Category Archives: Commentary

Notes on 2 John 12-13 (Comments and Critiques Welcome)

Conclusion (12-13)

(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.

Having many things to write to you…

This letter is extremely short. Here, at the end of the letter, John is saying there are several things he could have added to the letter.

I’m not willing to write them with paper and ink

Another way of saying this is that there were many things he could have added, but he didn’t want to write them. The reason for this is made quite clear when he says he wants to come speak to them face-to-face. There are some things much better said face-to-face instead of in a letter.

But I trust that I will come to you and speak face to face

When you speak face-to-face with someone, as opposed to through a letter (or text message, or email, or some other written form of communication), it shows you care. Also, in person your tone, body language, and emphasis comes through. John may have had something very unpleasant things to say to them (see 3 John 9-10). John may have needed to talk to them about some things difficult to understand (see 2 Peter 3:15-16). He may have needed to have a discussion with them, to ask them questions and understand some things going on there. All of these things are much easier to do in person than by letter.

John had confidence, trust, he would be able to come see them. It is certain John prayed about it (James 4:15). We should follow the same example.

So that our joy may be full

The purpose of John’s planned face-to-face visit was to bring joy to them and to himself. We are given a clue in verse 4 about this. John rejoiced that the Christians were walking in truth. However, he didn’t say “all” of the Christians were walking in truth. Some of them were, but others were not. His plan was to go visit them, and possibly bring the wayward back to Christ. This would cause him great joy, but also bring great joy to the congregation as well. John’s joy always seems to center on the truth being followed (see also 1 John 1:1-4, especially verse 4).

(13) The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

The children of your elect sister greet you.

Since the “elect lady” of verse 1 is the church (perhaps specifically the congregation in Jerusalem), the “elect sister” would be the congregation where John was. Her children would be the members of that congregation.

They all send their greetings. This is the same word translated “salute” in Romans 16:16 (the churches of Christ salute you). It is more than just saying “hi.” It’s a greeting of friendship and fellowship.

Amen

This means “so be it,” or “I agree.” However, it is also used at the end of some of the Biblical letters to bring the letter to a close. It is a final re-emphasis of what’s been said, and showing John meant all of it.

Notes on 2 John 10-11 (Comments and Critiques Welcome)

How to Treat False Teachers (10-11)

(10-11) If there comes any unto you, and brings not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

If anyone comes to you, and doesn’t bring this doctrine…

The Jews of the first century were extremely hostile towards Christians. As the end of the Jewish system got closer and closer, there were some who declared that the apostles made up the story of Jesus Christ. They said that Jesus was nothing more than a cunningly devised fable (2 Peter 1:16-18). That he wasn’t real! The Jews were doing everything they could to undermine Christianity.

This helps us understand why First John starts off with a defense of the reality of Jesus Christ’s coming to earth. John declares himself an ear-witness (“that which we have heard”), an eye-witness (“which we have seen”), and a hand-witness (“our hands have handled”).

So here in Second John, he is alerting the Christians to the Jews who were going around denying that the Christ had even come. This had the potential to destroy people’s faith, and therefore this threat must be taken seriously.

Don’t take him into house

Most translations have the word your inserted into this sentence, making it read, “Don’t receive him into your house.” However, the word your is not in the original. This is actually significant to understanding this verse.

The typical understanding of this verse is that if a false teacher comers around, don’t even let him into your house! This verse is used by some as justification for not allowing a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness to cross the threshold of their doorway. But that’s not what John is saying.

The early church met in houses, in the home of one of the members. John is telling the Christians not to allow the false teachers to have access to the congregation. Don’t let them into the congregational gatherings. Don’t let them into the house where Christians are meeting.

The application for us today is that we should be aware of what others believe and teach before we welcome them into the congregation. We cannot give false teachers access to the congregation, because they have the potential of destroying the faith of some of the weaker or newer members.

It’s because of things like this that the early church sent letters of recommendation with members who were traveling or moving (I Corinthians 16:3, II Corinthians 3:1). This isn’t such a bad idea.

