2 John

Introduction. Every generation has faced unique circumstances in the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This was evident in the years 2 John was penned. Travel was convenient due to the great system of Roman roads. These roads made travel easier. There were still dangers of robbers and thieves, but the travel was common and frequent. This posed an opportunity for false teachers to circulate among New Testament believers easily. To add to the problem of leaven (false doctrine), entering the church, was where a traveler would lodge. There were no modern hotels as we know them today. There were occasional Inns. It was common for the family of God in the New Testament to lodge with believers. There was a network that traveling believers utilized to travel safely and also have fellowship with other believers. This presented a golden opportunity for false teachers to gain access into the privacy of believers homes under the guise of a brother. This problem had become so prevalent that the aged apostle John was summoned by the Holy Spirit to write a warning of this spreading spiritual malaise. False teachers such as the Gnostics hit the circuit and spread their false doctrine. Other people used the homes of believers for free food and lodging while posing as a believer.

2 John and 3 John address this situation. They are short letters of instruction to guide the church in these matters in the closing years of the first century. The church had been around now for approximately 60 years and these practical teachings were increasingly necessary. 2 John is addressed to a particular lady who was generous in her providing food and lodging to traveling believers. The aged Apostle John is instructing how to discern between the true believer and an imposter. It is love and obedience that define a true believer.

Date: 90 ad

Author: John the Apostle

Place: Ephesus

Chapter 1

1.1 author. John does not identify himself as the author. This follows his practice established in his gospel. He is confident those reading this short epistle will know who the elder is. The elect lady here is not identified by name. Apparently she was also well known and needed no name mentioned to distinguish her. Her fame and reputation had gone throughout the community of believers of the first century.

1.2 truth. As in his other epistles, there is a priority on truth in all John’s writings. Truth is the signal identifier of true believers. It is the trademark of Christianity. This letter is written for the truth’s sake. 

1.3 blessing. It was common practice for an Apostle to give blessings upon the believer. Here John offers grace, mercy, peace to the believers. This practice is well documented in New Testament history. We see this in writings of the Apostle Paul in particular.

1.4 rejoiced. John rejoiced (happy, cheerful) greatly (exceedingly) when he saw the false teachers circulating though the fellowship of believers had not had influence on this lady or her children. It gave the aged Apostle great joy to know the formula for successful Christian living was working. Obedience, love, and intent were producing the correct result in her life and in the lives of her children. No doubt this thrilled John and gave assurance the gospel would indeed triumph over false insurgents of the faith. What a feeling of contentment must have surged through John at this confirmation of the power of the gospel. Walking in truth is a Jewish idiom for living in truth. This lady and her children were living epistles, known and read of all men. This was a living example of the gospel enduring attack and being victorious. John may have mused over the day Jesus said the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church. John was watching this statement come true through this lady and her children. John had given his life for this gospel and it caused great rejoicing to see it triumph over the leaven of false doctrine.

1.5 love. John was assured of her victory, so he now returns to the commandment he had preached for so many years. John was in his late eighties or nineties at the time of this writing. He lived in Ephesus and had to be carried to the church on a litter. He was known for waving from the litter and speaking the phrase love one another. John speaks of love almost as much as all the other gospel writers combined. John knew love would overcome any obstacle. He lovingly reminds the elect lady that love is the primary Christian commandment.

1.6 walk. John reminds the elect lady and his readers of this epistle, that love is active. Love produces action in our lives. When we love God we walk in His commandments. This is the evidence of love, how we live and how we walk. Jesus had taught this principal many times, Jn 14.15, 21, 23, 24, 15.10, 14.

1.7 deceivers. John again declares warnings about Gnostics and pseudo-Christians who are deceivers (roving impostors). These impostors claimed Jesus never came in the flesh. This attack on the incarnation of Christ was an attack at the very foundation of Christianity. John declares this is the spirit of antichrist.

1.8 reward. This is an important verse. John shows the concern that things can be lost through time. John wanted the next generation of believers to not lose anything in transition. It was obvious many changes had occurred in the last half century and John is advocating for every generation to receive full reward (wages).

1.9 transgression. John returns to central themes he has recorded in 1 John, which was written at the same time. The consensus is your life proves who you are. If sin is dominant and you do not abide (remain), you do not have God in you. The Christian life is more than words, it is action. True religion causes people to live right and proves their inner experience with God. This theme is prominent in all three of John’s later day epistles.

1.10 doctrine. The qualifier was the doctrine. It was not about status or finance or popularity. John boldly instructed her to refuse lodging and food to any who did not bring this doctrine. This may seem harsh at first glance, but when the final conclusion is eternal life is at stake, this seems a rational measure. 

1.11 partaker. This is a challenging concept. To be a partaker is to share in their purpose and success. To bid means to have discourse, an extended harangue. It appears John is aligning himself with other New Testament teachings to not indulge in questions and discussion with these false teachers. They are not to be treated as harmless. They are to be dissed and ignored. There doctrine is leaven to the truth of the gospel and future generations must have the pure doctrine passed to them. Paul went so far as to say let them be accursed, Gal 1.8-9.

1.12-13 papyrus. John is writing on papyrus, a writing material made from reeds. He instructs he has many things to communicate but would rather speak to them face to face. The times demanded the apostle be vigilant and unceasing in his defense of the gospel. His voice was the last vestment of original Apostolic instruction. Soon the audible voices would be silent. The New Testament era would close and be forever handed to the eternal. His writings will never lose their voice and give us guidance today as they did in AD 90.

Thanks for reading today…