Wednesday, June 12, 2013

2 John - Explaining what it means to walk with God

2 John 1:4 I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. 

The audience and theme of 2 John: The Christian Walk
As with the other seven letters designated "The General Epistles", 2 John is written not so much to a specific person but more so to a "general" group of Christians.  John starts out this little letter by identifying his readers collectively as "The Elect Lady and her children".  Although commentators are divided as to whether John is writing to an individual or to a church, I tend for various reasons to favor the latter interpretation. 1

If we were to assign one theme to 2 John, it would be the theme of "The Christian Walk". Being that 2 John is the second shortest book in the Bible, we can more easily see why this theme of "The Christian Walk" fits the book in just two verses:

2 John 1:4  I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. 

2 John 1:6 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.

This concept of "walking with God" is so important that it merits explanation.  The remainder of today's post will attempt to explain what it means to "walk with God" and why John was so thrilled to find this church doing so.

Explaining what it means to "walk with God"
John is so thrilled over this church, the "chosen elect lady", to be "walking in the truth". Why? All New Testament doctrines have at least one concrete example in the Old Testament to help us picture the teaching.  Whenever you survey the subject of "walking with God", you find a goldmine of truth in the 50 or so places that the idea is mentioned.  Some of the more noteworthy examples are:

1. Genesis 5:24 "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." This is the Bible's first mention of a man "walking with God".  In Genesis 3:8 we see God coming down to Eden to "walk", indicating that His desire had been and still is to walk with man, even though fallen man apart from His grace had hid from Him.  Only when God begins to walk with man will man in turn walk with Him.  For 300 years Enoch walked with God, and then was snatched away by God so as to avoid death.  

2. Genesis 6:9 We see Noah walking with God in righteousness

3. Genesis 17:1 Abraham's walk with God meant He relied upon the righteousness of God

4. Leviticus 26:12 spells out the fact that walking with God means I walk with God and He with me

5. Joshua 22:5 states: "Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” 

6. Psalm 23:4 has the Holy Spirit saying through David: "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." (KJV)

7. Isaiah 40:31 the Holy Ghost speaks: "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary."

The New Testament continues on with this theme of "walking" with an even greater emphasis on the manner and character of one's Christian life...

1. Galatians 5:16 "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."

2. Ephesians 4:1 "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called."

3. 1 John 2:6 "the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked."

Then of course we see the final mention of "walk" in the Bible as picturing the saints of God living in eternity and conducting their existence around the light of God's glory in Jesus Christ shining in the New Jerusalem.  We read the same author, the Apostle John, writing these words in Revelation 21:24 - "The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it."

In sum, walking with the Lord has to do with the manner, the motives, the means and the main purpose of Christian living: the pleasure and glory of God in Jesus Christ.  There is to be "onward" and "upward" movement in the Christian life as they strive to "walk with God".  Whenever you and I are walking with God, we are fulfilling God's design and desire: to be a people who walk with Him and He with us. (Genesis 3:8; 2 Samuel 7:7)

This amazing truth of "walking with God" is why John is so thrilled to not only find individual believers, but an entire church "walking with God" in love of the truth.  May you and I be so characterized as having a very visible Christian walk with the Lord.  

End Notes:                             

1. The Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Commentary notes: "As Peter in Babylon had sent the salutations of the elect Church in the then Parthian (see above on Clement of Alexandria) Babylon to her elect sister in Asia, so John, the metropolitan president of the elect Church in Asia, writes to the elect lady, that is, Church, in Babylon."   The just quoted commentary cross-references Peter's remarks in 1 Peter 5:13 which reads -  "She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark." We know also too that the Apostle Paul refers to churches as God's elect people in Ephesians 1:4-5 and Colossians 3:12, further lending support to the notion that John is most likely writing to a church, rather than an individual.  John himself speaks elsewhere of church members being likened unto "children" in 1 John 2:12-14.   

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