Study of II John



II John was written by the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee, and is usually dated between A.D. 85 and 95. There is no way of dating II John precisely or of discerning where John was when he wrote it. John was likely in Ephesus, a free man, and not in exile on the Isle of Patmos (as he was in Revelation) because he speaks of coming to visit the elect lady and speaking face to face with her.

II John is addressed to the elect lady and her children. There has been considerable discussion regarding whether this is an actual lady or whether it is a church. There is a transition from the second person singular (thy and thee) in verses 4 and 5 to the second person plural (ye, yourselves, you, you) in verses 6, 8, 10, and 12 and then back again to the second person singular (thy and thee) in verse 13. This transition from singular to plural and then back again to singular suggests that II John is addressed to a church rather than to an individual. It was dangerous to be a Christian at this time in history, and John may have been trying to protect believers from further persecution if this letter were to fall into the wrong hands. Also, John's statement to the elect lady in verse 5 that we love one another would seem inappropriate if John were writing to an individual but not if he were writing to a congregation. In addition, John's statement in verse 13 that the children of thy elect sister greet thee . . . suggests that the designation of the elect lady and her children refers to a church and its members rather

than to an individual and her offspring.

It appears that the occasion of II John is that John found it necessary to warn the elect lady that there were many false teachers who were presenting themselves as traveling ministers or missionaries. In contrast to what is found in III John, that this hospitality and assistance was to be given to itinerant preachers and missionaries, II John indicates that this hospitality and assistance was to be withheld from those itinerant preachers and missionaries who did not hold Biblical views of the Lord Jesus Christ. Gnosticism was prevalent in several forms. One of these, referred to as docetism, denied the incarnation of Christ, believing that Jesus never became a man but that he only appeared to be a man. Another form of gnosticism was known as Cerinthianism, named for the followers of a man named Cerinthus. He taught that Jesus was the physical son of Mary and Joseph on whom the Christ (or Messiah) Spirit came at his baptism but left him shortly before the crucifixion. According to Cerinthus, Jesus was not God incarnate, nor the Messiah; and the human Jesus, not the Messiah, died on the cross. Both forms of gnosticism denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. Any traveling preacher or minister who did not have Biblical views regarding Christ was not to be welcomed or assisted on his way. He was not even to be bidden God speed on his travels. To do so would be to participate in his evil deeds (verses 10-11).

An Outline of II John

I. Introduction - Verses 1-3

II. The Message - Verses 4-11

A. The Necessity of Loving One Another - Verses 4-6

1. John rejoiced that he found members of this church walking in the truth - Verse 4

2. Believers must love one another - Verse 5

3. Love is obedience to Christ's commandments - Verse 6

B. Doctrinal danger threatens the church from the outside - Verses 7-11

1. Many deceivers have entered into the world - Verse 7

2. Believers must not be deceived by these deceivers - Verses 8-9

3. Believers must not give any encouragement to these deceivers - Verses 10-11

III. Conclusion - Verses 12-13