- Conference Media
- New City Catechism
- Read the Bible
This introductory course is designed to provide key insights into the book of 2 John by pulling together a number of key resources: overview videos from Fast Facts and The Bible Project, helpful contextual information from The ESV Study Bible, commentary recommendations from The Gospel Coalition, a single sermon that sums up the book from beginning to end by Mark Dever, and much more. By watching, listening to, and reading these resources, you’ll be better prepared to read, study, teach, or preach the book of 2 John.
In format, this brief book is a conventional NT epistle, consisting of a salutation, a body, and a conclusion. As in most epistles, the body of the letter consists of mingled instruction and commands, and although readers do not find the concentrated list of commands that comprise the familiar paraenesis (set of ethical commands) of NT letters, 2 John 8–11 has affinities with that conventional motif.
John writes to “the elect lady.” This more likely refers to a congregation than to an individual, because much of 2 John is written in the second-person plural. It is also questionable whether John would write to a female Christian that he and she should “love one another” (2 John 5); the phrase makes better sense if addressed to a church. There are three additional reasons why “elect lady” may refer to a whole congregation. First, the word “church” in Greek is feminine in gender, and “lady” would go along with that. Second, the church is depicted as “bride” elsewhere in John’s writings (Rev. 21:2, 9; 22:17). Third, the Greek word kyria (“lady”) referred to a social subunit in the Greek city-state. John may use this word for a local congregation instead of the more common feminine word ekklēsia.
2 John 13 suggests that John writes to one congregation from another, which he terms “your elect sister.”
The focus of 2 John is living in the love of God in accordance with the truth of Jesus Christ. This love extends not only to God but to other people. It is also discerning; it does not “go on ahead” of biblical revelation (2 John 9), and it does not lend aid to enemies of the gospel message (2 John 10–11). Instead, Christ’s followers “walk according to his commandments” (2 John 6) and through faith “win a full reward” (2 John 8).
2 John 2
2 John 6
2 John 7
2 John 9–11
John writes to urge readers to love each other (2 John 5) and beware of deceivers (2 John 7–8). He offers practical counsel on showing hospitality to traveling missionaries (2 John 10–11) and seeks to prepare “the elect lady” for his anticipated visit in the near future (2 John 12).
Now that Christ has accomplished salvation, believers are to follow him and his teaching.
Nancy Guthrie interviews David Helm
The following recommendations are from D. A. Carson, New Testament Commentary Survey. 7th ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2013.