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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
2 John 1

 

 

Verse 1-2

‘The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not I only, but also all they who know the truth, for the truth's sake which abides in us, and it will be with us for ever.’

This verse is full of ‘truth’. He assures the recipients that his love for them is true, and that so is that of all who know the truth. This latter would suggest that ‘truth’ therefore includes the fact that the recipients too love the truth. They love them because of the truth which abides within all of them, and will be with them for ever.

There may also be in this an indirect reference to the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13) and the ‘anointing’ that is within them (1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27).

The emphasis here is that the true people of God need to preserve and live in the truth, because there are false teachers about, and that they should rejoice in being people of the truth, and in the confidence that they will indeed be so for ever. Thus there is the strong suggestion of their need to ensure that they remain in the truth, and not be led astray.


Verse 3

‘Grace, mercy, peace shall be with us, from God the Father, and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.’

The permanent nature of their true faith results from God’s grace, mercy and peace, which will keep them in truth and love, and from the grace, mercy and truth of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, also coming in truth and love. So truth and love are to be the foundation on which they are established, and this by the grace, mercy and peace of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. Note the great stress on Jesus’ true Sonship in His close connection with the Father.

‘Grace, mercy, peace shall be with us.’

‘Grace.’ Nothing can be more desirable than to have God looking on us and acting towards us in undeserved love and favour, and this is what is here signified by grace. It is God acting towards us in continual saving power in spite of our undeserving. Thus John wants his hearers to know that he is confident that they will enjoy the continued experience of the grace of God.

‘Mercy.’ As God’s grace flows towards us, he says, so will we receive mercy. That is, forgiveness for our daily sins (1 John 1:7), and His compassion and love towards us in all our failings and weaknesses (1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:9-10).

‘Peace.’ Peace results from grace and mercy, but this kind of peace is also God’s gift, flowing from Him to us. Once we know that we are right with God, and experience His graciousness towards us, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1) and enjoy such peace, prosperity and success of spirit that our hearts can only overflow. For however things may seem to smile on us, if God is not pleased with us, we cannot fully know peace. The very foundation then of peace in our hearts is the favour of God, by which we enjoy true and genuine prosperity of spirit through the work of His Spirit, and find the peace of God which passes all understanding guarding our thoughts and hearts (Philippians 4:7). And this is what John wished for, and prayed for, for these Christians in this true Christian church.

‘Shall be with us.’ John speaks with quiet confidence. He has no doubt that the Father, and Jesus Christ, the true Son of the Father, will abound towards them in gracious, powerful and loving activity, thus establishing them in truth and love. Note the two aspects of church life that mattered. First truth, for love is meaningless without truth, and then love flowing from, and resulting from, that truth. As they know the One Who is light and walk in that true light, so will they love one another (1 John 1:5-7).

The conjunction of Jesus with the Father as ‘the Son of the Father’, emphasises His Oneness with the Father on the divine side of reality.


Verse 4

‘I rejoice greatly that I have found of your children walking in truth, even as we received commandment from the Father.’

This does not necessarily mean that some were not walking according to the truth, only that he himself did not know all her children. But the point is that those whom he did know walked in the truth. And this was the truth commanded by the Father. In 1 John 3:23 we are told that ‘this is His commandment that we should believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ’. It is this truth that is to be the foundation of their whole faith, and will result in loving one another, which is the parallel commandment. By this he emphasises the close relationship established by the Father with His Son in the work of salvation.


Verse 5-6

‘And now I beseech you, lady, not as though I wrote to you a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we should walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.’

He then moves on from faith and trust in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, to the further aspect of the commandment that they love one another. This was the new commandment (John 13:34), but he emphasises that it is not new in the sense of novel and recent, for it was given by Jesus Christ and known by them from the beginning of their Christian lives. This is no novelty such as the false prophets were presenting. It is based soundly in the words of Jesus Christ.

