The Revelation of Jesus Christ
The Second epistle of John was likely written around the same time as the First epistle of John, around 96 A.D. The First epistle of John spoke of the true fellowship a person can have with God through faith in Jesus Christ (1 John 1). The First epistle spoke of how true fellowship with God gives us power to resist sin in our lives (1 John 2). It spoke of what true love truly is (1 John 3-4). And it spoke of the confident assurance of eternal life that results from true fellowship with God. Where First John emphasizes and focuses on love, Second John emphasizes truth. John opens his second letter with a barrage of “truth.” “Truth” is mentioned 5 times in the first 4 verses. Why did John emphasize truth? Because there were those promoting a false love and taking advantage of God’s people. Pastor Chuck Smith in the Word for Today Bible introduction to this epistle explains: In the early church it was not unusual for the people to open their homes to traveling ministers. This kind of hospitality was necessary as various missionaries, including Paul. Barnabas, Timothy, and Silas, had itinerant ministries. But there was also an increasing number of false teachers roaming around. These false teachers often took advantage of the hospitality of new Christians, and did a lot of damage in the early church. The second epistle of John was written to warn against false teachers and to advise the well-meaning Christians to be discerning. Love without truth ceases to be love. Truth without love is dry and lifeless. Truthful love is God ordained. Pastor Chuck continues in his introduction to this epistle by explaining the importance that truth and love be linked. He states: Where the emphasis of 1 John was on the necessity of love, John’s second epistle puts the emphasis on truth. Love was not to be offered at the expense of truth. Truth comes first, then love. John instructed his readers that if a teacher denies that Jesus is God in the flesh, then that teacher shouldn’t even be allowed in the house. Teachers who are wrong about Christ are antichrists. This sounds harsh, but if we allow the truth to be compromised in the church then we lose our foundation. I recently saw a commercial on television from the ministry of Peter Popoff that was offering Miracle Spring Water. The commercial has people saying when they drank the water miraculously they were blessed with money. One lady says she drank the water and a check for thousands of dollars came to her the next day. Is this worth your time, your money? Is this spring water really miraculous? A former employee of Peter Popoff wrote an expose about this spring water stating it’s a scam. Crustal Sanchez was interviewed by Carrie Poppy of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and in an article entitle The Woman Who Took On Popoff: The Hidden Story of Chrystal Sanchez, the Peter Popoff Whistleblower (Carrie Poppy - April 18, 2016) it states the following: Peter Popoff says he’s a healer and a prophet of God. His former employee says he’s something quite different. A sixty-eight-year old German American minister, Popoff’s biggest claim to fame is that in 1986, he was taken down by arch skeptic James Randi on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Randi, along with a private investigator, attended one of Popoff’s then-popular “faith healing” crusades, and discovered that Popoff’s prophetic messages from God were really just pieces of information picked up by his staff and whispered into Popoff’s earpiece by his wife, Elizabeth. Fifteen months later, Popoff and his organization filed for bankruptcy and disappeared from public view. Now, he’s back, and while his crusades continue, he has a new way of getting attendees. It starts with an infomercial. Call his 800 number or visit his website, and you can receive his “miracle spring water,” free of charge. But former employee Crystal Sanchez’s relationship with Popoff started with a different kind of call. A recruiter from the organization called Sanchez asking her to apply for a recently vacated position at Popoff’s organization, People United for Christ (PUFC). Sanchez had never heard of the outfit but was delighted at the thought of working at a nonprofit organization, having spent almost five years at a job she didn’t love. And the title sounded intriguing: “Donation Processor.” Sanchez quickly interviewed and won the position. But what she would learn there would change her view of Reverend Popoff forever. According to Sanchez, Popoff sends his followers fake “miracle spring water,” bilks thousands of people (many grossly in debt) out of their money, and uses mass-produced “personalized messages from God” to do it. I initially found Sanchez through her e-book, . . . only four years ago, she was entering Peter Popoff’s world. That world is crazier than you could ever imagine. When I logged onto Popoff’s site, I was pleased to learn that by drinking his free “miracle spring water,” I could persuade the heavenly forces to obliterate my financial debts. Having recently gotten my master’s degree, I would be happy to have Jesus settle my student loans. First came the spring water, in a plastic pouch, along with a lengthy letter asking me to drink the water and then put the plastic pouch by my bedside at night, praying for prosperity and healing. But keep the pouch, and Jesus would take back all my blessings. I was to return it right away, to Prophet Popoff, along with a $19 donation. “Seed money,” he calls it. Popoff says his miracle water is from a Russian spring that has magical healing properties: “This packet contains water from the spring in Southern Russia where the pastors and Christians