After warning people about the deceivers and antichrists that were rampant in the first century, John warned that some might lose what they had “wrought” (KJV) or “worked for” (NET, ESV, CEV, ISV, etc.) as Christians. This short verse encapsulates what every Christian needs to do in order to remain faithful and see Heaven one day. II John 8 says, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”
“Look to yourselves” in this verse means examine yourselves (II Cor. 13:5). Don’t assume that everything in your life is “fine.” Don’t think there is nothing in your life you need to change or correct. In this context, John tells Christians to look to themselves and make sure they are not deceived (II Jn. 7). In like manner, you need to look into the “perfect law of liberty” (Jas. 1:25) like you would look into a mirror, and make the necessary changes. “Look to yourselves,” and make sure men do not deceive you. “Look to yourselves” and make sure you are growing closer to God daily (Jas. 4:8). “Look to yourselves” and make sure you tell others about the truth of Christ (II Tim. 2:2). “Look to yourselves” and make sure your thoughts, words, and deeds agree with what God says (Phil. 4:8-9). No one can do this for you. It is a responsibility each Christian must accept.
Why take the time to examine ourselves? It is so we won’t lose what we have worked for, or “wrought.” In other words, it is possible to lose what we once had! The mental gymnastics some teach when they say, “If you lost it, you never had it, if you have you can’t lose it, if you lose it, it wasn’t yours” has no basis in Scripture at all. It contradicts II John 8, and many other passages.
Let us examine ourselves and make sure we do not lose what we have worked for that we might receive that “full reward.” The “full reward” is a home in Heaven! John (the elder, v. 1) wanted his children to remember God’s promise and remain faithful. The apostle Paul had the same concern (II Cor. 11:3).
Satan works overtime to tempt Christians to return to his kingdom. He wants us to be deceived, be frustrated, and be overwhelmed with the affairs in this life so that we quit the Lord. When we yield to those temptations, our sin results in death (Jas. 1:15) and losing the reward we have. Please make sure and beware of Satan’s devices (II Cor. 2:11). His goals are the opposite of God’s!
Friend, read II John 8 once more. Decide that you will do God’s word and be faithful to His teaching (I Cor. 15:58). You will never regret making the decision to avoid deceit and follow God’s truth!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
John warned, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (II Jn. 7). Speaking about an antichrist or “the” antichrist produces fear in the hearts of many. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and the hardships that have been produced from quarantines, business shut-downs, and the like, there are many concerned that perhaps these events are foreshadowing the end of the world. People are concerned about “the” antichrist entering the world stage and ushering us into “the end of days.”
When we read the Scriptures, though, we learn something completely different about “antichrist.” There is nothing said about an antichrist or “the” antichrist ushering in anything. This is not to say that the doctrine of antichrist (I Jn. 4:3) is not serious, because it is. When we understand what this is, it is a fearful thing. The definition of “antichrist” is “opponent of the Messiah” (Strong’s). Therefore, we do not want God to consider us “antichrist” or Christ’s opponent.
Understanding the definition is just one aspect of our study. Let us make sure we use the word (in this case, “antichrist”) in its proper context. Therefore, to understand this teaching, let us first read everything the Bible says on the subject of “antichrist.” In this case, God speaks about “antichrist” in four places (I Jn. 2:18, 22, 4:3; II Jn. 7). After reading those verses, we can see the attributes of antichrist (opponent to the Messiah) include:
- There is more than one who could be considered “antichrist” (I Jn. 2:18).
- He denies that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). He denies the Father and the Son (I Jn. 2:22).
- He will not confess that Jesus came in the flesh to the earth (I Jn. 4:3; II Jn. 7).
- He is a deceiver (II Jn. 7).
