TimothyT....Another way the Society takes the passage out of context is that they apply it to a very different social circumstance than the one the presbyter addresses. The author here is concerned with a specific problem in early Christianity involving itinerant apostles, teachers, and charismatics. These people lived in poverty and wandered from town to town, staying at each location at the hospitality of resident Christians — a lifestyle representing a higher call to discipleship promoted or referred to in Matthew 6:25-24, 8:19-22, 10:5-42, 23:34, Mark 10:17-31, Luke 10:5-15, 12:22-34, 1 Corinthians 9:14, etc. Early Christian society was composed both of resident communities where Christians shared property and were subject to the rules of the community whereas the wandering itinerants were dependent on host communities for supplying their needs. The author of James showed that these itinerants chosen to be "rich in faith" and "poor in the eyes of the world" (2:5, cf. 4:13-15 where the author criticizes commercial itinerism) were sometimes discriminated against on account of their clothing and personal appearance by resident Christians (2:1-4), who would send them on their way without caring for their needs (2:15-17). He thus directed his readers to imitate the example of Rahab who "received the messengers and then sent them out another way" (2:25).
The problem was that there were visiting itinerants who did not seem worthy of receiving such support, for hosting such people would make one complicit in their works. The Didache has a large section (ch. 11-12) devoted to identifying false prophets and false apostles. They are to be regarded as such if they misuse such hospitality for material gain: "Let every apostle who comes to you be welcomed as if he were the Lord. But he is not to stay for more than one day, unless there is need, in which case he may stay another. But if he stays three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle leaves, he is to take nothing except bread until he finds his next night's lodging. But if he asks for money, he is a false prophet" (11:5-9). It is important to recognize that the "deceivers" in 2 John 7-11 are not resident members of the church but outsiders who would be "coming to you" (erkhetai pros humas) from abroad who seek to be "received into your house" (lambanete eis oikian), i.e. itinerants like those in Matthew 10:12 who seek to be received "into homes" (eis tén oikian) and receive support. This has little to do with shunning members of the church itself; it has to do with taking in outsiders who are already known to be teachers of different doctrines, for this would require the church to give lodging, food, and support to the person — thereby "sharing in his wicked work". In other words, the author here regards "deceivers" as illegitimate itinerants not worthy of the support that wandering teachers and missionaries would receive.
A very similar situation is described in 3 John. Writing to Gaius, he thanked him for showing hospitality to the visiting teachers who recently arrived (erkhomenón) to his own church (Ephesus?) who "testified to the truth of your life" (3 John 3), telling him: "You are acting loyally whenever you work for the brothers and especially for strangers (xenous). They have testified of your love before the church and you would do well to send them on their way (propemsas) in a manner that God would approve" (v. 6). The strangers should be sent on "worthily" (axiós), i.e. with the support that they deserve. This echoes the sentiment in James 2:15-17 which criticizes those who would send itinerants on without caring for their needs. "We are obligated to support such men (hémeis opheilomen hupolambanein tous toioutous), so that we may prove ourselves to be fellow-workers in the cause of truth" (3 John 8). This attitude contrasts sharply with the one in 2 John 7-11 which refuses even the simplest courtesy to itinerants regarded to be "deceivers". The author likely regarded such ones as wholly separate from the visitors who deserve support. But he was shocked to learn that his own "brothers" (adelphoi) who were visiting different churches were being shunned!
"I have written something to the church but Diotrephes, who seems to enjoy being in charge of it, refuses to accept us. So when I come, I will bring up what he is doing, making unjustified charges against us with a malicious tongue. And not content with that, he himself refuses to receive the brothers (oute epidekhetai tous adelphous); he also tries to hinder (kóluei) those who want to welcome them, and he expels (ekballei) them from the church" (3 John 9-10).
Here John aligns himself with the rejected visitors by using the first person plural pronoun and in fact he had instructed them to deliver an epistle on his behalf. But the leader of the church refuses them. He treats them exactly the same way John wants to treat those he regards as deceivers. It is not clear why Diotrephes refused the visitors representing John, but the reference to the "malicious charges" (logois ponérois) that Diotrephes brought against them raises the possibility that he regarded them -- and John in turn -- in a similar light as those deemed undesirable in the Didache and 2 John.