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Introduction to 2nd John

“The elder,

To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth— because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.”
(2 John 1-3 NIV)

We begin our walk through 2nd John today.  Similar to 3rd John, this is a letter to an individual, rather than a church or larger group of Christ-followers.  Unlike 3rd John, the recipient of this letter is unnamed – she is simply referred to as “the lady”.

Some scholars try to generalize John’s letter, saying that since John did not specifically call out the lady’s name, this letter must be written to a group of churches, or the church in general.  These scholars try to say that John is referring to the church like Jesus did, as the bride of Christ, therefore just calling her “the lady”.

However, the text of the letter does not lend itself to that interpretation.  in verse 1, John refers to “the lady”, and to “her children”.  Also, in verse 13, John refers to the lady’s sister, and her children, indicating real people, not just metaphorical groups of people.  Also, John says he wants to visit her and her family face-to-face (verse 12), indicating a real person, not a metaphorical one.

So why would John write to this lady?  While the Bible is silent on the subject, we can guess that either this lady was a widow, or a single parent.  If she was a widow, it might have been because of her husband’s stand for Christ cost him his life.  If she was a single parent, it might have been a case of abandonment due to her stand for Christ.  Again, God’s Word does not say, so it’s all just a guess on our part.

The letter is attributed to the apostle John, who simply identifies himself as “the elder”.  The letter is short, and most likely was written on one page of papyrus (a plant-based fiber that was made into an early version of what we now call paper).

Clearly, the primary theme of this letter is truth.  John uses this word 5 times in the letter, and 4 of the 5 instances occur in the first three verses.  The secondary theme of this letter is love.  This is not emotional love, but obedient love, showing God we love Him by obeying His commands.

John calls this lady “chosen by God”.  What does that mean?  Simply, it refers to her spiritual condition, to her salvation in Christ.

And what does John refer to as his connecting point with this lady?  God’s truth.  John goes on to say that everyone who follows and obeys Christ is connected via the truth of God’s Word.

What does John offer to the lady in his introduction? Grace, mercy, and peace, that are only found in God, through God’s truth and love.

There is so much that we can draw out of John’s introduction, but we’ll simply summarize it by saying that there is an ultimate truth, and that is found in God and His Word.  John says that truth lasts forever, all the way to eternity, and beyond.  I don’t know about you, but that brings me great comfort and hope.

Blessings,
~kevin

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