Study of 2 John

"The Truth About Love"

By Dr. Edgar Pierce

(c) 2006

Preliminary Fact:

    We need to understand some preliminary facts concerning this epistle, the smallest book in the entire bible before we do exposition of the text. Lets look at the author, the place and time of the writing, the recipient of the letter as well as the purpose for which it was written.


    1:1 "The Elder" We have a very personal letter here from the Elder John the Apostle. The apostle John wrote 5 books in the New Testament, second only to the Apostle Paul. He wrote, John the Gospel, The three epistles of I John, II John, and III John as well as the Revelation.

    "The Greek word for 'elder' is presbuteros (presbyter), and it has a twofold meaning. I can mean a senior citizen, referring to age, or it can be a title, referring to an office in the church, a minister or teacher. I am sure that John is primarily calling himself an elder, speaking of his office in the church. I think he also infers the fact that he is now an old man." (J.V. McGee, Thru the Bible, p. 826)

    In the Dake Annotated Bible Finis Dake says John was an elder for three reasons. By title, by age, and "By Seniority, both as a Christian and as an apostle. He is supposed to have been the oldest of the apostles, to have more years of Christian experience and to be the only one to die a natural death.

Place and Time of Writing:

    There are a variety of dates given for the year of the writing of this epistle. C.I. Scofield dates it, "Probably A.D. 90. J.V. McGee gives a rang of 10 years as the date from 90-100 A.D. John by this time is probably 90+ years old by the time of this writing. We can safely say that it is one of the last works written in the New Testament.

          We know that John was exiled on the Isle of Patmos during the writing of the Revelation. Church tradition says that after he was released he returned to the city of Ephesus and was pastor of the churches.

The Recipient of the Letter:

    1:1 "unto the elect lady and her children..." The word translated elect is the word electa.

    There are two basic thought on who this letter is addressed to. Some say that it is addressed to a particular person and her children and that the reason why John did not name her is to prevent persecution of her by the Roman authorities who viewed Christianity as an unlawful religion. If this be the case this is the only letter in the scriptures addressed to a woman. Others see this letter as being written to a church in the days of John. J.V. McGee says, "The word electa could be the name of a prominent woman in the church, or it could be the local church itself that John has in mind. 'Her children' could be either the physical children of the woman or the spiritual children of the church." (J.V. McGee, Thru the Bible, p. 826) 

The Purpose of the Letter:

    Might I say that regardless of which of the thoughts regarding to whom this epistle is written is correct, of if they both are, this work contains some spiritual dynamite. This letter is very important today because the church seems to be crying out for love at the cost of truth and this letter teaches plainly that love should not be elevated above truth. John had written in the first epistle, I John, a great deal about love. Lest he be misunderstood and the doctrine of love become so one sided that it accepted anything he writes this epistle. This points out the importance of understanding the whole scriptures on a subject and not just one verse out of context.

    There is another key to understanding the grand purpose of this letter in the key word of the epistle, TRUTH. John is concerned with and credited for preservation of the truth concerning the gospel of Christ in the early church.


Exposition of the Text


The Truth About Love 2 John 1-13


I- Rejoice In Those Who Walk in Truth 1:1-6

II- Reject Those Who Walk Not in Truth 1:7-11

III- Receive Those Who Come in Truth 1:12-13

I- Rejoice In Those Who Walk in Truth 1:1-6

    We saw in the introduction that John writes to the Elect Lady. There is another very important phrase that we need to not miss concerning this lady. John also says, "whom I love in the truth." The truth needs to be understood as the word of God and the One revealed by the word of God, Jesus Christ. He said that He was, "The Truth" in John 14:6.

    Notice that John says he, "rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth..." John is very pleased that he found the offspring, whether physical or spiritual, of the lady was walking in the truth of God's word.

    We see that John connect truth and love together here in this epistle. In 1:5 John says he did not write anything new to them now concerning love. John 14:15 says, "If you love me you will keep my commandments." John 13:35 says, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you love one another." Notice that the love is to be toward the brethren. There is a great deal of emphasis on love today in the church. We must realize that love is linked to the truth always. Someone said if truth would have been included in I Cor 13:13 it would have read, Now abideth faith, hope, charity and truth, the greatest of these is truth.

II- Reject Those Who Walk Not in Truth 1:7-11

    These verses have been used for many years, and maybe rightly so, to refuse the entry of Jehovah Witnesses and other cults into our home (see v. 10) when they come to witness at the door. The teaching is very plain here to not have fellowship with and give love in the context of the love we have for the brethren to the pagan religious world.

They deny the doctrine of Christ. 1:6-9

    In the New Testament there is a great deal of writing concerning the denial of Christ. Peter wrote his second epistle with this thought, see II Peter 2:1. Jude, also wrote concerning the false teachers, the letter of Paul to the Thessalonians had this thought in it and certainly the epistles of John. I John 2:22 says, "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son."  John goes on to say that we cannot know God the Father except we know the Son and vice versa. (see I John 2:23)

    My friends we need to understand that Christ is the only way there is to salvation and the doctrine of Christ must be kept pure so that can work its work. We must know that the God/Man Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life and was offered willingly for our sins on Calvary and was resurrected on the third day.

Reject Them! 1:11-12

    John uses some strong language here in fact I don't think it possible to use any stronger. We must understand the cultural setting of the day to rightly divide this. The men traveled from place to place with the gospel message and would stay in the homes of other believers. The receiving of those who were false teacher were not be given lodging or helped in their ungodly efforts in any way. Verse 10 says not to bide them "Godspeed" or to encourage them in their work and imply that you were in agreement with their doctrine.

    We must be very careful to whom we give our offerings and know what doctrine is being given out by those we support.

III- Receive Those Who Come in Truth 1:12-13

    We have just two verses left in this short epistle. John here tells the elect lady that he hopes to come to see her shortly. Some say that John did a great deal of traveling in the later times of his life. "John may well have supervised the work among the various churches in Asia Minor such as are named in Rev 2-3." (Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, p. 942)

    John wanted to come and "speak face to face" to these believers and encouraged them to receive those who come in the truth. Laying this beside verse 7-11 we again can state that truth is the most important thing to hold to and the love that we need to have grows from the truth.


2006 by Dr. Edgar Pierce