Don’t say God-speed to them, either

The word translated as God speed in the King James Version is translated as greeting in James 1:1, and as farewell in II Corinthians 13:11. But the vast majority of times, it is translated rejoice (as in Matthew 5:12). John even uses it that way in verse 4 of this letter.

This means don’t wish them well on their journey. Don’t say “good luck” to them as they go out spreading false doctrine. Don’t pray for their efforts. Don’t say anything to them that would make it seem like you approve of what they are doing. Why not?

Because the one who says God-speed to him is a partaker of his evil deeds.

Even if you don’t allow the false teacher access to the congregation, the instant you wish him good luck as he goes along destroying souls, you’ve shown your approval for his actions. And approval of sin is the same as if you had committed the sin (Romans 1:32).

But there is another way that you would become a partaker in their evil deeds. If you wish them well, they will go to other places and bring up your name as well. “Brother So-and-so wished me good luck.” And all of a sudden, your name has become attached to them and their teaching.

Be very careful about who you recommend and who you approve. When you show approval for someone, you are also showing approval for what they teach and what they do. This is most important in showing approval of Christians and recommending them to others.

But this principle also applies in other areas of life. When you vote for someone—especially if you encourage others to vote for him—you are showing approval for that person and the things he stands for. Obviously, you can’t know everything that person thinks, believes, and will do while in office. But if you know ahead of time that candidate supports homosexuality and abortion, and then you vote for him (bidding them God-speed), that makes you just as guilty.

Be very careful who you bid God-speed to.

 

Greatly Expanded (and mostly organized) list of books for sale

If this list is helpful in any way, thank my daughter, who spent a couple hours typing it all…

Items marked *NEW* are brand-new from Cobb Publishing (or donated by another publisher), but discounted to make more space.

The books in bold font are by members of the church of Christ.

Items in RED FONT are new to the list as of May 28.

Prices do not include shipping. We can take check, Paypal, or credit/debit card. Just email with the books you want, or call/text 479.747.8372 (Yes, this is the correct number this time). I will try to keep this list up-to-date as requests come in.

Thank you!

Abortion

Abortion: What is the Bible Truth? (David Alsobrook) PB $1.00

Anxiety/Worry/Suffering

Winning Over Worry (Jack Exum) PB $1.25

An Answer to Worry and Anxiety (Norman Wright) PB $0.75

How to Win Over Depression (Tim LaHaye) PB $2.50

Consolation for Christians (Leon Barnes) PB $1.50

How to Cope (Dr. E. Harold Henderson) PB $1.25

Apologetics/Hermeneutics

In the Beginning: A Study of Creation Vs. Evolution (Rita Rose Ward) PB $1.00

Situation Ethics: The New Morality (Joseph Fletcher) PB $2.00

The Bible

Why I Preach the Bible is Literally True (W.A. Criswell) HB/DJ $2.75

Biblical Truth and Modern Man: A Layman’s Guide to Understanding the Bible (Bruce D. Rahtjen) PB $2.00

Bible Background

The Land and the Book: An Introduction to the World of the Bible (Charles R. Page II & Carl A. Volz) PB $3.50

Bible Dictionaries

Nelson’s Student Bible Dictionary – PB $2.00

The New Compact Bible Dictionary (T. Alton Bryant) HB $2.00

Bibles

The New Testament: New European Version $1.00

Knowing Jesus Personally: New Living Translation NT PB $1.00

Self-Interpreting New Testament (Compiled and Arranged by Ashley S. Johnson) HB $2.50

Christian Living

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus (Kyle Idleman) PB $1.75

On Being a Christian (Hans Kung) 700 pages HB $2.75

A New Kind of Christian (Brian McLaren) HB $2.00

Boundless Living: Meditations on the Christian Life (Oliver G. Wilson) HB/DJ $2.00

Answers to Questions About Spiritual Warfare (David Jeremiah) HB $1.75

The Church

Simple Studies About Christ’s Church (Rubel Shelly) PB $2.00

Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ (Leroy Brownlow) HB $3.25

The Churches of Christ Salute You (John B. White) PB $0.75

The TRUTH About the “Church of Christ” (Hugh Pyle, Baptist) PB $2.25

Church History

Civil War

Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South (Christopher Dickey) HB/DJ $4.50  $3.75

