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Bible Commentaries
2 John 1

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1


Writer: Apostle John

Date: A.D. 90.

Key Phrase: "The Truth", the Scriptures, the Bible is the only true source of doctrine and life, morals and ethics. The book has three divisions; Part 1, Verses 1-6, The walk of truth and love. Part 2, Verses 7-11. The peril of embracing false doctrine. Part 3, Verses 12-13, John’s care for the elect lady.

Subject Matter:

The terms "elect lady" and "elect sister" used in 2 John 1:1; 2 John 1:13 refer to local congregations, churches of the Lord perhaps located in Asia Minor. This letter is therefore a specific, not a general letter, and the children of the "elect lady" and the "sister of the elect lady" refer to members of each congregation. This letter, like that of 3 John to Gaius, indicates that there should be an affinity of fellowship between churches of like kind and order. Such fellow-ship, when voluntary, yet pledged one to another, constitutes what is termed "associations of churches".

The churches seldom meet but messengers of the churches do meet for mutual counsel in messenger assemblies. Failure of one brother (Diotrephes) in a church to accept visiting missionary brethren from a sister church was the occasion of John’s writing the

book of 2 John. It is therefore evident that both 2 John and 3 John were meant to be circulatory letters- written in the interest of principles relevant to each local congregation


1) "The elder unto the elect lady and her children". John introduces himself as "the elder", to "the elect- (Greek eklekte) meaning called or chosen "lady" - the church - and her children, those constituting her local congregation, though the particular locality isn’t named. Note, one elect lady local church - can send greetings to another elect lady – 2 John 1:13.

2) ’Whom I love in the truth"; While every child of God should love every other child of God, as well as the lost, there is a "special affinity" of mutual love that binds children of God more closely in the "unity of the truth". When members of the Lord’s Church bind together to hold and "hold forth" great doctrinal truths, love’s bonds grow stronger between and among them as they embrace and share the truth with others. 1 John 4:7-11.

3) "And not I only" John like every true minister, would have the church, "the Elect Lady", meaning any local congregation, to realize that he was not the only person ’ who loved them "in the truth", or because of the body of Bible doctrine they held. John 13:34-35.

4) "But also all they that have known the truth". John was affirming that love for the church – the elect lady - was not his alone to experience, but that every member of the church that really has known (Greek ginosko) the truth, also loves the church and the brethren of every sister church; As Christ "loved the church and gave himself for it", so should each member. Ephesians 5:25-32.

Verse 2

1) "For the truth’s sake" (Greek dia) means "Because of the truth."

2) "Which dwelleth in us" - or remains or abides in us. If children of God in Church affinity of covenant fellowship do not become embracers of the truth, the body of Bible truth, and let it abide in them, who shall? Psalms 119:130; 2 Timothy 2:15.

3) "And shall be with us forever." The Church of Jesus Christ is the pillar and ground, the depository, and divinely appointed dispenser of the truth, 1 Timothy 3:15; John 17:17; John 8:32; Matthew 28:18-20.

4) Note Verse 1, John loved those who loved and knew the truth; and in verse 2 he asserted that this body of truth could and would abide or remain with and in us forever. Neither 1) His Word of truth nor (2) His Church will ever pass away. Matthew 24:35; Matthew 16:18; Matthew 28:20; Ephesians 3:21.

Verse 3

1) "Grace be with you" John prays an invocation blessing of grace to be with all the children, brethren of the elect lady, the church, so much like our Lord prayed for his church. John 17:19-23; 1 Corinthians 1:3.

2) "Mercy and peace, from God the Father". God the Father is the originator of grace, mercy, and peace to whom praise and thanksgiving should be given. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-10.

3) "And from the Lord Jesus Christ". Grace too came by Him. John 1:14; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 1:3; John 14:27; O, the mercy and peace that Jesus shows and gives. John 8:11, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more". John 16:33; Luke 7:50.

4) "The Son of the Father"…John 1:14; John 3:16-17; Galatians 4:4.

5) "In truth and love." John witnesses that Grace, mercy, and peace, three of the moral attributes of God the Father and God the Son, are in truth and love shared with and bestowed upon His children in the congregation of the elect lady, the church. If we would be like our Lord in his intercessory prayer, (John 17:1-26), and like the beloved John, we too must invoke and intercede that God’s mercy and grace, and peace be upon his children. Such is the Spirit of truth and love.

