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John’s Second Letter

Second state of the Isenheim Altarpiece, Colmar, Unterlinden Museum. Public Domain.
Second state of the Isenheim Altarpiece, Colmar, Unterlinden Museum. Public Domain.

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Introduction to John’s Second Letter

See the Introduction to John’s First Letter by Dr. Hunt for an overview of The Three Letters of John and The Letter of Jude.

In the opening verse, the term elder has reference to the writer of this Epistle (the Apostle John), who was then presiding elder, or bishop, of the Christian church at Ephesus, with Jurisdiction over other Christian groups in that area. The phrase “to the elect lady and her children” clearly refers to a Christian church—probably at Pergamum—with the converts designated as the “children.” The closing verse, “The children of your elect sister greet you,” is easily recognized as a reference to the church at Ephesus.

This short letter was written to warn the Christian converts against the false prophets and their erroneous doctrines, and follows a similar line of thought to that of the First Epistle, only in abbreviated form. While this message is quite brief, it is also very emphatic. Note how the writer urges the converts to keep clear of these erroneous doctrines. He says: “Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for . . . Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (verses 8-9). It would appear that John was planning to make a visit to this church in the near future, and he felt that a “face to face” explanation of the dangers involved would be more effective. Apparently, some other matters also needed straightening out, “so that our joy may be complete.”

Introduction to John’s Second Letter by Herbert J. Hunt, former Dean of Bible Studies for the Unity School of Christianity.

Second John 1

(Online: ASV WEB)

Truth and Love

1:1 The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth;1 and not I only, but also all those who know the truth; 1:2 for the truth's sake, which remains in us, and it will be with us forever: 1:3 Grace, mercy, and peace2 will be with us, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

  1. Love in truth. The love of the Christ is an affirmative force that leads us to think unselfishly of others and to see the Christ in them. Spiritual love enables us to disregard the personal self and act from the high level of principle instead of the low level of personality.
  2. Grace, mercy, and peace. Grace is good will; favor; disposition to show mercy (RW/grace). Jesus taught a new understanding of divine law. He acknowledged mechanical cause and effect, but he knew it was possible to "fulfill the law" by transcending its strictly mechanical repetition. This can be done only by certain changes of consciousness. One of these changes is to let go of the insistence of "even-exchanges" in life all the time. Another change is to be willing to forgive sin instead of insisting on punishment for sin. Grace is the name given to the aspect of divine law which does not deal in "even-exchanging," but in the increase of good through greater giving. Ed Rabel - Metaphysics 1, The Divine Paradox, Law/Grace.

Perfect spiritual man is made manifest in the flesh

1:4 I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth,1 even as we have been commanded by the Father. 1:5 Now I beg you, dear lady, not as though I wrote to you a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 1:6 This is love, that we should walk according to his commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don't confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist.2 1:8 Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward. 1:9 Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.3 1:10 If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him, 1:11 for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.

  1. walking in truth. Living according to principle in thought, word, and act.
  2. the deceiver and the Antichrist. The Christ of perfect spiritual man is made manifest in the flesh of each individual to the extent that he identifies himself through the I AM with that which is perfect and enduring. He who does not admit that “the Word is made flesh” in this fashion is himself deceived and in turn deceives others, as does the antichrist. [The issue here was those who taught docetism.]
  3. has both the Father and the Son. He has both principle and its mode of expression, that is, mind and thought.

Final Greetings

1:12 Having many things to write to you, I don't want to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that our joy1 may be made full. 1:13 The children of your chosen sister2 greet you. Amen.

  1. Joy The happiness of God expressed through His perfect idea-human beings (RW/joy).
  2. The children of your chosen sister. [A reference to congregants of a sister church]

Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mark Hicks

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