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer (James L. Swanson) HB $2.00

Commentaries

New Testament Postcards (Philemon, Jude, 2 John, 3 John) (Charles Swindoll) PB $1.75

Philippians: A Study Guide (Matt Chandler) PB $1.50

Moments on the Mount (R.B. Sweet) PB $2.50

Titus, Philemon, and James (J.W. Roberts) PB $2.50

The Parables of Jesus, part 2 (Neil R. Lightfoot) PB $2.50

The Gospel of Christ TV Transcripts [1 Thessalonians – Philemon] (Ben Bailey & Timothy Sparks) CB $1.50

The Gospel of Christ TV Transcripts [Hebrews – James] (Ben Bailey & Timothy Sparks) CB $1.50

The Gospel of Christ TV Transcripts [1 Peter – Revelation] Ben Bailey & Timothy Sparks) CB $1.50

The Gospel of Christ TV Transcripts [Matthew – John] (Ben Bailey & Timothy Sparks) CB $1.50

Culture

World Aflame (Billy Graham) PB $0.75

Debates/Controversy

A Review of “Shall We Splinter” (Robert R. Taylor, Jr.) PB $1.75

Putting the Church in Reverse: A Review of “The Church in Transition” (Ben Vick Jr) PB $0.50

Denominational Doctrines

The Common Catechism (an ecumenical collaboration between Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians on common beliefs) 690 pages, HB $2.00

How to Get More Out Of Being Jewish Even If: A. You are not sure that you believe in God, B. You think going to the synagogue is a waste of time, C. You think keeping kosher is stupid, D. You hated Hebrew school, or E. All of the above! – Updated 6th Edition (Gil Mann) PB $1.75

Out of the Labyrinth (the autobiographical story of a priest who left Catholicism and became a protestant) HB/DJ $3.75

The Book of Confessions (Presbyterian Church USA) PB $1.50

The Westminster Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, Together with the Longer Catechism and the Shorter Catechism (1947 Printing) HB $2.25

Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of Saints (Joan Carroll Cruz) PB $1.25

The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life (Jehovah’s Witness Guidebook for their one-on-one Studies) HB $1.50

Detective Novels

*NEW* Rick Wade Investigations Book 1: Murder in the City (Bill Howard) PB $4.00

*NEW* Rick Wade Investigations Book 2: The Case for Sarah (Bill Howard) PB $4.00

*NEW* Rick Wade Investigations Book 3: A Time to Heal (Bill Howard) PB $4.00

*NEW* Rick Wade Investigations Book 4: A Time to Reap (Bill Howard) PB $4.00

Devotional reading

Good Night, God: Nighttime Devotions to End Your Day God’s Way (David C. Cook?) PB $1.00

Abundant Living (E. Stanley Jones) HB $1.25

Chicken Soup For the Christian Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit (Jack Canfield; Mark Victor Hansen; D. Van Dyke, etc.) PB $0.75

The Purpose-Driven Life (Rick Warren) HB/DJ $0.25

50 Days of Heaven: Reflections that Bring Eternity to Light (Randy Alcorn) HB/DJ $1.25

Eschatology

What Really Happens When Jesus Returns? (Gary Frazier) PB $1.50

Evangelism

You Can Have Successful Gospel Meetings (Alan M. Bryan) PB $0.50

We Want You Here (Thom S. Rainer) HB $3.50

The Church in the Rural Community (William C. Martin) PB $2.00

I Could, I MightI CanI Should, I Will!: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian (Thom S. Rainer) HB $3.50

*New* Casting Down of Strongholds: To Satan and Back – The True Story of My Experiences in the Occult , and How and Why I Left it. (Kyle D. Frank) PB $4.00

Home/Family

The Christian Home (P.D. Wilmeth) PB $2.50

Christ and Your Home (Batsell Barrett Baxter) PB $1.75

Building Stronger Families: Leader’s Guide (Royce Money) PB $1.25

Religious Education in the Family (Henry F. Cope, University of Chicago Press) HB $2.25

