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Bible Commentaries

Gann's Commentary on the Bible

2 John 1

Verse 1

Book Comment:

2 John 1:1

Walking Thru The Bible

Introduction to 2nd John


Author: While John does not use his name in these two epistles it is generally accepted by the scholars that the writer is the same as the writer of the first epistle and the Gospel that bears his name. John refers to himself as "the elder" not in the sense in which that word is synonymous with bishop in a local church but in the primary sense of an older or aged person.

Second John

Recipient of 2nd John: There is a great diversity among the scholars as to whom the letter was really addressed, some think "the elect lady, and her children" meant a particular Christian woman and those who met in her house to worship God. Some believe that either "Electa" or "Lady" may have been her name. If so, this is then a more personal letter than the first epistle.

Others believe this reference is simply to a local church and its members. To speak of a church under the figure of a "Lady and her Children" is in no sense unlikely. If the "chosen lady" is a figurative way of designating a particular church, then the "chosen sister" of v.13 would mean a different church, or "sister" congregation.

Perhaps as one writer has put it, "the problem of the address is insoluble with our present knowledge."

Background of 2nd John: The false philosophy of Gnosticism and its teachers is still the major problem with which this epistles deals. This second epistle had more to do with the practical side of the right attitude to take toward Truth, false doctrine, false teachers and faithful brethren.

John writes to warn this dear sister (or congregation) against having her hospitality taken advantage of by the false teachers circulating in the region (vs. 9-11).

Purpose and Contents of 2nd John:

1) John expresses joy in finding her "children" walking in the truth as they had been commanded of God. This was a cause of joy when so many were being led astray by false teachers. They had been taught to love the truth (2 Thess.2:10-12). That truth had to be discerned and they must continue to walk in it lest they lose those things already accomplished such as their forgiveness from sin and the hope of eternal life (vs.8-9) that their joy might be made full (v.12).

2) John also exhorts to walk in love (v.5). Truth not only taught them to love God and His truth but that walking also required walking in love (v.6). Their love had to include loving one another because they loved God and His truth.

3) John warns that many false teachers who loved only self had come into the world and had to be withstood and avoided lest they lose all they had wrought (vs. 7-8).

4) Doctrine must be limited to the truth of Christ and we dare not go beyond for that would separated us from both God and Christ (v.9). The "doctrine of Christ" here is not the "doctrine about Christ" revealed in the Gospel (objective genitive) but the doctrine emanating from Him and belonging to him (subjective genitive) or the doctrine which we taught. To go beyond that forfeits all connection with both God and Christ (Gal. 1:6-12; 2 Cor.4:13; 1 Cor.4:6).

5) Adherence to the truth revealed by Christ meant rejecting, refusing to fellowship by encouraging or supporting those teachers who teach any other doctrine. When we fellowship false teachers we become as guilty as they of disloyalty to the truth (vs. 10-11).

6) John closes the epistle with the hope that he might again see them face to face to further teach and encourage them and with a salutation from other Christians in a sister congregation to them (v.12).

- - - - - - - -

Verse by Verse

Elder --

1) Age - Luke 15:25; John 8:9;

2) Forefathers of Israel - Hebrews 11:2; Matthew 15:2 "tradition" of.. ;

3) Of rank and respect. Sept of Gentiles Genesis 50:7; Jewish national leaders of family and tribes - Numbers 11:16; Deuteronomy 27:1; Sanhedrin - Matthew 16:21, Matthew 26:47;

4) Church - Acts 20:17, Acts 20:28, Titus 1:5, Titus 1:7, Acts 14:23, Philippians 1:1;

5) 24 elders of the Revelation.

Elect Lady -- kyria κυρια

Love in truth -- His affection for her and her family is not merely personal, but inspired by her devotion to the cause shared by all Christians.

Truth -- In this context, the Gospel


Verse 2

Truth -- abideth in us -- How does it dwell in us? Cf. Colossians 3:16.

Verse 3

Grace -- ? toward lawbreakers

Mercy -- pity

Peace -- results.

Son of the Father -- Who interpreted the Father and brought Him near.