Verse 4

1) "I rejoiced greatly “ John’s report of the good walk of the children of the "elect lady" had caused him to have great joy, a reward for his former testimony to them. The fruits of one’s good labors are a joy - crown for him in the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20.

2) "That I found of thy Children walking in truth". When children of God walk in truth and love uprightly, it pleases God, His Son, and His pastors and teachers. Enoch’s walk pleased God. Hebrews 11:5; Genesis 5:24; Galatians 5:25; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:6. God grant that each child of his may walk in church truth so as to merit His "well done" at the hour of judgment.

3) "As we have received" - As (Greek Kathos) means "just as", or "just like" "we have received" indicates that John was one of those who personally heard and received an imperative from God the Father who spoke from heaven, "Hear ye Him", Matthew 17:5.

4) "A commandment from the Father" John 13:34; 1 John 2:7; Our Lord’s new commandment "that we love one another", John received from and gave to others, according to the will of His Father, John 4:23; Matthew 26:39.

Verse 5

1) "And now I beseech thee, lady " the exhortation of John is a direct appeal to the "elect lady" the church - meaning any church or each church in every locality.

2) "Not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee" What John admonished was that love of the Spirit, a fruit of Salvation, should be cultivated and shown in the church toward each other and before the world.

3) "But that which we had from the beginning.” To love one another and love one’s enemies was our Lord’s commandment from His early ministry, even in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:44; Matthew 5:48.

4) "That we love one another", As the Father loved the world and sent Him, so has He sent each child of His in general, and every member of His church in particular, to witness to, and love the lost and one another. John 3:17; John 20:21; Romans 5:5; Romans 12:9-10.

Verse 6

1) "And this is love, that we walk after his Commandments." Love from God, a fruit of the Spirit, the third of the Spiritual gifts, is given us "that" (Greek hina, introducing the purpose clause) meaning "in order that" we should deport ourselves in keeping His commandments - read John 14:15; John 14:21; 1 Corinthians 13:13.

2) "This is the commandment, that as ye have heard from the beginning". Our Lord’s instruction, from the beginning of His ministry was, "follow me," not Moses, etc. Matthew 4:19; Luke 9:23; Matthew 20:25-28.

3) "Ye should walk in it". The walk of the Christian should be in love for God, His Son, the lost, and one another. This was the very spirit of instruction of our Lord’s ministry from the Sermon on the Mount to Calvary. For a walk of love, truth, and fellowship among His own, He prayed in His last Gethsemane prayer. John 17:15-26. To walk in love daily, as Jesus walked, is to hold, hold forth, and uphold the body of truth and trust that Jesus gave to His church, 1 Timothy 3:15. It is the same truth and love John commends to the elect lady - the church -and her children.

Verse 7

The Peril of Embracing False Doctrine

1) "For many deceivers" (hoti) because many deceivers - (deluding ones); John’s admonition to a Jesus Christ truth-and-love walk was because of marauding deceivers and false prophets. Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

2) "Are entered into the world" - (Greek ekselthon) have gone forth into the present world-order.

3) "Who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh."

a) Judaism does not

b) Islam does not

c) Zorasterism does not

d) Agnosticism does not

e) Atheism does not

4) "This is a deceiver and an antichrist" Any person rejecting the Virgin birth revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Redeemer, is demon motivated, demon empowered, and demon dominated, 1 John 4:3. He is an antichrist, one posing instead of, placing himself into the position of Christ, 1 John 2:18; Revelation 13:11-17; Revelation 16:13.

Verse 8

1) "Look to yourselves", (Greek blepete) take a look at yourselves, as a church - the bride, elect, lady- 2 John 1:13; 2 Corinthians 11:1-2; 2 Corinthians 13:5.

2) "That we lose not" (Greek hina) in order that ye lose not - lose not hope of benefit from –Revelation 3:11; Revelation 11:18.

3) "Those things which we have wrought", to love and labor for things outside of the realm of truth and right - to walk and work with "will determined", out of God’s will, is to prepare for a judgement of shame and day of lost rewards, 1 Corinthians 3:12-14; Matthew 25:24-30.

4) "But that we receive a full reward" (Greek apobelete) but that ye may be able, by walking in truth and love, to receive a full reward. Rewards are given for, received as pay for, work done by an individual for the Lord. Salvation is a gift from God, present possession of every believer, Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-10. One may lose his rewards, but never salvation.

Note the full reward of the faithful servant, at our Lord’s return, Matthew 25:20-23; Revelation 2:10; Daniel 12:3.

