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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
2 John

Chapter 1

Book Overview - 2 John

by Gary H. Everett

STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett

THE EPISTLE OF 2JOHN

January 2013Edition

All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed, Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c 1925, morphology c 1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c 1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong"s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c 1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author's daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme - The Perseverance of the Saints (from False Doctrines within)

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and

beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Matthew 16:6

Structural Theme - Jesus Christ Our Advocate Brings Us into Fellowship with the Father

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.

And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

1 John 2:1

Imperative Theme - Walking in the Truth With Genuine Believers

and Rejecting Those who are False Believers

(Perseverance of the Heart)

I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth,

as we have received a commandment from the Father.

2 John 1:4

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine,

receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

2 John 1:10

INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE OF 2JOHN

Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

The Message of the Epistle of 2John- Donald Guthrie tells us that, with the exception of 1Peter and 1John, the Catholic Epistles played a minor role in shaping the thought of the early Church during the first few centuries, and were not fully embraced until the fourth century, when the New Testament canon was closed. 1] These Epistles are often overshadowed by the Gospels and Pauline Epistles in their relative importance to the Christian faith. This appears to be the case today as well as in in the ancient Church. Because their underlying message is one of perseverance, we can understand why the other New Testament writings appear more glorious, as they emphasize the revelations of our glorious Saviour and of sacred Church doctrine. However, the necessity to persevere is part and parcel to our eternal glorification, as is clearly brought out within the Catholic Epistles. This means that their message is an equally important part of our spiritual journey into eternal glory with our Heavenly Father.

1] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 722.

The epistle of 2John is the one of the shortest books in the Holy Bible, with only 245 Greek words. It was probably the last writing of John and the last writing to find its way into the New Testament canon, along with 3John. It was obviously written upon a single piece of papyrus.

Introductory Material- The introduction to the epistle of 2John will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. 2] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God's message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

2] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel's well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalm: (1) "a common setting in life," (2) "thoughts and mood," (3) "literary forms." In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses "Form/Structure/Setting" preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).

HISTORICAL SETTING

We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture

if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible."

(J. Hampton Keathley) 3]

3] J. Hampton Keathley, III, "Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah," (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the epistle of 2John will address its historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the early Church tradition that the apostle John wrote his second towards the end of the first century to a noble lady or deaconess of Asia Minor in order to lay down the criteria on which to judge visiting ministers.

I. Historical Background

Church history tells us that John the apostle moved to Asia Minor, probably Ephesus, at some point after the death of Mary the mother of our Lord. There is no record of when John the apostle moved from Jerusalem to Asia Minor and the city of Ephesus. Philip Schaff says that it was probably not before the death of Paul around A.D 63, since there are no references to John in Paul"s letters to his churches in Asia Minor. He supposes that the death of Paul and Peter in Rome would have urged John to take charge of these churches. 4] Since Ephesus was the capital of that region of the Roman Empire, it would have been the choice city to take up residence in order to manage nearby churches. Therefore, it is most likely that he moved to Ephesus in the 60's. Perhaps his move was also encouraged by the Jewish War of A.D 66-70, which would have made Judea a very dangerous place to live.

4] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 424-425.

The city of Ephesus served both as the economic center of this region and as the center of church leadership over the churches that Paul the apostle established in this region. During John's stay there he was banished to the island of Patmos during the latter part of the reign of Domitian, who ruled Rome from A.D 81to 96. After the death of this Roman emperor John was freed and returned to Ephesus where he lived until his death.

We see in the Revelation of John a reference to the churches of Asia Minor. Jesus appears to John and gives him messages for seven churches. The fact that Jesus would give these messages to John , and not another, to deliver to the seven churches is a likely indication that John was overseeing these churches. We see from 2,3John that he was called "the Elder", which suggests an honorary title describing his leadership role in this region. It is within this context that John writes his three epistles that we find in the New Testament.

II. Authorship and Canonicity

In establishing the authorship of the New Testament writings, one must also deal with the issue of canonicity, since apostolic authority was the primary condition for a book to be accepted into the biblical canon of the early Church. This section will evaluate three phases in the development of the canonicity of the epistle of 2John: apostolic authority, church orthodoxy, and catholicity. The first phase of canonization is called apostolic authority and is characterized by the use of the writings of the apostles by the earliest Church father in the defense of the Christian faith (1st and 2nd centuries). The second phase of canonization is called church orthodoxy and is characterized by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). The third phase of canonization is characterized by the general acceptance and use of the books of the New Testament by the catholic church, seen most distinctly in the early Church councils (4th century).

A. Apostolic Authority- Scholars generally agree that the New Testament canon went through several phrases of development in Church history prior to its solidification in the fourth century. F. B. Westcott says the earliest phase is considered the apostolic age in which "the writings of the Apostles were regarded from the first as invested with singular authority, as the true expression, if not the original source, of Christian doctrine and Christian practice." He says the "elements of the Catholic faith" were established during this period in Church history. 5] At this time, the early Christian Greek apologists defended the catholic faith during the rise of the heresies of the second century using the writings that carried the weight of apostolic authority. The Church clung to the books that were either written by the apostles themselves, such as Matthew ,, John , Peter, and Paul, or directly sanctioned by them, such as Mark and Luke , the assistances of Peter and Paul respectively, and the epistles of James and Jude , the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, scholars believe apostolic authority was the primary element in selecting the canonical books. This phase is best represented by evaluating the internal evidence of the authorship of these New Testament books and by the external witnesses of the early Church fathers who declare the book's apostolic authorship and doctrinal authority over the Church.

5] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 21. The Muratorian Canon (c. A.D 200) alludes to the criteria of apostolic authority for the New Testament writings, saying, "The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time." (Fragments of Caius 33) (ANF 5); Corey Keating says, "In the first two centuries, ‘apostolic authority' was the important factor in deciding to keep or reject a particular writing." See Corey Keating, The Criteria Used for Developing the New Testament Canon in the First Four Centuries of the Christian Church (2000); accessed 15 April 2012; available from http://www.ntgreek.org/SeminaryPapers/ChurchHistory/Criteria%20for%20Development%20of%20the%20NT%20Canon%20in%20First%20Four%20Centuries.pdf; Internet.

Five of the General Epistles ( James ,, 2 Peter , 2, 3 John , and Jude) were slow in being received into the New Testament canon by the early Church for several reasons. 6] (1) Slow Circulation- One of the reasons for their delayed acceptance was slow circulation. James MacKnight says this slow circulation does not mean that they were viewed as forgeries by the early Church fathers; rather, it shows that slow circulation of these epistles had not allowed them to be as quickly judged and proven authentic. 7] The New Testament church was extremely careful before accepting any book as canonical, and did in fact identify certain writings as forgeries. (2) Brevity- Another reason the epistles of James ,, 2 Peter ,, 2 John ,, 3 John , and Jude were not quickly recognized by the early Church was the brevity of these letters. This brevity gave them less attention during public readings, since they were not immediately recognized as circulatory letters. This circumstance accounts for both their slow circulation and for them being omitted from some of the earliest translations of the Christian Scriptures and canons. Because of their slower circulation and brevity, they were much less referred to by the earliest church fathers, making it more difficult to establish their genuineness. F.B. Westcott responds to this fact by saying, "As a general rule, quotations have a value positively, but not negatively: they may shew that a writing was received as authoritative, but it cannot fairly be argued from this fact alone that another which is not quoted was unknown or rejected as apocryphal." 8] Despite their slow circulation and brevity, the Church's acceptance of apostolic authorship of these five epistles won them favor by the time the canon was officially closed in the fourth century.

6] Eusebius says, "Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the Song of Solomon -called epistle of James and that of Jude , also the second epistle of Peter, and those that are called the second and third of John , whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name." (Ecclesiastical History 3253)

7] James MacKnight, A New Literal Translation from the Original Greek, of All the Apostolic Epistles, vol. iv (Edinburgh: John Ritchie, 1809), 5-6.

8] B. F. Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillian and Company, Ltd,1896), 11.

The author of the second and third epistles of John describes himself as "the elder." As to his identity, both internal and external evidence supports John the Apostle as the author of these epistles.

1. Internal Evidence- There is enough internal evidence within this short epistle to support Johannine authorship.

a) Similar Writing Style and Content of Other Johannine Literature- The second and third epistles of John are linked to his Gospel and first epistle by vocabulary and general subject matter. They use much of the same Greek words and phrases as well as themes that are found in his other writings.

i) The Greek adjective έκλεκτός, translated "elect," used twice in this epistle (verses 1, 13), is derived from the Greek verb έκλεγομαι, being translated "chosen," and is used five times in the Gospel of John ( John 6:70, John 13:18, John 15:16, John 15:19).

ii) The phrase "from the beginning" is common to John's writings, being used four times in the Gospel of John ( John 6:64, John 8:25, John 8:44, John 15:27), nine times in the epistle of 1John ( 1 John 1:1, 1 John 2:7, 1 John 2:13, 1 John 2:14, 1 John 2:24, 1 John 3:8, 1 John 3:11), and two times in the epistle of 2John ( 2 John 1:5, 2 John 1:6).

iii) The word "truth" is used ten times in the First Epistle, four times in the Second Epistle and six times in the Third Epistle. Other words and phrases such as "filled with joy," "antichrist," "walk," and "love the commandment" distinguish these three epistles with similar authorship.

iv) The passage of 2 John 1:5-6 is very similar in subject matter to John 13:34-35 and John 15:9-13.

