2 John 5-6

‘love one another.
This is love, that we should walk according to His commandments.
This is the commandment’
(2 John 1:5-6)

There’s something quite breath-taking about our faith in Christ, which eclipses even the wonders of our eternal hope in Him. It’s that love underpins, overarches and saturates everything about it. If we don’t see and feel this, we’ve missed the point, even the truth. We’re to understand, grasp, embrace, experience, live and give this ‘love’, both now and for all eternity. As the apostle Paul, that great teacher of ‘faith’(Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:8, etc.) put it, regarding ‘faith, hope, and love… The greatest of these is love’(1 Corinthians 13:13). Likewise John, who even glimpsed our eternal ‘city’(Revelation 21:2ff.) of hope, majored on love, as he does here: ‘love one another… This is the commandment’. This is the main point! It’s even how we’re to ‘know that we have passed out of death into life… He who doesn’t love… remains in death’(1 John 3:14)!

This should be obvious to us, since ‘God is love’(1 John 4:8&16), and it’s because He ‘“so loved”’(John 3:16) us, sacrificially, that we can know and love Him – we ‘love… because He first loved us’(1 John 4:19). That’s always been His way, to ‘“draw… with loving kindness”’(Jeremiah 31:3), now even written in His own blood, through God the ‘“Son”’(John 3:16). He ‘chose us… in love… as children through Jesus Christ’(Ephesians 1:4-5)‘how great a love… children of God’(1 John 3:1)!

So love is fundamental to who God is and who we are in Christ. It’s why Paul’s prayer for us ‘all’(Ephesians 3:18) became that we ‘being rooted and grounded in love’(Ephesians 3:17), might survey the full ‘width… length… height and depth’(Ephesians 3:18) of this love, drawing deeply from it, until seeing that ‘which surpasses knowledge… filled with all the fullness of God’(Ephesians 3:19), i.e. love!

However, it’s important to note that God’s love is never detached from His truth. Here John surrounds ‘commandment… love… commandments’(2 John 1:5-6) with ‘walking in truth’(2 John 1:4) and ‘walk in it [i.e. love]’(2 John 1:6). God’s commandments reflect His love, which we’re to define on His terms. As John puts it here: ‘This is love, that we should walk according to His commandments’, and as Paul wrote elsewhere, ‘Love… is the fulfilment of the law’(Romans 13:10), echoing what ‘Jesus said…’(Matthew 22:37-40).  In this letter John warns about ‘deceivers’(2 John 1:7) who don’t stick to ‘the teaching of Christ’(2 John 1:9). That’s also why those ‘“the Lord loves, He disciplines/corrects”’(Hebrews 12:6 / Proverbs 3:12, cf. Revelation 3:19). The truth is that ‘Love… rejoices with the truth’(1 Corinthians 13:4-6); it doesn’t ‘rejoice in unrighteousness’(1 Corinthians 13:6), for the sake of some false definition of ‘love’, which isn’t the true love of God at all.

The true, powerful, wide, long, high, deep love of God, surrounds, infuses and transports all of the ‘good’(James 1:17) that flows out from Him. In turn, His ‘chosen ones, holy and beloved’(Colossians 3:12), can receive and adorn themselves with this ‘heart of compassion, kindness’(Colossians 3:12) etc., all perfectly bound together with ‘love’(Colossians 3:14).

So obedience to these commands is certainly not oppressive, rather an honour and ‘delight’(Psalm 119:47). It even involves a living/loving relationship with the giver Himself, which works both ways, as Jesus promised: ‘“If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him”’(John 14:23), in other words, the one ‘who keeps His commandments remains in Him, and He in him…  the Spirit’(1 John 3:24). Paul describes this loving obedient relationship as the ‘law of the Spirit’(Romans 8:2), which bears fruit characterised by ‘love… kindness… self-control’(Galatians 5:22-23) etc., i.e. ‘God’s love… poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit’(Romans 5:5), just as the prophets had foreseen: ‘I will… give you a new heart… a new spirit within you… My Spirit… and cause you to walk in my statutes’(Ezekiel 36:26-27).

We should note also that this isn’t a love devoid of feeling. Although self-controlled obedience is involved, so is Jesus’ ‘compassion’(Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34) as well. Nevertheless it’s practical, as those examples show, finding expression in everything from pastoral care and evangelism, to healing the sick and feeding the hungry. So ‘let’s not love in word only, or with the tongue only, but in deed’(1 John 3:18), and with heart-felt sincerity.

Finally, this love should burn and ‘“shine”’(Matthew 5:16) especially brightly amongst believers, the ‘one another’ here. As Jesus said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you”’(John 15:12), ‘“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples”’(John 13:35).

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