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2 John Commentary


2 John 1

The apostle loved this elect lady, "in the truth;" as did also all those who had known the truth, and that for the truth's sake. He wished her blessing in truth and in love. He rejoiced that he had found some who were her children walking in the truth. He desired that there should be mutual love among Christians, but this was love, that they should keep the commandments; for many deceivers were come into the world. Now whosoever transgressed, and did not abide in the doctrine of Christ, had not God. He ends his epistle, of which we have given an almost complete summary, by exhorting this lady, in case any one should come and not bring this doctrine, not to receive him into her house, nor say to him, "God bless you, or be with you," or "I salute you." For to do so would be to make herself a partaker in the evil he was doing.

The false doctrine which was abroad at that moment was the denial of the truth of Christ come in the flesh; but the apostle says in a general way that, if any one transgressed and did not abide in the doctrine of Christ, he had not God.

We learn several important things in this little epistle. The mission of a man who went about preaching was never brought into question, but the doctrine which he brought; if he brought sound doctrine he was welcome.

A woman having the word-as this epistle, for example-was capable of judging his doctrine, and responsible to do so. Inexorable rigour was to be maintained, if the doctrine as to the Person of Christ was touched. The door was to be shut against whoever falsified it. They were not even to say to him, "I salute you;" for they who did so became partakers of his evil work. It would be to help on the deceits of Satan.

Moreover the semblance of love which does not maintain the truth, but accommodates itself to that which is not the truth, is not love according to God. It is the taking advantage of the name of love in order to help on the seductions of Satan. In the last days the test of true love is the maintenance of the truth. God would have us love one another; but the Holy Ghost, by whose power we receive this divine nature, and who pours the love of God into our hearts is the Spirit of truth; and His office is to glorify Christ. Therefore it is impossible that a love which can put up with a doctrine that falsifies Christ, and which is indifferent to it, can be of the Holy Ghost--still less so, it such indifference be set up as the proof of that love.

The doctrine of the reward and crown of glory, which the labourer possesses in the fruits of his ministry, is presented in a very strong light in verse 8 This Second Epistle puts Christians on their guard against all that is equivocal with respect to the person of Christ; and exhorts to an unwavering firmness on this point.

── John DarbySynopsis of 2 John


2 John 1

Chapter Contents

The apostle salutes the elect lady and her children. (1-3) Express his joy in their faith and love. (4-6) Cautions them against deceivers. (7-11) And concludes. (12,13)

Commentary on 2 John 1:1-3

(Read 2 John 1:1-3)

Religion turns compliments into real expressions of respect and love. And old disciple is honourable; an old apostle and leader of disciples is more so. The letter is to a noble Christian matron, and her children; it is well that the gospel should get among such: some noble persons are called. Families are to be encouraged and directed in their love and duties at home. Those who love truth and piety in themselves, should love it in others; and the Christians loved this lady, not for her rank, but for her holiness. And where religion truly dwells, it will abide for ever. From the Divine Persons of the Godhead, the apostle craves grace, Divine favour, and good-will, the spring of all good things. It is grace indeed that any spiritual blessing should be given to sinful mortals. Mercy, free pardon, and forgiveness; for those already rich in grace, need continual forgiveness. Peace, quietness of spirit, and a clear conscience, in assured reconciliation with God, together with all outward prosperity that is really for good: these are desired in truth and love.

Commentary on 2 John 1:4-6

(Read 2 John 1:4-6)

It is good to be trained to early religion; and children may be beloved for their parents' sake. It gave great joy to the apostle to see children treading in their parents' steps, and likely in their turn to support the gospel. May God bless such families more and more, and raise up many to copy their example. How pleasing the contrast to numbers who spread irreligion, infidelity, and vice, among their children! Our walk is true, our converse right, when according to the word of God. This commandment of mutual Christian love, may be said to be a new one, in respect of its being declared by the Lord Christ; yet, as to the matter, it is old. And this is love to our own souls, that we obey the Divine commands. The foresight of the decay of this love, as well as of other apostacies, or fallings away, might engage the apostle to urge this duty, and this command, frequently and earnestly.

