2 John

Reading 0,02 - 1 Chapter - 13 verses - 303 words

Vital Statistics 

 Purpose:  To emphasize the basic of following Christ - truth and love - and to warn against false teachers 
 Author:  The apostle John
 Original audience:  To "the chosen lady" and her children - or possibly to a local church  
 Date written:  About the same time as 1 John, approximately A.D. 90 from Ephesus 
 Setting:  Evidently this woman and her family were involved in one of the churches that John was overseeing - they had developed a strong friendship with John John was warning her of the false teachers who were becoming prevalent in some of the churches 
 Key verse:  And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. (1:6)
 Key people:  John, the chosen lady and her children 


    The author is John the apostle. Obvious similarities to 1 John and the Gospel of John suggest that the same person wrote all three books. Compare the following:

2Jn 5
2Jn 6
2Jn 7
2Jn 12
 1Jn 2:7
1Jn 5:3
1Jn 4:2-3
1Jn 1:4
 Jn 13:34-35
Jn 14:23

Jn 15:11; 16:24

    See introduction to 1 John and the Gospel of John: Author.


    The letter was probably written about the same time as 1 John (A.D. 85-95), as the above comparisons suggest. 

Occasion and Purpose

    During the first two centuries the gospel was taken from place to place by traveling evangelist and teachers. Believers customarily took these missionaries in their homes and gave them provisions for their journey when they left. Since Gnostic teachers also relied on this practice (3Jn 5), 2 John was written to urge discernment in supporting traveling teachers; otherwise, someone might unintentionally contribute to the propagation of heresy rather than truth.  


How to read 2 John

    John tells his readers to be on the guard, to “watch” (verse 8) against that which undermines the community of faith. A life of love does not mean living without discernment. John clearly tells believers that if someone “doesn’t bring this teaching, don’t receive him into your house, and don’t welcome him” (verse 10).

    Read this letter as if you received it from a beloved, retired pastor whom you greatly respect. In it he is telling you how to respond to those whose words and deeds contradict the Word of God—though they present themselves as his messengers. Look for the encouragement to know God’s truth and to walk in this truth without faltering. Be confident that genuine love stands for the truth and does not facilitate the spread of falsehood.

2 john Interpretive Challenges

Second John stands in direct antithesis to the frequent cry for ecumenism and Christian unity among believers. Love and truth are inseparable in Christianity. Truth must always guide the exercise of love (c.f. Eph 4:15). Love must stand the test of truth. The main lesson of this book is that truth determines the bounds of love, and as a consequence, of unity. Therefore, truth must exist before love can unite, for truth generates love (1Pe 1:22). When someone compromises the truth, true Christian love and unity are destroyed. Only a shallow sentimentalism exists where the truth is not the foundation of unity.

The reference to the “lady chosen by God and to her children” (v.1) should be understood in a normal, plain sense referring to a particular woman and her children rather than interpreted in a non-literal sense as a church and its membership. Similarly, the reference to “the children of your sister, who is chosen by God” (v.13) should be understood as a reference to the nieces and/or nephews of the individual addressed in verse 1, rather than metaphorically to a sister church and its membership. In this verses, John conveys greetings to personal acquaintances whom he has come to know through his ministry.     


   I. Greetings (1-3)
  II. Commendation (4)
 III. Exhortation and Warning (5-11)
 IV. Conclusion and FInal Greetings (12-13)

2 John Horizontal

1:1 - To elect Lady, children

1:3 - Grace, mercy and peace

1:4 - Commandment, walk in it

1:7 - Be on your guard

1:12 - I hope to come

1:13 - Children send greetings

God's character in 2 John

  1. God is loving - 1:6
  2. God is truth - 1:1-2

Christ in 2 John

    Similar to John's first letter, the apostle stresses the basic truth of Christ's identity (verse 7-11). To deny Christ's humanity is to deny the bodily suffering and sacrifice Christ endured to redeem the world of sin: "Many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus CHrist as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist" (vv. 7, 8)