What does 2 John mean?

Commentary

John greets the church (1-3)

2 John 1Elder” refers to John. See 3 John 1. The “chosen lady” refers to the church and “her children” refer to the members of the church. John testifies to his love for them, and says that all Christians love them too. Truth is the basis for Christian love. Christians are bound together by the truth and are committed to each other in love. This is clarified in the next verse. The more you love the truth, the more you’ll love.

2 John 2 Christians love because of the truth. This truth remains with us today and forever! That empowers my desire to love!

2 John 3 John expresses his certainty that grace, mercy, and peace will be with Christians God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son. Truth and love are the context in which grace, mercy, and peace flourish. True Christian discipleship causes these three blessings from God to grow.

We should practice the truth by loving each other (4-6)

2 John 4 John testifies to his gladness that the members of the church are walking in the truth. They were living with Christ and growing in obedience to His truth. This is what God the Father has required.

2 John 5 John respectfully asks the “lady” (the church) to love each other. Nothing new here, John says. We’ve had this commandment since Jesus’ ministry began. We are to obey. See John 13:34-35.

2 John 6 The love John discusses is that which obeys God. Love cannot be separated from obedience. If there is no obedience to God, there is no love for Him. We must put love into our daily practice, that you should “walk in it.” Live in the atmosphere of true Christian love!

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” 2 John 7

We should protect the truth by separating from heretics (7-11)

2 John 7 Here John gives the reason for the call to love. John wants his readers to truly love each other because of the false teachers that are in the world. Christian love and unity is a strong safeguard against the deception of false teachers. These false teachers are those who do not acknowledge the true humanity of Jesus. John is likely referring to proponents of Docetism who believe that Jesus only appeared human. Proponents of Docetism are false teachers, they deceive people and they are “antichrist,” i.e., they are against Christ.

2 John 8 John gives a serious warning. John encourages them to watch themselves, to keep a safeguard over themselves, and to be aware if false teaching like this is creeping in. Otherwise, they would not receive a full reward (see Matthew 20:8 and 2 Corinthians 5:10). The implication is that they would only receive a partial reward. The apostles also would lose what they accomplished. This demonstrates that the apostles are in ministry together with those to whom they minister.

2 John 9 John marks out a clear distinction between heretics (those who knew the truth and left it) and true believers (those who remain or abide in the doctrine of Christ). Whoever holds to a false Christology does not have God. John’s audience was tempted with Docetism. Docetism denied that Jesus was truly human. But, on the opposite end of the spectrum, whoever holds to a proper Christology, is in fellowship with the Father and the Son. God Himself is with him.

2 John 10-11 John prohibits receiving heretics into fellowship. Travelling preachers and teachers (including heretics) were common in John’s day. If one comes to a Christian “house” (which likely refers to a house church), he is to be refused fellowship, spiritual and material. Every preacher must hold to an orthodox Christology, teaching that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. But we should show hospitality to those who hold to the truth (see 3 John 5-8).

John also prohibits giving him a “greeting,” which refers to giving him a Christian greeting, e.g. “brother.” Since he is not a brother, do not greet him as a brother. This injunction is not prohibiting inviting false teachers into your home in order to rebuke them. To call him a brother is to put your “stamp of approval on him” and thereby effectively participate in his evil deeds.

John bids farewell (12-13)

2 John 12-13 John indicates he has much to write to them, but would much rather talk face to face. What John has to say is to encourage them and bring them rejoicing. John also sends greetings to from another church, their “chosen sister.”

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