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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
2 John 1

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verse 1

1. The elder] cp. Intro.

The elect lady] Gk. eklektç kuriâ. The question who is meant by this designation has given rise to much discussion. The various opinions are as follows: (1) Some regard the second word of the phrase as a proper name, and translate, ’To the lady Electa.’ This is not likely; because if it had been intended, the Greek would probably have been different; because we should then be. obliged to translate Electa as a proper name in 2 John 1:13 also, in spite of the unlikelihood that two sisters would have the same name; and because St. Paul uses the word (Romans 16:13) plainly not as a name, but as a descriptive adjective. (2) The third word is a proper name—’ the elect Kyria.’ This opinion has in its favour the fact that Kyria was a common name among the Greeks, being the feminine of ’Cyrus.’ The analogy of 3 Jn V. 1 is also in favour of an address by name. But this same analogy would lead us to expect a different order of words. Again, if Kyria were the lady addressed, and if she was known and loved by ’all that have known the truth’ (2 John 1:1), it would perhaps be strange that we have no other mention of so prominent a person. This, with other considerations, has led to the opinion (3) that not a person but the Church in general is meant. This seems inconsistent with the Apostle’s expectation (2 John 1:12) of visiting her and seeing her face to face. Others hold (4) that it is not the Church universal, but some particular Church, to which the Apostle writes of his approaching visit. Others still find here no proper name and no metaphor, but translate (5), ’To the elect lady’; while some who agree in the main with this position point out (6) that there is in the Greek no definite article, and therefore translate, ’To an elect lady.’ The weight of evidence seems in favour of the last opinion in one of its forms, (5) or (6); though the case is best summed up in the words of Bp. Westcott: ’No solution of the problem offered by eklektç kuriâ is satisfactory.’

The truth in this and the following Epistle has come to have almost a technical meaning, implying not only the eternal principle, but also the organisation which embodies it—the Church. Cp. in Acts the use of ’the Way’: Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9, Acts 19:23; Acts 22:4; Acts 24:22.

3. With you] The better text reads ’with us.’ Cp. “Westcott and Hort.

4. I found of thy children] This shows that the lady must have had at least three children. Some have seen in it a sad, gentle hint that there were others of her children who did not walk in the truth.

5-8. Note the distinctively Johannine characteristics here: (1) He is giving his hearers a new commandment: cp. John 13:34; John 15:12. (2) The commandment is to love one another: cp. John 13:35; 1 John 3:23. (3) Love means walking according to the commandments of God: cp. John 14:15, John 14:21; 1 John 2:5; 1 John 5:3. (4) The central fact of Christianity is the recognition of Jesus as the Christ: cp. 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:2, 1 John 4:3. Note also a peculiarity of the Johannine (a) thought and (b) style: (a) the habit—logical, un-Hebraic—of giving definitions, e.g. ’love,’ ’the commandment,’ ’antichrist’; (b) the use of a demonstrative pronoun or adverb pointing forward to the definition coming in the next clause; e.g. This is love, that we walk after His commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the begining, ye should walk in love. Cp. John 15:8; John 17:3; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 3:16.

6. In it] better to make ’it’ refer not to the nearest noun, ’commandment,’ but to ’love.’

7. Are entered into the world] rather, ’are gone out into the world’: cp. RV; i.e. they were formerly members of the Church, but have apostatised: cp. 1 John 2:19. To confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is with St. John the central fact of Christian belief. Not to recognise in Jesus the authentic revelation of the infinite God and the highest ideal of humanity, can, in his opinion, imply only moral depravity.

9. Whosoever, not transgresseth, but ’has erroneous ideas.’ No claim of superior knowledge can be allowed which sets aside what Christ taught. Doctrine in the NT. is never synonymous with’ dogma,’ but means’ teaching.’

10. ’This verse reminds us that the Gospel has its intolerance as well as tolerance’ (Bp. Alexander). Ordinary courtesy is not forbidden, but to extend the right hand of fellowship would be to condone and further false doctrine and to share the guilt of disloyalty.

11. Biddeth him God speed] ’The three salutations are eminently characteristic of the general view of life and its aim entertained by the three races. The Roman, to whom health and strength seemed all in all, said Salve, “health” The Greek, whose existence aimed supremely at sweetness and light, said Chair looking upon “joy” as the highest aim. The Hebrew, who had a revelation, and knew the blessedness of reconciliation with God and conscience, said Shalon, “peace”(Bp. Alexander).

13. The writer may have been staying at this second matron’s house. If the Epistle was written to an individual, the transmission of this trivial message from children to an aunt is an interesting note of the simplicity and courtesy of the writer of high station—Elder, Apostle, personal friend of Jesus, whoever he may have been.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 2 John 1". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/2-john-1.html. 1909.
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