This second Letter of John is the shortest book in the New Testament. John, the apostle and closest friend of Jesus, writes this letter probably from Ephesus, where he spent the last years of his life.
It is addressed to ‘the elect lady’ which some have argued is describing the ‘Church’ (often described in scripture as a bride and in female terms). But it could simply be to a woman who played a key role in the church. John says that he looks forward to visiting, suggesting that the church is not geographically close, but could be reasonably reached.
As the Christian faith developed in the first century there were some who didn’t like the Gospel message that the apostles preached. John knew that it was important that false teaching would damage the church and its members, and take them away from the life that that they were enjoying as followers of Jesus.
In that day it was normal for travelling teachers to be given hospitality in the churches that they visited. John was warning the lady and church not to do this. He describes the teachers as ‘deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.’(v 7) and their teaching as ‘wicked’.
It is likely that these were the same people as those mentioned in 1 John. Some suggest that 2 John is written before 1 John. It describes the way these teachers had begun to lead others astray which led to the split mentioned in 1 John. John explains that those who ‘don’t have God’ won’t continue in the teaching of Jesus.
John is warning the elect lady and the churches not to support the work of heretical preachers. He was looking forward to visiting soon.
Why read it?
Most Christian communities encourage hospitality and warm acceptance of one another. But there are times when we must guard one another from teaching that could lead to believers drifting away from the Gospel. We would be extremely foolish to behave as if that did not matter.
It won’t take you long to read, but it might save you and your church a lot of grief if you put its simple message into practice!
|1:7-11||Warning about false teachers|