What Is The “Doctrine of Christ” In 2 John 9–11?

2 John 1:9-11 states: “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.”

What is the meaning of the “doctrine of Christ” in this context?

The original language is in what is known as the genitive case (which shows “possession.”) Unfortunately, the problem is that there are many different types of genitives in the original language.

Two of the most common usages of the genitive case produces the following possible translations:

  1. The doctrine about Christ (subjective genitive). If this is what is meant in using the genitive, the false teachers in the context were attacking the deity of Jesus.

  2. The doctrine from Christ (objective genitive). If this is what is meant in using the genitive, the false teachers in the context would be attacking the specific teachings from Jesus which were carried on through the apostles and prophets by way of the Holy Spirit.

The third and most accurate translation would be to leave the “of” translation because the genitive would refer to both the teaching and the deity of Jesus (plenary genitive). The reason why this is the case is because:

“The Elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truthwhich abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do notconfess 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.”

In the Gospel of John, the apostle had already written that God's word is truth (John 17:17). He also proclaimed that Jesus Himself (who is Deity – John 1:1) was the truth (John 14:6). It is clear from his gospel that if we love Jesus, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15; 15:14). We must also receive the truth that Jesus is deity who came in the flesh (John 1:14; 1 John 4:2-3). In his letter to the elect lady, John reiterates what he already stated in his gospel, namely, that the doctrine of Christ is composed of (1) Jesus’ commandments/doctrine which we are to obey and (2) Jesus’ deity. 




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