Humanism/Modernism

Hymnals/Song Books

Sunlight Glees: A Complete Treatise on the Fundamentals of Vocal Music (Hartford Music and Printing Co., 1947) PB $2.00

Leadership

Good to Great (Jim Collins) HB/DJ $3.00

Lectureship Books

Men’s Struggles

Novels

Through God’s Eyes (Harold E. Dye) HBDJ $1.00

Prayer

Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit: 52 Prayers for Today (Paul Chilcote) PB $0.75

All things are Possible Through Prayer (Charles L. Allen) PB $1.25

Prayer: Conversing with God (Rosalind Rinker) PB $1.00

Too Busy NOT to Pray (Bill Hybels) PB $1.75

Preaching

Psychology

Chocolate to Morphine: Understanding Mind-Active Drugs (Andrew Weil, MD & Winifred Rosen) PB $2.25

Restoration Reprint Library

Self Help/Self-Improvement

Reggie: You Can’t Change Your Past, But You Can Change Your Future (Reggie Dabbs with John Driver) PB $1.50 $1.00

Fighting the Good Fight (Reggie White) HBDJ $2.00

Believe!: Discover Success Through God and His Church, Free Enterprise, Human Dignity, and the American Way (Richard M. DeVos) HB/DJ $2.25

Walking With Saints: Through the Best and Worst Times of our Lives (Calvin Miller) HBDJ $2.00

A Funny Thing That Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned (Michael J. Fox) HBDJ $1.50

Sermons

*New* Sermons on First Corinthians (George W. DeHoff) PB $4.00

*New* The Lost Sermons of H. Leo Boles (Compiled by Kyle Frank) HB $4.00

Preach the Word… (Arthur Calvin Fulbright, Th.D.) PB $2.00

Studies for New Christians

*NEW* Father, I Have Sinned (Bill Howard) PB $2.50

*NEW* Whom Seek Ye? (Bill Howard) PB $2.50

*NEW* Believest Thou This? (Bill Howard) PB $2.50

Basic Bible Studies (Howard Winters) PB $1.25

Worship/Lord’s Supper/Music

The Art of Group Worship (Robert Seneca Smith) PB $1.75

Workbooks

Group Discussion Study of 1 Corinthians (Robert K. Oglesby) PB $0.75

Group Discussion of Philippians/Colossians (Roberk K. Oglesby) PB $0.75

God’s Way for Man: The Church (Carroll C. Trent) PB $1.00

The Life and Teachings of Jesus, Part 3 (Carroll C. Trent) PB $0.50

Romans and Galatians: Bible in Life Workbook (George Snure) PB $0.50

Into Our Hands: A Study of Christian Stewardship (Edwin Broadus) PB $0.75

Gospel Advocate Adult Gospel Quarterly – Fall 1981 PB $0.50

Truth For Today – The “Today” Series Book One (???) PB $0.50

Ordinary Days with Jesus Participant’s Guide (John Ortberg) PB $0.75

The “I haven’t categorized them yet” section:

What present-day theologians are thinking. (Daniel Day Williams) HB, $1.75

Heavenly highway hymns (Stamps-Baxter shape notes songbook 1956) PB $2.00

Unexplainable: pursuing a life only God can make possible (Don Cousins) PB $1.50

What you didn’t know about the Bible: a Comprehensive Guide to Biblical Knowledge (J. Carter Swaim) HB/DJ $3.50

It Depends on How You Look at It! A Key to Practical Christian Living (Rusty Bolton) PB $1.50

Sinai Summit: Meeting God with Our Character Crisis (Rick Atchley) PB $0.50

A Layman Looks at the Lamb of God (W. Phillip Keller) PB $1.25

The Lost Books of the Bible (Shepherd of Hermas, Polycarp, Barnabas, I and II Clement, etc.) – HB/DJ $3.50

