The book of 2 John (2 John 1)

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Ancient tradition holds that this letter was written by the apostle John. 2 John identifies its author only as “the elder”, but the letter has clear affinities with the Gospel of John, as well as with 1 John (e.g. cf. John 14:23 with 1 John 5:3). All in all, there is no real reason to doubt John’s authorship.

The date of composition is unknown, but this shorter letter was probably written in the late first century A.D. Ephesus has been suggested as the place of writing.

This letter is addressed to “the chosen lady” (2 John 1:1), also called “dear lady” (1:5). This address may be a reference to a particular Christian woman and her family or to an individual, female leader of a house church (see Colossians 4:15). In the Greek text of 2 John 1:8, however, the author referred to the addressee using a masculine plural pronoun, which strongly suggests that the “chosen lady” of 1:1 may be a metaphorical reference to a sister church in a nearby town. In this case, the “children of your chosen sister” (1:13) would refer to the members of another local church.

During the first two centuries the gospel was spread by travelling evangelists and teachers. Since inns were not readily available, believers customarily took these missionaries into their homes and supplied them with provisions for their journey when they were about to leave. John asked his readers to refuse hospitality to false teachers moving about among the churches who did not “acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (1:7). This may refer to a very early form of Gnostic teaching (see The Gnostics and their Scriptures under 1 John 4).

As you read, pay attention to John’s emphasis on truth and love, and note his warning against false teaching and deceivers.

Did you know that in his later years the apostle John functioned as an elder, perhaps of the Ephesian church (1:1)? Did you know that the paper of John’s day was made from papyrus reeds, which were readily available and inexpensive (1:12)? Did you knw that ink (the Greek term comes from  word that means “black”) was made by mixing carbon, water and gum or oil (1:12)?


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