This is a response of a post at my friend Jason’s blog, which in turn was a response of my previous post.

2 John 1: 7For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
 8Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
 9Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
 10If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
 11For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

“…does this Bible passage not display the same spirit of intolerance for non-believers displayed in the Qur’an, where those who “fight GOD” are to be killed, crucified, mutilated, or banished?”

Simple answer: yes.My long answer is broken into two parts; a lengthy examination of the epistle in question, and a more generalized reflection on the topic.

Answer 1:

I think we can put that sense of intolerance we get out of those versus into perspective by context (and remember that the New Testament never advocates murder or violence against unbelievers and even those who reject God). The preceding verses say

 5And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
 6And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

John the Evangelist is writing (presumably) to people who are believers, but are dealing with an early type of gnosticism, docetism; that Christ was not come in the flesh but his physical person was an illusion and pure spirit. As Jason stated in his blog, ” it’s fair to say that all Christians must believe in Christ’s divinity,” but not all Christians always have believed in Christ’s humanity. A few years back there was an issue in Ethiopia where converts who were part of the United Pentecostal Church took to believing in “Divine Flesh” – that Jesus was a special creation in the womb of Mary, and that there was no human lineage in his person. As the paradox of 100% man, 100% God aspect of Jesus is important to the Christian mythology, it’s argued that gnostic teachings of a pure spirit Jesus remove the relevance of his sacrifice for the average human.

The commandment John is referring to in verse 5, comes from Matthew 22, where Christ is asked what the greatest commandment is.

 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
 38This is the first and great commandment.
 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

When John says thatit is love that we walk after his commandments, he is referring to the book of John, Chapter 14:15 – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

As the verses continue, it also seems John could be speaking to the doubt of people who are still skeptical of the message of Christ – the Judaic society saw Jesus as a blasphemer who went against the law of Moses. In the light of not being the political revolutionary they hoped, they were afraid of his statements that he would tear the Temple down and in three days rebuild it (John 2:19). lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward refers to going back on the message of the Gospel and missing out on the personal rewards it offered Jews formerly bound by law, who were now subject to grace. Verse 9 is a clear condemnation of people who reject that gospel, and while it obviously also speaks out against “universalism,” it was probably targeted at Pharasitical rabbis and thinkers. Verses 10 and 11 goes beyond that disagreement, to suggest that anyone who aids or wishes them goodwill is culpable to their “evil deeds.” This works great for anyone that thinks they know everything, and doesn’t want to hear any different from anybody. I have a hard time reconciling this directive; the only way I can figure it is that it might have been in this sort of context:

Possibly this lady was like Gaius, of whom we read in the next epistle, a generous housekeeper, and hospitable entertainer of traveling ministers and Christians. These deceivers might possibly expect the same reception with others, or with the best who came there (as the blind are often bold enough), but the apostle allows it not: “Do not welcome them into your family.” Doubtless such may be relieved in their pressing necessities, but not encouraged for ill service. Deniers of the faith are destroyers of souls; and it is supposed that even ladies themselves should have good understanding in the affairs of religion. 2. “Bless not their enterprises: Neither bid him God speed. Attend not their service with your prayers and good wishes.” Bad work should not be consecrated or recommended to the divine benediction. God will be no patron of falsehood, seduction, and sin. We ought to bid God speed to evangelical ministration; but the propagation of fatal error, if we cannot prevent, we must not dare to countenance.

Of course, the objective mind in me questions the loaded nature of words like “deceivers” and so forth. I really doubt people go around intentionally trying to lead others astray – more likely they just feel as if they’re doing the most good they can the best way they know how. For someone who saw Jesus, like the author, I’m sure they didn’t consider this as much as we do; after all

1 Corinthians 1:
 22For indeed <sup class="xref" value="(A)”>(A)Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;
 23but we preach <sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a]<sup class="xref" value="(B)”>(B)Christ crucified, <sup class="xref" value="(C)”>(C)to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles <sup class="xref" value="(D)”>(D)foolishness,
 24but to those who are <sup class="xref" value="(E)”>(E)the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ <sup class="xref" value="(F)”>(F)the power of God and <sup class="xref" value="(G)”>(G)the wisdom of God.

Hrm. I’m not sure that did such a good job of answering the original question, or even going beyond the original post. I’ll try to continue in the next post.

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