2 John 1:5-6, "And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it."

John 13:34, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."

John 15:10, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father"s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."

Moreover, the passage in 2 John 1:5-7; 2 John 1:9 is similar to 1 John 2:7-8; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 5:3; 1 John 4:1-3. Note:

2 John 1:5-7, "And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."

2 John 1:9, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son."

1 John 2:7-8, "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth."

1 John 3:23, "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment."

1 John 4:1-3, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."

1 John 5:3, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."

v) The fact that John does not affix his name to this epistle is in agreement with his other epistles and his Gospel. This fact strengthens, rather than weakens, the argument for Johannine authorship. Paul, Peter, James , and Jude affixed their names to the epistles they wrote. Instead, John uses the title of "elder," which reflects John's position of overseer of the churches in Asia Minor during his later years.

vi) The harshness found in 2 John 1:10 is similar to the tone of 3 John 1:9-10. A careful study of John's character reveals that he was both kind and gentle, as well as ready to implore judgment when necessary. His zeal for doing what is right is seen in several passages, when he asks Jesus to forbid others from casting out devils, or to call fire down from heaven.

Mark 9:38, "And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us."

Luke 9:54, "And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?"

Jesus surnamed him and his brother "Boanerges, the sons of thunder" as a reflection of their character.

Mark 3:17, "And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which Isaiah , The sons of thunder:"

vii) Both 2,3John rejoice over the recipients for walking in the truth ( 2 John 1:4 and 3 John 1:3) in the atmosphere of false teachings.

viii) Both 2,3John speak of hospitality for those who walk in the truth and warn against partaking with those who walk against the truth.

ix) Both 2,3John speak of the author's intent on visiting the recipients ( 2 John 1:12 and 3 John 1:14) instead of writing them with further instructions ( 2 John 1:12 and 3 John 1:13).

x) All three of John's epistles reflect a clear division between those who love God and those who do not know God.

In summary, commenting on the authorship of John's writings, B. H. Streeter said, "The three Epistles and the Gospel of John are so closely allied in diction, style, and general outlook that the burden of proof lies with the person who would deny their common authorship." 9]

9] B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels, rev. ed. (London: Macmillan, 1930), 460. Cited by Daniel B. Wallace, "1John: Introduction, Argument, and Outline," (Biblical Studies Foundation, Richardson, Texas) [on-line]; accessed 15 September 2010; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/1- John -introduction-argument-and-outline; Internet.

b) Other Scripture References- The first epistle of John makes a reference to other letters that he wrote. The verse in 1 John 2:26 may very well be referring to the epistles of second and third John.

1 John 2:26, "These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you."

2. Patristic Support of Johannine Authorship- While the early Church fathers clearly accept John the apostle as the author of the Gospel of John , the Apocalypse, and the First Epistle of John , they did not all necessarily believe that John wrote the second and third epistles. One fact that caused this uncertainty is the brevity of these two letters. This brevity gave them less attention during public readings, since they were not immediately recognized as circulatory letters. This circumstance accounts for their slow circulation and for them being omitted from some of the earliest translations of the Christian Scriptures and canons. Because of their slower circulation, they were much less referred to by the earliest Church fathers, making it more difficult to establish their genuineness. Apostolic authorship won their favor by the time the canon was officially closed.

a) The Muratorian Canon (late 2nd Century) - The Muratorian Canon, an ancient Latin document dated around A.D 200, is considered the earliest attempt at listing the canonical books of the New Testament. It was discovered in Ambrosian Library in Milan and formerly in the monastery of Bobbio. 10] It quotes from the opening verse of 1John as a credit to John's authorship.

10] "Muratorian Canon," in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, revised, eds. F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 950; Brooke Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, fourth edition (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 530-531.

"What marvel is it, then, that John brings forward these several things so constantly in his epistles also, saying in his own person, "What we have seen with our eyes, and heard with our ears, and our hands have handled, that have we written." For thus he professes himself to be not only the eye-witness, but also the hearer; and besides that, the historian of all the wondrous facts concerning the Lord in their order." (Fragments of Caius 3: Canon Muratorianus 1) (ANF 5)

The Muratorian Canon then makes a brief reference to two epistles of John that were accepted as canon, but which two of his three epistles is not made clear.

"The Epistle of Jude , indeed, and two belonging to the above-named John—or bearing the name of John—are reckoned among the Catholic epistles. And the book of Wisdom of Solomon , written by the friends of Solomon in his honour. We receive also the Apocalypse of John and that of Peter, though some amongst us will not have this latter read in the Church." (Fragments of Caius 3: Canon Muratorianus 4) (ANF 5)

b) Irenaeus (A.D 130 to 200) - Irenaeus supports Johannian authorship when he quotes from 2 John 1:11 as a statement made by " John , the disciple of the Lord."

"And John , the disciple of the Lord, has intensified their condemnation, when he desires us not even to address to them the salutation of ‘good-speed;' for, says Hebrews , ‘He that bids them be of good-speed is a partaker with their evil deeds;' and that with reason, ‘for there is no good-speed to the ungodly,' saith the Lord." (Against Heresies 1163)

c) Clement of Alexandria (A.D 150 to 215) - The churches in Alexandria, Egypt seemed to be familiar with these writings. We find two bishops, Clement, bishop of Alexandria, and Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, quote from these two epistles, while Dionysius of Alexandria says that he was acquainted with them. Clement of Alexandria, the theologian, states that he was familiar with more than one epistle of John.

" John , too, manifestly teaches the differences of sins, in his larger Epistle, in these words: ‘If any man see his brother sin a sin that is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life: for these that sin not unto death,' he says. For ‘there is a sin unto death: I do not say that one is to pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin; and there is a sin not unto death.'" (The Stromata 21566)

Eusebius tells us that Clement of Alexandria commented on all of the disputed books, which would have included 2,3John.

"To sum up briefly, he has given in the Hypotyposes abridged accounts of all canonical Scripture, not omitting the disputed books, -- I refer to Jude and the other Catholic epistles, and Barnabas and the Song of Solomon -called Apocalypse of Peter." (Ecclesiastical History 6141)

Donald Guthrie says that a Latin fragment of one of Clement of Alexandria's works called "Adumbrations" refers to the second epistle of John as erroneously having been written to the virgins. 11] It reads:

11] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 881.

"The second Epistle of John , which is written to Virgins, is very simple. It was written to a Babylonian lady, by name Electa." (Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus: 1. From the Latin Translation of Cassiodorus 4: Comments on the Second Epistle of John) (ANF 2)

d) Origen (A.D 185 to 256) - Origen, the Alexandrian theologian, is quoted by Eusebius as telling us that the authorship of John"s first epistle was believed to be John the Apostle. He goes on to say that John"s authorship of the second and third epistles was questioned. Although these two epistles were in dispute, this quote implies that Origen himself believed in John's authorship of 2,3John.

"Why need we speak of him who reclined upon the bosom of Jesus, John , who has left us one Gospel, though he confessed that he might write so many that the world could not contain them? And he wrote also the Apocalypse, but was commanded to keep silence and not to write the words of the seven thunders. He has left also an epistle of very few lines; perhaps also a second and third; but not all consider them genuine, and together they do not contain hundred lines." (Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John 5:3) and (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6259-10)

e) Dionysius the Great (died A.D 264) - Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, and a pupil of Origen, is quoted by Eusebius, implying John's authorship of his second and third epistle.

"But neither in the reputed second or third epistle of John , though they are very short, does the name John appear; but there is written the anonymous phrase, "the elder."" (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 72511)

f) Aurelius, the bishop of Chullabi (fl. A.D 256) - Cyprian refers to Aurelius, the bishop of Chullabi, where he quotes 2 John 1:10. This implies that the epistles of John were considered apostolic in North Africa.

"Also another Aurelius of Chullabi said: John the apostle laid it down in his epistle, saying: ‘If any one come unto you, and have not the doctrine of Christ, receive him not into your house, and say not to him, Hail. For he that saith to him, Hail, partakes with his evil deeds.'" (Cyprian, The Seventh Council of Carthage Under Cyprian - Concerning the Baptism of Heretics)

g) Alexander, bishop of Alexandria (died A.D 328) - Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria from A.D 313, quotes from 2 John 1:10-11.

"Moreover we might neither receive any of them, if they should presume to come to you, nor be induced to put confidence in Eusebius, or any other who may those who speak or entertain a thought against Christ, as from those who are resisting God, and are destroyers of the souls of men: neither does it become us even "to saute such men," as the blessed John has prohibited, "lest we should at any time be made partakers of their sins." Greet the brethren which are with you; those who are with me salute you." (Socrates, The Ecclesiastical History 16)

h) Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) - Eusebius, the ancient Church historian, tells us that although the early Church fathers without dispute attribute the authorship of the Gospel of John and the first epistle to John the apostle, the authorship of his second and third epistles were in dispute from earliest times. Note:

"But of the writings of John , not only his Gospel, but also the former of his epistles, has been accepted without dispute both now and in ancient times. But the other two are disputed." (Ecclesiastical History 32417)

Eusebius also says that the early Church fathers listed the epistles of 2,3John as some of the disputed writings of the New Testament.

"Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the Song of Solomon -called epistle of James and that of Jude , also the second epistle of Peter, and those that are called the second and third of John, whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name." (Ecclesiastical History 3253)

i) Athanasius (A.D 296 to 373) - Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, supported Johannine authorship of all three of his epistles.

"Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew ,, Mark ,, Luke , and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James , one; of Peter, two; of John , three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John" (Letters 395)

j) The Syriac Church - Nathaniel Lardner cites Mill, who says Ephraem Syrus (c. A.D 306 to 373), the Syrian biblical exegete and ecclesiastical writer, makes quotations from the epistles of James ,, 2 Peter ,, Jude , and 2John on numerous occasions. 12] However, Albert Barnes says an old Syriac version from the sixth century does not include the epistles of 2Peter, 2 John ,, 3 John , or Jude , showing that their place in the Scriptures was still in dispute in the Syrian church. 13] JFB says, "Cosmas Indicopleustes in the sixth century says that in his time the Syriac Church only acknowledged three of the Catholic Epistles, First Peter, First John , and James." 14]

12] The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 311-312.

13] Albert Barnes, The Second Epistle of John , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

14] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, The Second and Third Epistles General of John , in Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

k) Cyril of Jerusalem (c. A.D 315 to 386) - Cyril of Jerusalem names all seven Catholic epistles as canonical in his catalogue of New Testament books.

"Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve Apostles; and in addition to these the seven Catholic Epistles of James , Peter, John , and Jude; and as a seal upon them all, and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of Paul. But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by thyself, as thou hast heard me say. Thus much of these subjects." (Catechetical Lectures 436)

l) Gregory Nazianzen (A.D 329 to 389) - Gregory Naziansen, the Church theologian, credits John with three Catholic epistles. He says after listing the books of the Old Testament canon, "And already for me, I have received all those of the New Testament. First, to the Hebrews Matthew the saint composed what was according to him the Gospel; second, in Italy Mark the divine; third, in Achaia Luke the all-wise; and John , thundering the heavenlies, indeed preached to all common men; after whom the miracles and deeds of the wise apostles, and Paul the divine herald fourteen epistles; and catholic seven, of which one is of James the brother of God, and two are of Peter the head, and of John again the evangelist, three, and seventh is Jude the Zealot. All are united and accepted; and if one of them is found outside, it is not placed among the genuine ones." (PG 38, Colossians 845) (author's translation) 15]

15] Cited by Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 1: Apostolic Christianity A.D 1-100 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 582.

He makes a similar statement again:

"Indeed Matthew wrote to the Hebrews (the) miracles of Christ, and Mark to Italy, Luke to Achaia, and above all, John , a great preacher who walked in heaven, then the Acts of the wise apostles, and fourteen epistles of Paul, and seven catholic epistles, being of James , one, and two of Peter, and three of John again, and Jude is seven. You have all. And if there is some (other than) these seven, not (are they) among the genuine ones." (Carminum 1) (PG 37 Colossians 474) (author's translation)

m) Jerome (A.D 342to 420) - Jerome tells us that the second and third epistles are said to be the works of another John , one called John the Presbyter, or the Elder, being a different person from John the Apostle.

"The other two of which the first is "The eider to the elect lady and her children" and the other "The elder unto Gaius the beloved whom I love in truth," are said to be the work of John the presbyter to the memory of whom another sepulchre is shown at Ephesus to the present day, though some think that there are two memorials of this same John the evangelist." (Lives of Illustrious Men 9)

Jerome calls the seven catholic epistles "canonical."

Jerome says, "…seven epistles which are called canonical…one James , Peter two, John three, and Jude one…" (Prologue to the Seven Canonical Epistles) (PL 29 cols 821-825) (author's translation)

n) Augustine (A.D 354-430) - Augustine named the second and third epistles of John as authentic books of the New Testament canon.

"That of the New Testament, again, is contained within the following:—Four books of the Gospel, according to Matthew , according to Mark , according to Luke , according to John; fourteen epistles of the Apostle Paul—one to the Romans , two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians , to the Ephesians , to the Philippians , two to the Thessalonians, one to the Colossians , two to Timothy, one to Titus , to Philemon , to the Hebrews: two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and one of James; one book of the Acts of the Apostles; and one of the Revelation of John." (On Christian Doctrine 213) (NPF 1 2)

o) Sophronius (A.D 560 to 638) - Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem, confirms John as the author of his first epistle, and mentions the dispute over his authorship of the other two epistles.

"John also wrote an epistle, which begins, That which was from the beginning. This epistle is accepted as John's by all ecclesiastical and scholarly authorities. The other two epistles bearing his name—the first, beginning, The elder unto the elect lady; and the second, The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius—are considered by some to be the work of a certain John the Elder, whose tomb (one of two bearing the name John) still exists in Ephesus to this day. Others, however, maintain that these two epistles are also the work of John the Evangelist." (The Life of the Evangelist John) (PG 123col 1127) 16]

16] Sophronius, The Life of the Evangelist John , in Orthodox Classics in English (House Springs, MO: The Chrysostom Press) [on-line]; accessed 1December 2010; available from http://www.chrysostompress.org/the-four-evangelists; Internet.

It is easy to see how canonicity is a testimony to apostolic authorship when we understand that the debates of the early Church fathers to accept the general epistles of 2Peter, 2,3John, and Jude was simply a debate about their authorship. Apostolic authorship meant that the works were authentic, and thus, authoritative. It was the writing's apostolic authority that granted its inclusion into the New Testament canon. Therefore, canonicity was based upon apostolic authority, and this apostolic authority was based upon the authenticity of the writing, and its authenticity was based upon the fact that it was a genuine work of one of the apostles or one who was serving directly under that apostolic authority.

B. Church Orthodoxy- The second phase in the development of the New Testament canon placed emphasis upon Church orthodoxy, or the rule of faith for the catholic Church. F. B. Westcott says, "To make use of a book as authoritative, to assume that it is apostolic, to quote it as inspired, without preface or comment, is not to hazard a new or independent opinion, but to follow an unquestioned judgment." 17] The early Church fathers cited these apostolic writings as divinely inspired by God, equal in authority to the Old Testament Scriptures. They understood that these particular books embodied the doctrines that helped them express the Church's Creed, or generally accepted rule of faith. As F. B. Westcott notes, with a single voice the Church fathers of this period rose up from the western to the eastern borders of Christendom and became heralds of the same, unified Truth. 18] This phase is best represented in the writings of the early Church fathers by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). These collected works of the apostles were cited by the church fathers as they expounded upon the Christian faith and established Church orthodoxy. We will look at two aspects of the development of Church Orthodoxy: (1) the Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy and (2) Early Versions.

17] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 12.

18] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 331.

1. Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy- While the authorship of 2,3John finds support in some of the early Church fathers who directly claim Johannine authorship, its authenticity refers to the fact that the fathers saw it as an authentic New Testament document regardless of who wrote it. Its authenticity is established simply by the fact that the fathers quote from these two epistles in their writings. This means that they were using these documents as a part of the accepted New Testament canonical writings. The early Church fathers make direct statements declaring Johannine authorship, as well as direct quotes, strong allusions and weak allusions to the epistle of 2John. Direct quotes are word for word citations from this book, strong allusions are apparent paraphrases, and weak allusions are words or phrases that appear to come from this book. Here are a few of the earliest quotes from the epistle of 2John: 19] Thus, the epistle of 2John was used by the Church fathers to establish Church orthodoxy.

19] There are many other citations available from the early Church fathers that I have not used to support the traditional views of authorship of the books of the New Testament. Two of the largest collections of these citations have been compiled by Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768) in The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, 10 vols. (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829, 1838), and by Jacques Paul Migne (1800-1875) in the footnotes of Patrologia Latina, 221vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1844-55) and Patrologia Graecae, 161vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1857-66).

a) Polycarp (A.D 69 to 155) - Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, possibly quotes from 2 John 1:7 in his epistle to the Philippians , which is dated about A.D 130.

"For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist;" (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 7)

However, it is not certain whether this is a quote from 1 John 4:2-3 or 2 John 1:7.

1 John 4:2-3, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."

2 John 1:7, "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist."

b) Irenaeus (A.D 130 to 200) - Irenaeus was a bishop of Lyons. He was born in Smyrna, near Ephesus, and heard Polycarp, who was a disciple of John , and possibly the teachings of Papias, another disciple of John. 20] Although he went on to study in Rome, and serve in France, Irenaeus must have been acquainted with the writings of John after having spent his early years in Asia Minor with Polycarp. He quotes from the second epistle twice as well as referring to it on a third occasion. In his writing Against Heresies, he refers to 2 John 1:10-11.

20] "Irenaeus, St." in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, revised, eds. F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), 713.

"And John , the disciple of the Lord, has intensified their condemnation, when he desires us not even to address to them the salutation of ‘good-speed;' for, says Hebrews , ‘He that bids them be of good-speed is a partaker with their evil deeds;' and that with reason, ‘for there is no good-speed to the ungodly,' saith the Lord." (Against Heresies 1163)

Irenaeus also refers to 2 John 1:7-8.

