Two John One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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yTerm 1:1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

elder. “The elder” is, of course, the beloved disciple John. The vocabulary, tone and content of this short epistle clearly prove that it was written by the same author as John's gospel and his first epistle. He evidently called himself “the elder” both because he was an old man by this time and also because the various churches of Asia (to whom his letters were undoubtedly circulated) all acknowledged him as entitled to this official designation. Uniform tradition holds that he was the presiding elder, or bishop, of the church at Ephesus in particular, but all these churches honored and respected him as holding apostolic authority.

elect lady. Although a number of modern writers believe John was writing to a particular woman leader of one of the churches, it seems more likely that he was personifying the church under the figure of a gracious lady (compare 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27, 32). No other canonical epistle is addressed to an individual, unless that individual is addressed by name (e.g., zTerm 1). Some have suggested that “lady” is actually a proper name (Greek kuria), but the adjective “elect” is never elsewhere used as an individual appellation (e.g., “the wellbeloved Gaius,” zTerm 1). Another obvious problem is that this lady was assumed to have considerable authority in the church, whereas the Apostle Paul had made it plain that, in the church, no woman was “to usurp authority over the man” (1 Timothy 2:12).

children. The “children” so addressed, as well as other children that had moved away (yTerm 4), were evidently those who had been won to Christ through the ministry of this church. Perhaps, since John did not mention its location, this church was addressed as representing all the churches of the region.

yTerm 1:2 For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.

For the truth's sake. The word “truth” occurs more in John's two one-chapter epistles than in any other New Testament book except John and xTerm. Thus, one of the great themes in all of John's writings is truth.

yTerm 1:3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

yTerm 1:4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

walking in truth. This is one of only three references in Scripture to “walking in truth” (see also zTerm 3, 4), but this indeed should always characterize our daily “walk.” Similarly, we are told to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16), to “walk in love” (Ephesians 5:2), to “walk in wisdom” (Colossians 4:5), and to “walk in the light” (xTerm 1:7).

yTerm 1:5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

yTerm 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

yTerm 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

entered. This means, literally, “gone forth” into the world, evidently from the domain of Satan, seeking to undermine and destroy any true church.

in the flesh. This is the specific test by which to distinguish true teachers from false teachers (xTerm 4:1-3). Actually the verb “is come” could be rendered “is coming.” That is, Jesus Christ is coming back to this world, and it will again be “in the flesh,” but His body is now made of glorified and immortal flesh.

deceiver and an antichrist. Literally, “the deceiver and the antichrist.” This is indeed the doctrine taught by Satan and his coming Antichrist, but already there are “many antichrists” (xTerm 2:18), as well as “many deceivers” that have “entered into the world.”

yTerm 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

yTerm 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

transgresseth. This means, “goes beyond,” trying to put esoteric extrapolations of a pseudo-spiritual nature on the plain teachings of Christ and His Word.

doctrine. The “doctrine” of Christ (which word actually is “teachings” in the Greek) must include all the teachings of Christ, everything He said and did, covering all the Scripture and all His purposes.

yTerm 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

your house. The “house” is the church, probably then meeting in a house. No false teacher is to be allowed to teach in the church.

God speed. “God speed” (Greek chairo) means essentially “good cheer!” It is any expression of fellowship and good will, and should not be used to encourage a false teacher.

yTerm 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

yTerm 1:12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

yTerm 1:13 The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

elect sister. The “elect sister” probably was the church from which John was writing, the “sister-church” of the “elect lady” (yTerm 1).