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Sample from 2 John 1:1-3:
I. THE APOSTLE’S
SALUTATION: GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE (Vv. 1-3)
V. 1 In 2 John, the apostle introduces himself as the elder. This may refer to age or official position in the church. As to age, John was the last of the apostles who had companied with the Lord Jesus. As to official position, he surely was a bishop or overseer. Thus, we need not choose our explanation; both are correct.
The expression “To the elect lady” is not so easy to explain. Three views are commonly held. (1) Some believe that the elect lady is the church, elsewhere referred to as the Bride of Christ, or a particular local church. (2) Others think that the Letter was addressed to “the elect Kyria”—her name being Kyria. This name could be the Greek equivalent to the Aramaic name Martha (both mean “lady”). 1 (3) Others feel that John is writing to an unnamed Christian lady, who with all other believers is among the elect of God—chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
We prefer the last view, and feel it is especially significant that this warning against anti-christian teachers should be found in a Letter addressed to a woman. Sin first entered the world through Eve’s being deceived by Satan. “The woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Tim. 2:14). Paul speaks of false teachers who make a special appeal to women; they get into the house and capture “gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,” who will listen to anyone and yet are “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:6, 7). Even today the false cults visit homes during the daytime, when the man of the house is usually at work. Children need to be warned against false teachers also.
John states that he loves this elect lady and her children … in truth. Those who are saved find themselves in a wonderful fellowship, loving others whom they never would have loved, were it not for their common love for the truth of God. It is God’s truth that binds hearts together—the hearts of all those who have known the truth.
V. 2 Because of the truth has two possible explanations. It may refer to the motive for loving all the saints, or it may give John’s reason for writing this Letter. Both are valid meanings. The truth which abides in us and will be with us forever. Here the truth may refer to: (1) the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “I am … the truth” (John 14:6); (2) the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit is truth” (1 Jn. 5:6; see John 14:16, 17); or (3) the Bible. “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Should we not pause to marvel at our being sustained by these Three, and their being with us forever!
V. 3 John’s greeting is “grace, mercy, and peace will be with you.” 2 Grace is undeserved favor to those who deserve the opposite. Mercy is pity shown to those who are guilty and wretched. Peace is the harmonious relationship that results from God’s grace and mercy. All three of these blessings are from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father is the Source and the Son is the Channel.
In addition, they are in truth and love, and never at the expense of either of these virtues.
1 (V. 1) Less likely, the Greek word for elect (Eklektē, “Electa”) could be taken as a proper name and the word “lady” as a title: “Lady Electa.”
2 (V. 3) The critical (NU) and majority (M) texts read “us.” The Greek words for you/we, for you/us, and your/our are only one letter different from each other, hence the copying problems in the mss. (See, e.g., V. 8, where the NU text reads you, not we.)