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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Imperfect People

just like us.

2 John 1–6 (ESV)

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.

The elect lady” is not a person, but a church. This is a normal colloquialism in Greek as the word for church (ἐκκλησία, “ek-lay-see-ah”) is feminine. The letter doesn’t read like it’s written to a person. The closing (The children of your elect sister greet you. — 2 John 1:13, ESV) seals this interpretation.

After his salutation, John rejoices in the walk of some of the church members. Then John returns to what seems to be his favorite theme—that we love one another. He reinforces the importance of this command with a purpose construction right at the end. You have heard from the beginning for the purpose that you should walk in it.

Okay, but if John is so happy with how this church is going, why does he need to make this point?

This must be a problem that worries John, one that even a church with a lot of members walking in the truth can have. They’re walking in the truth but not loving one another. If this seems extreme or absurd, ask yourself this— “What’s the biggest problem with the church today?”

Disunity. We embarrass Christ and grieve the Holy Spirit with all our bickering. And this isn’t about the difference between believers and heretics—we wouldn’t bother bickering with them—this is about squabbles over non-essentials.

And it’s not that we disagree; it’s that we act like we don’t love one another.


Disagreements are healthy. They’re how iron sharpens iron. Everybody is wrong some of the time.

Unfortunately, it’s human nature to want to be right. This keeps people from learning from others who disagree with them. This is a problem for almost everyone in almost every field.

But in Christianity, it’s most embarrassing because we know we’re sinful. We’re supposed to be aware of, even embrace, our imperfections.

That should make it easier to love other imperfect people.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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