Walking in Truth
I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. (2 John 1:4 NKJV)
For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:3–4 NKJV)
Our passages offer insight into John the Apostle’s concern for who he terms as children, both theirs and his. In both cases, the children are walking in truth, and he rejoices greatly. I wish first to examine the extent of his joy and then the reason behind it.
The KJV, NKJV, ASV, and ESV use the phrase “rejoiced greatly” to translate the Greek words Εχάρην λίαν (exaran lian). The NASB 1977 has “was very glad,” and the NASB 1995 changed to “I was overjoyed.” The phrase is only found in the two passages cited above, but a similar phrase is used once of Herod. “And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.” (Luke 23:8 KJV)
John elaborated on his rejoicing in 3 John 1:4, saying, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Nothing made him happier or more excited. No news relieved his concerns and calmed his fears more than this. Think of the most fantastic news you ever heard? Was it not that some friend or family member repented and turned to Christ? The angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:10). There is no greater source of happiness than to hear that someone has repented and is walking in truth.
The Universality of the Joy
John’s happiness resulted from the news that some of your “children” and his “children” were walking in truth. The “some of your” children in 2 John 1:4 were probably converted to Christ without John’s direct involvement. Yet it made no difference; he still greatly rejoiced. Why? Because the objective is for all people to walk in truth, not just the people we lead to Christ.
On the surface, it seems unnecessary to point out that John was just as happy that others were successful in ministry as he was. Yet, not all people are the Apostle John. Jealousy can enter in and turn the “greatly rejoicing” into “greatly resenting” if a minister’s heart isn’t right. If there was ever a time to “rejoice with those who rejoice,” it is when people walk in truth.
Walking in Truth
Walking is a common biblical metaphor for our manner of living. To walk in truth is to respond to the truth of God’s word and reject the enemy’s lies. Unfortunately, there are always “alternative facts” (lies) that people can believe in place of the truth. The enemy supplies these in abundance to lead people astray.
Therefore, before a person can walk in truth, they must hear and believe the truth. Hearing the truth implies truthful communication. There were many witnesses to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. A witness has seen something or has relevant information. The Disciples were eyewitnesses (2 Peter 1:16). Paul was a witness of the majesty of Christ when he met Him on the road to Damascus. He heard the voice of Christ and received orders from Him. Paul faithfully communicated this eyewitness testimony everywhere he went.
The eyewitness testimony gives credibility to the life and teachings of Christ. The apostles communicated the truth that they received from Him. In addition, men such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John recorded His words and miracles for our benefit. Thus, Jesus’ very life was an expression of truth. When we read about Him, we are reading truth and must respond rightly to it.
There are many viewpoints in the world. Solomon informed us that “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV). Lies come in many forms. The time would fail to discuss all the different ways people lie and the reasons for it. Lies can destroy lives and souls. It was a lie that caused the fall in the Garden of Eden. In modern times, we have lying writings, TV programs, movies, and even images “lie.” There are endless ways to mislead people or distort reality, facts, and truth.
John rejoiced when people walked in truth though surrounded by the enemies lies. There was a genuineness about their Christian life that John viewed as authentic. So he rejoiced when he heard of people who were the “real deal.” Not nominal believers, but people who walked in truth. They wanted to know the truth so they could walk in it. These were people who lived right, talked right, and believed right. They weren’t pretenders; they walked in the truth they knew. Like the Bereans, they would have searched the scriptures continually to make sure they knew and preached the truth. They made sure they were right before they preached or taught something.
If John were alive today and received news about our lives, would he rejoice? I know it’s hypothetical. But, is the life that I live worthy of being called “walking in truth?” Do I follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles? Do I do what Jesus would do if He were me, or do I listen to the endless outpouring of alternative ideas (lies) that the enemy produces? Do I rejoice when others walk in truth, even if they weren’t saved under my ministry?
I want to live a life that had John heard it; he would have rejoiced greatly. I want to rejoice with the angels and the apostles when others walk in truth. Clearly, this is the very cause of joy and rejoicing as God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.