2 John 2 John

2 John 2 John

2 John
At a Glance
Author: The apostle John
Audience: Communities in Asia Minor experiencing schisms
Date: AD 85–90
Type of Literature: A letter
Major Themes: Truth, brotherly love, and false teachers
Letter Opening — 1–3
An Exhortation to Walk in Truth and Love — 4–6
A Warning against False Teachers — 7–11
Letter Closing — 12–13
About 2 John
The book of 2 John points us to the truth and encourages us to hold it fast and never let it go. The theme of John’s second letter could be described as “loving truth.” Truth generates love, and love will always be faithful to the truth. To love God is to love his truth and cherish it in our hearts.
Some scholars believe that John penned what we’ve called his second letter actually first, before 1 John. Given that it addresses the same heartbreaking situation of schisms over false teaching that were wrecking the fragile churches under John’s care in Asia Minor, some see this as a quick, almost hurriedly written note from the heart of a spiritual father to his children in trouble. Then he followed up his initial warnings with a second letter (which we know as 1 John) to make a greater appeal and guard their ongoing spiritual lives. Others see in this letter a follow-up to the first one, possibly written to a more distant audience, or even as a cover letter to 1 John given its personal greetings.
Regardless, what’s evident is that John was deeply burdened about the chaos being caused in his network of churches. This beloved disciple of Jesus wanted his disciples to experience the pure love and truth that had already been birthed in their hearts. He also wanted them to walk in love, for to walk in love is to walk in the truth of God.
John’s letter will bring a fresh understanding of God to your heart. Let him speak to you through his faithful servant John. Enjoy!
As with his first letter, John wrote to the communities to which he was an overseer (“the elder” is a title suggesting spiritual authority) with one singular purpose: to guard and protect them from the false teachers who had gone among them and were deceiving them. These were itinerant teachers who were bearing a “truth” contrary to the received Spirit-anointed truth of the gospel. He writes as a spiritual father who was concerned about schisms wreaking havoc among his beloved children.
Author and Audience
While the letter only identifies the author as “the elder,” it’s clear he was in a position of spiritual authority over his community and wrote in a similar manner and tone as both 1 John and the Gospel of John. Given this, it’s no surprise that the tradition from the earliest days of the church assumed the apostle John authored the letter. Though the text doesn’t bear his name, early leaders like Polycarp and Papias both ascribed it to him.
Possibly written earlier than his first letter, John addressed this one to the “chosen woman and her children.” Most commentators see this as a metaphor for the church with its spiritual believers (children), believing that John the Elder wrote the letter to a church or network of churches. Some have viewed it more literally as written to an unnamed woman or a woman named Elekta or Kyria (feminine of kurios, “lord”). Regardless of who the letter was written to, it is inspired of God to bring truth to our hearts and keep us from evil.
Major Themes
Walking and Staying in the Truth. As with his first letter, John is concerned with the truth of the gospel—not only that believers guard it, but also walk in it and stay in it. The living truth of Christ has a permanent home in our lives, and will stay with us for all eternity. But we’re also commanded to actively walk in the truth and stay in the truth—because as John says, “Anyone who wanders away and does not remain faithful to the teaching of Christ has no relationship with God” (9). For it’s only when we continue in the truth that we have intimate connection with both the Father and the Son.
Loving One Another. Not only are we to love truth, we’re to love each other. After all, this isn’t a new command but one we’ve had from the beginning of time—and one our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ himself gave us. Loving one another means following the commands of Christ, which are always directed both upward (to God) and outward (to others). When we love our neighbor as ourselves, we are also loving the God who made them and saved them!
Warning about False Teachers. Finally, John warned against “deceivers” who might come into our midst and go beyond the teachings of Christ—trying to drag us with them. Early on, some believers thought this letter had either been a cover letter to 1 John, or an appendix added to its end. This makes sense given its close connection with John’s first letter warning against false teachers. John reiterates our need to watch out for such antichrists—going so far as to instruct us not even to show hospitality to them, for anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.
2 John
Loving Truth
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