By reading all God says on the matter, we can appreciate that it is a serious and dangerous thing if God considers you “antichrist.” At the same time, there was nothing in those passages said about The Judgment Day, a 1000-year reign, a world-wide power, a world leader, war, rapture, death, resurrections, or any of the other things people generally talk about when they speak about the “antichrist.“ John didn’t even use the term “the” antichrist! He said (by inspiration) that there were “many antichrists” (I Jn. 2:18)! Don’t forget that he wrote this some 2000 years ago. Those opposed to the Messiah have been around for a while!
Now, to the context of II John, we see that antichrist (v. 7) is contrasted with walking after God’s commands (v. 6) and making sure we don’t lose what we have in Christ (v. 8). Let us heed John’s warning. Let us do what God says, and be faithful to His commands. When we think about the subject of “antichrist” in its context, we can see how it is that there were many in John’s day, and how there are many yet today!
Don’t be deceived by false teachers and do not oppose His truth, including the fact that yes, Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Our Savior is real! His word is true! He made a way for us to be saved, and when we believe He is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repent of our sins (including being His opponent -- Lk. 13:3), confess Christ as God’s Son (Rom. 10:10) and be baptized (Acts 2:38), we can be forgiven of our sins!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
We have studied previously about the theme of truth in II John. Another major theme in this short letter is love. In John’s epistle to “the elect lady,” he says he loves her (v. 1), he begs her (beseeches) to “love one another” (v. 5), and then shows what love looks like in this context (v. 6). I find it interesting that love is a theme in all three epistles of John. These inspired words in his three letters remind us of some of the most basic and yet most needed things.
In a nation that is divided politically to the extreme, and in a time when an attitude emerges that says, “If we don’t agree on every subject, then you are my enemy,” we are overdue on being reminded about love. Love has been cast to the side in too many people’s lives. Sadly, this worldly attitude spills over into the church and infects us as well. I am reminded of the old saying that used to be preached often among the brethren. This saying, based on Scripture, said, “In matters of faith, unity, in matters of opinion, liberty, in all things, love!” It seems to me like we need to get this old saying out of the “mothballs” and start using it again!
When we talk about love, this is such a general word in the English language that it is hard sometimes to know what is meant. In the English language, I can love my wife, love my children, love my vehicle, love my pet, love my job, love the sunset I saw yesterday, love the supper I ate, and love the brethren, and can mean something different every time I used that word “love.” When we read the Bible, the word translated “love” actually comes from three of the six words the Greeks used for love!
In II John 1, 5, and 6, the word translated “love” comes from the word “agape.” In short, this word means “that which looks out for others’ best interest.” It is a truly sacrificial type of love, the love we show people regardless of whether or not they are lovable. It is a love described in Matthew 22:39, James 2:8, and other passages. It is a love that needs to be seen in the Lord’s church, as well as in our homes, in our towns, and our nation.
This love (agape) is connected with keeping God’s commands (II Jn. 6; I Jn. 5:3). Why might this be? Put simply, because when we love, we gladly sacrifice. In this case, when we love God, then we are obedient. We are a living sacrifice for Him (Rom. 12:1-2).
Examine yourself today (II Cor. 13:5). How loving are you? Do you think of yourself or others during the day? Repent if you have been displaying a worldly attitude toward others, and let’s get back to what God wants. Reject hatred and ungodly attitudes. Love the brethren (I Pet. 2:17), love the Lord (Jn. 14:15, 15:14), and be amazed at how our lives are blessed when we love as John tells us to love.
“In matters of faith, unity, in matters of opinion, liberty, in all things, love!”
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth” (II Jn. 1). This is how the letter of II John begins. III John starts with the greeting, “The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius whom I love in the truth” (III Jn. 1). As I thought about this statement, it became apparent that truth is more than just a concept. It is an objective reality. When John said he loved the “elect lady and her children” and Gaius “in the truth” (or “in truth” as some versions say), he was speaking about a relationship! Truth is the reason John loved them.
