The Expository Files

"Do Not Receive Him Into Your House Nor Greet Him"

2 John 7-11

During the early days of the church, many false teachers went about denying the humanity of Jesus. Even among the brethren at Corinth, some did not believe in the resurrection of the dead and thereby annulling the resurrection of Christ. (1 Corinthians 15)

The New Testament church had problems as evident by the writings of the epistles. John's epistles describe the challenges faced by the children of God. The second and third epistle of John specifically deal with false teachers and men such as Diotrephes.

Through the Holy Spirit, John gives direction and exhortation concerning those deceivers. 2 John 7-11 reads: "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."

John exhorts "the elect lady and her children," to take care of how they fellowship these people and not to give any credence to their false doctrine. He seeks to help them maintain their faith in the face of opposition as the Hebrew writer exhorts in Hebrews 10:35 - "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward."

The nature of the deceivers is they are willing to "go beyond" or "go ahead" of the doctrine of Christ. To be a disciple of Christ, one must "abide" - "tarry" - "continue to be present" - in the teaching of the Father. Those who are false teachers will not continue in the teachings of the Father but make for themselves their own law. Jesus made mention of this in Mark 7:7 - "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."

John writes to admonish these saints to be careful of the association and fellowship given to those who are unwilling to abide in the doctrine of Christ. He further instructs them that if any come to them and refuse to follow the doctrine of Christ, they are not to be received nor welcomed with greetings normally extended to one another.

This same instruction is given of Paul in Romans 16:18,18 - "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple."

With the knowledge that "many deceivers have gone out into the world," (2 John 7) and the saints must "not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God," (1 John 4:1) care must be taken with their reception of these false teachers. When John admonishes them to not allow them into their homes, he is directing them to not allow an association with them that would weaken their faith or resolve.

The understanding of verse ten is coupled with receiving them into their homes and giving them greetings. The Psalmist describes the essence of this matter of greeting in Psalm 129:8 - "Neither let those who pass by them say, 'The blessing of the LORD be upon you; we bless you in the name of the LORD'!"

John instructs the saints not to give such blessings to those who are not willing to abide in the doctrine of Christ. The receiving them into their home is a relationship of abiding with them. This verse has been used for many years to mean that if someone came to the door desiring to teach whatever doctrine they believe - that it is wrong to allow them "inside the house" to talk with them. This is not the import of John's message.

There is nothing wrong with allowing a person to come into the house to discuss the Bible. John (through the Holy Spirit) was not forbidding the specific act of talking with someone about the Bible in our homes but allowing them to be accepted in the false doctrine as part of our fellowship.

He explains in verse eleven that if we condone by our fellowship the deceivers and give them these types of greetings, we share in their evil deeds. Why? Because we are not willing to stand for Christ and defend the Truth.

If a Mormon came to my door and wanted to talk with me about the Bible (and the Bible only), I would let him come into my house, sit on my couch and open the Bible to talk with him about his false teaching. This would not contradict scripture as I seek to defend the Truth before him.

Letting a person in the door to study with them is not the reason John wrote instructions to the saints of 2 John. If this were true, this would prohibit anyone from talking to anyone who does not believe in Truth -- in their house. This verse has been used incorrectly to define a pattern unknown in the New Testament. It has been applied to a modern custom of religious groups going door-to-door peddling their false doctrines.

However, John (as with Paul) warns that abiding with these deceivers will cause them to "lose those things we worked for." (2 John 8)

To "receive him into your house" shows a willingness to associate with a desire to be a companion with them and share in their false doctrine - this God forbids lest we approve of what they teach.

A warning must be given to any who are unprepared to talk with those who come to our doors to discuss the Bible. It would be best to ask them to come back another time and invite a strong Christian to assist them in talking with them about the Truth.

A greeting of fellowship cannot be given to those who "go ahead" of the doctrine of Christ as some would suppose that all are children of God in Christ. I cannot greet a person as a Christian who is not a Christian nor should I condone their false doctrine. Whether it is in my front living-room, office, front porch or back yard or wherever - we should "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks" concerning our hope and our trust in Jesus Christ.

By Kent E. Heaton Sr.
From Expository Files 7.5; May 2000