Bible Commentaries
2 John 1

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verse 1

2 John 1:1 . The elder unto the elect lady. So most versions read; but Dr. HAMMOND suggests that eclecte signifies a church, and that syneclecte is used in that sense for another or a sister church. Kuria, lady, may import a title of honour and respect. Kurie, Lord, or Cyr, Syr, and now Sir. Besides, Kuria among the Athenians, and also among the Romans, signifies the assembly. Hence, the words may be read, “the elect church or congregation.” HEINSIUS argues well on this subject, and he is mostly original. He cites 1 Peter 5:13. The church which is at Babylon, elect together with you, to prove that St. John addressed, not a lady, but the church. And he adds from Jerome the like phrases. “The multitude of elect gentiles the elect of Corinth the elect of Macedonia the elect of Ephesus the elect lady and the elect children.” For they viewed the whole christian church as succeeding carnal Israel in favour. These arguments may seem fair, yet the judgment of the ancients was in general, that this is a private letter to a noble Greek lady, whose children were christians.

2 John 1:3 . Grace, the fountain and origin of all covenant blessings, be with you; mercy and peace, the effect of that exuberance, from God the Father, sole author of salvation, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love, and who is the only Mediator, through whom any blessing can be conferred on sinful man. Such is the current language of the new testament, such the form of sound words we have received of the Lord, and they need no comment.

2 John 1:4 . I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in the truth. It would seem from this that John wrote this epistle to a pious lady and her family, whom he sometimes visited, as our Lord visited at the house of Martha and Mary at Bethany, and that on some of these occasions he had the satisfaction to find that his visits had not been in vain. He found some of the children had been converted, if not all, and. now he tenders his congratulations on their account.

The apostle’s description of the nature of true religion is full of beautiful simplicity it is a walking in the truth. The gospel is by way of eminence “the truth,” the truth as it is in Jesus. I declared unto you the gospel, says Paul, how that Christ died for our sins and rose again, according to the scriptures. Nothing short of this gospel deserves the name of truth. Walking in the truth supposes that it has a practical and progressive tendency, and those only are true believers who live under its influence. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, is to walk after his commandments: 2 John 1:6. Walking stands opposed to indifference and inaction: many know the truth who neither love it nor walk in it.

True religion cannot be long concealed, when it takes possession of the heart it will appear in the life. John found these young persons walking in the truth. When he visited he found them reading the scriptures, inquisitive and attentive to edifying conversation; he saw them tender and suitably affected with the truth, feeling an interest in all that related to the glory of Christ and the advancement of his kingdom; he saw them carrying their religion into retirement, and pervading their domestic deportment. And when he afterwards reflected upon the conduct of this pious and happy family, he “rejoiced greatly,” and offered his paternal salutations.

Nothing is more interesting to a pious and benevolent mind than to see young persons brought to the knowledge of the truth and to believe in Jesus, especially the children of those we esteem and love. The conversion of an aged sinner is refreshing, but of those who are young in years it is still more so. They are the hope of the church: in them we see the germ of future ministers, who shall proclaim the gospel when our work is done; the germ of future missionaries, who shall carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. Instead of the fathers shall come up the children to call Him blessed.

2 John 1:7-8 . Many deceivers are entered into the world. These were jewish teachers and apostates, who denied the Godhead of Christ, and also that he was come in the flesh, or was really incarnate. To give up the faith, the homo-ousion faith, that the Son is one substance with the Father, is in fact to give up both the Father and the Son.

2 John 1:10-11 . Receive him not neither bid him God speed. That would disturb and destroy the church, would be an avowal that truth is of little importance, and that the advocates of error were equally laudable with those who fed the children with the unadulterated milk of the word. Men, anathematized for denying the Lord, carry their leprosy wherever they go.


St. John, in his usual flow of soul, begins with love, and all the brethren with him joined in love to the saints. Yes, and they loved them the more because of the sincerity of their faith; for good men have the greater affection for those that most resemble God.

Having expressed his joy that the saints walked in the truth, he warns them against the false, philosophical seducers, and semi-christians, the carnal and excommunicated teachers who sought to deceive and impose; and others who denied the Messiah to be come in the flesh. Let us still take his advice. Let us neither know nor receive the men who deny his Godhead. There is danger lest we should be mentally entangled with their refined and artful mode of wresting the scriptures, which speak of Christ’s humanity and offices. Hence they infer that he is not one substance with the Father. Hereby we may lose the things God hath wrought, and fail of a full reward.

John strengthens their faith and perseverance by the hope of seeing them. And what, shall it be said that such and such a brother has turned Unitarian, laughs at mysteries, and tramples on the moral code! How then would they see the face of John; and how would they see the face of Christ, coming in the clouds of heaven.

It is a singular and important fact, that one of the earliest heresies which affected the primitive church, related to the Person of Christ. Some, from philosophical refinements, denied that Christ was really incarnate, pretending that this would be incompatible with his true divinity, and that his humiliation and sufferings were in appearance only; while others, admitting the reality of his incarnation, for the same reason denied his true and proper divinity. Against both these the apostle guards in his epistle, and the christian is from hence admonished to beware of any dogma tending to degrade the original dignity of the Son of God, under the pretense of freeing the doctrines of revelation from mystery, and reducing them to the standard of human comprehension.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 John 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.