Final Dawn Over Jerusalem (John Hagee) HB/DJ $1.25

Practice of the Presence of God (Brother Lawrence) PB $0.50

Liberal Learning and Religion (Edited by Amos N. Wilder) HB $1.25

God’s Psychiatry: Wisdom for Today from the Ancient Teachings of the Bible (Charles L. Allen) PB $1.50

Your Greatest Power (J. Martin Kohe) HB/DJ $2.50

The Sunday School Worker: His Life and Work (L.F. Sensabaugh) HB $1.00

The Small Sunday School: Its Plans and Work (L.F. Sensabaugh) HB $1.00

Is There Life After Death? (Paul Kroll) PB $1.00

Things Surely Believed Among Us (Paul Rogers) PB $1.25

Email From God for Men (Andy Cloninger) PB $1.50

Leaving Self Behind (Jack Exum) PB $1.75

Lessons For Living (Mrs. Carroll Trent) PB $0.75

Sketches from the History of Collectivism (James D. Bales) PB $1.25

I Believe (Harold Hazelip) PB $1.50

My Daily Walk with God (Charles B. Hodge, Jr) PB $2.50

Great Biblical Doctrines (John Allen Chalk) PB $2.00

You Can See Forever (Compiled by Caesar Johnson) HB $1.25

The Coming King (James Edson White) HB $1.50

Twixt Twelve and Twenty (Pat Boone) HB $0.75

Heredity Evolution and Society (I. Michael Lerner) HB $1.00

Notes on 2 John 4-7 (Comments and Critiques are Welcome!)

Walking in the Truth (4-6)

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

I rejoiced greatly

John frequently speaks of rejoicing. This fact alone should make us examine our lives. Are we the joyful people we should be? Do we rejoice in suffering (Acts 5:41)? Do we rejoice when we learn the truth (Acts 8:39)? Do we rejoice when we read the eyewitness accounts in the Scriptures, knowing we can have confidence in their accuracy and truthfulness (I John 1:1-4)? Do we rejoice when we hear about other Christians remaining faithful (III John 4)? Christians should be the most joyful people on the planet!

I rejoiced…that I found your children walking in truth

John’s specific reason for rejoicing is Christians were continuing to live faithfully. People frequently drift away from God’s word and place their opinions as the standard. Whether those opinions are binding where God never bound or loosing where God never loosed, or completely changing the message—either one means that person is no longer “walking in truth.”

Walking in truth is the same as “walking in the light” (I John 1:7). The inspired Psalmist said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). It means you, dear reader, must base your life upon God’s precepts.

One man described it this way: God’s word lights the one and only path leading to heaven. You are wandering about in a world of darkness. Then you see this one lighted path. In that path is safety. In that path, you can see where you are going. It is a difficult path, to be sure, but it is well-lit. The light is God’s word. Walking in the truth or the light is the equivalent of following God’s commands from the heart. Only by that path can anyone reach the Promised Land of heaven. Why is it so many people choose to stay in darkness?

Why did this cause John to rejoice? When someone is “walking in the light” (I John 1:7) or “walking in truth,” he can have full assurance of heaven because all of his sins are forgiven him. John is rejoicing because he knows they will be in heaven! Wasn’t the entire point of the apostles’ mission to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)?

The word found is the Greek word euraka (we get our word eureka from this). With all the people who had been falling away (see 2 Timothy 1:15), John rejoiced to hear of Christians remaining faithful.

Walking in truth…as a commandment of the Father

Walking in truth is not just something we should do; it is something we are commanded to do. John says walking in truth is a “commandment from the Father.” This should come as no surprise. It has been this way since the beginning. Adam and Eve were commanded to obey (Genesis 2:17). David said God’s grace is upon those who “walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). There must be a renewed emphasis on teaching others about the necessity of obedience. That does not mean we will ever obey perfectly; but if we do not obey at all, we are not walking in the light. If we are not walking in the light, our sins are not forgiven (I John 1:7). If our sins are not forgiven, we have no hope of going to heaven.

(5) And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

I beseech thee

To beseech is to beg, to plead, or to urge someone to do something. It is not a commandment, as can be seen from Philemon 8-9, but instead an earnest request. It is interesting to see John begging them to keep the commandment of Jesus Christ: to love one another. He’s not commanding them to obey Jesus, but begging them to.