Truth and love -- Not merely "in truth" enlightening the intellect, but "in love", engaging the heart.

Verse 4

2 John 1:4

A glad surprise. He had too often been disappointed in in lads like these. How glad the mother could be to hear that her lads far away in a geat city were true to their early faith.

Commandment -- What commandment?

What is walking in truth? (Living according to the direction of "the truth" or the Gospel.)

Verse 5

Lady -- Kyria, is this possibly her name?

New commandment -- Is is new with John? No.

From the beginning -- of our Christian life.

Verse 6

How is our love for God to be expressed? (That we should walk after His commandments.)

Walk in his commandment -- Keeping in the limits of Christian revelation and not straying beyond them.

How old is this commandment?

Verse 7

Vs. 7-8 A Warning Against Heretical Teaching

For -- Explaining the request of vs. 5 and 6.

Deceivers -- Seducers.

No Christ in the flesh -- A definite and well known sect. Gnostics.

(What are in the world? Ans. Antichrist.)

(What do they say?)

Verse 8

Look to yourselves -- To the "lady" and the church in her house. He views them as fellow laborers in the Lord’s vineyard.

There is danger in taking up false teaching of losing one’s reward.

Verse 9

2 John 1:9

Transgresseth .."Progresseth" - The Cerinthians [followers of the Gnostic Cerinthus] thought they were "progressively" minded., or "advance thinkers."

Goeth onward -- To go "onward" is to go beyond teaching that has come by inspired revelation and to claim authority for it and demanding its practice.

Teaching (doctrine) of Christ -- 1) EGT "the teaching which recognized Jesus as the Christ." That is, doctrine about Christ. 2) The teaching, doctrine, that has its origination with Christ. Probably in he context both ideas are true.

Hath not God -- Has not a true fellowship or union with God. Faith in God must be through Christ.

See Ephesians 3:17 note on "Indwelling"

Pulpit Commentary "whosoever goes beyond revealed truth and professed to teach something more profound."

Verse 10

2 John 1:10

Vs. 10-11 Treatment of False Teachers

Your house -- Assembly place of the Christians, or "to bed", to show hospitality.

God speed -- Berry "Hail", (Chairo) used of salutation at meeting and farewell at parting. Literally, "Joy to you."

This doctrine -- What doctrine? That Jesus is Christ who came in the flesh.

DIVISION is Sinful- 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, John 17:20-21.

There is only one body- Ephesians 4:4 & Ephesians 1:22-23, 1 Corinthians 12:13.

To support false teacher is sinful- 2 John 1:10-11, Isaiah 5:20, Proverbs 17:15.

FALSE TEACHERS - 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 2 Timothy 4:2-4, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, Matthew 24:24, Acts 20:28-30, Galatians 1:7-9, Deuteronomy 18:21-22.

To Support false teachers is Sinful- 2 John 1:10-11.

Verse 11

Evil -- In the emphatic position in the Greek (the last word in the sentence). Ireaneus reports Johns words about Cerinthus, when he came into a building where John was, "Let us flee, lest the building fall, since Cerinthus, the foe of truth, is within it!"

Question: How much error can be tolerated? 2 Timothy 4:2.

Question: What should our spirit when we rebuke?

"To countenance false doctrine is to share the responsibility of the harm that is done by it."

Verse 12

2 John 1:12

Vs. 12-13 Conclusion

Explanation of the brevity of the letter.

Many things -- Probably additional warning against having fellowship with the heretics. (Question: Why did John not write a fuller letter?)

You -- Plural. Kyria and her children. See 2 John 1:1.

Paper . .?χάρτης? Chartas = a sheet of papyrus, the common material for letter writing. (The length of 2 John would just about equal one sheet, or one page full.)

Come to you -- John was planning a visitation.

Face to face -- Lit. "mouth answering mouth."

Question: What would fulfil their mutual joy?

Verse 13

Question: Who are these children? Who is the sister?

Question: Wha interpretation can be given to these?

1) A reference to a literal sister; 2) The members of the church from where John was writing.

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Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on 2 John 1". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. 2021.