I’m confused about 2 John 10 and 11. I’ve heard we should never let members of the cults inside our homes, even to witness to them. On the other hand, I know of Christians who don’t think the passage teaches this and have let cultists in to discuss the Scriptures—with seemingly no harm done. Who’s right?
In order to understand the passage better, we need to consider the ways and customs of the people living in that time. In doing this we find that these New Testament believers did not worship in church buildings in the same manner as most Christians do today. Rather, they met in the homes of individual Christians and families.
Second, we discover that since there were no Holiday Inns, Radissons, and a host of other lodging places we have today, travelers used private homes all the time. This is one reason we see such an emphasis on hospitality in the New Testament epistles. The saints were to exercise their love toward fellow believers in practical ways, including the entertaining of them on their journeys.
So when this passage states, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds,” it wasn’t a simple doorbell-ringing situation as we have with cultists today. It involved a party’s staying with the individual or family, often for many days if the party were in the vicinity on business.
The recipients of this letter, referred to as “the elect lady and her children,” apparently were hospitable folk who entertained often. John warned them about the danger of putting up false teachers in their home. They were not to do it. One can see why, in the context. Having these people in a live-in situation for overnight or longer could provide all sorts of opportunity for them to teach, especially when the church services were held in the homes as well. One can visualize all sorts of problems with such an arrangement.
In today’s society we don’t have as much of an opportunity for this closeness—although exceptions exist. But we do have cultists going door to door, and we all have had these visitors. Should we let them in even for an hour or so with the purpose of witnessing to these people—who have souls in need too?
Your question, I believe, begins to answer this query. You say you know some who have done so with good results. I cannot conceive of cultists never being witnessed to by anyone, ever. On the other hand, many Christians, for good reason, should not let them in and/or attempt to witness to them because there is a great danger involved. Cultists are well trained, not only in what they believe (even though often brainwashed to parrot a certain line), but also in how to stump people, trick them, get them to doubt what they have believed, and so forth. Many professing or weak Christians have fallen prey to the teachings and zeal of cultists, so unless one is firmly grounded in the Scriptures and is a mature, discerning Christian, he has no business interacting with these messengers of Satan. On the other hand, I cannot see forbidding a pastor, for example, to speak with them.
To summarize then, apparently this passage cannot be used to forbid any brief witnessing contact whatsoever to cultists, since for one thing our interaction today would not involve the significance and closeness that it did then. On the other hand, it should serve just as much as a warning today as it was then. If there is any doubt, one should avoid all contact with these false teachers.
Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.