"These are they against whom the Lord has cautioned us beforehand; and His disciple, in his Epistle already mentioned, commands us to avoid them, when he says: ‘For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Take heed to them, that ye lose not what ye have wrought.' And again does he say in the Epistle: ‘Many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit which separates Jesus Christ is not of God, but is of antichrist.' These words agree with what was said in the Gospel, that ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.' Wherefore he again exclaims in his Epistle, "Every one ‘that believeth that Jesus is the Christ, has been born of God;'" (Against Heresies 3168)

2. Manuscript Evidence - A number of early third and fourth century manuscripts, such as p 23, containing the epistle of James , and p 72 (the Bodmer papyrus), containing the epistles of 1,2Peter, and Jude , reveal that the Catholic Epistles were being circulated as a collected corpus by the early Church. 21] These ancient manuscripts containing the collective body of General Epistles testify to the fact that the Church at large circulated these writings as a part of its orthodox faith.

21] The Bodmer Papyrus (p 72) contains 1Peter :14; 2 Peter 1:1-3:18; Jude 1:1-25. See Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett, eds, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndall House Publishers, 1999, 2001).

3. Early Versions - The earliest translations of books of the New Testament testify to their canonization. Perhaps as early as the second century, the New Testament was translated into Old Syriac and Old Latin. While the disputed epistles of Jude ,, 2 Peter ,, 2 John , and 3John were found in the Old Latin text, they are absent in the Old Syriac. 22] The Old Latin versions were later standardized into the Latin Vulgate by Jerome in the fourth century, which represent the canon as we know it today. The Syrian church has an unusual history regarding the development and acceptance of the New Testament Canon. While the Catholic epistles of James ,, 1 Peter , and 1John are found in the old Syriac, the lesser Catholic Epistles of 2Peter, 2,3John, Jude , and the Apocalypse are omitted from its canon. 23] This canon of 22New Testament books is reflected in the "Doctrine of Addai" (A.D 250-300) in which the clergy of Edessa are instructed to read from the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels and Acts and the Pauline Epistles, but not from the General Epistles. 24] Perhaps this comment was made because the Syriac versions only accepted three of the seven Catholic Epistles as canonical. The Old Syriac was soon formalized into the translation known as the Peshitta. The New Testament was translated in the Coptic languages of Egypt (Sahidic and Bhoairic) as early as the third century, representing the entire New Testament canon. The New Testament was soon translated into the languages of the Armenian (5th c), the Georgian (5th c), and the Ethiopic (6th c). 25] The Catholic Epistles would not have been translated with the other New Testament writings unless it was considered a part of the orthodox beliefs of the Church at large.

22] A. E. Brooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 220-223.

23] Bruce M. Metzger, "Important Early Translations of the Bible," in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol (Jan 1993) (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary): 44, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004.

24] The Doctrine of Addai, the Apostle, trans. George Phillips (London: Trbner and Co 1876), 44.

25] The Old Latin Bible manuscripts of the fifth century, Codex Bezae (Gospels, Acts , Catholic epistles), Codex Claromontanus (Pauline epistles), and Codex Floriacensis ( Acts , Catholic epistles, Revelation) were used prior to Jerome's Vulgate (beginning A. D 382), and these Old Latin manuscripts testify to the canonization of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament at an early date. See Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, eds, The Greek New Testament, Third Edition (United Bible Societies, c 1966, 1968, 1975), xxxi-xxxiv.

C. Catholicity- The third and final phase of New Testament canonicity placed emphasis upon the aspect of catholicity, or the general acceptance of the canonical books. F. B. Westcott says, "The extent of the Canon, like the order of the Sacraments, was settled by common usage, and thus the testimony of Christians becomes the testimony of the Church." 26] This phase is best represented in the period of Church councils of the fourth century as bishops met and agreed upon a list of canonical books generally accepted by the catholic Church. However, approved canons were listed by individual Church fathers as early as the second century. These books exhibited a dynamic impact upon the individual believers through their characteristic of divine inspiration, transforming them into Christian maturity, being used frequently by the church at large. We will look at two testimonies of catholicity: (1) the Early Church Canons, and (2) Early Church Councils.

26] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 12.

1. Early Church Canons- Athanasius gives us a canonical list that includes second and third John (c 367). 27] Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D 315-386) includes them in his list. 28] The Apostolic Constitutions includes all but the book of Revelation (late 4th c.). 29] Inclusion into these canons indicates that the books of the New Testament were universally accepted by the Church at large. These two epistles are listed in the Cheltenham List (A.D 359). 30] Cyril of Jerusalem, A.D 349, and Gregory Nazianzen, in A.D 389, both enumerate fourteen Epistles of Paul, and seven Catholic Epistles, which would match the New Testament canon as we have it today.

27] See Athansius, Festal Letters 395 (Easter, 367) (NPF 2 4).

28] See Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 436 (NPF 2 7).

29] See The Ecclesiastical Canons of the Same Holy Apostles 4785 (ANF 7).

30] W. Sanday, The Cheltenham List of the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament and the Writings of Cyprian, in Studia Biblica ed Ecclesiastica: Essays Chiefly in Biblical and Patristic Criticism, vol 3 (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1891) 223.

2. Early Church Councils- After the time of Jerome, both epistles were received by the Church at large, with the exception of the Syriac church. Although the council of Nicea (c 325-40) did not accept these epistles as authentic, the church councils of the late fourth century accepted the books of Jude ,, 2 Peter ,, 2 John , and 3John into the canon of Scripture. The disputed epistles of Jude ,, 2 Peter ,, 2 John , and 3John were accepted into the eighty-fifth of the apostolic canons, into the sixtieth canon of the synod of Laodicea, at the council of Hippo, (A.D 393), and the councils of Carthage, (A.D 397,419), which adopted a catalogue of New Testament books exactly agreeing with our canon.

Doubts of their authorship and canonization were removed in the Church at large through this early period and during the Middle Ages. As the Reformation period opened, with renewed studies in biblical research, doubts were again placed upon these particular epistles, which have carried doubts into the modern era. However, conservative scholars of today no longer doubt their genuineness and status within the Scriptures.

It was the brevity of John's two short epistles, along with their private nature, that made them less generally read and less quoted by the early Church fathers. However, such a list of witnesses above leads to the conclusion of Johannine authorship and their proper place in the New Testament canon.

During the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity and ordered Eusebius to produce fifty copies of the Scriptures. 31] The production and distribution of these Bibles, along with the Church synods that followed, served to confirm the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as canonical and authoritative. The early Church traditions of authorship and authenticity became firmly embedded within their canonicity. Therefore, citations of the New Testament Scriptures and later manuscript evidence after this period of Church history only serve to repeat traditions that had already become well-known and established among the churches of the fourth century.

31] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, fourth edition (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 422-426.

III. Date and Place of Writing

It is most likely that the General Epistles were written during the time when the early Church experienced its first large-scale persecutions at the hands of the Roman Emperors Nero (A.D 54-68) and Domitian (A.D 81-96). It was this season of persecutions that occasioned the need to write and encourage these early believers to hold fast to their faith in Christ, even at the cost of their lives.

Both internal and external evidence suggests that John wrote all three epistles during his later years while overseeing the churches in Asia Minor. He most like lived in Ephesus when he wrote His Gospel and three epistles. Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) tells us that after John returned from the Island of Patmos he went on missionary journeys to set in order the nearby churches of Asia Minor.

"Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant"s death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of those that were pointed out by the Spirit." (Ecclesiastical History 3235)

It is possible that John wrote the second and third epistles in preparation for these missionary journeys, as evidenced in the following verses.

2 John 1:12, "Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full."

3 John 1:10, "Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church."

3 John 1:14, "But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name."

Therefore, it is likely that John wrote these two epistles at the same period of time, and after he wrote his Revelation. They would have most likely been written in Ephesus in the later part of the first century.

IV. Recipient(s)

Modern scholars seem equally divided into two opinions over the issue of the identity of "the elect lady and her children," who whom it is addressed. The last verse of this epistle sends greetings from the children of her sister. Depending on the position one takes, this may refer either to an individual or to a sister church.

A. To an Individual- Many scholars believe that this is the name of a noble lady or deaconess that lived in Asia Minor when John oversaw these churches. Her name is subject to conjecture, since the Greek phrase έκλεκτή κυρία, which translates as "the elect lady", suggests that her proper name was "the elect Kyria" or "the lady Electa" or even "Electa Kyria." The name "Kyria" or "Cyria" would be more correct, since the name "Electra" would also have to be given to her sister in verse 13if this is the case της άδελφης σου της έκλεκτς. However, this most likely should be translated without a personal name as "the elect lady." There are several arguments to support an individual recipient.

1. In support of the argument that the recipient was an individual, some say that the tenderness of the tone of this letter stamps it as a personal communication.

2. A second argument is stated by Barnes that the name Cyria was known to have been used by others in ancient times.

3. In addition, the fact that the ancient Peshito Syriac and the Arabic versions of the New Testament translate the term as a proper name show that this is an ancient view accrediting this epistle to an individual.

