Good morning! Merry Christmas!! I hope you and your loved ones are marking the day however feels best—with food, worship, family, and/or a long nap! I’m grateful you continue with Daily Bible even today. We have three quick little books for today’s section. 2 John, 3 John and Jude all come from late in the first century or early in the second one, at a time when Christians were organized enough to be sending letters and ambassadors through with some frequency, but also developed enough that dissenting voices cropped up within—not just beyond—Christian circles. All three of these letters are written to contest false teachings or bad behavior from other Christians.
We don’t know who the “elect lady” is in 2 John, or her children, but she seems to be a woman of some influence in whose good graces the writer of this letter is eager to stay. The “love one another” theme is consistent with 1 John’s emphasis on love, especially that which manifests in active obedience to commands for righteous living. The writer warns against being deceived by those who claim Jesus wasn’t really human (which reveals how the early Christian tradition wasn’t just dividing from Jewish neighbors but also splintering into various of its own ideas and allegiances). 2 John closes with caution against harboring those who hold other than “orthodox” views, lest the lady’s kindness turns into aiding and abetting their evil.
“The elder” writes again in 3 John, this time to Gaius, a protégé of the writer and now leading a divided Christian community. John’s allies, here referred to euphemistically as “friends”, are travelling through, but may not get a fair hearing because of the opposition of Diotrephes (perhaps the leader of a nearby, rival church). This letter pleads the favorability of Demetrius as a teacher rather than Diotrephes. The letter closes in nearly identical language as 2 John.
Jude cautions against false teachers in the Christian tradition, and this time the lament seems to be that grace is used as justification to indulge in sin. To caution against such “cheap grace”, Jude calls to mind examples from the Bible or religious mythology to emphasize that God judges wrongdoing (sometimes lethally) even among those who have been saved. (Yearlong readers of Daily Bible will need to cast your memories back to early Torah stories, but you’ll have a better chance of recalling “the way of Cain”, “Balaam’s error” or “Korah’s rebellion” for having read all that we have!) Jude repudiates freeloaders who participate in the church’s love-feasts but fail to follow or spread the message of Jesus. He instructs his hearers to resist division and recommit to the Christian faith. They’ll do their best for the church of Jesus Christ if they form a strong bulwark against such people, yet also show mercy to those tempted astray. The benediction makes me think Jude recognizes his letter will be read in mixed company, including some who are tempted by other ideas, because he invokes God’s ability “to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish”. May that be the case also with those of us who overindulge in feasting on this day. Happy reading!
Read 2 John, 3 John and Jude. (Note that the link here is only to 2 John. For copyright reasons, you will need to click the button at the bottom of the linked page to read 3 John and Jude.)
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Revelation 1-3. Thanks for reading!