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Commentary on "John's Letter to the Chosen Lady"



Day 5: Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The lesson does a good job of explaining why offering hospitality to false teachers is not a good thing. However, the lesson does not place these ideas in the context of related passages. Let’s look at some of the most relevant passages.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality (Romans 12:10-13).

Hospitality is a staple of the body of Christ. Paul places it at the end of this list of characteristics of the life of the body of Christ. We who have received salvation through Jesus, sonship in God’s family, and eternal life are, among other things, to receive one another into our houses and joyfully share this life together.

We are instructed not to show hospitality to those who call themselves brothers and yet continue in unrepentant sin:

I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one (1 Corinthians 5:11).

1 Thessalonians provides a similar instruction.

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother (1 Thessalonians 3:14-15).

One of the purposes of this instruction is to evoke “godly sorrow” (1 Corinthians 7:10) that leads to repentance and leaves no regret.

In Ephesians 5, Paul speaks regarding both unrepentant sinners and deceivers:

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them (Ephesians 5:5-7).

He commands us to “not be partakers with them.” As 3 John notes, to show hospitality to false teachers is to “be a partaker with them.”

Paul follows up this instruction with the positive:

For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:8-10).



  1. Hospitality is an important part of life in the church.
  2. We are not to show hospitality to unrepentant people who call themselves brothers, or to false teachers.
  3. This instruction is to protect the church and evoke Godly sorrow that leads to repentance for the unrepentant.




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