The Roman inns during the time of Christ had a reputation so bad that rabbis wouldn’t even permit cattle to be left at them. Faced with such bad conditions, traveling Christians usually sought out other believers for hospitality.
Among those early travelers were false teachers who denied that Jesus was the Messiah. This is why the letter of 2 John tells its readers there is a time to refuse to extend hospitality. John had said in a previous letter that these false teachers were “antichrist—denying the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). In 2 John he elaborated on this, telling his readers that whoever believes Jesus is the Messiah “has both the Father and the Son” (v. 9).
Then he warned, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them” (v. 10). To extend hospitality to someone preaching a false gospel would actually help keep people separated from God.
John’s second letter shows us a “flip side” of God’s love. We serve a God who welcomes everyone with open arms. But genuine love won’t enable those who deceitfully harm themselves and others. God wraps His arms around those who come to Him in repentance, but He never embraces a lie.
How can you reflect God’s love in your relationships today? What issues might you need to confront in your own life or in the lives of others?
The author of 1, 2, and 3 John isn’t explicitly identified. First John has no author identification at all, and 2 and 3 John simply refer to the author as “the elder” (2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1). However, there’s much evidence to link these three letters to John the disciple. For example, the gospel of John (which is attributed to John the disciple) and the epistles of John all share similar themes. In today’s reading from 2 John, three key ideas echo themes in John’s gospel: truth (John 14:6), love (John 3:16), and love leading to obedience (John 15:9–17).