As we have quoted above, we have the support of Clement of Alexandria who clearly states that the recipient is a certain Babylonian lady by the name of "Electra." 32]

32] Clement of Alexandria writes, "The second Epistle of John , which is written to Virgins, is very simple. It was written to a Babylonian lady, by name Electa." (Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus: 1. From the Latin Translation of Cassiodorus 4: Comments on the Second Epistle of John) (ANF 2)

B. To a Church- Other scholars suggest that this title personifies a sister church, and that the children are the members of this church. In addition, the last verse would be a greeting being sent from the members of the sister church.

1. One argument is that the personification of the church using terms figurative of a family is seen in other verses in the Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 11:2, "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

Ephesians 5:22-23, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body."

Revelation 19:7, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."

Revelation 21:9, "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb"s wife."

2. A second argument is that we also see Peter opening and closing his first epistle by using the term "elect" as a direct reference to local churches.

1 Peter 1:2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."

1 Peter 5:13, "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son."

There are two other occasions where the Scriptures refer to the Church as "the elect".

Romans 8:33, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God"s elect? It is God that justifieth."

Colossians 3:12, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;"

Thus, John could have followed this same style as Peter by opening and closing this epistle with "the elect church".

3. Thirdly, the fact that she is loved by "all they that have known the truth" ( 2 John 1:1) and the phrase, "the children of thy elect sister greet thee" ( 2 John 1:13) fit the description of a congregation better than an individual.

4. Fourth, the frequent use of the second person plural more naturally refers to a congregation than to a lady and her children.

5. Fifth, Gundry notes the fact that the epistle fails to mention the names of the lady's children and nephews indicates a broader scope of readers. 33]

33] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 340-341.

6. Sixth, Gundry notes the warnings against false teachers and the commandment to love the brethren are more fitting for a congregation than for an individual and her family. 34]

34] Robert H. Gundry, A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 341.

7. Finally, Donald says that a Latin fragment of one of Clement of Alexander's works called "Adumbrations" refers to the second epistle of John as erroneously having been written to the virgins. 35]

35] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 881.

C. Conclusion- In conclusion, whether John wrote to an individual or a particular church, the fact that the name is withheld is an indication that exposing it would place the person or the church in danger of increasing persecution by the Roman world. If we say that the other New Testament epistles were clearly addressed to particular churches or individuals, it is important to note that John wrote years later during a period of more impending danger than that of the Pauline letters thirty to forty years earlier.

Also, the recipient(s) must have lived relatively close to Ephesus, where John lived. As an elder in his 80's or 90's, he would most likely not have taken a long journey.

In addition, whether to an individual or a particular church, this short epistle soon became a circulating letter that gave instructions to other churches. Thus, its secondary recipients are most certainly the churches at large.

V. Occasion

Every generation of Christians has its heretics. Jesus dealt with the Pharisees, Paul struggled with the Judaizers, and John with the Gnostics and other heretics. Often, these false prophets are used by God to test our love for the truth, just as the Lord warned Moses in Deuteronomy 13.

Deuteronomy 13:1-3, "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul."

The group of churches that were planted by Paul and others soon found itself sending traveling ministers from church to church. Since public inns of the first century were considered dirty and of poor service Christians found themselves in the more comfortable homes of fellow believers. John R. W. Stott gives a list of verses that show how Paul was hosted in homes on his missionary journeys; Lydia in Philippi, Jason in Thessalonica, Philip the evangelist in Caesarea, Mnason of Cyprus in Jerusalem and Gaius in Corinth. 36]

36] John R. W. Stott, The Epistles Of John , in The Bible Speaks Today (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1982), 198-199. Cited by Benjamin C. Chapman, The Third Epistle of John , in The KJV Bible Commentary, eds. Edward E. Hindson and Woodrow M. Kroll (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1994), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Introduction."

Acts 16:15, "And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us."

Acts 17:7, "Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus."

Acts 21:8, "And the next day we that were of Paul"s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him."

Acts 21:16, "There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge."

Romans 16:23, "Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother."

In addition, the epistles of Paul make other references to churches receiving the brethren that he had sent. Thus, staying in a fellow believer's home was a custom of the early Church for traveling ministers. Note several Scriptures that encourage this lifestyle:

Romans 12:13, "Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality."

Hebrews 13:2, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

Unfortunately, this itinerate ministry was sometimes abused by false teachers, who used it as an opportunity to gain recognition and material gain, resulting in confusion in these churches.

Therefore, John writes this epistle as an occasion to lay down the criteria on which to judge these visiting ministers. The message in this epistle would have naturally resulted in it being circulated to other churches, and therefore, qualifying it for acceptance into the canon of New Testament. Remember the two qualifications for acceptance into the New Testament was apostolic authorship and the fact that it became circulated to other churches by necessity or by the instructions of these apostles.

As referred to above under "Date and Place of Writing," we see that John's missionary journeys, which he conducted after his release from exile, would have occasioned the writing of these letters prior to his leaving, since he makes a reference in both epistles to visiting the recipients ( 2 John 1:12, 3 John 1:10; 3 John 1:14).

The Heresies - Matthew Poole says that the heresies of Ebion and Cerinthus, who denied Christ's Divinity, and of the Nicolaitanes, who held many absurd things about his person, gave occasion to the Gospel and epistles of John. In his Apocalypse, John mentions the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes ( Revelation 2:6). He very likely was referring to the heresies of Ebion and Cerinthus when he refers to the antichrists in his epistles. 37]

37] Matthew Poole, The Gospel According to S. John , in Annotations Upon the Holy Bible, vol 3 (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1852), 277.

Eusebius tells us that the heresies of the Ebionites either denied the deity and virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ or they did not believe that He existed before His birth.

"The evil demon, however, being unable to tear certain others from their allegiance to the Christ of God, yet found them susceptible in a different direction, and so brought them over to his own purposes. The ancients quite properly called these men Ebionites, because they held poor and mean opinions concerning Christ. For they considered him a plain and common Prayer of Manasseh , who was justified only because of his superior virtue, and who was the fruit of the intercourse of a man with Mary. In their opinion the observance of the ceremonial law was altogether necessary, on the ground that they could not be saved by faith in Christ alone and by a corresponding life. There were others, however, besides them, that were of the same name, but avoided the strange and absurd beliefs of the former, and did not deny that the Lord was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit. But nevertheless, inasmuch as they also refused to acknowledge that he pre-existed, being God, Word, and Wisdom of Solomon , they turned aside into the impiety of the former, especially when they, like them, endeavored to observe strictly the bodily worship of the law." (Ecclesiastical History 3271-3)

Eusebius tells us that the doctrine of Cerinthus taught of an earthly kingdom full of sensual pleasures, rather than a heavenly kingdom.

"We have understood that at this time Cerinthus, the author of another heresy, made his appearance. Caius, whose words we quoted above, in the Disputation which is ascribed to him, writes as follows concerning this man: ‘But Cerinthus also, by means of revelations which he pretends were written by a great apostle, brings before us marvelous things which he falsely claims were shown him by angels; and he says that after the resurrection the kingdom of Christ will be set up on earth, and that the flesh dwelling in Jerusalem will again be subject to desires and pleasures. And being an enemy of the Scriptures of God, he asserts, with the purpose of deceiving men, that there is to be a period of a thousand years a for marriage festivals.' And Dionysius, who was bishop of the parish of Alexandria in our day, in the second book of his work On the Promises, where he says some things concerning the Apocalypse of John which he draws from tradition, mentions this same man in the following words: ‘But (they say that) Cerinthus, who founded the sect which was called, after him, the Cerinthian, desiring reputable authority for his fiction, prefixed the name. For the doctrine which he taught was this: that the kingdom of Christ will be an earthly one. And as he was himself devoted to the pleasures of the body and altogether sensual in his nature, he dreamed that that kingdom would consist in those things which he desired, namely, in the delights of the belly and of sexual passion, that is to say, in eating and drinking and marrying, and in festivals and sacrifices and the slaying of victims, under the guise of which he thought he could indulge his appetites with a better grace.' These are the words of Dionysius." (Ecclesiastical History 3281-6)

Eusebius tells us that Nicolaus, the founder of the sect of the Nicolaitans that is referred to in Revelation 2:6; Revelation 2:15 used his beautiful to entice believers to commit fornication.

