2 John 1:1
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;
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(1) A man so well-known to his correspondent that he only calls himself “the old man,” or, “the elder,” writes to a mother, whose name is possibly Kyria, and to her children. Her sister’s children are in the same place as the writer. The two mothers are both honoured with the religious title “elect.” The writer (we assume from the introduction that he is the Apostle John) loves the family with true Christian love. All who are in the way of truth have the same feelings for them, for the truth is a bond of union between all such. He wishes them grace, mercy, and peace from the Father and the Son, in all their thoughts and all their affections (2John 1:1-3).

(1 a.) (1) The elder.—The word is used with reference to age in 1Timothy 5:2; 1Peter 5:5; with reference to office, Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:23; Acts 16:4; Acts 20:17; 1Timothy 5:1; 1Timothy 5:17; 1Timothy 5:19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1Peter 5:1.

Unto the elect lady.—St. Paul uses “elect” in exactly the same way (Romans 16:13). (Comp. also 1Peter 1:1-2.) The use of the epithet for the sister in 2John 1:13 shows that it is impossible that the word should be the correspondent’s name. The Greek word, however, for “lady,” (Kuria, or Kyria) was a proper name; so that those who think that St. John addresses “the elect Kyria” are at liberty to do so. The absence of the article would not be more surprising in that case than it would be if we translate “lady,” for “elect” would evidently be in such familiar use that the article would be easily omitted.

If the name of the matron is not given, it is not absurd to suppose that the dangers of the times, or family persecution, may have made it advisable that both her name and that of the writer should be withheld. The messenger would supply both deficiencies.

The term “lady” would not imply anything about her social station. Epictetus says that all women above fourteen were addressed by men in this term.

And her children.—Those of them who were with their mother. St. John seems to have seen some of the family later.

Whom I love in the truth.—Rather, in truth; i.e., with true Christian love, with all the sincerity, purity, and respect, which the true love which springs from God requires. (See Notes on 1John 3:18-19.)

And not I only . . .—St. John disclaims any special peculiarity in his affection for the family. All Christians who had been brought or should be brought into relation with them would have the same feeling; because the character of all of them was based on the truth as it is in Christ, and moulded on it.

(2) For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.—The personal form of this sentence irresistibly reminds us of John 15:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” If Christ is once in our hearts, He will not leave us unless we deliberately leave Him. The expression is therefore equivalent to saying, “We will not let Him go.”

(1 b.) (3) Grace be with you, mercy, and peace.—(Comp. 1Timothy 1:2; 2Timothy 1:2.) “Grace” is the favour of God conveying fully every spiritual blessing (Romans 3:4; Ephesians 2:4-10); “mercy” is the pitifulness which sympathises with man, is longing to forgive his sins, and is more ready to hear than he to pray (Luke 10:30-37; Psalm 103:3-18): “peace” is the result of the reception of these two gifts in the heart, the untroubled calm of a conscience void of offence before God and men (John 14:27; Romans 5:1; Philippians 4:4; Colossians 3:15).

From God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father.—The perfect independence, parallel equality, and mutual connection of the two Persons is noticeable.

In truth and love.—To be joined with “grace mercy and peace.” Truth was to absorb and regulate all their intellectual faculties; love, all their emotional.

2 John 1:1-2. The elder — An appellation suited to a familiar letter; for the import of it see the preface: unto the elect — That is, the Christian; lady — Or Kuria, rather, for the word seems to be a proper name, both here and in 2 John 1:5, it not being then usual to apply the title of lady to any but the Roman empress, neither would such a manner of speaking have been suitable to the simplicity and dignity of the apostle; and her children — There is no mention made by the apostle of this matron’s husband, either because he was dead, or because he was not a Christian; whom — That is, both her and her children; I love in the truth — Or rather (as αληθεια is without the article) in truth. The meaning is, whom I love with unfeigned and holy love. The sincerity and purity of his love to this family, the apostle showed on the present occasion, by his earnestness to guard them against being deceived by the false teachers, who were then going about among the disciples of Christ. And not I only love her and them, but also all love them that have known the truth — As it is in Jesus, and have had any opportunity of becoming acquainted with them. For the truth’s sake — Because you have embraced the same truth of the gospel which I myself, and other faithful Christians, have received; which dwelleth in us — As a living principle of faith and holiness; see Php 1:6; 1 John 2:14; and shall be with us for ever — Which, I trust, God will enable us to believe and obey to the end of our lives.

1:1-3 Religion turns compliments into real expressions of respect and love. And old disciple is honourable; an old apostle and leader of disciples is more so. The letter is to a noble Christian matron, and her children; it is well that the gospel should get among such: some noble persons are called. Families are to be encouraged and directed in their love and duties at home. Those who love truth and piety in themselves, should love it in others; and the Christians loved this lady, not for her rank, but for her holiness. And where religion truly dwells, it will abide for ever. From the Divine Persons of the Godhead, the apostle craves grace, Divine favour, and good-will, the spring of all good things. It is grace indeed that any spiritual blessing should be given to sinful mortals. Mercy, free pardon, and forgiveness; for those already rich in grace, need continual forgiveness. Peace, quietness of spirit, and a clear conscience, in assured reconciliation with God, together with all outward prosperity that is really for good: these are desired in truth and love.The elder - See the introduction, Section 1, (2,d).

Unto the elect lady - The elect or chosen Kyria. See the introduction, Section 2. He addresses her as one chosen of God to salvation, in the use of a term often applied to Christians in the New Testament.

And her children - The word here rendered "children" (τέκνοις teknois) would include in itself both sons and daughters, but since the apostle immediately uses a masculine pronoun, τοις tois it would seem more probable that sons only were intended. At all events, the use of such a pronoun proves that some at least of her children were sons. Of their number and character we have no information, except that (the notes at 2 John 1:4) a part of them were Christians.

Whom I love in the truth - See the notes, John 3:18. The meaning here is, that he "truly" or "sincerely" loved them. The introduction of the article the here, which is not in the original, (ἐν ἀληθίᾳ en alēthia) somewhat obscures the sense, as if the meaning were that he loved them so far as they embraced the truth. The meaning however is, that he was sincerely attached to them. The word "whom" here, (οὓς hous,) embraces both the mother and her children, though the pronoun is in the masculine gender, in accordance with the usage of the Greek language. No mention is made of her husband, and it may thence be inferred that she was a widow. Had he been living, though he might not have been a Christian, it is to be presumed that some allusion would have been made to him as well as to the children, especially since there is reason to believe that only some of her children were pious. See the notes, 2 John 1:4.

And not I only, but also all they that have known the truth - That is, all those Christians who had had an opportunity of knowing them, were sincerely attached to them. It would seem, from a subsequent part of the Epistle 2 John 1:10, that this female was of a hospitable character, and was accustomed to entertain at her house the professed friends of religion, especially religious teachers, and it is probable that she was the more extensively known from this fact. The commendation of the apostle here shows that it is possible that a family shall be extensively known as one of order, peace, and religion, so that all who know it or hear of it shall regard it with interest, respect, and love.