Commentary on 2 John 1:7-11

(Read 2 John 1:7-11)

The deceiver and his deceit are described: he brings some error concerning the person or office of the Lord Jesus. Such a one is a deceiver and an antichrist; he deludes souls, and undermines the glory and kingdom of the Lord Christ. Let us not think it strange, that there are deceivers and opposers of the Lord Christ's name and dignity now, for there were such, even in the apostles' times. The more deceivers and deceits abound, the more watchful the disciples must be. Sad it is, that splendid attainments in the school of Christ, should ever be lost. The way to gain the full reward is, to abide true to Christ, and constant in religion to the end. Firm cleaving to Christian truth unites us to Christ, and thereby to the Father also; for they are one. Let us equally disregard such as abide not in the doctrine of Christ, and those who transgress his commands. Any who did not profess and preach the doctrine of Christ, respecting him as the Son of God, and salvation by him from guilt and sin, were not to be noticed and countenanced. Yet in obeying this command, we must show kindness and a good spirit to those who differ from us in lesser matters, but hold firmly the all-important doctrines of Christ's person, atonement, and holy salvation.

Commentary on 2 John 1:12,13

(Read 2 John 1:12,13)

The apostle refers many things to a personal meeting. Pen and ink were means of strengthening and comforting others; but to see each other is more so. The communion of saints should be maintained by all methods; and should tend to mutual joy. In communion with them we find much of our present joy, and look forward to happiness for ever.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 2 John


2 John 1

Verse 1

[1] The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

The elder — An appellation suited to a familiar letter, but upon a weighty subject.

To the elect — That is, Christian. Kuria is undoubtedly a proper name, both here and in 2 John 1:5; for it was not then usual to apply the title of lady to any but the Roman empress; neither would such a manner of speaking have been suitable to the simplicity and dignity of the apostle.

Whom — Both her and her children.

I love in the truth — With unfeigned and holy love.

Verse 2

[2] For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.

For the truth's sake, which abideth in us — As a living principle of faith and holiness.

Verse 3

[3] Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Grace takes away guilt; mercy, misery: peace implies the abiding in grace and mercy. It includes the testimony of God's Spirit, both that we are his children, and that all our ways are acceptable to him. This is the very foretaste of heaven itself, where it is perfected.

In truth and love — Or, faith and love, as St. Paul speaks. Faith and truth are here synonymous terms.

Verse 4

[4] I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

I found of thy children — Probably in their aunt's house, 2 John 1:13.

Walking in the truth — In faith and love.

Verse 5

[5] 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.

That which we had from the beginning — Of our Lord's ministry. Indeed it was, in some sense, from the beginning of the world.

That we may love one another — More abundantly.

Verse 6

[6] 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.

And this is the proof of true love, universal obedience built on the love of God.

This — Love. Is the great commandment which ye have heard from the beginning - Of our preaching.

Verse 7

[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.

Carefully keep what ye have heard from the beginning, for many seducers are entered into the world, who confess not Jesus Christ that came in the flesh - Who disbelieve either his prophetic, or priestly, or kingly office. Whosoever does this is the seducer - From God.

And the antichrist — Fighting against Christ.

Verse 8

[8] Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

That we lose not the things which we have wrought — Which every apostate does.

But receive a full reward — Having fully employed all our talents to the glory of him that gave them. Here again the apostle modestly transfers it to himself.

Verse 9

[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.

Receive this as a certain rule: Whosoever transgresseth - Any law of God.

Hath not God — For his Father and his God.

He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ — Believing and obeying it.

He hath both the Father and the Son — For his God.

Verse 10

[10] If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

If any came to you — Either as a teacher or a brother.

And bring not this doctrine — That is, advance anything contrary to it.

Receive him not into your house — As either a teacher or a brother-Neither bid him God speed - Give him no encouragement therein.

Verse 11

[11] For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

For he that biddeth him God speed — That gives him any encouragement, is accessory to his evil deeds.

Verse 12

[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.

Having many things to write, I was not minded to write now — Only of these, which were then peculiarly needful.

Verse 13

[13] The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

The children of thy elect or Christian sister - Absent, if not dead, when the apostle wrote this.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 2 John


Chapter 1. Walk in the Truth

Receive the Heresy
Share in Wicked Work

I. Love One Another in the Truth

  1. John's Love
  2. Family's Love
  3. Congregation's Love

II. Practice in the Truth

  1. Walk in the Truth
  2. Rejoice in the Truth
  3. Love in the Truth

III. Receive and Welcome in the Truth

  1. Watch out the Deceiver
  2. Run Ahead the Teaching of Christ
  3. Do Not Take into House

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

A Letter To A Lady And Her Children (1-3)
      1. As discussed in the previous section, I understand John to 
         address a particular lady and her children
      2. Concerning this lady and her children, John writes of...
         a. His love for them:  "whom I love in truth" (that is, whom
            he truly loves)
         b. The love held for them by others who are Christians ("those
            who have known the truth")
      3. The basis for this love?
         a. Not for any personal charm or unusual attractiveness
         b. But because of "the truth which abides in us"
            1) This "truth" may summarize all that is contained in 
               Jesus Christ and His gospel
            2) Sharing in this "truth" naturally engenders love for one
            3) Especially the sort of "true love" or "sincere love" 
               made possible by our obedience to the truth - cf. 1 Pe
      1. Not so much a prayer (as usually found elsewhere), but a 
      2. These three words refer to wonderful blessings from God
         a. "grace" - unmerited favor, which God bestows on the 
         b. "mercy" - compassion, shown toward the guilty and helpless
         c. "peace" - tranquility, which is the result of receiving 
            God's grace and mercy
      3. The SOURCE of these blessings
         a. "from God the Father"
         b. "from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father"
         -- together with verse 9, John makes it clear the Father and
            the Son are two distinct personalities in the Godhead
      4. The SPHERE in which these blessings are to be found:  "in 
         truth and love"
         a. Grace, mercy, and peace are realized only when truth is 
            honored and held
         b. They are experienced only when the command to love is kept 
            (e.g., there is no mercy shown to the unloving and 
1. With the words "in truth and love", John sets the tone for what is 
   to follow in his letter...
   a. An exhortation to keep the commandment to love one another
   b. A warning against supporting those who would deny the truth
2. With this introduction to "A Letter To A Lady And Her Children", I
   hope that I have set the tone for what should always be true in our
   relationship as Christians...
   a. A true love for one another because of the truth that we all 
   b. A desire to walk in truth and love, for only then can we truly 
      receive grace, mercy, and peace
Have you received the grace, mercy, and peace that comes only from God
the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father?


Walking In Truth And Love (4-6)
1. In his greeting to the "elect lady and her children", John wrote 
   that the grace, mercy, and love which proceeds from the Father and
   the Son is in the sphere of "truth and love" - 2 Jn 3
2. In verses 4-6, he expands upon the theme of "truth and love", 
   doing so in the form of...
   a. A commendation for walking in truth
   b. An exhortation to love one another
3. In this study, let's examine this "commendation" and "exhortation",
   seeking to glean whatever principles or lessons that we can from 
   this passage
[Beginning with John's...]
      1. Either by visiting or by receiving a report from others, John
         came to know that some of the "elect lady's" children were 
         walking in the truth
      2. This was a source of great joy to John, just as it was when he
         heard the same thing about Gaius - cf. 3 Jn 3
      3. As expressed to Gaius, there was no greater joy than hearing
         about others walking in truth - cf. 3 Jn 4
      4. What about the joy of hearing someone obeying the gospel?
         a. As great as that might be, there is always the possibility
            that one will not carry through with their initial 
            obedience to Christ
         b. That realization can temper one's joy
         c. But when time reveals that the person continues to walk in
            truth, that removes the question of whether one will carry
            through with their obedience to Christ
      5. Thus a great source of joy in the Christian faith can be in 
         the follow up of new converts, as well as in the 
         evangelization of the lost
      1. Unfortunately, John could not say "all", but only "some"
      2. This reminds us that even the best of parents may have erring
         a. Despite the fact that this mother was so special she was 
            called "the elect lady"
         b. Like Samuel, the prophet of God, she had some children who
            were not faithful to the Lord - cf. 1 Sam 8:1-3
      3. Whose fault is this?
         a. Some might say that in view of Pr 22:6, an erring child is
            always the parent's fault
         b. However, such a view of Pr 22:6 suggests a belief in 
            "environmental predestination"
            1) I.e., that if the parent provides the proper environment
               in raising the child, there is no choice for the child
               but to turn out a certain way
            2) This would strip the child of any personal 
               responsibility, and lay the blame solely upon the
            3) While the parent will bear some responsibility if no 
               effort is made to restrain the child in his sin, the 
               ultimate responsibility is the child's - cf. 1 Sam
               3:11-13; Ezek 18:20
         c. There is another view of Pr 22:6...
            1) The literal rendering is "train up a child according to
               his own way..."
            2) I.e., according to his own temperament, aptitude, etc.
            3) E.g., if he is mechanically inclined, don't try to make
               him an office worker
            4) This view recognizes that this verse, like much of 
               Proverbs, is giving practical advice on the raising of
               children, and to realize that children are different and
               should raised according to their particular disposition
               and skills
            5) Failure to recognize this results in a child being 
               forced to become something he is not, and he will not 
               likely remain in it
      4. The fact remains that despite the best parenting, some 
         children simply choose to rebel against God
      1. This expresses the idea of living in harmony with the truth
         found in God's Word
      2. Everything one does demonstrates a life that is governed by 
         God's commandments
      3. Is this "legalism"?  No!  It is what it means to truly love 
         God - cf. 1 Jn 5:3; Jn 14:15; 15:14
[So with great joy in his heart, John commends the elect lady and her
children for their walking in the truth.
But an emphasis on walking in truth without an equal emphasis on loving
one another can easily develop a harsh, impatient, and insensitive 
disposition towards others, just as knowledge without love produces 
arrogance (cf. 1 Co 8:1).
Therefore it should not surprise us to find John following his 
commendation for walking in truth with an...]
      1. The tone of John's entreaty suggests the seriousness of this
      2. Certainly John stressed in his first epistle the importance of
         this command to love one another - cf. 1 Jn 2:10; 3:14; 
      3. Therefore this is a commandment not to be taken lightly
      1. The commandment is not a new one
         a. It did not originate from John
         b. It is one which his readers had known since the beginning
            of their Christian experience - cf. 1 Jn 2:7; 3:11
      2. It is the commandment given by Jesus Himself - Jn 13:34-35;
      1. The commandment given by Jesus is to love another
      2. Especially according to the standard of love laid down by 
         Jesus:  "as I have loved you, that you also love one another"
         - Jn 13:34
      1. Here we learn what best demonstrates that we truly love one 
      2. When I am keeping the commandments of God, I demonstrate true
         love for my brethren! - cf. 1 Jn 5:2
      3. I can claim brotherly love all day long, but unless I am 
         walking according to God's commandments my claim is 
      1. This sentence is simply reinforcing what John has been saying
         a. The command to love is one we have had from the beginning
         b. We should therefore keep this commanding by walking in love
      2. Such repetition is often necessary...
         a. For there is always a tendency to hear and not obey
         b. The three "R's" of learning is "repetition, repetition, 
1. With joy in his heart, John commends; with a pleading voice he 
   a. He commends them for walking in truth
   b. He exhorts them to walk in love
2. There is ever a tendency to do one without the other...
   a. Some hold to the truth, but do so without love; this breeds 
   b. Others are quick to display love, but neglect the truth; this 
      produces compromise
3. Both are wrong, and there is only one alternative:  to walk in the 
   truth, and to walk in love!
May God help us always to do both faithfully!


Warning Against Receiving False Teachers (7-13)
1. In our brief survey of 2nd John, we have seen that John stressed the
   importance of "truth" and "love"...
   a. Four times in the first six verses he uses the word "love"
   b. Five times in these same verses he uses the word "truth"
2. Indeed, our last study observed that in verses 4-6 we have:
   a. A commendation for walking in truth - 2 Jn 4
   b. An exhortation to walk in love - 2 Jn 5-6
3. But what if someone comes our way, teaching doctrine contrary to 
   what we have learned from Jesus and His apostles...?
   a. Should our desire to "walk in love" permit us to receive and 
      support those teaching error?
   b. Can we do so, and still be "walking in truth"?
4. In the remaining portion of this short epistle, John (the "apostle 
   of love") is very explicit about such things...
   a. He tells us to beware of deceivers and antichrists - 2 Jn 7
   b. He tells us to look to ourselves lest we lose those things we 
      have worked for - 2 Jn 8
   c. He tells us of the danger of not abiding in the doctrine of 
      Christ - 2 Jn 9
   d. He tells us we cannot support teachers who fail to teach the 
      doctrine of Christ without sharing in their evil deeds - 2 Jn 
In this "Warning Against Receiving False Teachers", then, John warn us
about several things worthy of our careful consideration.  Let's take a
closer look, beginning with the need to ...]
      1. In His sermon on the mount - Mt 7:15
      2. In His discourse on Mt. Olivet - Mt 24:11, 23-25
      3. Paul, in his farewell address to the Ephesian elders - Ac 20:
      4. Paul, in his first epistle to Timothy - 1 Ti 4:1-3
      5. Peter, in his second epistle - 2 Pe 2:1-3
      1. Deceivers had gone out, denying that Jesus had come in the 
         flesh - 2 Jn 7
      2. Many false prophets had gone out into the world - 1 Jn 4:1
      3. Denying that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, they were 
         "antichrists" - 1 Jn 4:3; 2 Jn 7
[With such ample warning, and seeing that they had started to come even
in John's day, we should not be surprised to see many such deceivers
and antichrists today!
To guard against being misled by such deceivers, we do well to consider
the next important theme in our text...]
      1. Several times on one occasion by Jesus - Mk 13:5,9,23,33
      2. By Paul in writing to the Corinthians - 2 Co 13:5
      1. John was concerned that they not lose the things they worked
         for - 2 Jn 8
      2. The writer to the Hebrews was concerned that we not fall short
         of entering our heavenly rest - cf. He 3:12-4:1
[With the real danger of falling short of our eternal reward, and with
the ever present deceivers who can make it happen, it is imperative 
that we fully understand the basis upon which our relationship with the
Father and Son rests.  
John is clear about what that entails as he stresses the need to...]
      1. Is it the doctrine about Christ, or the doctrine taught by 
      2. As pointed out in the Expositor's Bible Commentary, the 
         question is of little importance for John holds equally to 
         both positions
         a. It is fundamental to the faith to hold to the proper views
            about Christ - cf. 2 Jn 7
         b. It is fundamental to the faith to obey the commandments of
            Christ - cf. 1 Jn 3:24
      3. Thus what John says here applies in either case
      1. Those who do not abide, do not have God - e.g., 1 Jn 1:6;
      2. Those who do abide, have both the Father and the Son - cf. 
         Jn 14:21,23
      -- Note:  This verse strongly supports the concept of the
         Trinity, in which there is only one God, but three distinct 
         personalities in the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
[As long as we abide in the doctrine of Christ, keeping His 
commandments, we have no reason to fear being misled by deceivers, nor
losing our reward.
That brings us to the theme which may have prompted the writing of this
      1. It was common for first century missionaries to depend upon 
         the hospitality of the early Christians - cf. Philemon 22
      2. In his third epistle, John commends Gauis for this sort of 
         hospitality - 3 Jn 5-7
      1. Supporting a teacher made one a fellow worker with him who 
         a. That could make one a fellow worker for the truth - 3 Jn 8
         b. But if his teaching was contrary to the doctrine of Christ,
            supporting him would be to share in his evil deeds - 2 Jn
      2. Therefore the admonition to the elect lady not to receive or
         greet such false teachers...
         a. Not we should never seek to study with those in error who
            may come our way
         b. But not to receive those false teachers who seek only our
            acquiescence to their doctrine and our support to help them
            spread it!
1. With this "Warning Against Receiving False Teachers", John purpose
   in writing is fulfilled
2. He then signs off with a brief farewell...
   a. Having so much more to write, but desiring to speak in person
      - 2 Jn 12
      1) Why?  "...that our joy may be full"
      2) Despite the convenience of remote communication (e.g., writing
         letters, talking on the phone, sending email), nothing
         surpasses the joy of talking face to face
   b. Sending greetings from "the children of your elect sister" - 2 Jn
      1) How one interprets "the elect lady and her children" in verse
         1 determines one's understanding of verse 13
      2) Either members of another church, or relatives of the "elect 
         lady and her children"
2. As we close our perusal of this epistle, I hope that we are left 
   with a strong sense of need...
   a. To walk in the truth
   b. To walk in love
   c. To be very careful about those teachers to whom we give our 
How is our walk today?  Are we walking according to the doctrine of 
Christ concerning truth and love?  Remember the words of John...
      "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of
      Christ does not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of
      Christ has both the Father and the Son."


--《Executable Outlines


Walk in the truth

Receive the heresy

Share in wicked work


I.  Love one another in the truth

1.    John’s love

2.    Family’s love

3.    Congregation’s love

II.Practice in the truth

1.    Walk in the truth

2.    Rejoice in the truth

3.    Love in the truth

III.       Receive and welcome in the truth

1.    Watch out the deceiver

2.    Run ahead the teaching of Christ

3.    Do not take into house

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament


Words of Counsel to the Elect Lady (2 John)

I. Three interpretations are given of the addressee, ‘the elect lady’

   1. Either an unknown sister addressed as ‘lady’ (Greek ‘kuria’, feminine of ‘lord’)

   2. Or a believer whose name was ‘Kuria’

   3. Or a community, a local assembly

II. The writer, the aged Apostle John, given her a three-fold counsel—

   1. Love one another-the Command (v.5)

   2. Look to yourselves—the Warning (v.6)

   3. Learn the doctrine—the Advice (v.9)

── Archibald NaismithOutlines for Sermons