The elect lady, the church of our Lord, institutionally, and each of her members who walk faithfully in love and truth shall receive a superior reward from their Lord therefore. Revelation 19:7-9.


Who does God’s work will get God’s pay, However long may seem the day, However weary be the way; Though powers and princes thunder "Nay", Who does God’s work will get God’s pay.

He does not pay as others pay,

In gold or land or raiment gay;

In goods that vanish and decay;

But God in wisdom knows a way,

And that is sure, I et come what may,

Who does God’s work will get God’s pay..

- Selected

Verse 9

1) "Whosoever transgresseth " This term means the one (anyone) going headlong, disregarding an expressed standard of right. 1 John 3:4.

2) "And abideth not in the doctrine of Christ" or does not remain in the teachings of Christ, going beyond or coming short of, or departing from His teachings, doctrinally or morally to the right or the left – Joshua 1:7; Psalms 1:4-6.

3) "Hath not God" does not have or hold God in his walk, or course of life - "by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:15-23. Morality and good works do not save, but they are evident fruit in one who is saved.

4) "He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ". The one (anyone) continuously (Greek menon) progressively remaining in the teaching of Christ, through love’s walk, certifies or verifies that he has salvation. He is safe in Christ, as Christ is, in God the Father. John 10:28-30; John 17:19-21.

5) "He hath both the Father and the Son." To abide, remain in, the teaching of Jesus Christ, is to have and furnish visible and valid testimony that one is saved, possessed by the Father and the Son. 1 John 3:22; 1 John 3:24.

Verse 10

1) "If there come any unto you” - (Greek eis tis erchetai) means "if anyone should come to you of his own accord - uninvited, or not vouched for --

2) "And bring not this doctrine" - and brings not along or does not hold this teaching - that Christ is come in the flesh, does not accept the virgin birth, 2 John 1:7; Galatians 4:4-5; 1 Timothy 3:16.

3) "Receive him not into your house". Do not take or receive such a person into your (Greek eis oikian) house - church fellowship, as the elect lady. 1 Timothy 3:15; God’s children should not sanction in their fellowship an antichrist, 2 John 1:7. They may have social fellowship - but not church fellowship with heretics.

4) "Neither bid him God speed ." And (Greek Chairen) "to receive him not" (Greek legete) tell or say ye, Do not say, "God bless you, we are for you", to any who comes to you" of his own accord", on his own, if he love not the truth, embraces doctrine contrary to the Word of God.

Verse 11

1) "For he that biddeth him God speed". The one who (Greek legon) "is telling or saying to him" -God speed (Greek Chairein) - to rejoice or to keep on rejoicing - while holding "another teaching" in conflict with truth and love in Christ, sins.

2) "Is partaker of" (Greek Koinonei) is a common sharer of, or is party to - or accessory to the wickedness.

3) "His evil deeds" - or his wicked (Greek ponerois) works. Let it be recognized that falsehood embraced as a moral concept leads always to ethical and social conduct that is wicked. Out of the bad heart, seat of moral affections and values, proceed bad works, deeds, and fruit. Matthew 7:17-18; Matthew 7:17-18; Matthew 15:19; Matthew 15:18.

Verse 12

John’s Care For The Elect Lady Verse 12-13

1) "Having many things to write unto you’, having or holding back many things to write unto you.

2) "I would not write with paper and ink" (Greek ouk eboulethen dial I would not be willing to attempt to write it all with paper and ink.

3) "But I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face." Nothing is so personal as the personal touch, (Greek elpizo) "I am hoping," John wrote, to be face to face and speak mouth to mouth, for us to talk with each other.

4) "That your joy may be full". (Greek hina) means, "In order that the joy of (Greek emon) us," -both John and the children of the Elect lady, the Church, might be full. John wanted to rejoice with them in truth and love. 1 Thessalonians 5:16.

Verse 13

1) "The children of thy elect sister" - John’s letter was written as "the elder" unto the "elect lady’s" sister (sister church’s) children, in the locale or community from which John wrote, even though the particular location was not disclosed in the text of his letter. This letter to the "elect lady", the church as an institution, is therefore a specific church letter, not merely addressed to all the saved, but perhaps to Antioch church in Syria or one of the churches in Asia Minor.

2) "Greet thee" (Greek aspaszeta se) send greetings, salutations to thee. The church of the Lord in one area can send good will greetings to the Lord’s church in another area as they remain, walk in truth and love. If the church were universal it would have no other place to send its greetings - See?

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 John 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-john-1.html. 1985.
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