were led by the Holy Spirit to drink during the horrible Chernobyl nuclear accident…. No one who drank from this spring died from nuclear contamination. No one who followed divine leading and direction suffered illness.” But Sanchez says that that water comes from a much less miraculous source: Costco, the supermarket megastore. Popoff’s daughter went to Costco every week, says Sanchez, and returned with ordinary bottled water, which would be repackaged as “miracle spring water” and sent out along with a request for “a gift of love, faith and obedience to God” in the form a donation. The letters I received were straightforward, asking me several times per letter for a tithing: “I speak to you now as God’s messenger, as God’s prophet of prosperity… For yea, my daughter Carrie, do not repeat the mistakes of many and allow shortage or adversity to affect your generosity towards me, saith God. Do not think of the things you need…. For if you give, I will supply all your needs.” My name appears about a dozen times in each letter. This stunt is an old one for Popoff. In 2008, a disenchanted follower went public after discovering that her “personal” letters from Popoff were identical to her sister’s, minus the names. And as far back as 1985, the Toronto Star reported that Popoff’s crew lamely attempted to keep the contents of the “personalized” letters secret: “Keep this between you, Liz, and me. Some things are no one else’s business,” the 1985 letters reportedly read. I pictured Popoff penning these letters on his computer, mass producing a message that would work on as many people as possible, as Barnum statements do. But Crystal laughed at the very image. “Peter doesn’t write the letters!” she chuckled. “They start with the people in his immediate office. He may have 2 percent of the idea, but the others take it and run with it.” . . . . Donations Pour In But with many believers, the letters work. According to Sanchez, countless devotees send the letters back with the amount requested or more. While the occasional letter would be returned with a bag of dog [excrement] (the sentiment being “what you give, you get back” I suppose), the vast majority were full of donations and notes desperately pleading for help and promising that the recipient had followed Popoff’s mysterious orders to a T. Sanchez saw the letters daily, as they poured into her division in the mail room. Seventy employees worked in that division, she says. When the responses from donors came in, a twenty-person team opened them, entered new information into the system (Got cancer? Check. In debt? Check. Mother is dying? Check.), and then shredded the evidence. Popoff, she says, never even saw them. “I was astonished at how much money I was actually counting,” says Sanchez in her e-book, The Truth About People United for Christ. “People were sending coins, dollars, twenties, even hundreds of dollars!” And many, if not most, of those giving “seed money” were hurting for funds themselves. Debt, she says, is one of the top reasons people turn to Popoff for help. “Most partners wrote that the money they were sending in was the last dollars or cents they had.” In one day, Sanchez counted $30,000 in donations, just from the letters she personally opened. She had nineteen letter-opening colleagues, all going at about the same pace, and raking in an estimated $600,000 on a good day. She recalls a time when Popoff’s letters urged readers to send in any gold they owned. “People were sending in heirlooms,” she told me, shaking her head sadly. “You could tell they were very old.” Sanchez alleges that People United for Christ made about $2.3 million from that one golden stunt. They used it to buy and furnish an entire new building, complete with throne-like offices for top employees, she says. “Love” without truth is a scam. There were people in John’s day looking to take advantage of God’s people and their love of the Lord and other believers, and there continue to be those who would abuse God’s love. Peter Popoff is just one of many examples of this. The Apostle John is known as the apostle of love. John speaks of love more than any other inspired author of the Bible. But he also emphasizes truth more than any other inspired author of the Bible. He speaks of “truth” twenty times in his Gospel, nine times in 1 John, five times in the opening of 2 John and 5 more times in 3 John. I don’t think it’s an accident that John speaks of truth and love so much and does so together. Love without truth is wishy washy sentimentality. Truth without love is harsh and often destructive reality. But truth and love, truthful love, is the perfect holy balance we need. Love drives us to speak truth to those we love (Ephesians 4:15). We need that. Others needs that. And isn’t that what God has given us in His Son Jesus? Jesus came because of the Father’s love and His love and the Spirit’s love for this lost world (John 3:16; Romans 5:5 and 8; 1 John 4:7-19). And Jesus came to declare the truth and exemplify truth to this lost world (John 14:6; 18:37). Truthful love is the perfect balance, it is what we need and is the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Truthful love is what we see in this short epistle. 2 John and its message of truthful love is important in these days of deception. It’s important that love and truth be connected. Truth is found in God’s word (John 17:17). Love is found in Jesus. Love that comes from the Holy Spirit is holy and true according to God’s word (Romans 5:5). 2 John reminds us to keep love truthful. 2 John is a practical application of what John the Apostle taught in his first epistle of John. Truth should always be applied practically in life.