Vincent's Word Studies
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;
The elder (ὁ πρεσβύτερος)
The word is used originally of seniority in age. So Luke 15:25. Afterward as a term of rank or office. Applied to members of the Sanhedrim (Matthew 16:21; Acts 6:12). Those who presided over the Christian assemblies or churches (Acts 11:30; 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Timothy 5:19). The twenty-four members of the heavenly court in John's vision (Revelation 4:4, Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:5, Revelation 5:6, Revelation 5:8, Revelation 5:11, Revelation 5:14). Here, with reference to official position, coupled, presumably, with age.
Unto the elect lady (ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ)
An expression which baffles all the commentators. It is supposed by some that the title describes a person, by others, a society. The views of the former class as to the person designated, are (1.) That the letter was addressed to a certain Babylonian named Electa. (2.) To a person named Kyria. (3.) To Electa Kyria, a compound proper name. Those who regard the phrase as describing a society, divide on the question whether a particular Christian society or the whole Church is intended. It is impossible to settle the question satisfactorily.
May be taken either in a literal or in a spiritual sense. For the later, see 1 Timothy 1, 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Galatians 4:25; 3 John 1:4. Compare also 2 John 1:4, 2 John 1:13. The explanation turns on the meaning of ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ. If it mean the Church, children will have the spiritual sense. If it be a proper name, the literal.
Comprehensive, embracing the mother and the children of both sexes.
I love (ἀγαπῶ)
See on John 5:20.
In the truth (ἐν ἀληθείᾳ)
Omit the. The expression in truth marks the atmosphere or element of truth in which something is said, or felt, or done. See John 17:17. In truth is equivalent to truly, really. Compare Colossians 1:6; John 17:19.
That have known (οἱ ἐγνωκότες)
Either have come to know, or as Rev., know. The perfect tense of γινώσκω, to learn to know, is rendered as a present: I have learned to know, therefore I know. See on 1 John 2:3.
For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
Which dwelleth (τὴν μένουσαν)
Shall be with us (μεθ' ἡμῶν ἔσται)
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.
Grace be with you, mercy and peace (ἔσται μεθ ἡμῶν χάρις ἔλεος εἰρήνη)
The verb is in the future tense: shall be. In the Pauline Epistles the salutations contain no verb. In 1 and 2 Peter nd Jude, πληθυνθείη be multiplied, is used. Grace (χάρις) is of rare occurrence in John's writings (John 1:14, John 1:16, John 1:17; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 22:21); and the kindred χαρίζομαι to favor, be kind, forgive, and χάρισμα gift, are not found at all. See on Luke 1:30. Mercy (ἔλεος), only here in John. See on Luke 1:50. The pre-Christian definitions of the word include the element of grief experienced on account of the unworthy suffering of another. So Aristotle. The Latin misericordia (miser "wretched," cor "the heart") carries the same idea. So Cicero defines it, the sorrow arising from the wretchedness of another suffering wrongfully. Strictly speaking, the word as applied to God, cannot include either of these elements, since grief cannot be ascribed to Him, and suffering is the legitimate result of sin. The sentiment in God assumes the character of pitying love. Mercy is kindness and goodwill toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them. Trench observes: "In the Divine mind, and in the order of our salvation as conceived therein, the mercy precedes the grace. God so loved the world with a pitying love (herein was the mercy), that He gave His only-begotten Son (herein the grace), that the world through Him might be saved. But in the order of the manifestation of God's purposes of salvation, the grace must go before the mercy and make way for it. It is true that the same persons are the subjects of both, being at once the guilty and the miserable; yet the righteousness of God, which it is quite as necessary should be maintained as His love, demands that the guilt should be done away before the misery can be assuaged; only the forgiven may be blessed. He must pardon before He can heal.... From this it follows that in each of the apostolic salutations where these words occur, grace precedes mercy" ("Synonyms of the New Testament").
The best texts read with us.
From God - from Jesus Christ (παρὰ Θεοῦ - παρὰ Ἱησοῦ Χριστοῦ)
Note the repeated preposition, bringing out the twofold relation to the Father and Son. In the Pauline salutations ἀπό from, is invariably used with God, and never repeated with Jesus Christ. On the use of παρά from, see on John 6:46; see on 1 John 1:5.
God the Father
The more common expression is "God our Father."
The Son of the Father
In truth and in love
The combination is not found elsewhere. The words indicate the contents of the whole Epistle.
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
Expressions of thankful joy are common in the Pauline salutations. See Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon.
The word is found in John's writings only here and 3 John 1:3.
I found (εὕρηκα)
See on John 1:41. Rev., I have found.
Of thy children (ἐκ τῶν τέκνων)
The rendering is obscure. Rev., rightly, supplies certain. Compare John 16:17.
In truth (ἐν ἀληθείᾳ)
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.
See on Matthew 26:29.
We had (εἴχαμεν)
The apostle identifies himself with his readers.
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.
Love (ἡ ἀγάπη)
The love just mentioned in the verb we love.
See on John 15:13.
After His commandments (κατὰ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ)
For walk, with κατά after, according to, see Mark 7:5; Romans 8:4; Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 10:2. Very often with ἐν in. See John 8:12; John 11:9, John 11:10; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 John 1:7, 1 John 1:10. Both constructions are found 2 Corinthians 10:2, 2 Corinthians 10:3.
From the beginning (ἀπ' ἀρχῆς)
See on John 1:1.
