A strange thing has happened to the concept of “tolerance.” It once meant we accepted the fact other people had a right to their own views, even if those views were different from ours, and even if they were wrong. But culture now defines tolerance as accepting all other views as being equally valid to our own.
The Bible proclaims an objective truth and an exclusive Gospel. As a result, Christians are sometimes accused of being unloving and intolerant. The message of 2 John is: We should love one other deeply, but we cannot tolerate error and evil in our homes or churches.
John addressed this short note to a woman and her children, which metaphorically may indicate a church and its members. He reminded them of the command, both old and new, to love one another. But in plain language he also warned his readers to reject the false teachers who were traveling about.
Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge Christ as coming in the flesh, John said, is a deceiver and an antichrist. We mustn’t accept such people, he wrote,
“For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 Jn 1:11).
What a vital balance! We’re to be loving, but discerning. Every day we come face-to-face with a world God loves; but we also daily encounter a world in which we must stand for the truth. Only John could have articulated such a delicate balance, and only 2 John explains it so concisely and plainly.
While we must love one another deeply, we cannot tolerate error and evil in our churches.
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2 Jn 1:9).
“Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward” (2 Jn 1:8).