By Guthrie Dean
I call your attention to a study of 2 John 9-11. False guides, who teach “the Man without the Plan,” maintain that “the doctrine of Christ” refers only to the teaching regarding the deity of Jesus. This fits into their man-without-the-plan theology. Brother Ketcherside and his associates also contend that “the doctrine of Christ” refers only to the deity of Jesus. This fits into their “fellowship-everyone-who-believes-in-Jesus” theory. But the word “doctrine” here is didache and refers to “the doctrine which has God, Christ, the Lord, for its author and supporter” (Thayer’s Lexicon). The Analytical Greek Lexicon, Green’s Lexicon, and Vine’s Word Study, also define “doctrine” as “teaching, instruction, what is taught.” Though this “doctrine of Christ” might well include what He taught about His deity, it nevertheless refers to what Christ taught. Brother Guy N. Woods, in his Commentary on 2 John, writes: “The ‘teaching of Christ’ here is not teaching about Christ, or teaching which is Christian in substance or nature; it is the teaching which Christ did personally and through those whom he inspired. It is the teaching of Christ, because he is, in the final analysis, its author, and from him it issued. It is thus an infallible standard, and no deviation from it is possible without apostasy.”
Commenting on verse 9, Albert Barnes suggests that it is the doctrine which Christ taught, thus agreeing with Macknight whom he mentions in this connection. Johnson has it “The teaching, the Gospel.” Rowe and Klingman apply it to “what is revealed in the gospel.” N. T. Caton, in his commentary, states: “One abiding in Christ, observing his doctrine, possesses both Christ and the Father.” Pulpit Commentary reads: “The doctrine of Christ, we understand as meaning the truth which Christ himself taught.” Vincent’s Word Studies states: “Doctrine of Christ. Not the teaching concerning Christ, but the teaching of Christ Himself and of His apostles. See Heb. 2:3. So according to New Testament usage. See John 18:19; Acts 2:12; Rev. 2:14, 15.”
Translations that render it anything besides simply “doctrine” or “teaching” all seem to agree that Didache (doctrine) refers to Christ’s Teachings. Among these translations are The Jerusalem Bible, Morlie’s Simplified New Testament, J. B. Phillips, The Living New Testament, An American Translation, Centenary Translation, the Amplified New Testament, and the Berkeley Version. The Amplified reads: “Anyone who runs on ahead (of God) and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ-who is not content with what He taught-does no have God.” Please study the text again before you are willing to give up on the “orthodox” usage we have made of 2 John 9-11 down through the years. It still reads the same, and still means what it says. We cannot fellowship those who do not teach the gospel that Christ taught. We cannot bid them Godspeed.
Truth Magazine XX: 44, pp. 701-702
November 4, 1976