Q&A: You Can't Come In

You Can't Come In

Question

Jesus said we are supposed to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. However, John says we can't let those who do not believe in Christ come into our own homes? Isn't this contradictory? Matthew 5:44 and 2 John 10.

Answer

Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

2 John 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.

Actually, we not only can, but should, obey both John and Jesus. As we see below, these verses are speaking about different situations and actually complement one another.

In Matthew, Jesus commands us to love our enemies. Jesus was revealing that the true intent of Leviticus 19:18 extends even to our enemies (Ex. 23:4-5; Luke 10:29-37). Loving our enemy has an express purpose of not only displaying the character of God towards them (Matt. 5:45-48), but as Paul points out, the goodness of God is designed to lead to repentance (Rom. 2:4). We are to love one another (1 John 4:7-12).

2 John 10 is referring to false teachers who are deceivers. As verse 7 states, "I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist." While we are supposed to love these individuals (2 John 6), we are not endorse anyone's false doctrine (2 John 11). This is consistent with the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 7:15 saying, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

In 2 John, false teachers (1 John 2:19) had been causing trouble in the church by attacking a central truth of the gospel. These were docetists, who denied the reality of the human nature of Christ (1 John 2:22; 4:2). In contrast to those that share the true gospel (3 John 5-8), John instructed Christians to not receive these false teachers into their houses nor bid them God's speed.

Christians are suppose to speak out against false doctrine by word and deed (Prov. 27:5; Ezek. 33:8). By properly doing so (2 Tim. 4:2; Tit. 1:13; Rev. 3:19), the church is showing love toward its enemies. Proper intolerance of false doctrine communicates the need for repentance. James says, "Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." A supreme act of love is to encourage righteous, not unrighteousness.

May God give us wisdom and courage to speak the Word of God in love (Eph. 4:15) at the appropriate time.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).