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2 John chapter 1

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New King James Version

What does 2 John chapter 1 mean?

Second John is the shortest book in the Bible and has one chapter. This letter features only 13 verses.

The book begins with a brief introduction in 2 John 1:1–3 to "the elect lady and her children." The meaning of this phrase is debated, though it likely refers to the particular local church receiving the letter. The phrase "her children" would include those believers influenced by this church, referring even to other churches. The introduction includes a strong focus on truth, mentioned four times in these first three verses, followed by a brief greeting (2 John 1:3).

Verse 4 gives a commendation for those walking in the truth. This key verse stands as a theme in the letter. John notes "some of your children walking in the truth," indicating some were not. Christians are not immune to sin, or to spiritual error. It's important for believers to examine themselves, to be sure that what they say and do matches the truth. Part of John's letter warns against false teachers and those who followed them (2 John 1:7–11).

Verses 5 and 6 focus on the commandment to "love one another" (2 John 1:5). Love includes, "that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment…" (2 John 1:6). Love for God is closely connected with obedience to the truth.

Verses 7–11 then focus on false teachers. John mentions "many deceivers" who claim Jesus did not come in the flesh or physically (2 John 1:7). He calls them the "deceiver and antichrist" (2 John 1:7). Believers were to "watch themselves" (2 John 1:8) and have no part in the evil work of such people (2 John 1:10–11). This is not the same as a difference of opinion; this is a matter of essential truth. Those who reject the core message of the gospel are to be avoided.

Verses 12 and 13 conclude the short letter. John has more to write, but wants to meet in person to make his joy complete (2 John 1:12). He concludes with a statement about the children of "your elect sister," a reference to the church where John was located at that time. Though concise, John's letter addresses important issues related to truth, love, false teachers, and the person of Christ.
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