Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

2 John 1

Ἰωάννου ἐπιστολὴ δευτέρα

THE superscription is shortest in B and א : ἰωάννου β .; in some codd. καθολική is added to ἐπιστολή ; in some τοῦ ἐπὶ στηθοῦς comes after Ἰωάννου ; in G it runs: τοῦ ἁγίου ἀποστόλου Ἰωάννου τοῦ θεολόγου . In the Elz. ed. the superscription runs: Ἰωάννου τοῦ ἀποστόλου ἐπιστολὴ καθολικὴ δευτέρα ; the Rec. is: ἐπιστολὴ Ἰωάννου δευτέρα .

2 John 1:1 . καὶ οὐκ ἐγώ ] Rec. The reading οὐκ ἐγὼ δέ in A, 73, Syr. Thph. owes its origin to the desire to mark the antithesis more sharply (Düsterdieck); Ebrard regards the Rec. as a correction, made in order to make the Second and the First Epistles conformable in style. Scarcely credible. G reads: καὶ οὐκ ἐγὼ δέ . 2 John 1:2 . The reading in A: ἐνοικοῦσαν , instead of μένουσαν , is too feebly attested for us to regard it, with Ebrard, as the correct one; it has probably arisen in order to avoid the tautology which μένουσαν appears to form with the following. 2 John 1:3 . The Elz. ed. reads: ἔσται μεθʼ ὑμῶν , which is attested by B G א , etc., several versions, etc. It is possible that ἡμῶν arose from the immediately preceding (so Braune), but just as likely that ἡμῶν was changed to ὑ̔ μῶν , because the former did not seem appropriate for the greeting; the weight of authorities is in favour of ἡ̔ μῶν .

Instead of παρά , א * reads ἀπό (sol.).

Before Ἰησοῦ Χρ . the Rec. has κυρίου , which is found in G K א . In A B, etc., κυρίου is wanting (Lachm. Tisch.); Bengel, Brückner, Sander are in favour of the genuineness of κυρίου ; yet the later insertion of it seems more probable than the omission.

The αὐτοῦ of א between τοῦ υἱοῦ and τοῦ πατρός must be regarded as a clerical error. 2 John 1:4 . א (sol.) has instead of ἐλάβομεν the third person: ἔλαβον .

B omits τοῦ before πατρός . 2 John 1:5 . Instead of the Rec. γράφω , we must read γράφων , according to A B G K א , etc.

Lachm. has καινήν before γράφων , which is not adequately attested by A א Vulg. 2 John 1:6 . In the second part the succession of the words varies; in G א , most of the min. etc., αὕτη ἐστὶνἐντολή (Rec.) is found; in A B K, etc., on the other hand, αὕτηἐντολή ἑστιν (Lachm. Tisch.); it is possible that the Rec. has been formed in accordance with the preceding αὕτη ἐστὶνἀγάπη . It is to be noticed that א has before αὕτη a καί , and after ἐντολή an αὐτοῦ , and also that in the same cod. “ ἴνα ” is found before καθώς , so that an epanalepsis occurs here.

Instead of περιπατῆτε , א reads περιπατήσητε . 2 John 1:7 . The most probable reading is ἐξῆλθον , according to A ( ἐξῆλθαν ; Tisch.) B א (Lachm.); the Rec. εἰσῆλθον , according to G K, etc., is a correction; comp. 1 John 2:19 ; 1 John 4:1 , and 3 John 1:7 . 2 John 1:8 . The Rec., according to G K, has: ἀπολέσωμενεἰργασάμεθαἀπολάβομεν . Cod. A and א read: ἀπολέσητε ( א *: ἀπολῆσθε ) … εἰργάσασθεἀπολάβητε ; this reading, accepted by Lachm. and Tisch., is regarded as the original reading by Lücke, de Wette, Reiche. Cod. B reads: ἀπολέσητε (according to Bentley’s collation; Griesb. gives ἀπολέσηται , which is also given by Tisch., bracketed, however) … εἰργασάμεθαἀπολάβετε ; de Wette regards this reading as a combination of the reading of A with the Rec.; Düsterdieck, Brückner, Braune (also the 2d ed. of this comm.) regard the reading in B as the original. It is certainly the one by which the origin of the various readings can be easily explained; yet the circumstance that it is almost only found in B (Reiche: lectio codicis B in nullis aliis subsidiis inventa est, nisi quod Syr. p. in m. et Sahid. ejus sensum expressit) must render it doubtful. Of the two others, that of A and א , at any rate, deserve the preference. Bengel would arbitrarily read: ἀπολέσητεεἰργάσασθεἀπολάβομεν , which is only found in Cod. 34. 2 John 1:9 . παραβαίνων ] Rec., according to G K, etc., Syr. Thph. Oec. (Reiche). Lachm. and Tisch. read instead of it: προάγων , which is attested by A B א , etc., and the readings: praecedit and procedit in several codd. of the Vulg. (against which, in the printed Vulg. and Lucif., is: recedit). The opinion of Matthaei and Lücke, that προάγων arose out of the paraphrase which appears in the scholia: ἀπάγων ἑαυτόν , which also occurs in Oecumenius, is unfounded; this explanation rather points to προάγων as the original reading.