Not…a new commandment

John is not revealing something new to them. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, there were not new commandments for the Israelites to obey, but instead they were reminded to “remember the Law of Moses” (Malachi 4:4). In this letter from John to Christians, he is not giving them some new commandments, but telling them to “remember the law of Christ.”

From the beginning

This language is very similar to 1 John 2:7, “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning…”

Here in this passage, john says this commandment is something we (John, as well as the Christians he’s writing to) have had from the beginning. The Old Testament gave the command to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). This command also became part of the New Testament. This one statement summarizes many of the Ten Commandments (Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14). James called this the “royal law” (James 2:8).

This commandment was heavily emphasized in Jesus’ ministry. However, when Jesus gave this commandment, He called it a “new commandment” (John 13:34). The reason is, it is an even deeper, more powerful love commanded. Jesus said to “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Instead of just treating others the way you want to be treated, this new commandment was “be willing to die for each other.” Most people would not willingly die for a friend, let alone a total stranger. But this is the kind of love Jesus commands His disciples to show for each other.

John said which you had from the beginning, and he’s referring to either (1) the beginning of their Christian walk, (2) the beginning of Christianity itself, or (3) the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry. The gist of his saying this, though, is to tell them this isn’t something new to them. It’s something they should already be doing, because they already knew it.

Love one another

As stated above, this commandment isn’t new, but is found clearly stated in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 19:18) and intensified in the New Testament. Jesus made this the badge of a true disciple (John 13:34-35). If one does not love his brother, he cannot honestly claim to love God (I John 4:20). Love for other Christians was also emphasized by John in verse 1 (see notes there).

(6) And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

This is love

The word “love” here is agape, a Greek word which describes sacrificial love, a mindful love. Agape doesn’t describe warm, fuzzy feelings towards someone else. Instead, it describes the conscious decision to put someone else first no matter what may come. John frequently writes about love, and every time, it has reference to putting someone else ahead of you.

That we walk after His commandments

Jesus clearly stated, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Many in the world of so-called “Christendom” claim all you have to do is accept Jesus into your heart and then you are saved forever. Will Jesus save someone who refuses to keep His commandments? If you love Jesus, you will keep His commandments. If you don’t keep His commandments, then you hate Him. There is no third option.

Many people want to show the world how “loving” they are by accepting everyone and everything, and never speaking out against sinfulness or against those who are not in obedience to Christ’s commands. However, the Bible defines love as keeping the commandments. In Mark 10:21, Jesus looked at the rich young ruler; and the Scriptures plainly state Jesus “loved him.”  As a result of loving this man, Jesus pointed out where he needed to change. Love will not accept people in their sins, but will point out their sins so they can change. If we love others, we will point them to the truth and the need to obey His commandments.

That, as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

This walk is not a one-time event. It is a continuous lifestyle of obedience to Jesus Christ. All those who become Christians do so after hearing the gospel (Romans 10:17). But every New Testament writer emphasizes the necessity of continuing to obey. 1 John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light…the blood of Jesus Christ…cleanses us from all sin.” Literally, it says “if we are walking [presently, continually] in the light…the blood of Jesus Christ…is cleansing us [presently, continually] from all sin.”

These Christians (and all Christians) heard these things from the beginning of their conversion. All Christians must continue to walk in these commandments if they expect to have their sins forgiven.

Notes on 2 John 1-3 (your comments and critiques welcome!)

Salutation (verses 1-3)

(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;

The Elder

The apostle John here does not identify himself by name. This follows the pattern laid out in the other writings which we call by his name (the Gospel of John, I-III John). Instead, he refers to himself as “the elder.” Some have taken this to mean John was old when he wrote this letter. In the first century, people were considered “aged” when they were in their 60s (see Philemon, verse 9). It is also possible John means he holds the office of an elder. He was, after all, a pillar of the church in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1, 9). Peter, who was also mentioned as a pillar in the church in Jerusalem, later called himself “an elder” (I Peter 5:1). While it may indeed reference the age of the apostle, we should not ignore that John may have been an elder in the church in Jerusalem and identified himself as such.