The word “in” in II John 1 and III John 1 does not mean “inside,” like one would go “in” (inside) a house. Instead, it was love “in connection with” the truth, just like the language of John 4:24. We worship God “in connection with” spirit and “in connection with” the truth, not “inside” spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24). John loved these people as a result of their connection with the truth that had been taught and the truth these people (and John) obeyed (II Jn. 4; III Jn. 4).
John loved all men and cared for their souls (Matt. 22:39). However, there is a special bond that develops when we are connected with one another in the truth. Have we ever noticed the feeling and the camaraderie that takes place when we meet people of “like precious faith” (II Pet. 1:1)? It is like no other relationship. I have had the blessing of being able to preach in gospel meetings across this great country. I have gone to places where I knew no one and had people ask me, “How did you end up here?” What brought us together was the truth, and by the end of the gospel meeting, I had developed a life-long bond with them. Why was this? It was because of the truth! Similarly, I have been preaching in a “full-time” capacity over 26 years, and the connections I have made with the brethren I see day-in-and-day-out can never be strained, either. Even now, there are brethren I knew from some of my first years of preaching that I keep up with, and rejoice to hear news about them and their families (Prov. 25:25) Yes, there are many that I, like John, can say I love “in the truth”! Can you say the same? I hope so.
Perhaps we have not thought about the truth in this manner, but go back and consider what John says in II John and III John about his love for the brethren and how it is connected with truth. You will be amazed at what you find! Truth is not an abstract concept. It is real. It is objective. It helps cultivate strong bonds between people as we see one another standing for the truth (Eph. 6:11-14), fighting for the truth (II Cor. 10:3-5; I Tim. 6:12; II Tim. 4:7), and obeying that precious truth that saves our souls (I Pet. 1:22; Rom. 6:17-18)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Truth is a precious commodity today. Many people lie to us. Some lie for self-preservation, others lie to get our money. Still, others lie because they know no other way! They are like the people in II Peter 2:14 who had “exercised” their hearts in this way. A multitude of excuses can be offered for why men are dishonest, but the fact remains that such actions are not of God, but are motivated by Satan (Jn. 8:44). God tells us not to lie, but to speak the truth (Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25). His word is truth (Jn. 17:17), and Christ is the embodiment of truth (Jn. 14:6). To lie, therefore, means we are drawing closer to Satan rather than drawing closer to God (Jas. 4:4, 7-8; etc.).
Perhaps this is why the Holy Spirit inspired John to speak about the truth in ⅓ of his second letter (II Jn. 1-4). The truth is so important to God that it warrants being mentioned four times in just eleven sentences. There is nothing like the truth! Think about it -- our society treasures the truth. We might not think so at first, but if we do not treasure the truth, why is calling something “fake news” an insult? Why do we have men swear to tell the truth when in court? Why are there “truth in advertising” laws in America? Why is there such a clamor and concern for “CGI,” “AI,” and other technologies taking over? Is it not because they have nearly reached the point where we can’t tell the true from the false? Some dinosaurs will still remember the question, “Is it real, or is it Memorex?” What happens to a society when we can no longer separate fact from fiction? Yes, truth is a precious commodity. God recognized this when He inspired John to write to the “elect lady and her children” about the truth (II Jn. 1-4). Look at some unique characteristics of truth that make it stand above dishonesty in II John 1-4.
- Truth can be known (v. 1).
- Truth abides in us (v. 2).
- Truth is eternal (v. 2).
- Truth cannot be taken from us (v. 2). We might leave it, but it cannot be taken.
- Truth forms strong relationships (v. 1, 3).
- Truth must be obeyed (v. 4).
- Truth shapes the manner of our lives (v. 4).
Are we interested in truth? It is a fact that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18). Therefore, God’s word is truth (Jn. 17:17)! The longer we spend time in it, the more we are exposed to the truth. The longer we speak of it, the longer we are speaking the truth! Is there anything more appealing than that? I don’t think so! Long ago, George Washington was quoted as saying, “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” Why not make this your goal as well, friend? If we lose the interest and capability to be honest then we have lost it all.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs