Table of contents
Like a good detective, let's examine this book.
Three letters of John get progressively more focused. The first letter is written to the overall churches, likely the seven mentioned in Revelation 2-3. The second letter is written to one particular church. The final letter is written to one particular person, likely his assistant.
The second letter is written to "the elect lady." As I have studied this, it depends on where you line up theologically concerning women in ministry on how you interpret this passage. If you believe women can and should have a place in ministry, you hold to the fact this was likely written to the pastor of the church... a lady elder.
If you believe women should not serve in any capacity, you likely think this is John's flourishing way of talking to the local church. The term for church in Greek is a feminine word.
No matter what, in this letter, John is writing to a particular church to provide guidance and direction.
🙏 Jesus in this Book
(Every book reveals the glory of God, revealed in Christ Jesus)
- The Source of all truth
🔍 Things to Focus On
- Notice John is writing to one church within the group of churches he oversaw. This does not mean others were not dealing with the same. Perhaps this church was dealing with more than the others.
- Loving others within the limits that truth allows.
- Walk in the truth and love
- Stand against error
- Love one another
Who wrote it: The Apostle John (John the Evangelist) There is some dispute about whether the same John who wrote the Gospel and Revelation also wrote the letters. I lean toward the majority that believes they were all written by the same person.
Martyred: John is the only one of the original 12 disciples who we believe died of natural causes.
Who is the original audience: "The elect lady and her children." We do not know for sure which church under his care to whom he is writing.
Where are we: Probably around the same place and time as the writing of his Gospel. Likely in Ephesus.
When was it written: Approximately 90 AD.
What is the big idea: John is establishing guardrails for the early church. When driving down the road, we do not see guardrails as our enemies. We don't look at the guardrails along the sides of the road as impeding our freedom. We see them as protection. They are keeping us from falling off the side of the cliff if we lose control. This is exactly what John working to do. He encourages the church to love others within the healthy guardrails of the truth.
Why is this book important: This letter is important because John brings balance to the idea of grace and truth. Some focus on truth and forget to show love. Others focus on love and forget that love does not turn a blind eye to sin. What do we do? We develop healthy guardrails to help us find the balance between grace and truth so we can truly give and receive healthy love from our neighbor.
How can I apply it?: Do you sometimes struggle to understand the difference between healthy grace and truth? John encourages you to do the hard work of developing guidelines (guardrails) in your life so you can be ready to stand against false teachers and show love to all.
Quick Thoughts on Each Chapter
While 1 John was written to the overall church world, 2 John was written to a particular church. It is important to note that John actually addresses it to the “chosen lady and to her children.” This has indicated to some that a key leader of this local congregation might have been a woman. This would not be out of question because Romans 16 speaks of a lady named Pheobe and she may have been a deaconess in the early church. Be sure to read ALL the Bible before thinking we know exactly what certain people can and cannot do in the local church.