In it (ἐν αὐτῇ)
In love: not the commandment.
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.
See on we deceive ourselves, 1 John 1:8.
Are entered into (ἐξῆλθαν εἰς)
Rev., are gone forth into. The A.V. follows the reading εἰσῆλθον entered into. The tense is the aorist, strictly rendered, went forth. It may indicate a particular crisis, at which they went forth from the Christian society.
Who confess not (οἱ μὴ ὁμολογοῦντες)
The article with the participle describes the character of this class of deceivers, and does not merely assert a definite fact concerning them. Compare Mark 15:41, "other women which came up with Him" (αἱ συνσνσβᾶσαι). Confess. See on Matthew 7:23; see on Matthew 10:32.
Is come (ἐρχόμενον)
Wrong. The verb is in the present participle, coming, which describes the manhood of Christ as still being manifested. See on 1 John 3:5. In 1 John 4:2 we have the manifestation treated as a past fact by the perfect tense, ἐληλυθο.τα has come. Rev., that Jesus Christ cometh. So in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης is the wrath which is coming; which has already begun its movement and is advancing: not merely, as A.V., the wrath to come, which makes it wholly a future event. See on lingereth, 2 Peter 2:3.
An antichrist (ὁ ἀντίχριστος)
Rev, rendering the definite article, the antichrist. See on 1 John 2:18.
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
Look to yourselves that (βλέπετε ἑαυτούς ἵνα)
Ἵνα in order that, marks the intent of the caution. See on John 15:13.
We lose (ἀπολέσωμεν)
The best texts read ἀπολέσητε, ye lose. So Rev, with destroy in margin. For the meanings of the verb see on Luke 9:25.
We receive (ἀπολάβωμεν)
The best texts read ἀπολάβητε ye receive. The compounded preposition ἀπό, has the force of back: receive back from God.
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.
Whosoever transgresseth (πᾶς ὁ παραβαίνων)
The best texts read προάγων goeth onward. So Rev., with taketh the lead in margin. The meaning is, whosoever advances beyond the limits of Christian doctrine. Others explain of those who would set themselves up as teachers, or take the lead. Such false progress is contrasted with abiding in the teaching. On the construction, πᾶς every one, with the article and participle, see on 1 John 3:3.
Abideth - in (μένων ἐν)
See on 1 John 2:6.
Better, as Rev., teaching.
Not the teaching concerning Christ, but the teaching of Christ Himself and of His apostles. See Hebrews 2:3. So according to New Testament usage. See John 18:19; Acts 2:12; Revelation 2:14, Revelation 2:15.
In the doctrine of Christ
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
If there come any (εἴ τις ἔρχεται)
Better, Rev., if anyone cometh. The indicative mood assumes the fact: if anyone comes, as there are those that come. Cometh is used in an official sense as of a teacher. See on 1 John 3:5.
Neither bid him God speed (καὶ χαίρειν αὐτῷ μὴ λέγετε)
Lit., and say not unto him "greeting!" Χαίρειν rejoice, hail, was the customary form of salutation. It was also used in bidding farewell; but in the New Testament always of greeting (Acts 15:23; Acts 23:26; James 1:1). "Now whoever cometh and teacheth you all these things, before spoken, receive him; but if the teacher himself turn aside and teach another teaching, so as to overthrow this, do not hear him" ("Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," ch. xi. See on Matthew 10:10).
For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
Is partaker (κοινωνεῖ)
The verb occurs nowhere else in John's writings. The kindred noun κοινωνία fellowship, is peculiar to the First Epistle. See on 1 John 1:3; also on partners (Luke 5:10); fellowship (Acts 2:42); partaker (1 Peter 5:1).
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.
I would not (οὐκ ἐβουλήθην)
See on Matthew 1:19.
Only here in the New Testament. The Egyptian papyrus or byblus, Cyperus papyrus, anciently very common, but not now found within the limits of the country. It is a tall, smooth flag or reed, with a large triangular stalk, containing the pith which furnished the paper. The paper was manufactured by cutting the pith into strips, arranging them horizontally, and then placing across them another layer of strips, uniting the two layers by a paste, and subjecting the whole to a heavy pressure. The upper and middle portions of the reed were used for this purpose. The fact that the plant is no longer found is significant in connection with Isaiah's prophecy that "the flags (Hebrews suph, papyrus) shall waste away" (Isaiah 19:6). The plant grew in shallow water or in marshes, and is accordingly represented on the monuments as at the side of a stream or in irrigated lands. The Jews wrote on various materials, such as the leaves of the olive and palm, the rind of the pomegranate, and the skins of animals. The tablet (πινακίδιον, Luke 1:63) was in very common use. It consisted of thin pieces of wood, strung together, and either plain, or covered with papyrus or with wax.
Lit., that which is black. The word occurs only once outside of John's Epistles (2 Corinthians 3:3), and only three times in all (2 John 1:12; 3 John 1:13). Ink was prepared of soot or of vegetable or mineral substances. Gum and vitriol were also used. Colored inks, red and gold, were also employed.
To come unto you (γενέσθαι πρὸς ὑμὰς)
Face to face (στόμα πρὸς στόμα)
Lit, mouth to mouth. Compare πρόσωπον προς πρόσωπον, face to face, 1 Corinthians 8:12.
Rev., rightly, fulfilled.
The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.