2 JOHN INTRODUCTION: AUTHORSHIP: John the apostle is given credit to this letter, though his name is not found in the letter. There is strong church tradition that John is the author: Clement of Alexander, Irenaeus, and Tertullian each give credit to John. “Titus Flavius Clemens (c.150 - c. 215), known as Clement of Alexandria (to distinguish him from ), was a and the head of the noted . Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origin.” (Wikepedia Encyclopedia) Saint Irenaeus (2nd century AD – c. 202) was in , then a part of the (now , ). He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of . He was a hearer of Polycarb, who in turn was a disciple of John the Evangelist. Irenaeus' best-known book, or Against Heresies (c. 180) is a detailed attack on , which was then a serious threat to the Church, and especially on the system of the Gnostic . As one of the first great Christian theologians, he emphasized the traditional elements in the Church, especially the , Scripture, and tradition. Irenaeus wrote that the only way for Christians to retain unity was to humbly accept one authority—episcopal councils. Against the Gnostics, who said that they possessed a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, Irenaeus maintained that the bishops in different cities are known as far back as the Apostles — and none of them were Gnostics — and that the bishops provided the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture. (Ibid.) Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220 AD), was a prolific early Christian author from in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Christian literature. He also was a notable early and a polemicist against heresy. (Ibid.) Each of these men put John the Apostle as the writer of 2 John. The style and content point to the same writer as 1 John.
DATE: New Scoffield Reference Bible puts the date 90-95 AD. Merrell Unger Bible handbook places the date 85-90 AD. Bible Knowledge Commentary: 60-65 AD.
BACKGROUND: The letter is addressed to the “chosen lady and her children” (v1). Therefore some scholars name the recipient: Lady Electa. Electa comes from the Greek form chosen (eklekta.) “John’s purpose in penning the letter was to warn this influential and esteemed lady against false teachers. She apparently sponsored meetings with visiting preachers in her home (v.10.) like Nympha in Laodicea (Col. 4:15). The apostle encourages her and warns against unsound doctrine by suggesting she sponsor no one who teaches less than the full deity and humanity of Christ.” (Unger’s H.) Some say she was a church (BKC) based on Paul’s personification of the church as the bride of Christ in Ephesian letter. I lean toward a woman who sponsored a home church as Priscilla and Aquila did. THEME: New Scoffield Reference Bible: Christ’s Commandment. Unger’s Bible Handbook: Living in the truth and Love. We adopted the Scoffield theme but expanded it to: “Christ’s Commandment, that we love one another” for Bible drills with our children to teach them the central truth of each book of the Bible. INTRODUCTION: SALUTATION AND INVOCATION: 1:1-3 v1 Elder (presbuteros) 2b) among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably. (Thayer) She is chosen to salvation. True Christian love rests on the truth, i.e., the revealed Word of God focused in the person and work of Christ (John 14:6), and contrasts with the false teaching, which errs at this point (vv.7-11). (Unger’s H.) There is a special fellowship of all who know the truth. v2 The teaches as strongly as any the security that believers have of eternal salvation. Its abode with us is not for a night or a day; not for a month or a year; not for the few years that make up mortal life; it is not a passing stranger that finds a lodging like the weary traveler for a night, and in the morning is gone to be seen no more; it has come to us to make our hearts its permanent home, and it is to be with us in all worlds, and while ceaseless ages shall roll away. (Barnes) v3 This is typical salutation among apostles. It was typical of Paul’s letters: grace, mercy, and peace. The difference with John is his stress of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. I. THE PATHWAY OF TRUTH AND LOVE. 1:4-6 v4 Not all her children were walking in the truth by being converted to Christ. John had become acquainted with them possibly at Ephesus in their travel. We are not sure how he knew about them. (Barnes quotes Grotius) vv5-6 That is, that there be among the disciples of Christ mutual love; or that in all circumstances and relations they should love one another, Joh_15:12, Joh_15:17. This general command, addressed to all the disciples of the Saviour, John doubtless means to say was as applicable to him and to the pious female to whom he wrote as to any others, and ought to be exercised by them toward all true Christians; and he exhorts her, as he did all Christians, to exercise it. It was a command upon which, in his old age, he loved to dwell; and he had little more to say to her than this, to exhort her to obey this injunction of the Saviour. II. THE MARK OF A DECEIVER AND ANTICHRIST. 1:7-11 v7 There is a contrast between the preceding verses and those which follow, showing that error violates the revealed truth of God and the commandment of love. Essentially, their error is a refusal to acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, thereby denying the possibility of the incarnation and by implication also denying both advents of Christ. v8 To be swayed by these deceivers of Christ’s divinity and humanity, will result in lose of reward, but not salvation. The apostles had gotten them on the right path of salvation and Christian teaching. They must watch themselves to remain faithful. “This is a potent warning. All the eternal reward one earns by seeing Christ purely, eagerly, and effectively in the Spirit can be diminished by any aiding or abetting of false teaching. (McArthur S.B.) v9 “A failure to be faithful to the fundamental, sound doctrines of the faith (a proper view of the person and work of Christ, love, obedience) marks a person as having never been born again (1 John 2:23; 3:6-10; 4:20,21; 5:1-3). The word abide has the idea of constant adherence and warns that these fundamentals are not open to change or subject to the latest trends or philosophical fads.” (Ibid.) vv10-11 This lady had ministers come to her home. These false teachers were carrying on a regular campaign to destroy the basic fundamental truths of Christianity. No benefit or aid of any type, not even a greeting is permissible. Believers should aid only those who proclaim the truth. This is not relate to disagreement on minor issues. CONCLUSION: 1:12-13 vv12-13 It seems clear from verse 13 that John knew this lady and her family. He knew the nieces and nephews, and he concludes by giving a greeting for them to her.