NOTES ON THE SECOND EPISTLE OF JOHN
2 Jn 1:1,2
John writes of himself as “the elder,” as he does in 3 Jn to Gaius. He does not claim to be an apostle in his writings. He writes to the elect lady and her children. We may safely follow the AV/KJV and RV text that lady (Gk. kuria, the feminine of kurios, lord) is correct, and not that it is Kyria, a proper name. We may also dismiss the thought that kuria signifies a church that is addressed; if kuria is the church, who can the children of the church be, for the children are distinct from kuria? Jn loved this lady and her children in truth with a similar love to others who knew the truth, and for the truth’s sake which abode in them and would be with them for ever. This shows a bond of affection existing amongst those who know the truth beyond that which is true of those who are begotten of God (1 Jn 5:1). We are told in Jn 8:31,32, “Jesus therefore said to those Jews which had believed Him, If ye abide in My word, then are ye truly My disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Those who are sanctified (set apart) in Christ Jesus, Christ having become their sanctification, as He is their wisdom, righteousness, and redemption (1 Cor.1:2,30), should afterwards be sanctified in the truth, and for this the Lord prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth: Thy word is truth … And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (Jn 17:17,19). The Lord walked a sanctified, separated path in this world and His example is our pattern. The will of God is “that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim.2:4). Some may be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim.3:7). Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ, “according to the faith of God’s elect, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness” (Tit.1:1). But if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins” (Heb.10:26), hence there is no forgiveness and restoration for such as wilfully sin against the truth. Those who have bought the truth should never sell it: “Buy the truth, and sell it not” (Prov.23:23). “The house of God, which is the church of the living God,” is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim.3:15); it is where the truth is to be found. It was from the house of God of old that God sent forth His light and truth to lead men thither (Ps.43:3,4). It was “out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth,” and He said, “Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice” (Ps.50:2,5). It will be even so in the millennium as in the past (Isa.2:3). Let us remember that the truth which we make our own now and which abides in us “shall be with us for ever. ” May we have a heart to say like David, “Shew me Thy ways, O LORD; Teach me Thy paths. Guide me in Thy truth, and teach me; For Thou art the God of my salvation; On Thee do I wait all the day” (Ps.25:4,5).
2 Jn 1:3
This is not a salutation merely, but an assurance, that this excellent trio of blessings, grace, mercy, peace, shall be with us from both the Father and the Son, in truth, for it is no lie, and in love, for such is the attitude of Father and Son toward us.
2 Jn 1:4
This verse further strengthens the thought that it is not a church that is addressed, but a lady, for Jn speaks that he found certain of (Gk. ek out of) her children walking in truth. “Certain” though in italics in the RV is implied in the preposition ek, “out of.” The truth in which they walked was according to the commandment which they had received from the Father and not according to what they or others thought to be truth. Truth is to be found only in God’s word.
2 Jn 1:5,6
What Jn writes here to this lady, that love finds its true expression in those who are God’s children in their obedience to His commandments, is what he wrote in 1 Jn 5:2,3, and this also the Lord taught from the beginning: “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me” (Jn 14:21). Some talk of loving God though they pay no heed to keeping His commandments. We need to learn to speak as the Lord and His apostles have spoken and not from a fleshly mind. Where there is no obedience to God there is no real love for Him. Let us learn that we love the children of God when we love God and keep His commandments. This is a corrective and sobering truth.
2 Jn 1:7
In 1 Jn 4:2 we have the words, “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh”; this refers to His coming at His birth in Bethlehem. But here it is His coming again; He is the coming One in the flesh. He was raised in that body of flesh in which He died on the cross, whereof He said, “Handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold Me having. And when He had said this, He shewed them his hands and His feet” (Lk.24:39,40). Those same hands He lifted up when He blessed them on the slopes of Olivet ere He returned to heaven: “He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Lk.24:50,51). Two angels told the disciples, “This Jesus, which was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld Him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11). He went to heaven in the flesh and shall so come again. The followers of Mrs. Mary Eddy (so-called Christian Scientists), and the followers of self-styled “Pastor” Russell (so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses) and others, deny these facts of Holy Scripture and are deceivers and antichrists.
2 Jn 1:8
It may be impossible to say with certainty whether it should read “we have wrought,” that is, the divine doctrine which the apostles had so carefully taught, or “ye have wrought,” the things which the elect lady and her children, and others, had wrought through their obedience to the truth contained in God’s commandments. Their reward would be seriously affected if they turned away from the truth. A full reward would be affected if they lost the things the apostles had wrought or what they themselves had wrought. It gets back to the important matter of holding fast the truth which has been committed to us. This is what the Lord meant in Rev.3:11, “I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” One is reminded of the words of Boaz to Ruth, when he said, “The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings thou are come to take refuge” (Ruth 2:12). She had left her own land and people and god, and had come with Naomi to the land and people of Israel and, more than that, to the God of Israel. Hers was a great decision, and a great reward.
2 Jn 1:9
The AV/KJV says “whosoever transgresseth,” but the RV follows another reading of the Greek, proago, which means “to go before,” or “taketh the lead,” (RVM). We learn from this verse how vital it is to be sound in the teaching of Christ, for if we abide in the teaching we have both the Father and the Son. This is what the Lord Himself promised to His disciples if they were obedient to the words of the commission of Matt.28:16-20, “Lo, I am with you alway (all the days), even unto the end of the world (age).” It is solemn indeed in the case of
those who have taken the lead but not faithfully held to the teaching of Christ, and have in consequence led many out of the way. Such things abound on all sides.
2 Jn 1:10,11
We cannot be faithful to the Lord and hospitable to destroyers of souls by their evil teaching. The comment of the apostle is clear; they are neither to be received into our homes nor are we to greet them as though we encouraged them in their evil works. If we love truth we shall hate evil. It becomes us to be like the Psalmist who says, “I hate every false way” (Ps.119:104,128).
2 Jn 1:12,13
To speak face to face, or more correctly “mouth to mouth” (Newberry, Mg.), is much the better way of communication at any time, but what would we have done without the permanent record contained in the letters of the apostles? Writing has an abiding value which conversation and oral ministry have not, however excellent these are at the time. We thank God for the inspired Scriptures. Writing at times may be irksome, but Paul said that to him it was not irksome and for the Philippians it was safe (Phil.3:1), and we have in his writings safety too, by holding to them we are safe from falling. By John’s letter, the children of the elect sister of this lady sent their salutation. It is a beautiful family greeting sent by the aged Jn to those who were not only relatives in the flesh, but also in the Lord.