2 John 1 - Outlines of 2 & 3 John (MENU page)
WRITER: The Apostle John.
DATE: Probably A.D. 90.
Second John gives the essentials of the personal walk of the believer in a day when "many deceivers are entered into the world" (2John 1:7). The key phrase is "the truth," by which John means the body of revealed truth, the Scriptures [especially as they define the "doctrine of Christ" (v.9)]. The Bible as the only authority for doctrine and life, is the believer's resource in a time of declension and apostasy.
The Epistle is in three divisions:
I. The pathway of truth and love, v.1-6
II. The peril of unscriptural ways, v.7-11
III. Superscription, v.12,13
[The above introduction was adapted from the Scofield Reference Bible, pub. 1917.]
1. The elder unto the elect lady and her children,
whom I love in the truth; and not I only,
but also all they that have known the truth;
2 For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us,
and shall be with us for ever.
In this brief letter, the apostle John writes with deep humility and simplicity.
He identifies himself as one among many elders (as does the apostle Peter, in 1Pet 5:1). However, writing near the end of the apostolic age, John is the last surviving apostle, and therefore, 'the elder,' in a unique sense.
...unto the elect lady and her children...
It seems likely that John is replying to a letter from a believing woman, who asked for guidance concerning the limitations of showing hospitality to professed Christians who were promoting questionable doctrines.
     However, some think that the 'elect lady' was a local church which had a 'sister church,' in the place where John was writing (cp. v.13). However, if John was writing to a specific woman, he would have used the same terms to send greetings from her physical and spiritual sister, perhaps his own wife (1Cor 9:5), or perhaps another female acquaintance.
     Some think the word 'lady' is intended as a proper name, in which case, John wrote to 'the elect Kuria' {or, Cyria} (just as he wrote to a named man in 3Joh 1:1).
     While the identity of the 'elect lady' remains uncertain, John's purpose in writing (v.2), and the foundation of his relationship with this lady (v.1), is very clear.
     This lady was among the 'elect' {those 'chosen' by God} because of her faith in, and love of, the Truth. cp. Eph 1:4-7; 2The 2:13,14
...for the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
What is this abiding Truth? Scripture describes it in two ways:
  1. The Word of God. Col 3:16; 1Pet 1:23-25; 1Joh 2:14,17
  2. The Person of Jesus Christ. Joh 14:6,16-23; Col 1:27
Yet, these two cannot be separated.
Therefore, it is essential that we know and believe the Truth concerning Him who is the Truth.
3 Grace be with you, mercy, [and] peace, from God the Father,
and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
This greeting is similar to the greeting in some other epistles (eg., Rom 1:7; 1Tim 1:2).
However, here, the last four words are uniquely fitted to the theme of this letter.
There can be no 'grace and peace' to those who do not 'love' the 'true' Son of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ. As John will show, there are many false 'Christs' who are promoted by 'deceivers' (eg. v.7).
4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth,
as we have received a commandment from the Father.
5. And now I beseech thee, lady,
not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee,
but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.
This is the commandment,
That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children {GK=teknon, born ones} walking in truth...
Were these believing sons and daughters of the elect lady, or members of a sister church?
Either way, John rejoiced to see them living according to God's Word. cp. 1The 2:19,20; 1Joh 1:6,7
...as we have received a commandment from the Father...
John uses this word for 'commandment' {GK=entole, precept, injunction} in two ways:
  1. of the truth as set forth in God's Word (1Joh 2:3-5), and
  2. of the Law of Love (ie., the Lord's command that believers love one another, Joh 13:34,35).
These two precepts are inseparable:
     The second is included in the first. The first is fulfilled in the second. 1Joh 3:23
...not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee... but... as ye have heard from the beginning...
God's Word is not evolving. His commands are unchangeable. (cp. Psa 119:89).
They are also unattainable, by the natural man, because the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:7,8).
     However, for believers born of God's Spirit, these commandments have become 'new,' because they have become attainable, through the indwelling life of Christ. What is true of Him, has become true within the believer. Rom 8:9-11; 1Joh 2:7,8
...that we love one another... (cp. Gal 5:22,23; Eph 5:2)
Now, we come to the elect lady's question: Does the command to "love one another" require me to show hospitality or supply the needs of all who come to me in Jesus' name?
     cp. 1Pet 4:8,9 (where 'charity' is 'love'); 1Joh 3:14-18
The apostle begins to answer this question, here (in v.6):
And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.
This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
In other words, the commandment to love must be applied in accord with the whole Word of God (the commandment received from the beginning). cp. Joh 14:15,21; 15:10,14
     In v.7-11 (below), the apostle applies this principle specifically to the Truth, concerning the Person and work of Christ (cp. v.2,3).
7. For many deceivers are entered into the world,
who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.
This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
In his first epistle, John dealt with false teachings about Jesus Christ, as promoted by gnostic teachers (who claim to possess superior knowledge, which is deeper than the plain words of Scripture). Although there were differing schools of gnostic thought concerning Christ, it can be said that the gnostics denied one or more of the following:
  1. that Jesus is the Christ (1Joh 2:22a).
    In general, gnostics held that humanity and deity cannot be joined. Some taught that the divine 'Christ spirit' came upon Jesus (the man), temporarily, to enable his earthly ministry.
  2. that God the Father and the Son are One in essence (1Joh 2:22b,23).
    In general, gnostics held that God deals with man through a series of angelic emanations. The Christ (who was referred to as God's son) was a spirit in service to God, not God who became man and dwelt among us.
  3. that Jesus the Christ came in the flesh (v.7; 1Joh 4:3)
    Some gnostics held that Jesus was a spiritual (angelic) being, who only appeared in the form of a man, but was not a flesh and blood human.
[These errors are discussed in detail in the Book Notes at 1Joh 2:18-25 and 1Joh 4:1-3.]
This is a deceiver and antichrist...
According to the true Gospel: The eternal God came into the world as a unique, Holy Spirit conceived, virgin born, flesh and blood, holy man, to take upon Himself our sin and its sentence, die in our place, and rise again in declaration of His finished work of salvation. eg., Mic 5:2; Mat 1:18-23; Isa 53:1-12; Joh 1:1-4,14-18,29; Heb 2:14-18; 10:11-18; 1Cor 15:1-4,12-22
     False teachers, who proclaim a false Christ, also proclaim a false gospel, which cannot save its adherents. Paul describes the fate of such deceivers, in Gal 1:6-9.
8 Look to yourselves, {cp. Mat 24:4,24-25; Rom 16:17,18}
that we lose not those things which we have wrought,
but that we receive a full reward.
{Php 2:15,16; 1Cor 3:8,14}
9 Whosoever transgresseth
{GK=parabaino, goes beyond},
and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.
{Mat 11:27; Joh 5:23; 1Joh 2:23}
He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ,
he hath both the Father and the Son.
{1Joh 1:3; 1Joh 2:24,25}
10. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine,
receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed:
11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
...neither bid him 'God speed' {GK=chairo, cheer, greetings}...
Believers must not offer even the slightest encouragment, to anyone who proclaims a false christ (and, therefore, a false gospel).
     To welcome a false teacher is tantamount to becoming a 'partaker' {GK=koinoneo, one in communion or fellowship} with the malicious work of an antichrist. v.7; Eph 5:11
     In other words, believers should show love to all who love the Truth (v.1,2), while refusing refreshment to all who are working against Him (1Cor 16:22).
12. Having many things to write unto you,
I would not [write] with paper and ink:
but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face,
that our joy may be full.
{cp. 1Joh 1:3,4}
13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

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