From time to time, we are asked if it is permissible to allow Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons into Christian homes in light of 2nd John 9-11. This passage reads, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 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.”
Out of all of the people we have ever talked to who use these verses as a reason for not speaking with Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons at their door, NONE of them have been completely consistent with this passage. Not only does the passage say that we are not to let false teachers into our homes, but the end of verse 10 through verse 11 also states that we are not to greet them. If you greet them, you are participating in their evil deeds. Does this now mean that we are to close the door in the faces of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons once we realize who they are? Do we refuse to speak with them at all? If one is to be consistent with this interpretation of the passage, not only should Christians prohibit Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons from entering into their homes, we must also refrain from speaking to them at all.
It is also interesting to note that this interpretation is somehow only applied to modern day cultists. Why is the Jewish plumber allowed to come into the home? He certainly would not abide in the teaching of Christ. Should we let the “garden variety pagan” into our house simply because he isn’t a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon? Do we now prevent our unsaved family and friends from coming into our homes simply because they are not Christians? If so, how is that consistent with the command to preach the gospel to everyone (Mark 16:15)? Obviously, this cannot be the proper interpretation because consistency would lead to unreasonable and even unbiblical applications. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons should not be exempt from hearing the gospel simply because they are on our doorstep.
Before we can interpret the passage correctly, we need to look at the culture of first century Christians. Itinerant preachers and prophets would rely upon local Christians to provide their food and shelter when traveling. They would travel from town to town teaching and preaching and would then stay in the private home of a local Christian. While staying in this home, they would receive support (lodging and traveling expenses) from the householder and from the church in general. However, Christians needed to be careful with whom they supported. Not only did Christian preachers teach from place to place, but false teachers and prophets were in the habit of circuit traveling and would also expect provision from those who supported their message. If a Christian allowed a false teacher into his home and provided for him, he would be participating in spreading the false message.
There is another thing to consider. First century churches did not meet in their own corporately owned buildings. They met in private homes large enough to house a sizeable number of people. To allow a false teacher or prophet to teach in the setting of a church is to give them a platform in which to spread their heresy. Doing that is participating in evil deeds. My personal belief is that this passage is speaking about not allowing false teachers to stay in our homes (supporting their mission) or to teach in our churches. It in no way is to be applied to the unsaved at the door of our individual private homes. Church elders have the responsibility to protect the flock and allowing Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses to speak in our churches is inviting the wolf into the flock for dinner.
Undoubtedly, there are some who will disagree with our interpretation of this passage. Disagreement, however, still does not release one from the responsibility of witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. If a Christian still does not want to let them in, there are a number of other options. The first and easiest is to stay on the doorstep and talk with the cultist there. Many Christians, who do not think that the above passage applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, still do not feel comfortable allowing them into their home. This is understandable and easily remedied by staying outside and talking with the JW or Mormon there.
Another option is to actually go to the home of the cultist or meet them on neutral ground. It is easy to explain to them that you would feel more comfortable meeting them elsewhere. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are likely to honor this suggestion and would be glad to meet at a restaurant or another public place. Regardless of which option is chosen, a Christian can be faithful in responding to the witnessing opportunity which God has brought to their door. This previous statement may be a surprising thought to some, but when taken into consideration with the following, it is evident that a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon at your door is a God initiated opportunity.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to befriend people who are not interested in becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. Nor can they watch or listen to religious television or radio, or read religious literature other than their own. Mormon missionaries are likewise sheltered from differing religious points of view and are not allowed to question their beliefs. For most Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon missionaries, the only real opportunity they will have to hear the gospel is if a faithful Christian preaches it while they are at our doors. In Matthew 9: 37-38 Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
For the most part, Christians have ignored that commandment. Now, God is sending the field to our doorsteps and some Christians misuse Scripture as grounds for closing the door in the face of the harvest. This ought not be so. We invite those who have used this passage as a reason for not talking with Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons to reconsider their interpretation in light of our position.