What does 2 John 1:5 mean?
ESV: And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.
NIV: And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.
NASB: Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.
CSB: So now I ask you, dear lady--not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning--that we love one another.
NLT: I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.
KJV: 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.
Verse 4 focused on obedience to truth. Verses 5 and 6 emphasize love. John now makes a request, again addressed to the "Dear lady," a reference to the entire local church. What John is about to ask is not a new command, but something which has been part of their faith from the start.
This "beginning" probably refers to Jesus' teaching in John 13:34–35. There, He commanded us to love each other, so that we would be identified by love. Jesus would repeat this commandment in John 15:12 and John 15:17. Paul echoes it in Romans 12:10 and 1 Thessalonians 4:9. Peter mentions it in 1 Peter 1:22. John mentions it repeatedly in his first letter (1 John 3:11; 4:7; 4:11–12). Loving one another is obedience to the commandment of Jesus. It is so important that it's meant to be the primary way the world recognizes us as Christians (John 13:35).
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.
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.
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