The Rec. (according to G K, etc., several vss. Thph. Oec.) has, both after the first and after the second ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ , the addition: τοῦ Χριστοῦ ; Lachm. and Tisch. have the addition only after the first; so in A B א , several min. Vulg. etc.; this is to be regarded as the correct reading.

It is doubtful whether νἱόν or πατέρα comes first in the following sentence; the Rec., retained by Lachm., is: τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὸν υἱόν ; this is found in B G K א , etc., several vss. Thph. Oec.; Tisch., on the other hand, following A and several vss., has accepted: τὸν υἱὸν καὶ τὸν πατέρα ; but this appears to be a change effected on account of ἐν τῇ διδ . τοῦ Χριστοῦ . 2 John 1:11 . ὁ γὰρ λέγων ] Rec., according to G K, almost all min. Thph. Oec. (Tisch. 2); instead of it Tisch. 7 (similarly Lachm.), according to A B א , reads: ὁ λέγων γάρ , which, as unusual, might be preferable. Tisch. 7 remarks: γάρ tertio loco positum fere ubique a plerisque testibus in secundum locum translatum.

Tisch. has omitted γάρ after αὐτῷ , although it is wanting only in K, several min. and Oec. 2 John 1:12 . א * has ἔχω ; א 1 , however, ἔχων .

Instead of ἐλπίζω γάρ , Rec. (Lachm.), according to A, some min. and vss., Tisch., following B G K א , many min. etc., reads: ἀλλὰ ἐλπίζω ; this reading is the original one; the context might easily lead to the change of ἀλλά into γάρ .

γενέσθαι ] This reading, recommended by Griesbach, has been accepted also by Lachm. and Tisch. The Rec. ἐλθεῖν (according to G K, etc.) is a correction. Instead of στόμα πρ . στ ., א * reads: στόματι πρὸς στόμα .

χαρὰ ἡμῶν ] Rec., according to G K א , etc., Tisch.; instead of it Lachm., following A B, etc., Vulg. etc., reads: ἡ χαρὰ ὑμῶν ; ὑμῶν perhaps is preferable; the preceding ἡμᾶς might easily lead to the change into ἡμῶν .

Instead of ᾖ πεπληρωμένη , Rec., according to A G K, all min. etc. (Tisch.), the reading of B א , Vulg. is: πεπληρ . ᾖ (Lachm.).

The Rec., following G K, etc., adds for conclusion: ἀμήν , a later addition.

In various codd. a subscription is found which runs most briefly in A B א thus: Ἰωάννου β . The Cod. 62 adds the words: πρὸς Πάρθους (comp. on 1 John).

Verse 1

2 John 1:1 . ὁ πρεσβύτερος ] The definite article restricts the general idea πρεσβύτερος to a particular person, to whom this epithet is specially appropriate. That this is most probably the Apostle John, see Introduction, sec. 1. The reflection on his age may have led the apostle to write, not ὁ ἐπίσκοπος , but ὁ πρεσβύτερος .

ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς ] The interpretation of these words has from the earliest times been very diverse, according as either ἐκλεκτή or κυρία has been regarded as a proper noun, or both words have been considered as appellatives. The first opinion (Lyranus, a Lapide, Lorinus, Cappellus, Grotius, Wetstein, etc.) has been with justice given up by modern commentators; it is clearly enough opposed not only by the mode of its conjunction with κυρία , but also by 2 John 1:13 . The second view, according to which κυρία is the proper noun, is found as early as in Athanasius, and afterwards in Bengel, Carpzovius, Heumann, Krigel ( Commentatio de κυρία Johannis , Lips. 1758), Paulus, Lücke, de Wette, Brückner, Guericke, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Braune, etc. That Κυρία appeared as a feminine proper name is not to be doubted, see Grutteri, Inscriptt. p. 1127, num. xi.; comp. Heumann: Poecile de Cyria Johannis; but if this view be taken, not only is the adjective ἐκλεκτή strange, as it never is assigned to any individual in the N. T. as a single predicate except in Romans 16:13 (where, however, ἐν κυρίῳ is put along with it), but also its connection with the proper noun, instead of Κυρίᾳ τῇ ἐκλεκτῇ , comp. 3 John 1:1 ; Philippians 1:1-2 ; Romans 16:0 . Lücke, it is true, refers to 1 Peter 1:1 : ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις ; but here the case is different, as παρεπιδήμοις is not a proper noun, as even Brückner admits, though he nevertheless falls back on a “familiar carelessness” in this case. [1] The third interpretation is found in Luther (“the elect woman”), Hornejus, Wolf, Rittmeier ( Diatriba, de electa domina , Helmst. 1706), Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander, etc. According to Epictetus, chap. 62: αἱ γυναῖκες εὐθὺς ἀπὸ τεσσαρεσκαίδεκα ἐτῶν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνδρῶν κυρίαι καλοῦνται , women might certainly be called κυρίαι ; but this was plainly only a polite address, corresponding not to the German “Frau” (woman), but to the German “Herrin” (lady). It hardly corresponds with the apostolic dignity of the author, however, to describe the receiver of the Epistle in the superscription by this name of a conventional politeness. [2] But the opinion of Knauer ( Stud. u. Krit. 1833, Part 2, p. 452 ff.), that by ἐκλεκτὴ κυρία is to be understood Mary, the mother of Jesus, lacks any tenable foundation (see Lücke on this passage).

