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Chapter
1

The Second Epistle of John

2 John and 3 John are both short enough to fit on one sheet of papyrus, in the form of a letter. Their content is unremarkable. Therefore their survival and inclusion in the Canon points to early belief that their author the elder was prominent.[1 p.26] The author was able to instruct the churches because he embodied Christian tradition, and was well known, so no name need be mentioned.[1 p.29] But the absence of any personal name from the letter implies that it was written in a time of persecution, when the believers operated in secret.

One would not expect a short private letter to be written in the same style as a Gospel that is seventy times as long.[1 p.32], but the letters of John address children and friends, as Jesus does John's Gospel.[1 p.35]

It is tempting to speculate that the "chosen lady" might be Mary the mother of Jesus.

Commentary

1:1–3

Though the opening of this book is briefer than that of 1 John, John's favourite themes of eternity and truth can be seen in it.

1:2

The references in 2 and 3 John to Truth mean the Holy Spirit; see comment on 1 John 5:6.

1:4

Truth: see comment on verse 2.

1:5

The commendment referred to is in John 13:34.

1:7

This verse is a warning against the heresy called Docetism.

1:9

Where AV has "trangresseth" newer translations read "goes beyond" making this sentence a veiled warning against those who demand adherence to Jewish customs in addition to Christian ones, that is, "the circumcision party".

References:

  1. Hengel, Martin The Johannine Question (London: SCM, 1989)

© David Billin 2002–2021