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  • The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 2 John 1-2

    Week Six: Oct 16, 2011

    This week we finished the study in 3 John in an earlier post. Here we will start 2 John.

    2 John

    Outline

    The structure of 2 John is very close to a typical 1st century letter, and thus there is pretty broad agreement on the outline by scholars.

    I.Opening

    a. Address (1-2)
    b. Greeting(3)

    II.Body

    a. Living In Truth and Love (4-6)
    b. Reject False Teachers (7-11)

    III. Conclusion

    a. Final words (12)
    b. Greeting (13)

    Study

    I. Opening

    a. Address (1-2)

    1* – From:1 The Elder
    To: The chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth2, and not only I but also all who know the truth, 2* – because of the truth3 that is present in us and will be with us forever.

    A standard opening of a 1st Century letter. A writing to B, greetings and prayer

    The Elder

    This is same opening as 3 John. For further details, see comments here.

    To: The chosen lady and her children

    – There are three options on who this letter is written to.

    1) This could refer to a particular noble woman and her children. The word for Lady (κυρίᾳ / kuria) is a the female version of Lord. It is possible that this woman was well known to John. Her name would have been on the outside and so here he only needed to refer to her as the chosen lady. It is also possible that her name was Eclecta as in as in “The Lady Eclectra” or possibly Kyria as in “The chosen Kyria.”

    This understanding is supported by a strict reading of this passage as well as others such as v13 The children of your(singular) chosen sister greet you (singular).

    2) This is could be a metaphor for a particular local church and its members. With this understanding, the Lady = the church and could be a reference to the Bride of our Lord. Then the children would be its members.

    This is supported by other passages such as the later part of v1 whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth. This would be a very unusual way for a man to address a woman during the first century. Then there are passages such as v6 Just as you (plural) have heard from the beginning what he commanded, you (plural) must live by it.

    C. H. Dodd suggests that the reason for the metaphor could have been to protect the church from persecution should the letter fall into the wrong hands.

    3) The third option is that this is a general letter intended for many local churches. While this would explain the lack of mention of a particular church, such as the church at ______, it is difficult to account for the specific details within the letter. It is notable that one of the leading proponents of this view, Bultmann, argues that these details are fictitious.

    My view is the second one, that this refers to a particular local church as this seems to be most natural way to understand over all letter.

    whom I love in the truth

    – This could simply mean whom I genuinely love, as in the ISV, but given importance of truth in John’s writings, and in this sentence I prefer the translation of in the truth

    and not only I but also all who know the truth,

    – i.e., the rest of the church. Evidently this church (or woman) was well known and had a good reputation.

    because of the truth that is present in us

    – The truth is not just academic knowledge that we have. It is because of the truth that we love, and love is grounded in truth, which gives it life. Truth is not just something we know it indwells us. See John 14:15-17a: “If you love me, keep my commandments. 16I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, to be with you always. 17He is the Spirit of truth,”

    and will be with us forever.

    – Real truth is not temporal. This may also be a reference back to the phase, be with you always found in John 14:16.

    For the questions this week, see the first part of this week’s post.

    Next week we will start in 2 John 3

    If you have question about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the version ISV. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.

    Footnotes:
    1 The Gk. lacks From
    2ISV whom I genuinely love
    3 ISV omits because of the truth

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