‘And this is love, that we should walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.’ To walk after His commandments is to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). He stresses that this love, which results from walking in the light, involves obeying God’s and Christ’s commandments. Indeed these were centred in the reality of love, for they were to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5-6), and their neighbour as themselves (Leviticus 19:18), which would be revealed in the way they lived their lives. Those who did such things would live in them (Leviticus 18:5; Ezekiel 20:11). Their eternal life was given by the Father through His Son (1 John 5:11-12), but it involved living lives pleasing to Him because we are in Him that is true (1 John 5:20), and Jesus had made clear that they should walk in them (John 14:15). These are the commandments given by God and expanded and explained by Jesus (e.g. Matthew 5-7).


Verse 7

‘For many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even those who do not confess that Jesus Christ comes in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.’

Mention is now made of those whom they should guard against, the deceivers, those who deny that Jesus the Christ came in the flesh as a human being. These are the deceivers and the antichrist (1 John 2:18-21). They set up someone else as the Christ in the place of Jesus, a Christ who did not come as true human and die on the cross, and thereby they seek to deceive true believers. In our day this is partly true of Islam, who reduce Jesus, even though they call Him Messiah, and deny His death. And they may well prove to produce the final Antichrist. And one of the ways by which they are known is that they do not love the Son, do not love the truth as it is in Jesus, do not love His commandments, and do not love His true people.

Note that these deceivers have gone forth into ‘the world’ in contrast with the church. They have withdrawn from the true fellowship of the people of God. ‘They went out from us because they were not of us’ (1 John 2:19).


Verse 8-9

‘Look to yourselves, that you do not lose the things which we have wrought, but that you receive a full reward. Whoever goes onward and abides not in the teaching of Christ, has not God. He who abides in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.’

So the warning goes out to ‘watch out’. They are to look to themselves so that they retain the truth and live in it, lest they lose what the faithful preachers of the truth have wrought in them. Not that he feared that they would. He knew that God was at work in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. But he wanted them to ensure that they worked it out with greatest care (Philippians 2:13), for he did not want them to lose their full reward. This is a rare reference for John rarely speaks of the coming reward, as he rarely speaks of the second coming, but compare 1 John 3:3, which demonstrates his emphasis on both. Those who were not faithful as they were, will lose the possibility of likeness with Christ.

‘Whoever goes onward and abides not in the teaching of the Christ, has not God. He who abides in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.’ Going on in a general way is not enough, they must abide in the true teaching concerning the Christ, otherwise it will be evidence that they do not have God. That is, it will mean that they do not know the truth about Him and do not have Him abiding in them. For they cannot have the Father without the Son. Those who do abide in His teaching receive and enjoy both Father and Son. It is not possible to have the One without the Other.


Verse 10-11

‘If any one comes to you, and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and give him no greeting, for he who gives him greeting partakes in his evil works.’

The matter has in fact become so serious that those who are clearly deceivers in this way, and do not teach this truth, must not be invited into their house. He must not be welcomed in the church as a brother. He must not be greeted as a brother. To do either would be to be participants with such in their evil behaviour.

The emphasis here is on not welcoming false teachers in such a way as to give some the impression that they are of the truth. By doing so they would be assisting their deception. Compare Titus 3:10. It does not mean that they should not be ‘loved’ when in need, only that they should not be welcomed as though they were true brethren.


Verse 12

‘Having many things to write to you, I would not write them with paper and ink. But I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that your joy may be made full.’

He has much more to say, but will wait until he sees them face to face. For he is hoping to come to them and make their joy full. With such true believers he has no doubt of his welcome.


Verse 13

‘The children of your elect sister salute you.’

This may signify the members of a sister church. Or it may signify that both sisters were of powerful families and had churches in their households. Either way the greeting goes from the one to the other.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 John 1:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-john-1.html. 2013.

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Sunday, May 26th, 2019
the <>Sixth Sunday after Easter
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