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A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.
2 John 1:4-5 by Robert Dean
Series:2nd John (2002)
Duration:56 mins 42 secs

The Incarnate


We are told that the truth abiding in us is the key to living the spiritual life and that becomes the emphasis for the next three verses, vv.4-6.

2 John 1:4 NASB "I was very glad to find {some} of your children walking in truth …" This begins by expressing his joy, his enthusiasm, his excitement over the spiritual advance of the members of this congregation. There is nothing that motivates, nothing that challenges, nothing that encourages a pastor more than a responsive congregation, a congregation that is responsive to the truth. The word "find" is the perfect active indicative of heurisko [e(uriskw] which means to find, to discover. He found them "walking in the truth"—not just learning the truth but walking in the truth. Walking has to do with their Christian lifestyle; they are applying the doctrine that they have learned. The result of truth abiding in the believer is application. These members of the congregation are walking by means of truth, so they have been learning the Word and have been picking up momentum in their spiritual life. They are living their life by means of truth/doctrine—en [e)n] plus the dative of aletheia [a)lhqeia].  Then he says, " … just as we have received commandment {to do} from the Father." We are to grow by means of grace and knowledge. It is important to learn the Word, to know the Word, to be exchanging the human viewpoint in our soul to the divine viewpoint of the Word. That is the mandate for the spiritual life under the filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Truth is something extremely practical, it is not just abstract theology.

2 John 1:5 NASB "Now I ask you, lady, not as though {I were} writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another." "Now" introduces a transition. He is going to introduce the main theme of this epistle. "Now I ask of you" is an aorist tense, which is a past tense form, but it is an epistolary aorist in that it is something written in an epistle. When John writes this it is in the present time but it is going to be several months before his readers read it and by then his writing it is three months in the past so he writes it from their perspective. He says, "I have asked you," referring to the time in which he is writing. It is from the viewpoint of the reader rather than his own perspective. "Lady" is the church.

"… not as writing" – ouk hos graphon [o)uk w(j grafwn], present active participle. The present tense indicates continuous action, "not while writing to you." The verb "writing" and the fact that it is related to John's activity as a human being introduces us to the whole doctrine of inspiration of Scripture. There is a crucial parallel between the written Word of God which is without error and the incarnate Word of God who is sinless. The same dynamics are in place because the author of the written Word of God is God the Holy Spirit writing through human means, and even though he uses human means He guarantees that the product is free from error. The same thing is true about the incarnation of Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit oversaw that process. He overshadowed Mary, made Mary conceive, and overshadowed the process so that the result of that pregnancy was completely without error, without Adam's original sin, without a sin nature, so that Jesus Christ is completely free from all sin. It is the same process and there is an important parallel there. So we will look at the parallel between the Holy Spirit and written revelation and the Holy Spirit and the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Why is this important?

  1. This is important because if the Bible is a word about God rather than the Word from God then it would contain errors and we cannot rely upon it exclusively. It would mean that the ultimate authority would no longer be what the Bible says, the ultimate authority would be what man says. If the Bible is the Word from God then it contains eternal absolute truth and it is our job under the ministry of the Holy Spirit to discern what God has said. We must remember that God has revealed Himself in order to be understood and He has given us in the church age the Holy Spirit, called the Spirit of truth because that is His role to illuminate our minds and to help us understand what the Scripture says. Today this is a crucial subject, and a crucial one for today because it boils down to the basic issue of authority. Today people want to make the authority man and so they constantly want to challenge the veracity of the Bible. The Bible has always been authenticated, not proved, through historical and archaeological evidence. The Bible as the Word of God contains its own authority; it is self-authenticating. When God speaks man knows it. He may question it, may suppress it in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) but nevertheless in his soul he reverberates to the voice of God and knows that God has spoken.
  2. The key terms when talking about inspiration.