The Elect Lady and her children

“The elect lady” has been the subject of some debate over the years. Who exactly is this elect lady? Is she a literal woman? Or is it a figurative way of describing the church? The most prominent possibilities, along with the pros and cons, are listed below.

Possibility #1: The elect lady is Mary, the mother of Jesus. This option obviously assumes the “elect [literally “chosen”] lady” is a literal woman. Mary was indeed chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-28). First, given the timeframe of writing (67-69 AD), Mary would be over 80 years old if she is still alive at all. Secondly, John had taken Mary in as his own mother according to Jesus’ wishes from the cross (John 19:26-27), so it seems strange that he would write a letter to someone he was caring for. Also, John mentions everyone who has known the truth loves both her and her children. One would be hard pressed to prove everyone who became a Christian even knew about all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters, let alone loved them. It is unlikely Mary is the one under consideration.

Possibility #2: The elect lady is some prominent Christian woman who John knew in the first century. Some say her name was Kuria or Kyria (the Greek word translated “lady”). Some have pointed out Kuria is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Martha” and suggest that as her name. It is difficult to believe some woman, unknown to us today, could be so prominent that every single Christian not only knew of, but loved her and her children. If such a woman existed, she and her children surely would have been mentioned in Scriptures.

Possibility #3: The elect lady is the bride of Christ, the church (Ephesians 5:25). In this understanding, the children would be the members of the church. In the Old Testament, Jerusalem was often pictured as a woman (Jeremiah 3:1 Ezekiel 16:30-32), and the inhabitants were described as her children (Joel 3:19, Jeremiah 3:14). The church is the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-10), so it makes sense if the church is referred to as a lady and her inhabitants as her children. Every single person who knows the truth should love the church (collectively) and the members (individually). Opponents of this view point to the “children of thy elect sister” (verse 13). This leads us to the next option.

Possibility #4: The elect lady is an individual congregation of the Lord’s church. Her children, then, would be the members of that congregation. The question, then, would have to be, “What congregation was so well-known John could say every single Christian loved it and the members thereof?” Some have suggested the church in Jerusalem, with the apostles as members, would fit the bill. Others suggest the mission-minded congregation at Antioch. Still others suggest Ephesus. This would also help to explain John’s closing statement, “the children of thy elect sister greet thee” as being the congregation with whom John was worshiping. If one specific congregation is under consideration (and it seems to be the case, because John wishes to speak to them face to face), it is impossible to know exactly which one it is without knowing where John was writing from.

This writer holds that the letter was addressed to a specific congregation (like most of Paul’s letters), but was intended to have a widespread distribution, and thus was also applicable to all congregations. Thus, it was both written to a specific congregation and the church in general at the same time. So, the best option seems to be a combination of numbers 3 and 4 above.

The Truth

Something often overlooked in this verse is this: John clearly states it is possible to know the truth. It seems everywhere you look, people say you cannot know anything for sure about God or the Bible (or anything else, for that matter). But the Bible tells us, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). If it is not possible to know the truth, then it must follow that it is impossible to be free.

We should take great comfort in knowing God has made His truth available through His word, the Bible. God wants us to know the truth. God made it possible for us to know the truth. That should give us great cause to rejoice! On the opposite side of the coin, however, it also places a responsibility upon us to seek the truth, read the truth, and obey the truth. Jesus said, “Seek and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7). The truth is not going to just magically get zapped into your head. You have to actively look for it in God’s word.

But as you seek for God’s truth in His word (John 17:17), you can rest in confident assurance—knowing the truth is possible!

(2) For the truth’s sake, which dwells in us, and shall be with us forever.

For the truth’s sake

It is for the sake of the truth (or because of the truth) that all Christians should love the church (as a whole) and the members thereof (individually). Because Christ died for all of us, purchasing the church with his own blood, we should place great value on each Christian as well as the church itself as an entity.