Already at an early date κυρία was taken as a symbolic description of the Christian Church; so Jerome ( ep. xi. ad Ageruchiam ) and the Scholiast I. ( ἐκλεκτὴν κυρίαν λέγει τὴν ἐν τινὶ τόπῳ ἐκκλησίαν ), and later Calovius, Whiston, Michaelis, Augusti, Hofmann (in his Weissagung u. Erfüllung , II. p. 321, and in his Schriftbew. I. p. 226 ff.), Hilgenfeld (1855), Ewald, etc. It is true the word does not elsewhere appear in this signification, but according to its connection with Him who is ὁ κύριος , the Church may certainly be called κυρία in its relationship to the individual members. [3] Both the contents of the Epistle, which is lacking in the slightest individual reference to a single person, and the way in which John speaks to the receivers of the Epistle and passes judgment on them (comp. what follows in this verse; further, 2 John 1:4-5 ; 2 John 1:8 ; 2 John 1:10 ); and, finally, the way in which the sister and her children are mentioned, [4] are no less opposed to the opinion that the Epistle was written to one particular woman, than they are in favour of the opinion that it was directed to a Christian Church; only κυρία must not be regarded as the name of honour of any one particular Church, according to Serrarius of the Corinthian Church, or according to Augusti of that of Jerusalem; it is rather a name suitable for every Church, by which, therefore, that Church could also be described to which the Epistle is directly addressed. [5]

καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς ] If κυρία is a description of the Church, the τέκνα are her individual members. The representation of the Church as a mother, and of her members as her children, occurs elsewhere also; comp. Galatians 4:26 .

οὓς ἐγὼ ἀγαπῶ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ ] If we take κυρία as a proper noun, then οὕς indicates that by τέκνοις only sons are to be understood; but why then does not the apostle write: καὶ τοῖς υἱοῖς αὐτῆς ? If the τέκνα are the members of the Church, however, then οὕς is used here exactly as τεκνία μου , οὕς in Galatians 4:9 ; comp. also Matthew 28:19 : τὰ ἔθνηαὐτούς . Suitable though the masculine is to denote all Church-members, it would be just as unsuitable to denote members of one family , if this consisted not merely of sons, but as Braune here supposes of daughters also. ἐγώ is used emphatically, inasmuch as the apostle wants to bring out his intimate relationship to the members of the Church.

ἐν ἀληθείᾳ in its connection with ἀγαπῶ is not = ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ , as if the (Christian) truth were thereby indicated as the element in which love has its existence (Bengel, Düsterdieck), but it is used adverbially, not, however, to emphasize the sincerity of the love, but, as the word itself states, the truth of the love (Ebrard: “I love thee with that love which is a love in truth;” similarly Lücke: “it is the real Christian love that is meant,” and Braune).

καὶ οὐκ ἐγὼ μόνος , ἀλλὰ πάντες ] All who have known the truth share with the apostle love to the τέκνα of the κυρία . This addition also goes to show that κυρία is not a proper noun; for how could the children of an individual woman be regarded as an object of the love of all believers? Bengel, with whom Düsterdieck agrees, remarks indeed on this: communio sanctorum, but the apostle’s mode of expression presupposes an actual knowledge about one another. Several commentators accordingly have recourse to a weakening of the idea πάντες , [6] which, however, is arbitrary.

ἀλήθεια is the divine truth, of which the believer becomes a partaker in Christ. The emphasis of ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑ both here and in 2 John 1:2 is caused by the antithesis to the ΠΛΆΝΟΙ (2 John 1:7 ). The bracketing of the words: ΚΑῚ ΟὐΚ ΤῊΝ ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑΝ , “spoils the clearness of the connection, and is also logically not quite correct, because 2 John 1:2 refers not only to ἘΓΏ , but also to ΠΆΝΤΕς ” (Lücke).

[1] According to Ewald, it is “foolish to think” that “the apostle is here writing to an individual woman.”

[2] Against the distinction between the expressions “Frau” and “Herrin,” Braune adduces the etymology of the former word (Frau, feminine of fro = Herr); this is quite irrelevant here, however, as it is not the German , but the Greek , expressions, that are in question; it is the distinction between γυνή and κυρία . That “Frau” originally corresponded to the expression κυρία is certain, the word is even yet frequently used in this sense, but it docs not therefore follow that the Greek κυρία became so much weakened in usage as the German word “Frau.”

[3] Hofmann recalls the description of the Church in the Apocalypse as the νύμφη and the γυνή . When Ebrard objects to this, that the Church in contrast with the “Lord” is not “the lady,” but the obedient handmaid, it must be remembered that she is here spoken of not in regard to her subordinate relationship to Christ, but in regard to her superior relationship to her individual members.

[4] De Wette also says: “The way in which her sister and her sister’s children are mentioned is favourable to the idea that a single Christian Church is meant.”

