The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;2 John 1:1-2. The elder — An appellation suited to a familiar letter; for the import of it see the preface: unto the elect — That is, the Christian; lady — Or Kuria, rather, for the word seems to be a proper name, both here and in 2 John 1:5, it not being then usual to apply the title of lady to any but the Roman empress, neither would such a manner of speaking have been suitable to the simplicity and dignity of the apostle; and her children — There is no mention made by the apostle of this matron’s husband, either because he was dead, or because he was not a Christian; whom — That is, both her and her children; I love in the truth — Or rather (as αληθεια is without the article) in truth. The meaning is, whom I love with unfeigned and holy love. The sincerity and purity of his love to this family, the apostle showed on the present occasion, by his earnestness to guard them against being deceived by the false teachers, who were then going about among the disciples of Christ. And not I only love her and them, but also all love them that have known the truth — As it is in Jesus, and have had any opportunity of becoming acquainted with them. For the truth’s sake — Because you have embraced the same truth of the gospel which I myself, and other faithful Christians, have received; which dwelleth in us — As a living principle of faith and holiness; see Php 1:6; 1 John 2:14; and shall be with us for ever — Which, I trust, God will enable us to believe and obey to the end of our lives.
For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.2 John 1:3. Grace be with you, &c. — See on Romans 1:7. Grace takes away the guilt and power of sin, and renews our fallen nature; mercy relieves our misery; peace implies our abiding in grace and mercy. It includes the testimony of God’s Spirit and of our own conscience, both that we are his children, and that all our ways are acceptable to him. This is the very foretaste of heaven, where it is perfected: in truth and love — Truth embraced by a lively faith, and love to God, his children, and all mankind, flowing from discoveries of his favour.
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.2 John 1:4. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children — That is, some of thy children; walking in truth — In a manner agreeable to the gospel. It is probable that John speaks of such of her children as he had met with in the course of his travels, probably at their aunt’s house, 2 John 1:13; and that having conversed with them, and observed their conduct, he had found reason to conclude that they were truly pious, and sound in the faith. After their return home, it seems, he inscribed this letter to them as well as to their mother, and by the commendation which he bestowed on them in it, he no doubt encouraged them much to persevere in the truth. By the joy which this circumstance gave the apostle, was manifested the disposition of a faithful minister of Christ; for such derive great happiness from the faith and holiness of their disciples.
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.2 John 1:5. Now, I beseech thee, Kuria — This sort of address suits a particular person much better than a whole church, consisting of many individuals, to which, in the opinion of some, this letter was directed; not as though I wrote a new commandment — A commandment which thou didst never hear before; but that which we had from the beginning — Of our Lord’s ministry. Indeed it was in some sense from the beginning of the world; that we love one another — More abundantly. The apostle does not here speak of a new commandment in the sense in which our Lord used that phrase John 13:34; (see on 1 John 2:7-8;) but his meaning is, either that the commandment to love one another, which he gave to this family, was not a commandment which had never been delivered to the church before, or that it was not a commandment peculiar to the gospel. The first of these seems to be the apostle’s meaning; as he tells this matron that the disciples of Christ had had this commandment delivered to them from the beginning. In inculcating mutual love among the disciples of Christ so frequently and so earnestly in all his writings, John showed himself to be, not only a faithful apostle of Christ, but a person of a most amiable and benevolent disposition; his own heart being full of love to all mankind, and particularly to the followers of Jesus, he wished to promote that holy and happy temper in all true Christians.
And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.2 John 1:6-7. And this is love — The principal proof of true love, first to God, and then to his people; that we walk after his commandments — That we be obedient to his will in all things. This love is the great commandment, which ye have heard from the beginning — Of our preaching; that ye should walk in it — Should persevere in love. For many deceivers, &c. — See on 1 John 4:1 : as if he had said, Carefully keep what you have heard from the beginning; for many seducers are come; who confess not that Jesus Christ is come — Or came, as ερχομενον (considered as the participle of the imperfect) may be rendered; for Jesus Christ was not on earth in the flesh when John wrote this; as the translation in our Bible, is come, imports. He had come in the flesh, but was gone. So that no translation of this clause, which represents Jesus Christ as then present, can be just. The apostle alludes to the rise of those heretics, who affirmed that Christ came only in appearance; and who, of course, denied his priestly, if not also his prophetic and kingly office. This — Every one who does this, who does not acknowledge that Christ came in the flesh; is a deceiver — A seducer from God; and antichrist — An enemy to Christ.
