truth. The gospel is valuable!