[5] That the Epistle is directly addressed to a particular Church is evident from ver. 12; the want of references to individual circumstances may perhaps be explained by the fact that it also had an encyclical design; that the author, however, “had in view the whole of orthodox Christendom ” (Hilgenfeld), is just as little appropriate to this Epistle as to the First. Braune’s considerations are of little importance; the name of the Church might be omitted, because the bearer of the Epistle knew to what Church he had to take it; ἐκλεκτή is by no means unsuitable with κυρία = ἐκκλησία , according to ἡ ἐν Βαβυλῶνι συνεκλεκτή (by which the Church is certainly to be understood); it has not been asserted that the relationship of the mother in Galatians 4:26 has been given to a single Church.

[6] Hornejus: omnes fideles, non quidem qui in toto orbe tum temporis erant, sed qui in illis partibus et simul Dominam illam et liberos ejus norant. Lücke: “ πάντες κ . τ . λ ., i.e. all Christians (perhaps of this place?) who know the Kyria and her children;” Braune agrees with this explanation, but would regard “as included, even those who would later become acquainted with her” which is clearly unsuitable.

Verses 1-3

2 John 1:1-3 . Superscription of the Epistle.

Verse 2

states the cause of the love

2 John 1:2 states the cause of the love.

διὰ τὴν ἀλήθειαν τὴν μένουσαν ἐν ἡμῖν ] The idea μένειν signifies here, as in the First Epistle, firm, sure existence.

In ἡμῖν the apostle includes the loving and the loved (so also Braune).

The ἀγαπᾷν ἐν ἀληθείᾳ is based on the possession of the ἀλήθεια .

Carpzovius incorrectly connects these words with 2 John 1:3 .

By the addition: καὶ μεθʼ ἡμῶν ἔσται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα , the imperishable endurance of fellowship with the truth is declared (Düsterdieck, Braune), and it is not merely the wish for it that is expressed (Lücke, Ebrard). By μετά (as distinguished from ἐν ) the objectivity of the truth is indicated (Braune). The irregularity of the construction, inasmuch as the finite verb is used instead of a participle (comp. A. Buttmann, p. 327; Winer, p. 510; VII. p. 533), serves to give prominence to the idea.

Verse 3

2 John 1:3 . The formula of greeting. It agrees substantially with that which is found in most of the N. T. Epistles; the prefixed ἔσται μεθʼ ἡμῶν ( ὑμῶν ), however, is peculiar; the future indicates the wish as a certain expectation, which is based on the immediately preceding statement (Düsterdieck). If we take the reading ἡμῶν (see the critical notes), the apostle includes himself along with the readers of the Epistle, which indeed does not elsewhere occur in the salutatory formulae; μετά = “with.”

χάρις , ἔλεος , εἰρήνη ] just as in 1 and 2 Tim. and Titus 1:4 . [7]

παρὰ Θεοῦ πατρός ] Instead of παρά , ἀπό is elsewhere regularly used in this connection, as א reads here also; on the difference of the two prepositions, see Winer, p. 326; VII. p. 342.

To Θεοῦ πατρός , ἡμῶν is always added by Paul, except in the Pastoral Epistles. God is here called πατήρ , first of all in His relation to Christ, but also with the consciousness that in Christ He is the Father of believers also.

καὶ παρὰ Ἰησ . Χρ . τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ πατρός ] similarly in the other Epistles of the N. T., only that here the sonship of Christ is specially indicated; the repetition of the preposition brings out the independence of the Son along with the Father.

The last addition: ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ἀγάπῃ , is peculiar to John; the ἀλ . and ἀγάπη are the two vital elements (Baumgarten-Crusius: fundamental features) of the believer, in which the divine manifestations of grace, mercy, and peace have to work (Düsterdieck): “the words contain an indication of the contents of the whole Epistle” (Ebrard); a Lapide erroneously supplies: ut perseveretis vel ut crescatis. Grotius wrongly defines the relationship when he says: per cognitionem veri et dilectionem mutuam, nam per haec in nos Dei beneficia provocamus, conservamus, augemus; in the first place, ἐν is not = per; and, in the second place, our conduct is not the cause of the divine ΧΆΡΙς Κ . Τ . Λ . , but the relationship is the converse.

[7] The explanation of these words given on 1 Timothy 1:2 is regarded as unsatisfactory by Düsterdieck, although it is in substantial agreement with his own, only that it is not expressly stated that χάρις means “grace,” ἔλεος “mercy,” and εἰρήνη “peace,” which is surely self-evident, but only the relation of the three ideas to one another, which is often erroneously interpreted, is pointed out.

Verse 4

2 John 1:4 . The Epistle begins with the assurance of joy at the conduct of those to whom it is addressed. The preface to most of the Pauline Epistles is similar. This verse refers back to the preceding ἐν ἀληθείᾳ ; 2 John 1:5 , on the other hand, to ἐν ἀγάπῃ .

ἐχάρην λίαν ] not: “I have greatly rejoiced” (Luther); the aorist is to be kept in its own meaning. The apostle is speaking historically of the time at which he had the experience which he states in the following words.

