In this principal part of the epistle we find,
I. The ill news communicated to the lady-seducers are abroad: For many deceivers have entered into the world. This report is introduced by a particle that bespeaks a reason of the report. “You have need to maintain your love, for there are destroyers of it in the world. Those who subvert the faith destroy the love; the common faith is one ground of the common love;” or, “You must secure your walk according to the commands of God; this will secure you. Your stability is likely to be tried, for many deceivers have entered into the world.” Sad and saddening news may be communicated to our Christian friends; not that we should love to make them sorry, but to fore-warn is the way to fore-arm them against their trials. Now here is, 1. The description of the deceiver and his deceit—he confesses not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (2 John 1:7); he brings some error or other concerning the person of the Lord Jesus; he either confesses not that Jesus Christ is the same person, or that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the anointed of God, the Messiah promised of old for the redemption of Israel, or that the promised Messiah and Redeemer has come in the flesh, or into the flesh, into our world and into our nature; such a one pretends that he is yet to be expected. Strange that after such evidence any should deny that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God and Saviour of the world! 2. The aggravation of the case—such a one is a deceiver and an antichrist (2 John 1:7); he deludes souls and undermines the glory and kingdom of the Lord Christ. He must be an impostor, a wilful deceiver, after all the light that has been afforded, and all the evidence that Christ has given concerning himself, and the attestation God has given concerning his Son; and he is a wilful opposer of the person, and honour, and interest of the Lord Christ, and as such shall be reckoned with when the Lord Christ comes again. Let us not think it strange that there are deceivers and opposers of the Lord Christ’s name and dignity now, for there were such of old, even in the apostle’s times.
II. The counsel given to this elect household hereupon. Now care and caution are needful: Look to yourselves, 2 John 1:8. The more deceivers and deceits abound, the more watchful the disciples must be. Delusions may so prevail that even the elect may be endangered thereby. Two things they must beware of:—1. That they lose not what they have wrought (2 John 1:8), what they have done or what they have gained. It is a pity that any religious labour should be in vain; some begin well, but at last lose all their pains. The hopeful gentleman, who had kept the commands of the second table from his youth up, lost all for want of less love to the world and more love to Christ. Professors should take care not to lose what they have gained. Many have not only gained a fair reputation for religion, but much light therein, much conviction of the evil of sin, the vanity of the world, the excellency of religion, and the power of God’s word. They have even tasted of the powers of the world to come, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and yet at last lose all. You did run well, who hindered you, that you should not obey (or not go on to obey) the truth? Sad it is that fair and splendid attainments in the school of Christ should all be lost at last. 2. That they lose not their reward, none of it, no portion of that honour, or praise, or glory that they once stood fair for. That we (or you, as in some copies) receive a full reward. “Secure you as full a reward as will be given to any in the church of God; if there are degrees of glory, lose none of that grace (that light, or love, or peace) which is to prepare you for the higher elevation in glory. Hold fast that which thou hast (in faith, and hope, and a good conscience), that no man take thy crown, that thou neither lose it nor any jewel out of it,” Rev. 3:11. The way to attain the full reward is to abide true to Christ, and constant in religion to the end.
III. The reason of the apostle’s counsel, and of their care and caution about themselves, which is twofold:—1. The danger and evil of departure from gospel light and revelation; it is in effect and reality a departure from God himself: Whosoever transgresseth (transgresseth at this dismal rate), and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. It is the doctrine of Christ that is appointed to guide us to God; it is that whereby God draws souls to salvation and to himself. Those who revolt thence, in so doing revolt from God. 2. The advantage and happiness of firm adherence to Christian truth; it unites us to Christ (the object or subject-matter of that truth), and thereby to the Father also; for they are one. He that abideth (rooted and grounded) in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. By the doctrine of Christ we are enlightened in the knowledge of the Father and the Son; by it we are sanctified for the Father and the Son; thereupon we are enriched with holy love to the Father and the Son; and thereby prepared for the endless enjoyment of the Father and the Son. Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you, John 15:3. This purity makes meet for heaven. The great God, as he has set his seal to the doctrine of Christ, so he puts a value upon it. We must retain that holy doctrine in faith and love, as we hope or desire to arrive at blessed communion with the Father and the Son.