All four gospels describe John as a fisherman from Galilee, son of Zebedee and brother of the apostle James. The book of Acts also tells us that he is a leader of the church in Jerusalem.
In 1 John, the apostle dealt with the threat of false teachers troubling a church he loved. He was concerned that some of them might be pulled away from the faith by these slick false teachers. In 2 John, he again writes against the problems caused by some traveling false teachers.
Some have referred to 2 John as more of a “postcard” or “gospel tract” because it contains only 245 words in the Greek. While it does carry the distinction of being the shortest book of the New Testament don’t let that discourage you from studying it. It is full of powerful lessons about love, life, and the truth.
The letter is addressed to an unknown individual called the “elect lady and her children.” While it does could refer to a literal person, it seems like John uses the term as a metaphor for a church and its members. Whichever you chose, his message is clear: love each other, love others well, and hold to the truth of God’s word.
3 themes stand out in 2 John: truth, love, and walking in the faith. Unlike the false teachers real Christians love each other, love others, and love the words of Christ. They take that love into their lives and put it into practice every day.
“… this is love that we walk according to his commandments…” (2 John 6).
Truth: John mentions the truth 4 times in the first 3 verses of the letter. He also expresses gratitude that the lady’s children (members of that church) were walking in the truth. With these false teachers trying to sow seeds of doubt about Jesus and the gospel, surrounding themselves with the truth was their greatest weapon against them.
Walking: The Christian faith is not a spectator sport. 3 times in verses 4-6, John refers to walking. The first was walking in the truth and the other two deal with walking in love. From a New Testament perspective, walking refers to your everyday life. So, for the Christian, faith should have a clear effect on everything we do.
Love: Clearly on of John’s favorite topics through all his writings, love plays a significant role in 2 John. Contrary to the false teachers, Christians live to love. They love each other and those outside the church. This is the clearest evidence of a genuine faith and relationship with Jesus.
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/