ὅτι εὕρηκα ἐκ τῶν τέκνων σου περιπατοῦντας ἐν ἀληθείᾳ ] ἐκ τῶν τέκν . is not = τὰ τέκνα σου ; it is indicated by the ἐκ that John could not boast the περιπατεῖν ἐν ἀλ . of all, [8] but not that “he had not become acquainted with all” (Düsterdieck). Braune’s observation is erroneous, that “as the article is wanting with περιπατοῦντας , it is not indicated that the other children were not walking ἘΝ ἈΛ .” With ΠΕΡΙΠΑΤΕῖΝ ἘΝ , comp. Joh 8:12 ; 1 John 1:6-7 ; 3 John 1:3-4 , and several other passages.

ΕὝΡΗΚΑ indicates a previous meeting with the children of the ΚΥΡΊΑ and hence a previous sojourn of the apostle in the Church to which he is writing; incorrectly, Sander: “I have found as the result of my examination;” the preterite ἘΧΆΡΗΝ does not suit this interpretation.

If ΚΥΡΊΑ be a proper noun, it remains uncertain where the apostle met with her children. Lücke, on account of 2 John 1:12 , considers it unlikely that the apostle had been in the family; “he seems to have met the ΤΈΚΝΑ somewhere else without the mother” (so also Braune). Not only this uncertainty, but also the circumstance that John does not express himself further about the children who are not walking in the truth, indicates that he is not speaking of a family, but of a Church, which is erroneously disputed by Braune.

ΚΑΘῺς ἘΝΤΟΛῊΝ ἘΛΆΒΟΜΕΝ ] ΚΑΘΏς (which is not to be taken here, with Ebrard, argumentatively = “because indeed”) does not more particularly define the ΠΕΡΙΠΑΤΕῖΝ in itself, as if ἘΝ ἈΛΗΘΕΊᾼ were only added adverbially for confirmation = “who in truth walk as,” etc.; but ΚΑΘΏς refers to the ΠΕΡΙΠΑΤΕῖΝ ἘΝ ἈΛΗΘ ., and ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑ is Christian truth, as in 2 John 1:3 ; thus: “ who are walking in the truth, according as we received commandment ” (Düsterdieck). By this, however, we are not to understand one particular commandment, but the obligation which is contained in the Christian faith to walk in the truth; παρὰ τοῦ πατρός ] see 2 John 1:3 ; the intervention of the Son is implied.

[8] Ebrard appropriately: “It is a delicate way in which the presbyter covers the blame which he has to express in a mere limitation of praise.

Verses 5-6

2 John 1:5-6 . καὶ νῦν ἐρωτῶ σε ] νῦν is used here, not temporally, but logically. Düsterdieck refers it to the immediately preceding subordinate clause: καθὼς κ . τ . λ .; Ebrard, on the other hand, to the idea εὕρηκα κ . τ . λ .; but it is more correctly referred to ἐχάρην κ . τ . λ .; the joy which the apostle felt is the cause of his present request (so also Brückner and Braune). John says ἐρωτῶ instead of the usual παρακαλῶ , as the request is suitable to the Church, as a κυρία .

οὐχ ὡς ἐντολὴν γράφων σοι καινὴν κ . τ . λ .] Comp. 1 John 2:7 .

ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους ] dependent on ἐρωτῶ , comp. John 17:15 , not on ἐντολὴν ἔχομεν (Baumgarten-Crusius), “for this is used in a subordinate clause merely, and ἐρωτῶ would be without connection and without object” (Brückner). ἵνα states here also not merely the purpose, but the substance of the request (contrary to Braune). 2 John 1:6 . καὶ αὕτηἵνα ] The same construction, 1 John 5:3 . The apostle is not distinguishing the commandment of love from the other commandments (de Wette), but is describing the walking according to the commandments of God as the substance and essence of love; with justice, for, in the first place, only that love is moral or more particularly, Christian in its character which is founded on obedience toward God, and therefore “consists in the fulfilment of the commandments of God that regulate our relationship to our neighbour” (Ebrard); and, in the second place, the aim of all the divine commandments is nothing else than love. Brückner, Braune, and others here interpret ἡ ἀγάπη incorrectly of “Christian love simply,” including also the love of God and Christ; the close connection of this sentence with the preceding one ( ἡ ἀγάπη clearly refers back to ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους ) compels us to understand ἡ ἀγαπή of Christian brotherly love. The thought last expressed is specially emphasized by the following words. According to the reading: αὕτηἐντολή ἐστι , we must translate: “ This commandment is (consists in this), as ye have heard from the beginning (no other than this), that ye should walk ἐν αὐτῇ .”

ἐντολή resumes the preceding τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ . the transition from the plural to the singular is not difficult; comp. 1 John 3:22-23 .

ἵνα states the substance of the commandment, and ἐν αὐτῇ refers to ἀγάπῃ (de Wette-Brückner, Lücke, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Braune), and not to ἐντολή (Sander); for this would not only give an inadmissible tautology, but would also be contrary to John’s mode of expression, in which the phrase: περιπατεῖν ἐν τῇ ἐντολῇ , does not appear.

By the intervening clause καθὼς ἠκούσατε , “a subordinate definition of the ἐντολή ” (Lücke, de Wette) is not given, but it is observed that the readers have heard from the beginning what is the substance of the divine commandment; the apostle thereby refers back to what was said in 2 John 1:5 (so also Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Brückner, Braune). The circle that results from this interpretation only serves to bring clearly out the identity of brotherly love and obedience toward God. [9]

[9] Köstlin incorrectly interprets (p. 218): “the old commandment, that we should love one another, means nothing else than that we should abide in what He has commanded us to believe.” That ἐντολή here denotes the command to believe (1 John 3:23 ), finds no confirmation in the context. Ebrard unjustifiably asserts that the obscurity of the expression in this verse is to be explained by the fact that the apostle intentionally alludes to some passages of the First Epistle, with which he assumes the Kyria to be familiar.

