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"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him
into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a
greeting participates in his evil deeds" (2 John 1:10-11, NASB).
Do these verses prohibit you from inviting Jehovah's Witnesses into your
home? At first look, it would seem so. However, an understanding of the social
setting in which John wrote is very beneficial.
During the first century, when Christianity was getting off the ground, it was
customary for traveling teachers of Christianity to receive hospitality in the
form of room and board at someone's home. A first century Christian document
named The Didache (meaning The Teaching [of the Twelve Disciples]), and written
prior to 2 John, spells out how the church was to receive and support these
traveling teachers (Chapters 11-13).
The majority of New Testament scholars agree that John is saying one
of two things in 2 John 10. When John said, "do not receive him into your
house," he may have meant that false teachers were not to be given the typical
hospitalities of room and board extended to traveling teachers. The term
"greeting" would mean to greet him as a brother in the Lord. A second possible
interpretation is based on a more literal translation, "do not receive him into
the house or give him any greeting."60 "[T]he house" may be understood as
the house where Christians met and worshipped. During the first century, there
were no church buildings as we have today. Christians met in a person's home. A
false teacher should not be received by "the house church" and given the
opportunity to spread false doctrine. The term "greeting" would mean to welcome
the false teacher into the congregation and encourage him.
Therefore, the command not to receive the false teacher into your home means
one of two things:
1) Do not extend the hospitalities of room and board, as was customary
to do for traveling Christian teachers, to a false teacher. (or)
2) Do not welcome the false teacher into a house church congregation and
allow him to teach.
The "greeting" John refers to is more of a welcome and encouragement than
the mere cordiality that it is today. As the late New Testament scholar F. F.
Bruce says: "The injunction not to receive any one who does not bring 'the
teaching of Christ' means that no such person must be accepted as a Christian
teacher or as one entitled to the fellowship of the church. It does not mean
that (say) one of Jehovah's Witnesses should not be invited into the house for
a cup of tea in order to be shown the way of God more perfectly in the sitting
room than would be convenient on the doorstep."61
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