What does 2 John 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.
Second John 1:1–3 introduces this letter, from ''the elder'' to ''the elect lady and her children.'' These are references to the disciple John, and some particular local church, respectively. As is typical in such letters, John refers to the grace of God, to Jesus Christ, and to the concepts of love and truth.
Second John 1:4–6 summarizes the theme of this letter: true Christian love. John is pleased to hear that “some” of the members of this church are walking in truth. This implies that some are not, and in later verses, John will warn about following false teachers. Here, John reminds the reader that showing love is the first and primary commandment given to a Christian believer.
Second John 1:7–11 discusses a certain type of false teacher. Those who deny that Jesus came to earth in a real, physical, human form are not teaching the truth. According to John, these people are not to be supported in any way whatsoever. Those who help a false teacher are participating in their sin.
Second John 1:12–13 concludes the letter of 2 John. John could have written much more, but this is not the purpose of the letter. His preference is to meet face-to-face, something he hopes will occur. The use of family terminology is common in Christian writing. John also refers, again, to an “elect sister,” suggesting that this is a letter from one Christian church to another.
The entire book of 2 John is only 13 verses long. It is written by ''the elder,'' in this case the disciple John. In it, John commends a group of believers for holding fast to the truth of the gospel. He also warns these people to avoid those who deny aspects of the Christian faith, and who deceive people away from the truth. John uses the term ''elect lady and her children'' as a reference to this entire local church.
As a short letter, 2 John doesn’t develop any one topic too deeply. John is pleased to see that some believers are sticking to the truth, but this implies that others are not. He is concerned over the influence of false teachers, using strong terms to reject their teachings. John’s reference to ''the elect lady and her children'' is probably a reference to an entire local church and its members.
Second John is one of the disciple John’s letters. The others are 1 John and 3 John. He is also the author of the gospel of John and the book of Revelation. Letters such as this help us understand John’s guidance of early churches. As the last surviving disciple, John’s words would have carried great weight in the Christian community.
Accessed 11/30/2023 6:45:39 AM
© Copyright 2002-2023 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.