Verse 7

2 John 1:7 . In this verse the apostle addresses himself to the warning against the false teachers, whom he first more particularly characterizes. The ὅτι , with which the verse begins, indicates that the foregoing exhortation to mutual love has its origin in the fear of their being disturbed by the influence of the false teachers; but it is not to be inferred from this that ὅτι is grammatically dependent on ἐρωτῶ σε . It would be grammatically possible also to regard this verse as the premiss on which 2 John 1:8 is based (Grotius, Carpzovius), but such a construction is at variance with the peculiarity of John’s diction.

ὅτι πολλοὶ πλάνοι ] The expression πλάνοι does not elsewhere appear in John; comp. on the other hand, Matthew 27:63 ; 2 Corinthians 6:8 ; 1 Timothy 4:1 ; instead of it in 1 John 2:26 : οἱ πλανῶντες ὑμᾶς .

With this passage may be compared 1 John 2:18 ff; 1 John 4:1 .

ἐξῆλθον [ εἰσῆλθον ] εἰς τὸν κόσμον does not denote separation from the Church; κόσμος does not here form the antithesis of the ἐκκλησία τοῦ Θεοῦ ; the sense is rather the same here as in John 4:1 . The difference between εἰσῆλθ . and ἐξῆλθ . is only this, that by the latter expression the point of departure is more definitely indicated.

οἱ μὴ ὁμολογοῦντες κ . τ . λ .] comp. 1 John 4:2-3 ; on the N. T. usage of the article before the participle after πολλοί , comp. Buttm. p. 254; μὴ ὁμολογεῖν = ἀρνεῖσθαι . The μή is not to be explained, with Winer (p. 428; VII. p. 450), by the fact that the participle refers to a representative class (= quicumque non profitentur), but it is used just as in 1 John 4:3 : ὁ μὴ ὁμολογεῖ ; see on this passage.

Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐρχόμενον ἐν σαρκί ] is to be taken just as the words 1 John 4:2 , that run almost exactly similarly. The present participle ἐρχόμενον , instead of which ἐληλυθότα is used there, expresses the idea in itself apart from the idea of time; comp. John 6:14 ; Bengel incorrectly: qui veniebat, with an appeal to 3 John 1:3 , for in this passage ἐρχομένων and μαρτυρούντων , by their close connection with ἐχάρην , are distinctly indicated as imperfect participles; such a connection does not exist here, nor are we to interpret, with Baumgarten-Crusius: “He who was to come;” still more incorrectly Oecumenius takes it as future participle, referring it to the second coming of Christ.

οὗτός ἐστινπλάνος καὶἀντίχριστος ] οὗτος refers back to οἱ μὴ ὁμολογοῦντες κ . τ . λ . By ὁ πλάνος the apostle resumes the preceding πλάνοι ; by ὁ ἀντίχριστος he adds a new characteristic.

The definite article indicates these ideas as familiar to the readers; the Antichrist of whom they have heard, comp. 1 John 2:18 .

The singular is here used in collective signification (Lücke); the many are the Antichrist, inasmuch as the same πνεῦμα τῆς πλάνης is in all; comp. further, the remarks on 1 John 2:18 .

Verse 8

2 John 1:8 . The warning against the deceivers.

βλέπετε ἑαυτούς ] “ take heed to yourselves;βλέπειν with the refl. pron. besides here only in Mark 13:9 .

The construction ἵνα after βλέπειν only in 1 Corinthians 16:10 besides; by ἵνα it is not the purpose (“take heed to yourselves, sc. of them, so that”), but the immediate object of their foresight that is stated (contrary to de Wette, Braune, and A. Buttm. p. 209). [10]

ἵνα κ . τ . λ .] Whatever be the correct reading, the thought remains essentially the same; the apostle warns his readers not to let themselves be deprived by the false teachers of the blessing, of which they became partakers through the evangelistic work. With the reading εἰργασάμεθα those who have worked are John and his associates; that ἐν ὑμῖν , or a similar phrase, must be put along with it for more particular definition (Lücke) is unfounded, as this more particular definition lies in the context itself; with the reading εἰργάσασθε , on the other hand, it is the work of the receivers of the Epistle themselves that is meant, who should just as little come short of the attainment of the blessing as the former.

The object of ἐργάζεσθαι , indicated by ἅ , is not exactly the μισθός , which is also spoken of, but the work directly effected by the labour, the result or the fruit of it. Fruit had been obtained in the Church by means of the work (fruit of knowledge, love, etc.); it was of importance that they should not again be deprived of this fruit; this is expressed by μὴ ἀπολέσητε ; their loss may also, however, be considered as a loss to those who had worked among them by the preaching of the gospel, so that, as far as the sense is concerned, the Rec. ἀπολέσωμεν is perhaps justifiable; but the reading ἀπολέσηται : “that they ( ἅ ) may not be lost,” also gives good sense, so that no cause exists for regarding it, with Lücke, as a mere clerical error.

