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Hospitality

Commentary on 2 John 10

Verses 10 and 11 speak of hospitality. But while most of the New Testament—and the Old—stresses the need to practice hospitality, here John warns the elect lady against being too hospitable. Any who do not hold to the original teaching, that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, are not to be welcomed. Coming immediately after the references to abiding in the true doctrine, this injunction probably should not be taken literally, as if an actual lady were being told to shut her home to those needing shelter who do not agree with John.

More likely, what we have here is a warning to the church not to receive in its midst, as teachers, those whose teachings do not agree with what the church has already received, or anyone who “goes beyond” the teaching of Christ. In other Christian literature of approximately the same time we find that churches were finding it difficult to distinguish among the many itinerant preachers between those who deserved a hearing (and support!) and those who did not.

Thus, the Didache lists some behaviors and attitudes that distinguish the true prophet from the false. The Didache, like John, insists on the consistency between teaching and the practice of love, for one of the marks of the true prophet is asking for support for the needy.17 Likewise, John sees doctrine as a basic criterion: “those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” are deceivers and the antichrist. And abiding in truth is juxtaposed to abiding in love, for to walk in the truth—as John would put it—is to love one another.

 
 

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