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.2 John 1:8-9. Look to yourselves — Take heed, lest you grow remiss or negligent in the course of your obedience. That we lose not, &c. — Lest you lose the reward of what you have already done, which every apostate does; but that we receive — Which every one that is faithful unto death shall do; a full reward — That, having fully employed all our talents to the glory of him that gave them, we may receive the whole portion of felicity which God has promised to diligent, persevering Christians. Receive this as a certain rule; whosoever transgresseth — Any law of God; and abideth not — Does not persevere; in his belief of, and obedience to, the doctrine of Christ, hath not God — For his Father and his God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ — Believing and obeying it; hath both the Father and the Son — Who have confirmed that doctrine in the most ample manner.
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:2 John 1:10-11. If there come any unto you — Either as a teacher or a brother; and bring not this doctrine — Of Christ, namely, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did come in the flesh to save mankind; or advance any thing contrary to it, or any other branch of Christ’s doctrine; receive him not into your house — Either as a teacher or a brother; neither bid him God speed — Give him no encouragement therein; for he that biddeth him God speed — That gives him any encouragement; is partaker of — Is necessary to; his evil deeds — We may infer, from what the apostle here says, 1st, That when those who professed to be the disciples of Christ came to any place where they were not known to the brethren who resided there, nor were recommended to them by some with whom they were acquainted, they made themselves known to them as the real disciples of Christ, by declaring their faith. This shows the propriety of the apostle’s advice to this pious matron and her children. 2d, That as the Christians in those days exercised hospitality to their stranger brethren, who were employed in spreading the gospel; so the Christian sister to whom the apostle wrote this letter, being probably rich, and of a benevolent disposition, thought herself under an obligation to supply the wants of those strangers who went about preaching. Wherefore, to prevent her from being deceived by impostors, the apostle here directs her to require such teachers to give an account of the doctrines which they taught; and if she found that they did not hold the true Christian doctrine, he advised her not to receive them into her house, nor to give them any countenance. And this advice of the apostle was certainly perfectly proper, because they who entertained, or otherwise showed respect to, false teachers, enabled them the more effectually to spread their erroneous doctrine, to the seduction and ruin of those whom they deceived.
For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.2 John 1:12-13. Having many things to write — Concerning these and other subjects; I would not — Ουκ εβουληθην, I was not minded, to communicate them by paper and ink — Probably the apostle meant that he had many things to say concerning the characters and actions of the false teachers; perhaps also he wished to mention to her the names of those that he had principally in view. But these things he did not think it proper to write in a letter; especially as he proposed to visit this matron and her children soon, and to converse with them personally. The children of thy elect — Or Christian sister, greet thee — It seems she was absent, if not dead, when the apostle wrote this. It is justly observed by Macknight, that “the word elect here, as in 2 John 1:1, doth not signify chosen from eternity to salvation. For the apostle could not know that the matron’s sister was so elected, unless the matter had been made known to him by a particular revelation, which is not alleged to have been the case by any who so interpret election.” But it signifies, as the same expression generally does, in other passages of Scripture, a true believer in Christ, who, as such, is in a state of acceptance with God, and one of his chosen people. See on Ephesians 1:3-7. It is proper to observe here also, that the salutations which the Christians in the first age gave to each other, were not of the same kind with the salutations of unbelievers, which were wishes of temporal health and felicity only; but they were prayers for the health and happiness of their souls, and expressions of the most sincere love. See 3 John, 2 John 1:2. The apostle sent this matron the salutation of the children of her sister, to intimate to her that they were all Christians, and that they persevered in the true doctrine of the gospel.
The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.