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Bible Commentaries
2 John 1

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 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. In a familiar letter John gives himself a less authoritative designation than "apostle:" so 1 Peter 5:1.

Lady. Bengel takes kuria (G2959) as a proper name; the Hebrew 'Martha.' Being a person of influence, "deceivers" (2 John 1:7) were insinuating themselves into her family to seduce her and her children from the faith (Tirinus); whence John felt it necessary to write, warning her. (But see 'Introduction,' and 1 Peter 5:13.) A church, probably that at Babylon, was intended. 'Church' is derived from kuriakee (G2960), akin to kuria (G2959); which, among the Romans and Athenians, means ekkleesia (G1577) - the term appropriated to the church assembly.

Love in the truth. Christian love rests on the Christian truth (2 John 1:3, end). Not merely 'I love in truth,' but "I love in THE truth."

All - all Christians form one fellowship, rejoicing in one another's spiritual prosperity. 'The communion of love is as wide as the communion of faith' (Alford).

Verse 2

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

For the truth's sake - joined with "I love," 2 John. 'They who love in the truth, also love on account of the truth.'

Dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever - in consonance with Christ's promise, John 14:16-17.

Verse 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 be with you. So B, Vulgate; but 'Aleph (') has 'us' for you. Literally, 'Grace shall be with us;' i:e., with both you and me. A prayer, besides a confident affirmation.

Grace ... mercy ... peace. "Grace" covers men's sins; "mercy," their miseries. Grace must first do away with guilt before misery can be relieved by mercy. Therefore grace stands before mercy. Peace is the result of both; therefore stands third. Casting all our care on the Lord, with thanksgiving, maintains this peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

The Lord. So 'Aleph ('); but A B, Vulgate, omit. John never elsewhere uses this title in his letters, but "the Son of God."

In truth and love - the element in which alone grace, mercy, and peace have place. He mentions truth in 2 John 1:4; love, in 2 John 1:5. Paul uses FAITH and love (1 Timothy 1:14); for faith and truth are close akin.

Verse 4

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

I found - probably in one of his tours of superintendence. See 'Introduction,' and 2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:10; 3 John 1:14.

Of thy children - some, in truth; i:e., in the Gospel truth.

As - even as. 'The Father's commandment' is the standard of "the truth."

Verse 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.

I beseech, [ Erootoo (G2065)] - rather (cf. note, 1 John 5:16), 'I request thee,' implying some authority.

Not ... new commandment. It was old, in that Christians heard it from the first in the Gospel: new, in that love now rests on the new principle of filial imitation of God, who first loved us, and gave Jesus to die for us; and also in that love is now set forth with greater clearness than in the Old Testament. Love fulfils both tables of the Law, and is the end of Law and Gospel alike (cf. note, 1 John 2:7-8). That we. John already had love: he urges her to join him in the name grace. This verse, I think, decides that a church, not an individual lady, is meant. For a man to urge a woman ("THEE," not thee and thy children) that he and she should love one another, is hardly apostolic, however pure may be the love enjoined: all is clear 'if the lady' represent a church.

Verse 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.

'Love is the fulfilling of the law,' and the fulfilling of the law is the test of love.

This is the commandment - namely, love, in which all other commandments are summed up.

Verse 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.

As love and truth go hand in hand (2 John 1:3-4), he gives warning against teachers of untruth.

For - reason why he dwelt on truth, and on love, which manifests itself in keeping God's commandments (2 John 1:6).

Many - (1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:1.)

Are entered. B; but 'Aleph (') A, Vulgate, Irenaeus, 207, read [ exeelthan (G1831)], 'are gone forth;' namely, from us.

Confess not that Jesus ... in the flesh - the token of Antichrist.

Is come, [ erchomenon (G2064)] - 'coming.' He who denies (as these deceivers did) Christ's coming in the flesh, denies the possibility of the incarnation; he who denies that He has come, denies its actuality (Neander). I think 'coming' implies both the first and the second advent of Christ. He is often elsewhere called the Coming One [ ho (G3588) erchomenos (G2064)] (Matthew 11:3; Hebrews 10:37). The denial of the reality of His incarnation, at His first coming, and of His personal advent again, constitutes Antichrist. 'The world turns away from Christ, busily intent upon its own husks; but to OPPOSE Christ is of the leaven of Satan' (Bengel).

