Vol.XIII No.VII Pg.7
September 1976

You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

In 2 Jn. 9, does the doctrine of Christ mean what Christ taught, or teaching concerning Christ come in the flesh? Does the Greek clarify? BT


I dread these Greek questions for they mean slow, laborious searching through material that is over my head. Ill explain this as clearly as my knowledge will allow. Of Christ is genitive — the case of genus or kind. A. T. Robertsons Grammar (and at $17.50 it had better be a good grammar) says, In itself the genitive is neither subjective nor objective, but lends itself readily to either point of view. Four other grammars in my library are in substantial agreement. The context must determine the meaning. Viewed purely from the grammatical angle we could translate: Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the Christ-kind of teaching..

Every Greek expositor available to me, with the possible exception of Wuest, says this passage refers to teaching that has Christ as its author. Robertsons Word Pictures has Not the teaching about Christ, but that of Christ which is the standard of Christian teaching as the walk of Christ is the standard for the Christians walk (1 Jn. 2:6). See Jn. 7:16; 18:19. Meyer says, tou Cbristou is not the objective ... but the subjective genitive ... the doctrine which, proceeding from Christ, was proclaimed by the apostles. Wuest says, teaching with reference to Christ, but broadens this to the limits of true doctrine. His barbs are aimed at Unitarian, Modernist, or Liberal. Wescott says, the doctrine which Christ brought and says the usage of the N.T. is uniformly in favor of such an interpretation. Alford also pleads uniformity of N.T. usage, and between them they cite Matt. 7:28; Mk. 4:2; Jn. 18:19; Acts 2:42; Rev. 2:11-15. Both mention and repudiate the idea that this is an objective genitive.

It is not my practice to array the scholars for you, but in such a technical matter this seemed wise. It seems to me that both context and N.T. usage require 2 Jn. 9 to refer to that which Christ taught, personally and through His apostles. John warns of a particular error (that Christ had not come in the flesh) but this does not negate a more general application of the principle given. In 1 Jn. 4:2 are we to understand that the only test for determining those of God is the confession that He is come in flesh? Or is this simply one example (currently needed) of a broad principle? (Note v.6). Do all who say Jesus is Lord, have a spiritual gift? (1 Cor. 12:3). See Deut. 13:2 for O.T. example of citing a specific error to teach a general principle.

The teaching that came from Christ would, of course, include the fact that He came in the flesh. So far as immediate context is concerned, it would also include His commandment concerning love (vs. 5-6), and all the truth. ..which abideth in us (v.2).

Limiting this passage to the error concerning Christ in the flesh is convenient for those who would broaden fellowship, but neither scholarship, context, nor Bible usage sanction it.