“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.” (II John 10-11)
While this verse may seem “extreme” to many of us “modern” readers, John’s command actually serves to reinforce just how important religious teaching is. It is no small matter.Speaking of false teachers (those who do not adhere to “this teaching” — the words of Jesus and the doctrines He handed down through the Apostles — “what you have heard from the beginning”) John commands Christians: “do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting.” “Receiving him into your house” was an indication of financial support. First-century evangelists and missionaries stayed in the homes of church members as they traveled, so receiving a worker into your home served to support their ministry. “Giving a greeting” would encourage the heretic, and might also tacitly be taken as an endorsement of their ministry. False teachers, who rejected Biblical teachings about Christ, should not be given encouragement or support — by John’s readers in the first century or by us today!
Now to be clear, we should note a couple of things about John’s admonition here:
First, John was not encouraging Christians to shun each other over disagreements on minor points of secondary doctrines. The teachers he was warning against here were outright heretics who denied the Incarnation of Jesus, and other crucial doctrines. These were not orthodox Christians who disagreed with them over the timing of the Lord’s return, or what kind of entertainment they could indulge in on Sundays! This kind of treatment is not for otherwise sound Christians who disagree with us over secondary or even tertiary teaching. It should be reserved for those who deny cardinal Christian doctrines which impact eternal salvation.
Secondly, John was NOT commanding his followers to physically assault or kill these people. Christianity is non-violent. Genuine Christians do not advance Jesus’ kingdom through force of any kind. Withholding support and physical violence are two entirely different things, and John did not endorse or employ the latter — and neither should we.
But at the same time, John is very clear here: God’s people are NOT to be found supporting false teachers. When confronted with teaching that will destroy men’s souls, tolerance is no virtue.