This is a [ ho (G3588)] - 'This (such a one as described) is the deceiver and the Antichrist ' The many who This is a, [ ho (G3588)] - 'This (such a one as described) is the deceiver and the Antichrist.' The many who in a degree fulfill the character, forerun the final Antichrist, who shall concentrate in himself all the features of previous anti-Christian systems.

Verse 8

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

Look to yourselves - amidst the widespread deception, so many being led astray. So Christ's warning, Matthew 24:4-5; Matthew 24:24.

We lose not ... we receive. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, read, 'that YE lose not, but that YE receive.'

Which we have wrought. So B. 'Aleph (') A, Vulgate, Irenaeus, Lucifer, read, 'which YE have wrought.' "We" being the more difficult reading, is less likely to have been a transcriber's alteration. Look that ye lose not the believing state of "truth and love," which WE (as God's workmen, 2 Corinthians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:15) were the instruments of working in you.

A full reward - of grace, not debt: consummated glory. If 'which YE have wrought' be read, the reward is that of their "work (of faith) and labour of love." There are degrees of heavenly reward proportioned to the capability of receiving heavenly blessedness. Each vessel of glory hanging on Jesus shall be full. But the larger the vessel, the greater will be its capacity for heavenly bliss (Isaiah 22:24). He who with one pound made ten, received authority over ten cities; he who made five pounds, received five cities: each in proportion to his capacity of rule, and his faithfulness (Luke 19:15-19; 1 Corinthians 15:41). 'There is no half reward. It is either lost altogether or received in full: full communion with God' (Bengel). No service of minister or people shall fail of its reward.

Verse 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.

The loss (2 John 1:8) is explained: the not having God, which results from abiding not in the doctrine of Christ.

Transgresseth. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, read [ proagoon (G4254) for parabainoon (G3845)], 'everyone who takes the lead:' sets up as a teacher; literally, leads on before (cf. John 10:4; 3 John 1:9).

Hath not God - (1 John 2:23; 1 John 5:15.) The second "of Christ" is omitted in 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate.

He - He alone. He - He alone.

Verse 10

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

If there come any - as a teacher or brother: indicative, not subjunctive: implying that such persons do actually, and are sure to come: when any comes, as there will. True love is combined with hearty separation from all that is false, whether persons or doctrines. Misbelief destroys faith, the source of love, so love itself: therefore love abhors it as overthrowing Christianity, the center of love's affection.

Receive him not ... neither bid him God speed. This is not said of those always aliens from the Church, but of those who wish to be esteemed brethren, and subvert true doctrine (Grotius). The greeting forbidden in the case of such is that usual among Christian brethren: not a mere formality, but a token of Christian brotherhood.

Verse 11

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

By wishing a false brother joy [ chairein (G5463)], "God speed," you imply that he is capable of good speed and joy, and that you wish him it while opposing Christ; so you identify yourself as 'having communion with [koinonei] his evil deeds.' We cannot have communion with saints and with Antichrist at once. Here we see John's naturally fiery zeal directed to a right end (Luke 9:54). Polycarp, disciple of John, told contemporaries of Irenaeus, who narrates it on their authority, that once when John was about to bathe, and heard that Cerinthus, the heretic, was within, he retired with abhorrence, exclaiming, Surely the house will fall in ruins since the enemy of the truth is there!

Verse 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.

I would not write. A heart full of love pours itself out more freely face to face than by letter.

Paper - of Egyptian papyrus. Pens were then reeds split.

Ink - made of soot and water, thickened with gum. Parchment was used for permanent manuscripts, in which the letters were preserved. Writing tablets were used merely for temporary purposes, as slates.

Face to face - literally, 'mouth to mouth.'

Full, [ pepleeroomenee (G4137)] - 'filled full.' Your joy will be complete in hearing from me in person the joyful Gospel truths which I now defer communicating until I see you. In 1 John 1:4, his writing was for the same purpose.

Verse 13

Alford, The non-mention of the "lady" herself seems to favour the hypothesis that a church is meant.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 John 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-john-1.html. 1871-8.
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