A Letter to a Lady and Her Children
2 John 1-3
Second John was the shortest book in the Bible. It was written of course by the Apostle John who at
this time is already very old. He must have written this second epistle and the third John as soon as
he finished his first Epistle. He was the only living Apostle during this time. The rest of the original
12 have passed away. The key word for this shorth epistle is “love and truth”. This is the only book of
the five that John wrote that contains the word “mercy.” The purpose of this epistle is to encourage
brotherly love, keeping the commandments of God (2 Jn. 5-6) and to warn against false teachers (2
I. The Elder
A. In the Bible elder means
1. Old age (Gen. 27:42).
2. Mature older men; heads of families; men of repute who serve as leaders (Ex.
3. An office in the church (Acts 14:23; 20:17; 1 Tim. 5:17,19; Tit. 1:5; Jas. 5:14; 1
Pet. 5:1 (Way of Life Encyclopedia).
4. The “elder” here is the apostle John.
II. The Elect lady and her children
A. Two interpretations about this “elect lady”:
1. Taken literally, the epistle is written to a person, a godly woman and to her
children. John does not name this woman
2. Figuratively, written to a church symbolically called by a woman’s name. Her
children are the believers in the church.
3. I would favor the literal interpretation here.
4. The “elect lady” is a lady chosen of God. This “elect lady” was probably a widow
with children. God chooses women to do His work.
5. The word “elect” here does not support the unscriptural Calvinistic belief that
God chooses people who will go to heaven and who will go to hell.
Illustration: Chosen by God
The idea of election goes back to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). God chose to make a nation of that
patriarch’s descendants. He chose Israel to be his people. He worked his purposes out through that
one nation and in due course sent his Messiah as a Jew. After that, God continued to choose, or
elect, people in accordance with his purpose (Rom. 9:11), grace (Rom. 11:5), love (1 Thess. 1:4), and
foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:2). The “elect” can rely on God’s concern for them (Luke 18:7) and on their
sure salvation (Rom. 8:33). They are to live lives befitting their status (Col. 3:12-14). Mystery is
inherent in the concept of election, because we also know that God desires the salvation of all
persons (1 Tim. 2:4). Source unknown
B. John’s love for her
A. John mentions his love for her, but this is not a romantic love. It’s a brotherly
love to a sister in Christ and to her children.
B. All Christians are commanded by the Lord to love one another
C. John loves them in truth.
D. “The truth” as used in the Bible:
1. In Prov. 12:17, 19, it denotes that which is opposed to falsehood.
2. In Isa. 59:14-15 and Jer. 7:28, it means fidelity or truthfulness.
3. The doctrine of Christ is called “the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:5), “the
truth” (2 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 4:4).
4. Our Lord says of himself, “I am the way, the truth” (John 14:6).
5. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth
E. Truth dwelleth in us and remains with all believers forever (1 Jn. 2). Truth is the
message of the gospel; our God is the God of truth. This “truth” always issues in
love, love for God, love for fellow covenant brothers and sisters, and love for a
lost world (1 Jn. 4:7-21).
F. Biblical true love will always be bound by truth, and proven not only by words
but also in action.
G. Our fellowship with other Christian must also be in the sphere of truth. They are
our brothers and sisters in Christ and our brotherly love for them must be for
real. We know and share the same truth about the person and deity of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ.
H. Here, the “elect lady” as we can see later, exercised love at the expense of truth.
She showed hospitality to false teachers. These people are denying the deity of
Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
I. While it’s our duty to provide help to the needy and to the strangers, including
loving our enemies, we must discern and choose which people we would be
helping. Denying help to false teachers for me is never wrong.
J. In fact, in verse 10 tells us not to give help even to greet them. We are
commanded to separate ourselves from false teachers.
Illustration 2: Separation from the Unclean Thing
The doctrine of separation from “the unclean thing” is neglected today by professing Christians, but
it is still here in God’s Word. The context indicates that Paul is warning against Christians being
“unequally yoked together with unbelievers” and urging us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness
of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” ( 2 Cor. 6:14, 7:1).Such separation does
not mean having no contact at all with unbelievers, “for then must ye needs go out of the world” (I
Cor. 5:10), whereas Jesus commanded: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every
creature” (Mark 16:15). He also prayed to the Father “not that Thou shouldest take them out of the
world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (Jn. 17:15).
He does demand, however, that we not compromise with unbelief or with the unclean thing. We are
“born again” into the family of God through simple faith in the person and saving work of Christ, but
the full manifestation and fellowship of our relation with the heavenly Father as His spiritual sons
and daughters is evidently, in this passage, conditioned on the vital principle of separation from all
unbelief and filthiness of the flesh, with Jesus as our example (Heb. 7:16).
We are specially warned to “turn away” from those who, “having a form of godliness,” yet attempt
to accommodate the naturalistic viewpoint of modern scientism within the Scriptures, thus “denying
the power thereof” (2 Tim. 3.5). “Be ye separate, saith the Lord.” Source unknown
III. Grace be with you, mercy, and peace (2 Jn. 3)
A. This verse seems to be a prayer of blessing on them.
B. However, the way I see it, it is a promise that the blessings mentioned will be with
C. Grace is the free, unmerited eternal salvation of God (Eph. 2:8-9).
D. Mercy is God’s compassion towards mankind. It tells the need of salvation.
E. Peace is the internal tranquillity that God gives to those who obey and fellowship
with Him. Peace brings harmony to the soul. There is no mercy until first God
extends His grace. There is no peace until first God extends His mercy. Peace always
follows grace and mercy.
F. Grace, mercy, and peace. “In the order of the manifestation of God’s purposes of
salvation grace must go before mercy … only the forgiven may be blessed. … From
this it follows that in each of the apostolic salutations where these words occur,
grace precedes mercy, 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; 2 Jn. 1:3” (Hogg and Vine,
Notes on Galatians).
G. All this comes from Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God the Father. (Note the deity of
Christ is clearly shown here). But it all comes to us as part of the truth and love of
our God to us. The two givers (the Father and the Son) are equal givers.
H. Truth relates it to our thoughts: love relates to action. Truth is the basis for all true
love (communion and fellowship) between believers.
“In truth and in love”, as we have learned long time back, we are exhorted to love one
another. We prove our love not only in words but also in action. We are to separate
ourselves from false teachers who deny the truth. Will you obey Christ and receive Him
as your personal Saviour?