If, however, that which was directly obtained by the work be lost again, then the future reward ( μισθός ) promised to Christians also disappears; therefore the apostle antithetically adds: ἀλλὰ μισθὸν πλήρη ἀπολάβητε . With the reading ἀπολάβωμεν we might be disposed to understand by the reward the heavenly gift which the apostle himself had to expect on account of his work; but he could not he deprived of this by the conduct of those among whom he had laboured, as it depends not on the result, but on the faithfulness of the work; by μισθός , therefore, must certainly he understood the reward which those to whom John is writing have to expect; for this, however, the reading ἀπολάβητε is plainly more suitable than ἀπολάβωμεν (so also Brückner).

μισθὸν πλήρη is not = μισθὸν πόλυν (Carpzovius), but: “full reward;” by πλήρη it is not meant that if they did not exhibit faithfulness they would receive only an imperfect reward, nor even that up to the present they had only received a part of the reward (Grotius, Aretius, Ebrard), but that the reward which, if they exhibit faithfulness, they shall obtain is a quite full reward, in which there is nothinglacking (Düsterdieck, Brückner).

[10] Braune here adduces various passages of the N. T. in order to vindicate for the particle ἵνα the meaning of purpose (“so that”); but he has not paid attention to the distinction whether the verbal idea with which ἵνα is connected is absolute or relative (requiring supplement), and he has not reflected that if the clause beginning with ἵνα forms the supplement of the preceding verbal idea, ἵνα cannot be = “so that.”

Verse 9

2 John 1:9 brings out clearly the importance of abiding in the truth

2 John 1:9

2 John 1:9 brings out clearly the importance of abiding in the truth.

πᾶςπροάγων καὶ μὴ μένων ] προάγειν and μένειν form a natural antithesis; προάγειν in the neuter sense: “ to advance farther ,” signifies here in reference to διδαχή : “ to advance beyond the limits of the (Christian) doctrine ,” and contains an ironical allusion to the pretensions of the false teachers to have advanced to a higher degree of knowledge. [11] The Rec. παραβαίνων means: “to pass by anything;” we must supply along with it either τὴν διδαχήν (according to the analogy of παραβαίνειν τὴν ἐντολήν , Matthew 15:3 ), or ἀπὸ ( ἐκ ) τῆς διδαχῆς ; comp. Acts 1:25 : ἀποστολῆς ἀφʼ ( Rec. ἐξ ) ἧς παρέβη Ἰούδας ; it is clearly unwarrantable to supply the idea ἐντολή out of 2 John 1:7 .

καὶ μὴ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ] comp. John 8:31 : μένειν ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ ; 2 Timothy 3:14 .

τοῦ Χριστοῦ is not the objective (Sander, Ebrard, etc.), but the subjective genitive (Düsterdieck, Ewald, Braune); the doctrine which, proceeding from Christ, was proclaimed by the apostles.

Θεὸν οὐκ ἔχει ] comp. 1 John 2:23 . The doctrine of Christ is the truth; he who has not the truth has not God; for in its deepest source the truth is the living God Himself. Weiss (p. 29) unsatisfactorily interprets ἔχειν of the mere “possession in knowledge,” in place of which, on p. 77, however, he says: “the possession effected by means of the contemplative knowledge of Christ,” as if the latter were identical with the former. By the following sentence the same thought is expressed positively, and is completed by τὸν υἱόν , which is the cause of changing Θεός to πατήρ . [12]

[11] When Braune rejects this with the remark: “there is a bitter truth in fact,” he did not consider in what connection the above was said.

[12] According to Ebrard, this verse is a quotation of the passage 1 John 2:23 . But that this is not so is shown by the manifold deviations, the existence of which can otherwise be explained only by arbitrary conjectures in an artificial way.

Verse 10

2 John 1:10 . Warning against fellowship with false teachers. εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ] The more particular definition of the τις is contained in the following: καὶφέρει . The particle εἰ is used here because “the case is put as if actual” (Winer). The author assumes the ἔρχεσθαι as really occurring, and in reference to it gives the command: μὴ λαμβάνετε ; if he had regarded the coming as a thing which might only possibly occur, he would have put ἐάν ; hence it is unsuitable to say that εἴ τις is un-Johannean (Ebrard), “for it cannot be un-Johannean to assume a case as a reality” (Braune).

καὶ ταύτην τὴν διδαχὴν οὐ φέρει ] τ . τ . διδ ., namely, the διδ . τοῦ Χριστοῦ . The phrase φέρειν τ . διδ . only here in the N. T.; comp. the classical: μῦθον , ἀγγελίην φέρειν τινί .

On οὐ after εἰ , see Al. Buttm. p. 299. Grotius rightly says: non de iis qui alieni semper fuerunt ab ecclesia (1 Corinthians 5:10 ), sed de iis qui volunt fratres haberi ct doctrinam evertunt. It is only with this interpretation that the prohibition of the apostle can be correctly understood.

