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Deceivers

Commentary on 2 John 7

The “deceivers” in this Epistle appear to be essentially the same as in First John. They are people “who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” This is exactly what John says in 1 Jn 4:2-3. And here again, as there, he says that these are the antichrist. John’s insistence on this matter may surprise us, for today most people who reject what Christianity says about Jesus would say that he was a great man and a teacher, but that he was still just a human being, and any claims as to his divinity are wrong.

What we may find surprising is that for the early church the most common problem was not this, but exactly its opposite. The church had to struggle constantly against teachings that denied the true humanity of Jesus, even though they affirmed his divinity or at least his celestial origin. We have already encountered Cerinthus, who is reputed to have opposed the teach¬ings of John in Ephesus. He was one of many who claimed that the physical body of Jesus was just an appearance. This opinion is known as “docetism,” from a Greek word that means “to appear” or “to seem.”

Thus, although not always agreeing among themselves, docetists agreed in rejecting the true humanity of Jesus. This is why John insists so much on the declaration “that Jesus has come in the flesh” as the hallmark of true doctrine. Those who deny this, he would call “deceivers.” It is significant to note that this is the same opinion he has of those who do not obey the commandments or do not practice love (1 Jn 2:4).

 
 

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