"At this time the Song of Solomon -called sect of the Nicolaitans made its appearance and lasted for a very short time. Mention is made of it in the Apocalypse of John. They boasted that the author of their sect was Nicolaus, one of the deacons who, with Stephen, were appointed by the apostles for the purpose of ministering to the poor. Clement of Alexandria, in the third book of his Stromata, relates the following things concerning him. "They say that he had a beautiful wife, and after the ascension of the Saviour, being accused by the apostles of jealousy, he led her into their midst and gave permission to any one that wished to marry her. For they say that this was in accord with that saying of his, that one ought to abuse the flesh. And those that have followed his heresy, imitating blindly and foolishly that which was done and said, commit fornication without shame. But I understand that Nicolaus had to do with no other woman than her to whom he was married, and that, so far as his children are concerned, his daughters continued in a state of virginity until old age, and his son remained uncorrupt. If this is Song of Solomon , when he brought his wife, whom he jealously loved, into the midst of the apostles, he was evidently renouncing his passion; and when he used the expression, "to abuse the flesh," he was inculcating self-control in the face of those pleasures that are eagerly pursued. For I suppose that, in accordance with the command of the Saviour, he did not wish to serve two masters, pleasure and the Lord. But they say that Matthias also taught in the same manner that we ought to fight against and abuse the flesh, and not give way to it for the sake of pleasure, but strengthen the soul by faith and knowledge." So much concerning those who then attempted to pervert the truth, but in less time than it has taken to tell it became entirely extinct." (Ecclesiastical History 3291-4)

One of the major religious heresies of the early Church was Gnosticism. This complex teaching placed emphasis upon the pursuit of a spiritual "knowledge" that would help redeem mankind. Hence, its name comes from the Greek word γνωσις, which means, "knowledge." It had diverse teachings that either incorporated philosophical ideas or magical rites that conflicted with Church doctrine. A modern example of this is the Masonic Lodge. This group has secret rites that pass down secret information only known to members of this cult. If you were to talk to many of the members of this group in the U.S, they would say that they are Christians. Some of them probably are Christians who have been caught up in this cult through peer pressure. Although Gnosticism became more prominent in the second century, some of the New Testament epistles of Paul and John appear to denounce similar teachings.

Another heresy was called Docetism, coming from the Greek word δοκέ ω, which means "to seem, or to appear." It basically taught that the birth, life and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ were more illusions than real, thus the origin of its name. Therefore, John declares that Jesus Christ came in the flesh in verse 7 of this epistle, showing a clear indication of combating such heretics.

Thus, we see some of the heresies that were predominant during the time of the writing of John's Gospel and his epistles.

LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)

"Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew."

(Thomas Schreiner) 38]

38] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the early church, the authors of the New Testament epistles chose to write to various groups of believers using the literary style of the formal Greco-Roman epistle, which contains a traditional salutation, the body, and a conclusion. Thus, the New Testament epistles are assigned to the literary genre called "epistle genre," In the introductory section of literary style, a comparison will be made of the New Testament epistles.

VI. Comparison of the New Testament Epistles

A. Comparison of Content: It is More Practical than Doctrinal - As is characteristic of all of the General Epistles, 1John is more practical than doctrinal.

B. Comparison of Content: Its Brevity- The epistle of 2John is the second shortest books in the Holy Bible, with only 245 Greek words. Only the epistle of 3John is shorter.

THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK

"Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework."

(Andreas Ksenberger) 39]

39] Andreas J. Ksenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the epistle of 2John, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the epistle of 2John for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VII. Purpose

A. Hortatory- The primary purpose of the General Epistles is hortatory.

The hortatory purpose reflects the primary and second theme of the epistles of 1, 2, and 3John, which is the perseverance in the faith against false doctrine from within the Church.

B. Practical/Occasional- The Johannine epistles clearly serve as occasional letters to either an individual or to a church. The epistles of 1, 2,3John were written in order to deal with a particular occasion or event taking place within the local church body and between certain individual. John wrote these epistles in order to give practical instructions on how to deal with these situations. The first epistle deals with the influence of Gnosticism within the church. The second epistle deals with this same issue as it relates to a particular family of believers in the Church. The third epistle deals with rebellion to church authority as a result of such false doctrines.

The practical purpose reflects the third themes of the Johannine epistles, which is to walk in fellowship with the Lord and fellow believers.

VIII. Thematic Scheme

Introduction- Each book of the Holy Scriptures contains a three-fold thematic scheme in order to fulfill its intended purpose, which is to transform each child of God into the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The primary, or foundational, theme of a book offers a central claim that undergirds everything written by the author. The secondary, or structural theme, of the book supports its primary theme by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" made by the author as it fully develops the first theme. Thus, the secondary theme is more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary content of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. 40] The third theme is imperative in that it calls the reader to a response based upon the central claim and supporting evidence offered by the author. Each child of God has been predestined to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures, and they alone, have the power to accomplish this task. This is why a child of God can read the Holy Scriptures with a pure heart and experience a daily transformation taking place in his life, although he may not fully understand what is taking place in his life. In addition, the reason some children of God often do not see these biblical themes is because they have not fully yielded their lives to Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to take place by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, a child of God is not willing to allow Him to manage his life and move him down the road that God predestined as his spiritual journey. This journey requires every participant to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus, and not every believer is willing to do this. In fact, every child of God chooses how far down this road of sacrifice he is willing to go. Very few of men and women of God fulfill their divine destinies by completing this difficult journey. In summary, the first theme drives the second theme, which develops the first theme, and together they demand the third theme, which is the reader's response.

40] For an excellent discussion on the use of claims, reasons, and evidence in literature, see Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003).

A. Primary Theme (Foundational) of the Epistle of 2John: The Perseverance of the Saints: Against False Doctrines from Within the Church- Introduction- The central theme of the Holy Bible is God's plan of redemption for mankind. This theme finds its central focus in the Cross, where our Lord and Saviour died to redeem mankind. The central figure of the Holy Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Cross is the place where man meets God and where we die to our selfish ambitions and yield our lives to the God who created all things. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are not intended to be a precise record of ancient history. Rather, its intent is to provide a record of God's divine intervention in the history of mankind in order to redeem the world back to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.

Every book of the Holy Bible makes a central claim that undergirds the arguments or message contained within its text. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD," to which all additional material is subordinate. The bulk of the material in the Old Testament is subordinate in that it serves as reasons and evidence to support this central claim. This material serves as the secondary theme, offering the literary structure of the book. In addition, the central claim calls for a response, which is stated in the following verse, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." ( Deuteronomy 6:5) Such a response is considered the third, imperative theme that runs through every book of the Holy Scriptures.

This central claim is the primary, or foundational, theme and is often obscured by the weight of evidence that is used to drive the central message, which weight of evidence makes up the secondary theme; and thus, it contains more content than the primary theme. Therefore, the secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scripture are generally more recognizable than the primary theme. Nevertheless, the central claim, or truth, must be excavated down to the foundation and made clearly visible in order to understand the central theme driving the arguments contained within the book. Only then can proper exegesis and sermon delivery be executed.

1. The Central Themes of the New Testament Epistles: Sanctification of the Believer- There are twenty-one epistles in the New Testament, which the early Church recognized as having apostolic authority so that they were collected into one body, circulated among the churches, an eventually canonized. While the Gospels emphasize the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the process justification of the believer, New Testament epistles emphasize the redemptive plan of the Holy Spirit as He works in the process of sanctification for each believer. Thus, the work of sanctification serves as the underlying theme of all twenty-one epistles. In addition, each one emphasizes a different aspect of this divine process of sanctification and they are organized together so that the New Testament is structured to reflect the part of our spiritual journey called sanctification In order to express this structure, each of these epistles have different themes that are woven and knitted together into a unified body of teachings which will bring the believer through the process of sanctification and ready for the rapture of the Church into a place of rest in the glorious hope revealed in the book of Revelation. Therefore, the New Testament epistles were collected together by topic by the early Church.

Of the twenty-one epistles, there are thirteen Pauline epistles and eight designated as General, or Catholic, epistles. We can organize these twenty-one epistles into three major categories: (1) there are epistles that emphasize Church doctrine, which are the nine Pauline epistles of Romans to 2Thessalonians; (2) there are those that deal with Church order and divine service, which are 1,2Timothy, Titus and Philemon; 41] and (3) there are those that stress perseverance in the Christian faith, which are Hebrews and the seven General Epistles. 42] Within Hebrews and the General Epistles, we note that the first three epistles exhort the believer to persevere under persecutions, which come from without the Church ( Hebrews ,, James , 1Peter), while the other five epistles emphasis perseverance against false doctrines, which come from within ( 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John , Jude).

41] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Philemon will be grouped with the Pastoral Epistles as did the Church fathers.

42] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Hebrews will be grouped with the General Epistles, although many of the early Church fathers followed the tradition of grouping it with the Pauline epistles.

2. The Central Theme of the Catholic, or General, Epistles: Perseverance in the Christian Faith - We know that the nine Pauline "Church" epistles, Romans to 2Thessalonians, serve to lay the doctrinal foundation of the Church. In addition, the Pastoral Epistles establishes the order of the Church, and how the Body of Christ functions in this world. This leaves us to consider the eight remaining epistles, seven of which are called the "Catholic Epistles" because they are addressed to a much broader group of believers than the Pauline Epistles. Although the seven Catholic, or General, Epistles include James , 1, 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3, John , and Jude , for the sake of this evaluation of thematic schemes, the book of Hebrews is included. As Paul's Church Epistles establish the doctrines of the Church, the Catholic Epistles deal with the practical struggles that each believer has in fulfilling the Christian life. Thus, these Epistles tend to be more practical and ethical than doctrinal or theological.

