Almost at the back of the Bible is a little book, one could properly say, a letter, which John wrote. Actually there are three little books back there carrying his name: two of them are only one chapter each, and this is one of those. This letter was written to “the chosen lady and her children.” Some think the “chosen lady” is a figurative expression for a church, but it could have been simply a family; I won’t argue for either view here.
Verse four of 2 John is a positive verse. It says, “I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father” (New American Standard Bible). Whether this refers to a church or to a family unit, the reality is common. John is rejoicing over some of the children. You may notice that ‘some’ is in italics, and that indicates that it is not in the original Greek text. But in this case the text is written in such a way that it is understood, so to include it is helpful. Some of the children of this ‘family’ were walking in truth and some were not; the ones walking in truth motivated John’s joy. We wonder about those who have the same background but do not walk in truth.
The word ‘truth’ isn’t held in high regard today, but it refers to that which is real whether you think so or not. You may say that that wall is not made of concrete blocks, but if you ram your head into it you will meet reality regardless of what you think. In the Gospel that carries John’s name, he recorded in chapter seventeen that Jesus said God’s word is truth. God’s word, the Bible, is that which puts all of reality into proper perspective. So these children were walking in God’s revelation to us, His word.
Walk is an excellent figurative word to describe living. Walk includes movement, direction, progress in small increments, sometimes losing one’s balance and regaining it, and so on. Using it in this setting reveals that these ‘children’ have accepted what God has said in the Bible and are in a consistent way doing it. “Walking” in our verse is a present participle which indicates that this is their continual activity.
Even though just some of the children are walking in truth, it appears that all of us ought to be in that it literally says, “exactly as we have received commandment from the Father.” God’s word has an imperative tone and asks of us a response. Commandments are meant to be obeyed.
There are some well-meaning Christians who say that we don’t need to do anything the Bible teaches as long as we make sure we have our sins forgiven. Well, actually God does have something to say about how we live, and, if we love Him, we will be interested in pursuing it.
Again, our NASB translation has the words ‘to do’ in italics. It is not in the original. We can actually read it by leaving those words out, and some versions do. But as we noted above, a commandment does have the sense of calling us to do what it specifies. So including those words is not a problem--the verse carries that sense.
Our short verse has family terminology, and as it began with that so it closes. We need to be careful that we do not allow society to interpret the verse for us. Some may think that a father should never command a child and therefore find fault with the verse. That thought has its own difficulties, but ‘the Father’ in view here is God the Creator, the Father spiritually of all those who have become His children through faith in Jesus. This ‘Father’ surely has the right to command His children in that which is true, good, right, and for their eternal benefit.
I have personally had the opportunity to hear about certain people I had known years ago who were now walking in truth, and it gave me joy. I have also had the opposite experience, and it was a great disappointment.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if John were present today and could write about us. Would he make the same statements about us as he did about those children?