Brotherly Love

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children following the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father. And now I beg you, lady, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we follow his commandments; this is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you follow love. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward. Anyone who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son.
(2 John 4-9)[1]

 

Scripture Study

4 some of your children: The implication of this statement is uncertain. Either John had made contact with only “some” of his readers, and these he found obeying the gospel, or else he implies that only “some” of those he encountered were doing well, while others were not. The absence of any rebuke in the letter, along with the general affirmation in verse 8, seems to favor the former interpretation.

5 from the beginning: John’s teaching about love is not new but is traceable back to the initial catechesis of his readers (6; 1 Jn 3:11). love one another: The supreme mandate that Christ has laid upon his disciples (Jn 13:34). The meaning of his words is explained by his example, which shows us that Christian love is not an emotion, but an act of the will that adheres to the commandments of God (Jn 14:31) and expresses itself through heroic generosity and sacrifice, even to the point of death (Jn 15:13).

7 many deceivers: Heretical teachers who denied that God the Son came in the flesh as a man. In doing so, they exchanged the truth of the gospel for lies and became “false prophets” who streamed out “into the world” with their errors (1 Jn 4:1) (CCC 465). Behind this warning is John’s concern that these troublemakers might destroy the faith of others, as well (1 Jn 2:26). See note on 1 Jn 4:2. the antichrist: A title given to anyone who denies the Father and the Son and attacks the messianic claims of Jesus (1 Jn 2:22; CCC 675). 

8 what you have worked for: The attainment of salvation (Phil 2:12) as well as additional rewards bestowed for faithful service (1 Cor 3:14).

9 one who goes ahead: The Greek text envisions someone who “goes beyond” the limits of authentic Christian doctrine. No hint is given as to their motives, but such individuals are often described as “progressives” who not only embrace novel teachings, but who leave behind the truths of apostolic faith in the process. does not have God: Faith in God and fellowship with God go hand in hand. John is insistent on this point and warns that breaking away from the true faith means breaking away from the one true God.[2]

Reflection

And now I beg you, lady, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.

We are a people of traditions. Our nation has just witnessed a change in leadership – a change that has caused uncertainty, fear, and anger. The words from the Second Letter of John will hopefully remind us all that we are bound to a higher calling of love.

As Christians, we have learned that walking in the truth entails keeping the commandment of brotherly love, which St John emphasizes is a commandment they we have had “from the beginning.” Tradition is so definite on this point that anyone who teaches otherwise is a deceiver who seeks to corrupt the faith by destroying the unity and mutuality of brotherly love.[3]

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

[1] Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
CCC Catechism of the Catholic Church
[2] The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 477.
[3] The Catholic Letters, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 172.