The opening lines of New Testament letters will often indicate some of the major concerns the author wishes to address in writing. This is especially the case in the short letter of 2 John where the themes of truth and love dominate.
In fact, the author (named here only as “the elder”) mentions “truth” five times in the first four verses. As we will see in the rest of 2 John, the concern for truth here relates specifically to one’s particular views about Jesus (v. 7).
On closer examination, we discover that truth does not mean merely correct statements of fact. Truth has to do with the whole person, including how one lives in the world. We are told that we can “love in the truth” and “know the truth” (v. 1).
Likewise, the truth “lives in us and will be with us forever” (v. 2). Notice that truth is no static thing. It is not simply something we identify as correct and move on. It affects our whole life, from the way we love to the way we know. Indeed, it is in us and remains with us forever.
The notion of dynamic, active truth is displayed most clearly in verses 4 through 6. It delights the elder to find that some are “walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded” (v. 4). But how is truth lived out daily as God commanded? By recognizing the core command: to “love one another” (v. 5), as the elder urges his community.
In other words, God’s people are called to both truth and love. It is not enough for all to affirm the same doctrine while remaining selfish and unloving. Nor is the community fulfilled by love without truth. Both are essential to a healthy Christian community.