a)  The first is revelation. The term means to disclose or uncover that which was previously unknown. In the Scriptures it is God the Holy Spirit who discloses the hidden thoughts of God to man through the message of the Scripture. He discloses to man the basic problem of man which is sin and God's perfect solution which is Jesus Christ the son of God, the eternal deity who was made flesh and became true humanity that He might go to the cross and die for us. Jesus Christ is the highest and greatest disclosure of God to man. John 1:14-18 NASB "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained {Him.}"

b)  Inspiration. The word comes from the Greek word theopneustos [qeopneustoj], and is found in 2 Timothy 3:16 NASB "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; [17] so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." The word "inspired," theopneustos, is a compound word from theos, meaning God, and pneustos, meaning breath. God breathed, not man. God breathes out the information into the souls of the writers and then the writers exhale that information into Scripture. That is the mechanics. "All Scripture," the text says, not most; not some, is breathed out by God. So we define inspiration: God the Holy Spirit so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture that without waiving or overpowering their human intelligence, vocabulary, individuality, literary style, their personality, personal feelings, or any other human factor, His complete and coherent message to mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages of Scripture, the very words bearing the authority of divine authorship.

c)  Plenary, verbal inspiration. Plenary means full, and the import is that the whole of Scripture is inspired. Verbal refers to the principle that every word is inspired, and this would go down to the very grammar, that it is important to distinguish between a present tense and an aorist tense, between an imperative mood and an indicative mood, etc.

  1. The role of the Holy Spirit. This is seen in 2 Peter 1:20, 21 NASB "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is {a matter} of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." Here we see that on one side there is the role of the Holy Spirit and on the other side human involvement. That means that a message from God to the prophet was not a matter of that prophet's interpretation; he doesn't originate it; it didn't come from him, it came from God. It was not generated by human will. The word for "move" is a present passive participle of phero [ferw]. The passive voice means that someone else does the action and they receive the action. phero is also used in Acts 27:15, 17 of a ship that is blown by the wind, and so when the blew the sails of the ship it took the ship wherever it went and the sailors had no control. So the Holy Spirit is moving them, they are under the direction of God the Holy Spirit, so that He is guaranteeing that the revelation he gives is being recorded without error. The Holy Spirit is the agent of revelation and when sinful, fallible men wrote, because the message didn't originate from them, God controlled the process making it free from error.
  2. This is the same kind of thing that we see in the birth of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit overshadowed the fallible writers of Scripture to guarantee that their product would be infallible and inerrant. In the same way He overshadowed the sinner Mary. Luke 1: 26 NASB "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, [27] to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary." So Jesus Christ is going to be a descendant of Mary, who is from the house of David, biologically giving Him the right to rule as the greater son of David. But not Joseph because Joseph is a descendant of Jechoniah. [28] "And coming in, he [the angel] said to her, 'Greetings, favored one! The Lord {is} with you'. [29] But she was very perplexed at {this} statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. [30] The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. [31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. [32] He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; [33] and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end'." Mary knows what that means; she understands all of the messianic implications. [34] "Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I am a virgin?' [34] The angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God'." So we see how God the Holy Spirit is able to come upon a fallible, fallen, sinful creature and still guarantee that the result is without sin. The import of the term "Son of God" is that He is full deity; He is divine. Matthew 1:18 NASB "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit." In Luke we get the story of the conception and how she became pregnant by God the Holy Spirit conceiving the new life in her womb. Then Matthew gives us the birth. [20] "But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit'." Once again we have the emphasis that this is the Holy Spirit and that Jesus does not have a human father. [21] "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. [22] Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: [23] 'BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,' which translated means, 'GOD WITH US'."

Luke 2:1 NASB "Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. [2] This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. [3] And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. [4] Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, [5] in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. [6] While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. [7] And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

This is where our Saviour was born. He is born the Son of God; He is born impeccable; He has no inherited sin nature; He has no imputation of Adam's original sin. He is guaranteed perfect because He is born by the Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit was able to overshadow fallen human flesh and still produce a Saviour who was without sin, so God the Holy Spirit is able to overshadow human authors and guarantee that their product was free from human error and flaws. So we have an inerrant, infallible Word. This is what John refers to in 2 John 4 when he says, "I am writing this to you." He knows he is writing Scripture; He knows that God the Holy Spirit is writing through him.