The early church faced two great challenges that attacked their sacred doctrines. They experienced persecutions from without, as addressed in Hebrews , James and 1Peter; and, they endured heresies from within, as dealt with in 2Peter, 1, 2, and 3John and Jude. 43] The underlying theme of Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles is the perseverance in the Christian faith, 44] exhorting the saints to persevere amidst persecutions from without the Church as well as false doctrines from within the Church. 45] The books of Hebrews , James and 1Peter address the particular issue of perseverance under persecutions from without the church, a theme popularly referred to as the "pilgrim motif." 46] 2 Peter , the three epistles of John and Jude deal with the particular issue of false ministers and doctrines that attack the church from within ( 2 Peter 3:1-4, 1 John 2:26, Jude 1:3-4). Thus, there are three witnesses of perseverance under persecutions ( Hebrews , James and 1Peter) and three witnesses of perseverance under false doctrines ( 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John , and Jude). As with two epistles to the Corinthians and Thessalonians, the three epistles of John serve as one witness because they share similar themes among themselves.

43] J. B. Lightfoot recognized this two-fold aspect of Christian perseverance, saying, "The armoury of this epistle [Galatians] has furnished their keenest weapons to the combatants in the two greatest controversies which in modern times have agitated the Christian Church; the one a struggle for liberty within the camp, the other a war of defence against assailants from without; the one vitally affecting the doctrine, the other the evidences of the Gospel." See J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians (London: Macmillian and Co, Limited, 1910), 67.

44] I do not adhere to the doctrine popularly referred to as "Once saved, always saved," or "the perseverance of the saints," a belief that has emerged in the modern church among several denominations, which has its apparent roots in Calvinist theology.

45] P. P. Saydon offers this theme for the epistle of Hebrews. See P. P. Saydon, "The Master Idea of the Epistle to the Hebrews ," Melita Theologica XIII, no 1-2 (1961) 19-26. See also George Salmon, "The Keynote to the Epistle of the Hebrews ," in The Expositor, second series, vol 3, ed. Samuel Cox (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1882), 83.

46] Philip Mauro, God's Pilgrims: Their Dangers, Their Resources, Their Rewards (London: Samuel E. Roberts, 1921); Ernst Ksemann, The Wandering People of God: An Investigation of the Letter to the Hebrews , trans. Ray A. Harrisville and Irving L. Sandberg (Minneapolis, MN: Ausburg Publishing House, 1984); David J. MacLeod, "The Doctrinal Center of the Book of Hebrews ," Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1989): 291-300, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), 297.

B. Secondary Theme (Structural) of the Epistle of 2John - Introduction- The secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scriptures support the primary themes by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" of the book made by the author. Thus, the secondary themes are more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary structure of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch declares that the Lord God of Israel is the only God that man should serve, and man is to love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, and strength, a statement found in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is the foundational theme of the Old Testament. The books of Hebrew poetry provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his heart as its secondary theme. The books of the prophets provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his mind as its secondary theme, as he set his hope in the coming of the Messiah to redeem mankind. The historical books provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his strength as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the four Gospel writers is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. In addition, each Gospel writer offers evidence as its secondary theme to support his claim. The Gospel of John offers the five-fold testimony of God the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself as its secondary theme. Matthew expounds upon the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as its secondary theme; Mark expounds upon the testimony of the miracles of Jesus as its secondary theme; Luke expounds upon the testimony of John the Baptist and other eye-witnesses and well as that of the apostles in the book of Acts as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pauline Church Epistles is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone how the power to redeem and transform man into the image of Jesus, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. The epistle of Romans supports this claim by offering evidence of mankind's depravity and God's plan of redemption to redeem him as its secondary theme. The epistles of Ephesians and Philippians expound upon the role of God the Father in His divine foreknowledge as their secondary theme; the epistles of Colossians and Galatians expound upon the role of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church as their secondary theme; the epistles of 1, 2 Thessalonians , 1, 2Corinthians expound upon the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believers as their secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pastoral Epistles is that believers must serve God through the order of the New Testament Church. The epistles of 1, 2Timothy expound upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Titus expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a renewed mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Philemon expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a genuine lifestyle, which is its secondary theme.

The central claim of the General Epistles is that believers must persevere in the Christian faith in order to obtain eternal redemption. The epistles of Hebrews ,, James , and 1Peter modify this theme to reflect perseverance from persecutions from without the Church. The epistle of Hebrews expounds upon the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of James expounds upon a lifestyle of perseverance through the joy of the Holy Spirit, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of 1Peter expounds upon our hope of divine election through God the Father, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3, John and Jude reflect perseverance from false doctrines from within. The epistle of 2Peter expounds upon growing in the knowledge of God's Word with a sound mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 1, 2, 3John expound upon walking in fellowship with God and one another with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Jude expounds how living a godly lifestyle with our bodies, which is its secondary theme.

The Apocalypse of John , though not considered an epistle, emphasizes the glorification of the Church, giving believers a vision of the hope that is laid up before them as a source of encouragement for those who persevere until the end. The central claim of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is coming to take His Bride the Church to Glory. The secondary theme supports this claim with the evidence of Great Tribulation Period.

1. The Secondary Themes of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3 John , and Jude - While the five epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3John and Jude share a common, foundational theme of perseverance from false doctrines from within the Church, they also carry secondary themes that give each of them a distinct emphasis upon one aspect of the believer's perseverance in the Christian faith. When we compare the themes of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3John and Jude , we can also find a relationship between them, just as with Hebrews , James and 1Peter. These five General Epistles deal with false doctrines that attack the believer from within the church. We find one reference to this underlying theme in 1 John 2:19, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

This second division of the General Epistles reflects a three-fold aspect of this theme of perseverance against false doctrines. Jesus told the disciples in John 14:6 that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life.

John 14:6, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

In other words, with our minds we are to learn the way of the Christian life, and with our bodies we are to walk in this truth, and with our hearts we can experience fellowship with the Father. This is the walk that will keep us from falling away into doctrinal error.

Here is a summary of the secondary themes of 2Peter, Jude 1:1-2, 3John.

a) Understanding the Way (Our Minds) - The theme of 2Peter is the message for the saints to persevere amidst false teachings. In order to do this, Peter stirs up their minds ( 2 Peter 3:1) so that they understand how to grow in the grace and knowledge of God's Word, which develops their character into Christ-likeness. For this reason, this epistle opens and closes with this very exhortation ( 2 Peter 1:2-11 and 2 Peter 3:14-18). Even though Peter did not have the revelation into the doctrine that Paul received and wrote about, he did acknowledge Paul's deep insight and the divine inspiration of his writings by equating them with "other Scriptures" ( 2 Peter 3:16). It is these Scriptures that we are to read and try to understand in order to grown in the knowledge of God's Word.

2 Peter 3:16, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

b) Walking in the Truth (Our Bodies) - The theme of Jude is also the exhortation to persevere against false doctrines from within the Church. This epistle places emphasis upon our diligence to walk in the truth by living a godly lifestyle, and building up ourselves in our most holy faith by praying in the Holy Ghost.

c) Life Thru Fellowship with the Saints (Our Spirits) - The theme of 1John is also the exhortation to persevere against false doctrines from within the Church; but 1John places emphasis upon the believer's fellowship with the Father as the way to persevere. As the Gospel of John centers on Jesus' fellowship with the Heavenly Father, so does this epistle center on our fellowship with our Heavenly Father. We maintain this fellowship by confessing our sins and abiding in the Word. The epistle of 1John serves as a basis, or foundation, for the themes of 2,3John, since it deals with the issues of walking in fellowship with God and fellow believers as well as how to identify false brethren. His second epistle places emphasis on identifying those who are false, while the third epistle of John places more emphasis on receiving those who are genuine and how to walk in love with them. Another way to say this is that 2,3John give us real life illustrations of false and genuine brethren, of those who walk in fellowship with the Heavenly Father, and those who do not.

C. Third Theme (Supportive) - The Crucified Life of the Believer (Example of a Genuine Believer Walking in Fellowship with the Lord) - Introduction- The third theme of each book of the New Testament is a call by the author for the reader to apply the central truth, or claim, laid down in the book to the Christian life. It is a call to a lifestyle of crucifying the flesh and taking up one's Cross daily to follow Jesus. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29), and every child of God faces challenges as well as failures in the pursuit of his Christian journey. For example, the imperative theme of the Old Testament is that God's children are to serve the Lord God with all of their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbour as themselves ( Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

The child of God cannot fulfill his divine destiny of being conformed into the image of Jesus without yielding himself and following the plan of redemption that God avails to every human being. This 4-fold, redemptive path is described in Romans 8:29-30 as predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The phase of justification can be further divided into regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance. Although each individual will follow a unique spiritual journey in life, the path is the same in principle for every believer since it follows the same divine pattern described above. This allows us to superimpose one of three thematic schemes upon each book of the Holy Scriptures in order to vividly see its imperative theme. Every book follows a literary structure that allows either (1) the three-fold scheme of Father, Song of Solomon , and Holy Spirit: or (2) the scheme of spirit, soul, and body of man; or (3) the scheme of predestination, calling, justification (regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance), and glorification in some manner.

