If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. (2 John 1:10)
This verse might seem a little “out of time” since in our culture we are very careful who we let in our house. We certainly would not let a stranger in.
But in John’s culture, it was not uncommon for people to gather in homes to be taught about Jesus, and if someone had a word to share they would join the gatherings. Someone also had to provide hospitality to traveling teachers during their stay. Therefore, to turn a teacher away from your home was a way of denying him influence with others as well as the infrastructure he needed to continue his work.
You may remember, in our study of 3rd John, there was an opposite problem with Diotrephes who refused hospitality to teachers of truth. Now, John is actually encouraging the “chosen lady” to refuse hospitality to false teachers.
It might be good if we noted what this “teaching” is all about. It is the “teaching of Christ” (vs. 9) and those “who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”
It appears John was trying to shut down a false teaching ring operating in the “chosen lady’s” town, which was likely Gnostic in origin. His plan was to starve them out.
Was this the nice thing to do?
One of the observations we make in the early church, and in fact in all of biblical history, is God’s swift treatment of false teachers. False teachers set themselves up as authorities and dared to undermine the gospel with erroneous precepts. Their work and their words could not be allowed to stand.
James once wrote: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1) Therefore, we should not be surprised when we find the apostle John shutting the door on someone with dangerous doctrine. The Lord’s church is open to all who come with a humble heart and a broken spirit, but there is no place for those who purposely distort the truth for personal gain.
This is a hard truth. Our tendency is to extend the same grace toward false teachers that we are commanded to share with all sinners…the same grace that has been shown us. And indeed, we should attempt to reason with teachers who are distorting scripture and show them the error of their way. This is grace. But ultimately, as they used to say in the country, “we should not give them a place to roost.”
Otherwise, we might end up with some really rotten eggs in the henhouse.
Dear God, make me wise to false doctrine. In Jesus’ name, Amen