Do Not Receive Him

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (2 John 10–11).

- 2 John 7–13

As liberal scholarship gained ascendancy in mainline American seminaries and universities during the latter half of the nineteenth century, many denominations began to embrace the anti-supernaturalistic biases of the Enlightenment period. By the early years of the twentieth century, it became increasingly common for ministers within the northern Presbyterian church to deny major doctrines of the faith. Champions of biblical orthodoxy, such as J. Gresham Machen, vigorously protested these trends and eventually left the unorthodox denomination behind when it became clear that its direction away from the apostolic faith would not turn.

When Machen and others like him throughout church history stood firm for the essential truths of the faith, they were heeding the teaching of the apostle John in today’s passage. We read in 2 John 10–11 that we are not to receive those who do not bring a certain teaching with them. In fact, to extend a greeting to them at all is to take part in their “wicked works.”

Verses 7–9 make it clear the teaching John is referring to is the incarnation of the Son of God in the person of Jesus Christ. In other words, this passage is telling us not to show hospitality to those teachers who deny the incarnation. However, while the incarnation is the specific doctrine in view here, we must likewise be careful not to sanction false teachers who oppose any apostolic doctrines of the faith.

It is important to remember that in this passage, John is not forbidding contact with non-believers in general or proscribing attempts to persuade false teachers of their errors. This letter is written to believers in the Gospel; thus, John is prohibiting them from giving official sanction to those who deny the faith. He is forbidding members from providing for those who claim to be teachers but reveal themselves to be false believers by what they teach.

Christian teachers are obligated to confront false doctrine and must not allow it to be advocated by church leaders. Teachers who deny apostolic teaching are never to be sanctioned.

Coram Deo

Are you unwittingly supporting the work of false teachers? Perhaps some of the money you are giving to local charities is being funneled to groups who do community service while being hostile to Christianity. Take some time today to look at your charitable giving and discern exactly what groups and people your dollars are going to. If funds are being diverted to groups who oppose the Gospel, adjust your giving accordingly.

Passages for Further Study

1 Sam. 3:10–14
1 Kings 11
Matt. 6:19–21
Rev. 2:18–29

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.