What is “the truth” spoken of in these verses? Is it the truth that the earth is round? Is it the truth that the world was created in six literal days? What truth is being spoken of when John says “the truth”?

The truth is God’s word. Specifically, John has reference to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth is to be obeyed (Galatians 3:1). It includes those things placing one into Christ (faith – Hebrews 11:6, repentance – Acts 2:38, and baptism – Romans 6:3). But also, it includes those things which one must continually do after becoming a Christian. Stated concisely, the truth is the commands of Jesus Christ which must be followed from the heart and which will result in a home in heaven. The commands are all summed up in the phrase, “walk in the light” (I John 1:7).

Truth…which dwells in us

The truth dwells in us. At least it should. Since we have accepted the Bible as God’s word, we should constantly read it and apply it to our lives. The apostle Paul said, “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16).  When people cease reading and applying the Scriptures to themselves, they slowly slip away from being the follower of Christ they should be. Eventually they may find themselves one day completely away from Christ with no idea how they got there. Most people don’t get up one morning and decide, “I’m going to quit being a Christian.” Usually it is a gradual decline. That is the reason Paul reminded the Corinthians to “examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5). Later on in this very book, John stresses the need to “look to yourselves” (II John 8).

Truth…shall be with us for ever

Truth is eternal. John says the truth shall be with us forever. There will never be a time when God’s word does not exist and apply. Jesus said heaven and earth would pass away, but his words would not pass away (Matthew 24:35).

(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.

Grace

This was the common Greek form of greeting during the first century. It was a wish of favor upon people. It is similar to saying, “good morning.” We may not think of it much, but we are wishing favor upon people when we say that. Grace is getting something good we don’t deserve or haven’t earned. Generally grace is described as “unmerited favor.”

Peace

This was the common Hebrew greeting. It is the word Shalom (or Salom, or Salem). It was common for Hebrews to include a wish of peace to those they met or corresponded with. This word was integrated into various names in the Old Testament.  Melchizedek was called the “King of Salem, which is, the King of Peace” (Hebrews 7:2). Jerusalem was originally called Jebu-Shalom, or “the peace of the Jebusites” who originally lived there. Absalom and Solomon both have this word as part of their names.

Mercy

Like Paul, John wishes the blessing of mercy upon those he writes to. Mercy is not receiving the bad things one deserves. In court cases, someone who is guilty may beg for the mercy of the court. That means, “Don’t give me what I deserve, please!” If we all got what we deserved, we’d all be struck dead like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11).

From God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father

While Grace and peace were common greetings, John doesn’t give them their common meaning. Instead, John is clear to say he was wishing them the grace, mercy, and peace that only comes from God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, John wishes God’s favor upon them. John wishes the mercy of God upon them. John wishes the peace of God upon them (see Philippians 4:7). The only source of true grace, mercy, and peace comes from the Father through the sacrifice of His Son.

John also makes a point to show the deity of Christ as “the Son of the Father.” Some religious groups (most notably the so-called “Jehovah’s Witnesses”) claim since Christ is the “Son of God,” He can’t be God, or be deity. However, He’s also the “Son of man.” Does that mean Jesus wasn’t a man? Of course not! The son of a human is a human. He will share completely in the nature of being human. The Son of God is also God, deity. The Son of God will share completely in the nature of being God.

In truth and love

As can be seen throughout this short letter, John emphasizes the importance of truth. This verse makes it very clear that the grace, mercy, and peace of God are found inside truth and love. Outside of the truth, these blessings of God cannot be found. Since the truth is to be obeyed (Galatians 3:1), these blessings cannot be found outside of obeying the truth. Ephesians 1:3 tells us all spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” That means there are no spiritual blessings outside of Christ. Jesus Christ is the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him (Hebrews 5:9).

John goes on to say in this letter that love means keeping the commandments (II John 6). Some people wish to claim Jesus without following His words. They claim to love God, yet they live their life as though God doesn’t matter. Jesus said, “This people…honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). John, in this verse, makes it clear: love and truth are interconnected. And without both (the love of God and following the truth), there is no grace, mercy, or peace to be found.