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The Second and Third Epistles of John - Lesson 2

Scripture Passage: 
2 John 1:1-3

                     The Second Epistle of John                                    2 John 1:1-3                                  John’s Greeting

  1. THE PEOPLE INVOLVED (2 John 1:1)
    1. The Author
      1. Various uses of the word elder
        1. It can be a reference to age (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
        2. It can be a reference to wisdom (Job 32:4-7).
        3. It can be a reference to an office of leadership (Numbers 11:16; Matthew 21:23; Titus 1:5).
        4. In the case of the Apostle John, all three apply.
      2. The purpose for using this title
        1. This title would emphasize John’s wisdom without harshly claiming absolute authority.
        2. John is dealing gently with the elect lady; he is correcting her with compassion.
        3. Compare this with the method implored by the Lord Jesus with the seven churches.  He began with something they did right and proceeded to the things that needed correction.
    2. The Recipients
      1. The figurative interpretation of the elect lady and her children
        1. Some Bible students think that the elect lady is a church, her elect sister is a sister church, and her children are the members of and from the church.
        2. Although some good types may be drawn from this, there is no reason to believe that John was speaking metaphorically.
      2. The literal interpretation of the elect lady and her children
        1. This lady is called the “elect lady” (2 John 1:1) and “lady” (2 John 1:5)
        2. She has “children” (2 John 1:1, 4).
        3. She has an “elect sister” (2 John 1:13).
        4. Her “elect sister” has children (2 John 1:13).
        5. She was probably a prominent Christian lady known by John.
      3. The meaning of “elect”
        1. The word elect means chosen (Mark 13:20).
        2. Jesus Christ is God’s elect (Isaiah 42:1).
        3. Our election
          1. Our election is based on the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:2).
          2. Our election is based on us being in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-6; Ephesians 1:12-13).
        4. Our election is to be confirmed (2 Peter 1:10).
      4. The elect acts as a synonym of the redeemed.
        1. The redeemed are called “God’s elect” (Romans 8:33; Titus 1:1).
        2. The redeemed are called the “elect of God” (Colossians 3:12).
    3. The Love for the Elect Lady and Her Children
      1. Love in the truth
        1. This same greeting is found in 3 John 1:1 to the “wellbeloved Gaius.”
        2. The phrase “the truth” refers to that which is true.
          1. It can be God’s law (Psalm 119:142).
          2. It can be Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
          3. It can be God’s word (John 17:17-19).
          4. It can be the gospel (Galatians 2:5, 14; Colossians 1:5).
        3. We are told that “the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21).
        4. Therefore, that which is “in the truth” is in agreement with the word of God and Jesus Christ.
        5. To love someone in the truth would involve loving them according to the word, but more likely it refers to the basis of mutual love.
          1. Peter praises those to whom he writes for “obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren” (1 Peter 1:22). Their obedience to the truth gave them a sincere love for the brethren, but it also gave them a mutual reason for love to one another.
          2. Philippians 1:5 refers to our “fellowship in the gospel.”
            1. That is, we have a fellowship that is based on our mutual faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
            2. Our mutual belief in this truth becomes a basis for our love to each other.
      2. Those who love the lady and her children
        1. Loved by John himself
        2. Loved by all those “that have known the truth”
          1. Our knowledge of the truth brings us into fellowship with others who know the truth.
          2. We ought to automatically love those who love Him and His word.
    1. For the Truth’s Sake
      1. Not only does John love the elect lady and her children in the truth, he also loves them for the truth’s sake.
      2. Love for the sake of obeying the truth
        1. Not only does John love them because they believe in the truth; he also loves them in order to obey the truth. He loves them because it fulfills the truth of God by obeying the command of Christ.
        2. Before His crucifixion, Christ gave this commandment to His disciples: “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
      3. Love for the sake of propagating the truth (John 13:35)
    2. The Presence of Truth
      1. The truth dwells with us.
        1. God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and we are to let the word of Christ dwell in us “richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16).
        2. Because of the next phrase, it is more likely that this verse refers to the Holy Spirit.
          1. Jesus calls Him “the Spirit of truth” three times in His discourse on the coming of the Comforter (John 14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13).
          2. John had also earlier spoken of this aspect of the Spirit: “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6).
          3. Other passages refer to the Spirit of God dwelling in the believer (Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3:16). 1 John 4:13 states, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”
