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Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
2 John 1

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-6

"To the Elect Lady and Her Children"

John is thought of as the author of 2 John. This is because of the testimony of ancient authorities as well as the fact that this letter is so similar in style and basic thoughts to 1 John. Since the writer uses the definite article "the" in reference to himself as an elder, we assume this refers to his age and not an office he held.

The rules of Biblical interpretation tell us to take something literally unless the literal meaning contradicts other clear teachings of scripture. On that basis, we conclude the elect lady, or elect Cyria, was a literal lady who had literal children. Some have thought this was a church and the children its members, but the context would have to be taken figuratively when nothing demands it. John truly loved her, as did many others who knew the truth, probably because of her great service. One reason John loved her was because he was of the truth and she was in the truth. Despite all the problems soon to come, John was confident the truth would continue to abide in himself and other Christians ( 2Jn_1:1-2 ).

It takes God's grace to save sinful man ( Eph_2:8 ). He had mercy on men in the terrible grip of sin, and that brought a peace beyond man's ability to express himself ( 1Pe_1:3 ; Php_4:6-7 ). Grace, mercy and peace come from the Father and Son, which, among other things, shows their oneness. They belong to the Christian because of obedience to the truth and the love that flows out of it ( 2Jn_1:3 ).

John had somehow met some of the lady's children away from home and was happy to report they were living faithfully. To live in accord with truth is synonymous with keeping the Father's commandments. Since her children were living faithful lives, John also encouraged her to love the brethren, as had been taught from the beginning of the gospel. Note, John says "we", since he was likewise directed by the Lord to love the brethren ( Joh_13:34-35 ). If one really loves the brethren, he will obey the commandments and thereby set a good example before those he loves ( 2Jn_1:4-6 ; 1Ti_4:12-16 ; 1Jn_2:7-11 ).

Verses 7-9

Beware of Deceivers

John warned the elect lady that "many deceivers have gone out into the world." The word "deceivers" comes from the Greek word for wandering or roving, according to Thayer. They traveled in packs preying on the gullible and leading them into error. Particularly, they denied the incarnation of Jesus, thus denying His Deity and making them be in the spirit of the anti-Christ. John's warning was particularly important because it is possible to work hard for salvation and yet to lose it ( 1Co_9:27 ; 1Co_10:12 ; Php_2:12 ). His hope was that he and all other Christians might receive a full wage for their labors in service to the King ( 2Jn_1:7-8 ).

The only way for a Christian to be sure he receives a full reward for his works in the gospel cause is through strictly adhering to the teachings of Jesus ( Mat_7:21-23 ). When one does not remain in that doctrine, he loses fellowship with God. The word translated "transgresses" literally means goes onward. Evidently, these false teachers said they were progressive and ahead in their thinking, but they had gone too far since they went beyond God ( 2Jn_1:9 ).

Verses 10-13

Hospitality and False Teachers

The elect lady was confronted with the problem of how to treat those false teachers John warned against. A Christian cannot in any way appear to support those who teach error. Christians are to be hospitable ( Rom_12:13 ), but can refuse to extend such to any who do not present the simple teachings of Christ. Money for lodgings was scarce in John's day, so teachers depended on the saints to open their homes. John said this good sister should not do so to those who taught contrary to the will of Christ which would make her appear to be in sympathy with them. To in any way encourage a false teacher is to become a partner in their false teachings ( 2Jn_1:10-11 ).

John had many more things he would have liked to write but expressed the hope that he could sit down with the lady and her children in their home and talk further. Her sister was obviously a Christian, since she is also called "elect." Some of her children must have been near John as he wrote, since he sent their greetings ( 2Jn_1:12-13 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 John 1". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/2-john-1.html. 2014.
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