1. The Third, Imperative Theme of the Epistle of 2John- The epistle of 1John serves as a basis, or foundation, for the themes of 2,3John, since it deals with the issues of walking in fellowship with God and fellow believers, as well as how to identify false brethren. The theme of 1John is the exhortation to persevere against false doctrines from within the Church, which is done by the believer's fellowship with the Father. As the Gospel of John centers on Jesus' fellowship with the Heavenly Father, so does this epistle center on our fellowship with our Heavenly Father. His second epistle places emphasis on identifying those who are false, while the third epistle of John places more emphasis on receiving those who are genuine and how to walk in love with them. Another way to say this is that 2,3John give us real life illustrations of false and genuine brethren, of those who walk in fellowship with the Heavenly Father, and those who do not.

Both the second and third epistles of John discuss those who travel about in the work of the Gospel. While the third epistle of John places more emphasis on receiving those who are genuine, his second epistle places emphasis on identifying those who are false. In the third epistle, we are to learn to open the door to genuine ministers of God, but in the second epistle, we are to close the door to heretics. William MacDonald says the third epistle shows tender love, while the second shows tough love. 47] However, both lay stress on the truth as the true means of walking in love.

47] William MacDonald, The Third Epistle of John , in Believer's Bible Commentary, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Introduction."

This second epistle also reveals the fact that the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ was a major theme in the life of the early Church. John adamantly declares the deity of the Lord Jesus against the beliefs of these false teachers in this short epistle.

Thus, the theme of this second letter would be, "Walking in truth is the proof of genuine love," while the theme of the third epistle would testify, "Love is the proof of those who walk in the truth." Both are truths in action which were expressed in the first epistle. If we were only given the warnings of the second epistle, we might find ourselves behaving too suspiciously and harshly in such circumstances. We would have been given the negative without the positive, but John gives us the third epistle in order to balance the walk of love for God's Word and His people.

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Figure 1 - The Themes of the General Epistles

D. Summary- Finally, it is important to note that the General Epistles do not establish Church doctrine, for this was laid down in the Pauline Church Epistles. They may refer to doctrine, but they do not establish or add to it.

IX. Literary Structure and Outline

The literary structure of the second epistle of John must follow the thematic scheme of the book. It is important to note that such a breakdown of this book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this summary and outline can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.

1. Salutation (or Greeting) ( 2 John 1:1-3) - 2 John 1:1-3 serves as a salutation to this short epistle.

2. The Commandment of Love ( 2 John 1:4-6) - In 2 John 1:4-6 John gives the divine commandment to love one another.

3. The Warning of Anti-Christ ( 2 John 1:7-11) - In 2 John 1:7-11 John warns his reader(s) about the anti-christ.

4. Final Greeting ( 2 John 1:12-13) - In 2 John 1:12-13 John gives a final greeting.

X. Outline of Book

The following outline is a summary of the preceding literary structure; thus, it reflects the theological framework of the 2John: its purpose, its three-fold thematic scheme, and its literary structure. As a result, this outline offers sermon sections that fit together into a single message that can be used by preachers and teachers to guide a congregation or class through the epistle of 2John. This journey through 2John will lead believers into one aspect of conformity to the image of Christ Jesus that was intended by the Lord, which in this book of the Holy Scriptures is to prepare Christians for a life of walking in communion with God and laying aside sins that hinder this walk by identifying those who are false believers.

I. Salutation— 2 John 1:1-3

A. The Author— 2 John 1:1

B. The Recipient— 2 John 1:1

C. The Greeting— 2 John 1:2-3

II. The Commandment of Love— 2 John 1:4-6

A. Praise for Expressing Love— 2 John 1:4

B. Exhortation to Continue Love— 2 John 1:5

C. Defining Love— 2 John 1:6

III. The Warning of Anti-Christ— 2 John 1:7-11

A. The Warning— 2 John 1:7-8

B. The Test— 2 John 1:9

C. The Response— 2 John 1:10-11

IV. Final Greeting— 2 John 1:12-13

BIBLIOGRAPHY

COMMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Barker, Glenn W. 2John. In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 12. Eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992. In Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM]. Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001.

Barnes, Albert. 2John and 3John, in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Brooke, A. E. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles. In The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912.

Chapman, Benjamin C. The Second Epistle of John. In The KJV Bible Commentary. Eds. Edward E. Hindson and Woodrow M. Kroll. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1994. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Chapman, Benjamin C. The Third Epistle of John. In The KJV Bible Commentary. Eds. Edward E. Hindson and Woodrow M. Kroll. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1994. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Clarke, Adam. The Second Epistle of John. In Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Exell, Joseph S, ed. 2John. In The Biblical Illustrator. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Pub. House, 1954. In Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM], Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2002.

Gill, John. 2John. In John Gill's Expositor. In e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005.

Henry, Matthew. 2John. In Matthew Henry"s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1991. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Jamieson, Robert. A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. The Second and Third Epistles General of John. In Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Lightfoot, J. B. Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. London: Macmillian and Co, Limited, 1910.

MacDonald, William. The Second Epistle of John. In Believer's Bible Commentary. Ed. Arthur Farstad. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1995. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

MacDonald, William. The Third Epistle of John. In Believer's Bible Commentary. Ed. Arthur Farstad. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1995. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Macknight, James. A New Literal Translation from the Original Greek, of All the Apostolic Epistles, vol. iv. Edinburgh: John Ritchie.

McGee, J. Vernon. The Second Epistle of John. In Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1998. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Metzger, Bruce M, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker, eds. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007.

Plummer, Alfred, and C. Clemance. 2John. In The Pulpit Commentary. Eds. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950. In Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM]. Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001.

Pfeiffer, Charles and Everett F. Harrison, eds. The Second Epistle of John. In The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Chicago: Moody Press, c 1962. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Poole, Matthew. 2John. In Matthew Poole's New Testament Commentary. In OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM]. Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005.

Poole, Matthew. The Gospel According to S. John. In Annotations Upon the Holy Bible, vol 3. New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1852.

Radmacher, Earl D, Ronald B. Allen, and H. Wayne House, eds. The Second Epistle of John. In Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1999. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Wallace, Daniel B. "1John: Introduction, Argument, and Outline." (Biblical Studies Foundation, Richardson, Texas) [on-line]. Accessed 15 September 2010. Available from http://bible.org/seriespage/1- John -introduction-argument-and-outline; Internet.

GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aland, Kurt. Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren. The Greek New Testament, Third Edition. United Bible Societies, 1975.

Berkhof, Louis. Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2002. Accessed 5 October 2008. Available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/newtestament.html; Internet.

Booth, Wayne C, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Comfort Philip W. and David P. Barrett, eds. The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndall House Publishers, 1999, 2001.

Cross, F. L. and E. A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, revised. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Goodspeed, Edgar J. Introduction to the New Testament. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1937. Accessed 8 September 2008. Available from http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/goodspeed/; Internet.

Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament, revised edition. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, c 1970, 1981.

Gunkel, Hermann. The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction. Trans. Thomas M. Horner. In Biblical Series, vol 19. Ed. John Reumann. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967.

Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Introduction. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990.

Harris, Hall. "Introduction to 1 ,2 ,3John: Authorship, Background, Opponents." In Biblical Studies Foundation. Richardson, Texas: Biblical Studies Press, 1999. [on-line]; Accessed 1September 2000. Available from http://www.bible.org; Internet.

Harrison, Everett F. Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971.

Ksemann, Ernst. The Wandering People of God: An Investigation of the Letter to the Hebrews. Trans. Ray A. Harrisville and Irving L. Sandberg. Minneapolis, MN: Ausburg Publishing House, 1984.

Keathley, III, J. Hampton. "Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah." (Bible.org) [on-line]. Accessed 23May 2012. Available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.

Keating, Corey. The Criteria Used for Developing the New Testament Canon in the First Four Centuries of the Christian Church (2000). Accessed 15 April 2012. Available from http://www.ntgreek.org/SeminaryPapers/ChurchHistory/Criteria%20for%20Development%20of%20the%20NT%20Canon%20in%20First%20Four%20Centuries.pdf; Internet.

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Lardner, Nathaniel. The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, 10 vols. London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829, 1838.

MacLeod, David J. "The Doctrinal Center of the Book of Hebrews." Bibliotheca Sacra (July 1989): 291-300. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Malick, David. "An Introduction to the Book of 2John." In Biblical Studies Foundation. Richardson, Texas: Biblical Studies Press, 1996. [on-line]; Accessed 1September 2000. Available from http://www.bible.org; Internet.

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Migne, Jacques Paul. Patrologia Graecae, 161vols. Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1857-66.

Migne, Jacques Paul. Patrologia Latina, 221vols. Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1844-55.

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Salmon, George. "The Keynote to the Epistle of the Hebrews." In The Expositor, second series, vol 3. Ed. Samuel Cox. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1882.

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Sanday, W. The Cheltenham List of the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament and the Writings of Cyprian, in Studia Biblica ed Ecclesiastica: Essays Chiefly in Biblical and Patristic Criticism, vol 3. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1891.

Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church, vol 1: Apostolic Christianity A.D 1-100. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955.

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Smalley, Stephen S. 1, 2, 3John. In Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 51. Eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker. Dallas: Word Inc, 2002. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004.

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Streeter, B. H. The Four Gospels, rev. ed. London: Macmillan, 1930.

Wace, Henry and Philip Schaff, eds. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1956. In Christian Classics Ethereal Library, v 20 [CD-ROM]. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Calvin College Campus Bookstore, 2001.

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Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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