      2. The truth shall be with us forever.
        1. Whether through the word (John 17:17), or the Spirit (1 John 5:6), or Jesus (John 14:6), those who know the Lord and dwell with Him will forever have truth with them.
        2. But why does John make a point of this? He is establishing the importance of truth.
          1. It is one of the things that remains because it cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:27).
          2. It is one of the unseen things that is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).
          3. It must be treated as highly important in the Christian life.
    1. The Threefold Blessing
      1. A twofold blessing of grace and peace begins most of Paul’s epistles (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; etc.), Peter’s epistles (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2), and the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:4).
      2. However, Paul used a threefold blessing of grace, mercy, and peace in the Pastoral Epistles—those he wrote to the young preachers (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4). Evidently, preachers need a special element of mercy because of their special responsibilities to God.
      3. This threefold blessing is only used in one other epistle—that of 2 John.
        1. Does it indicate a special need for mercy for the elect lady and her children? It probably does.
        2. She is compromising doctrine for the sake of getting along in love.
    2. The Nature of the Blessing
      1. Every believer has already received grace, mercy, and peace from God.
      2. Why is such a blessing given to those who have already received grace, mercy, and peace?
      3. The answer is found in the twofold application of these blessings.
        1. There is saving grace. There is also grace for serving. The same applies for mercy and peace.
        2. Grace
          1. Serving grace is God’s enabling for the believer.
          2. 2 Corinthians 9:8 states, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” Of this grace, the Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
          3. God’s grace enables us to serve or suffer for Him. It is His sufficiency for the believer, for truly, “our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).
        3. Mercy
          1. God’s mercy delivers us from hell. We are saved “according to his mercy” (Titus 3:5).
          2. However, believers need a continued application of God’s mercy to deliver from earthly judgment for disobedience.
          3. We need the mercy of the Lord in order “to be faithful” (1 Corinthians 7:25) and to “faint not” (2 Corinthians 4:1).
          4. We come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy (Hebrews 4:16).
        4. Peace
          1. At salvation, we receive the gift of “peace with God” (Romans 5:1) so that we are no longer his “enemies” (Romans 5:10).
          2. But we may still deal with inward battles of the heart. God wants to give us peace here as well.
            1. We are to “let the peace of God rule” in our hearts (Colossians 3:15).
            2. Then, the believer is promised, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
    3. The Source of the Blessing
      1. The blessing is said to be “from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
      2. This is the common form of this blessing. Galatians 1:3 states, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.”
      3. The dual source emphasizes the unity of the Father and the Son. To receive from one of them is to receive from the other.
    4. The Son of the Father
      1. This is the only place in the English Bible where this exact phrase is used.
      2. Perhaps the closest to it is in John 1:18 where Jesus is called “the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.”
      3. The title emphasizes special relationship. In this regard, there is only one Father and He has only one Son.
      4. In addition, they are connected in such an integral way that they cannot be separated.
        1. 2 John will later make the point that he who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
        2. In his first epistle, John had made the point that those who denied the Son had also denied the Father (1 John 2:22-23).
    5. The Blessing Founded in Truth and Love
      1. This completes the blessing. It gives a threefold blessing (grace, mercy, and peace) from a twofold source (Father and Son) by a twofold application (truth and love) to make a total of seven elements to the blessing.
      2. The balance between truth and love is the theme of this book.
        1. We need to act in love, but this love must not distort our stand for the truth.
        2. The key to the Christian walk in this epistle is to maintain both truth and love at the same time.
        3. Imbalance is obviously unacceptable to God (Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 20:23; Genesis 49:4; James 1:8).
      3. God’s balance
        1. God is truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; John 14:6).
        2. God is love (1 John 4:16).
        3. In the proper balance, God never compromises one characteristic for the implementation of the other.  God is always love and God is always truth.  As such He never departs from one to be the other.
Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 25:7

For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.