μὴ λαμβάνετε αὐτὸν εἰς οἰκίαν ] is to be understood of the hospitable reception into our house, which is to be accorded to the brethren as such; the apostle therefore forbids the brotherly reception of such as bring not the doctrine of Christ, but another doctrine opposed to it, and are, accordingly, assiduous in asserting the latter. The limitation of the prohibition to the relationship of φιλοξενία (Romans 12:13 ; Hebrews 13:2 ) finds no support in the words of the apostle. Now such a κρίσις was so much the more necessary the more the false teachers sought to abuse the Christian hospitality, in order to gain for themselves access to the Churches; comp. 2 Timothy 3:6 .

καὶ χαίρειν αὐτῷ μὴ λέγετε ] It is arbitrary to limit this prohibition, with Clemens Alex., to the salutatio, quae fiebat, postquam surgebatur ab oratione solemni velut gaudii et pacis indicium; as well as to interpret it in that degree of generality which a Lapide gives it when he says: vetat hic Joh. omne colloquium, omne consortium, omne commercium cum haereticis; just as little is it to be interpreted, with Vitringa ( de Synag. vet. p. 759), of the excommunication proper. This prohibition is in closest connection with the preceding, and similarly refers to εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρὸς ὑμᾶς κ . τ . λ .; it is meant to strengthen the former; not merely the hospitable reception into the house, but also the friendly greeting of the false teacher, if he comes as a Christian brother, is not to take place [13] (comp. Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 339). The word χαίρειν , as a formula of salutation, appears frequently both in the classics and also in the N. T., especially in Epistles; see Wahl on this word.

[13] Ebrard contradicts himself when, in opposition to the interpretation given here, he first maintains that χαίρειν λέγειν here is the “quite general idea of the greeting of conventional politeness ,” and afterwards interprets: “He who greets such a false teacher, i.e. keeps up personal acquaintance and conventional intercourse with him.

Verse 11

2 John 1:11 . Confirmation of the preceding prohibition.

λέγων γὰρ αὐτῷ χαίρειν ] The apostle mentions only this one thing, because what he says about it is self-evident in regard to the rest also.

κοινωνεῖ τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ τοῖς πονηροῖς ] i.e. inasmuch as the χαίρειν λέγειν is not merely an outward display of politeness, but an expression of an intimate relation of fellowship.

By τὰ ἔργα τὰ πονηρά we are to understand, of course, the false doctrine, but, at the same time, along with this the whole evil character of the false teachers, which was very closely connected with their doctrine. [14]

[14] De Wette’s remark, justly rejected by Brückner, is utterly erroneous: “This prohibition finds its justification in polemic zeal, and the necessity for defence against what seemed fatal to the maintenance of the Church. We, with the sure foundation of the Christian Church, and in accordance with the higher view, then perhaps impossible, that man even in his errors still remains man, and an object of esteem and love, see in it impatience. ” Difficult though it may be under present circumstances, considering the development which doctrine has taken, in many particular cases rightly to apply what is here said by John, yet it must still be regarded as a valid maxim, not only that the Christian should remain conscious of the antithesis between anti-Christianity and Christianity, but also that he should not deny this consciousness in his conduct towards his neighbour. Besser unjustifiably seeks to make use of the expression of the apostle as a weapon against union.

Verse 12

2 John 1:12 . Justification of the shortness of the Epistle.

πολλὰ ἔχων ὑμῖν γράφειν ] says the apostle, conscious as he was of having only given a few brief hints of that which was agitating his mind.

οὐκ ἐβουλήθην διὰ χάρτου καὶ μέλανος ] From the idea γράφειν the more general idea of communication is to be supplied.

χάρτης “is the Egyptian paper (papyrus), and probably the finer augustan sort, which served for letters (Hug, Einl. I. 106);” de Wette.

μέλαν , besides here, only in 3 John 1:13 ; 2 Corinthians 3:3 . The following words: ἀλλὰ ἐλπίζω , state the reason of οὐκ ἐβουλήθην ; by ἀλλά the reason is expressed in the form of an antithesis.

γενέσθαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς ] In the phrase: γίγνεσθαι πρός , the ideas of motion and of rest are both included; comp. γιγν . εἰς , Acts 21:17 ; Acts 25:15 ; the construction with πρός : 1 Corinthians 16:10 ; comp. John 10:35 ; Acts 10:13 , etc.

καὶ στόμα πρὸς στόμα λαλῆσαι ] An imitation of the Hebrew פֶּה אֶל־פֶּה , Numbers 12:8 ; comp. πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον , 1 Corinthians 13:12 . Similar combinations in the classics also; Xen. Mem. ii. 6. 32, στόμα πρὸς στόμα is used of a kiss.

ἵναχάρα κ . τ . λ .] comp. 1 John 1:4 . With the reading ἡμῶν (see the critical notes) mutual joy is meant; comp. Romans 1:11-12 .

Verse 13

2 John 1:13 . Presentation of the greeting from the children of the κυρία’s sister. If κυρία were a proper noun, we would have to suppose that the sister had either already died, or was not with her children near the apostle, as he would otherwise certainly have mentioned her.

Such uncertain hypotheses are removed by the correct explanation of κυρία ; now it is self-evident that the ἀδελφή is the Church from which John wrote this Epistle and the τέκνα , therefore, are its individual members; on τῆς ἐκλεκτῆς , comp. 2 John 1:1 .

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 2 John 1". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.