Authenticity.—That these two Epistles were written by the same author appears from their similarity of tone, style, and sentiments. That John, the beloved disciple, was the author of the Second and Third Epistles, as of the First Epistle, appears from Irenæus [Against Heresies, 1.16.3], who quotes 2Jo 10, 11; and in [3.16.8], he quotes 2Jo 7, mistaking it, however, as if occurring in First John. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 192) [Miscellanies, 2.66], implies his knowledge of other Epistles of John besides the First Epistle; and in fragments of his Adumbrations [p. 1011], he says, "John's Second Epistle which was written to the virgins (Greek, "parthenous"; perhaps Parthos is what was meant) is the simplest; but it was written to a certain Babylonian named the Elect lady." Dionysius of Alexandria (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 7.25]) observes that John never names himself in his Epistles, "not even in the Second and Third Epistles, although they are short Epistles, but simply calls himself the presbyter, a confutation of those who think John the apostle distinct from John the presbyter. Alexander of Alexandria cites 2Jo 10, 11, as John's [Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 1.6]. Cyprian [Concerning the Baptism of Heretics], in referring to the bishops at the Council of Carthage, says, "John the apostle, in His Epistle, has said, if any come to you" (2Jo 10); so that this Epistle, and therefore its twin sister, Third John, was recognized as apostolic in the North African Church. The Muratori fragment is ambiguous. The Second and Third Epistles were not in the Peschito or old Syriac version; and Cosmas Indicopleustes in the sixth century says that in his time the Syriac Church only acknowledged three of the Catholic Epistles, First Peter, First John, and James. But Ephrem the Syrian quotes the Second Epistle of John. Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History,] reckons both Epistles among the Antilegomena or controverted Scriptures, as distinguished from the Homologoumena or universally acknowledged from the first. Still his own opinion was that the two minor Epistles were genuine, remarking, as he does in Demonstration of the Gospel [3.5], that in John's "Epistles" he does not mention his own name, nor call himself an apostle or evangelist, but an "elder" (2Jo 1; 3Jo 1). Origen (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 6.25]) mentions the Second and Third Epistles, but adds, "not all admit (implying that most authorities do) their genuineness." Jerome [On Illustrious Men, 9] mentions the two latter Epistles as attributed to John the presbyter, whose sepulcher was shown among the Ephesians in his day. But the designation "elder" was used of the apostles by others (for example, Papias, in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.39]), and is used by Peter, an apostle, of himself (1Pe 5:1). Why, then, should not John also use this designation of himself, in consonance with the humility which leads him not to name himself or his apostleship even in the First Epistle? The Antilegomena were generally recognized as canonical soon after the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325). Thus Cyril of Jerusalem, A.D. 349, enumerates fourteen Epistles of Paul, and seven Catholic Epistles. So Gregory Nazianzen, in A.D. 389. The Councils of Hippo, 393, and Carthage, 397, adopted a catalogue of New Testament books exactly agreeing with our canon. So our oldest extant Greek manuscripts. The Second and Third Epistles of John, from their brevity (which Origen notices), and the private nature of their contents, were less generally read in the earliest Christian assemblies and were also less quoted by the Fathers; hence arose their non-universal recognition at the first. Their private nature makes them the less likely to be spurious, for there seems no purpose in their forgery. The style and coloring too accord with the style of the First Epistle.

To whom addressed.—The Third Epistle is directed to Gaius or Caius; whether Gaius of Macedonia (Ac 19:20), or Gaius of Corinth (Ro 16:23; 1Co 1:14), or Gaius of Derbe (Ac 20:4), it is hard to decide. Mill believes Gaius, bishop of Pergamos [Apostolic Constitutions, 7.40], to be the person addressed in 3Jo 1.

The address of the Second Epistle is more disputed. It opens, "The elder unto the Elect lady" (2Jo 1). And it closes, "The children of thy elect sister greet thee" (2Jo 13). Now, 1Pe 1:1, 2, addresses the elect in Asia, &c., and closes (1Pe 5:13), "The Church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you." Putting together these facts, with the quotations (above) from Clement of Alexandria, and the fact that the word "Church" comes from a Greek word (kyriake) cognate to the Greek for "lady" (kyria; "belonging to the Lord," kyrios); Wordsworth's view is probable. As Peter in Babylon had sent the salutations of the elect Church in the then Parthian (see above on Clement of Alexandria) Babylon to her elect sister in Asia, so John, the metropolitan president of the elect Church in Asia, writes to the elect lady, that is, Church, in Babylon. Neander, Alford, and others, think the Greek "kyria" not to mean "lady," but to be her proper name; and that she had a "sister, a Christian matron," then with John.

Date and place of writing.—Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.25] relates that John, after the death of Domitian, returned from his exile in Patmos to Ephesus, and went on missionary tours into the heathen regions around, and also made visitations of the churches around, and ordained bishops and clergy. Such journeys are mentioned, 2Jo 12; 3Jo 10, 14. If Eusebius be right, both Epistles must have been written after the Apocalypse, in his old age, which harmonizes with the tone of the Epistles, and in or near Ephesus. It was on one of his visitation tours that he designed to rebuke Diotrephes (3Jo 9, 10).

2Jo 1-13. Address: Greeting: Thanksgiving for the Elect Lady's Faithfulness in the Truth: Enjoins Love: Warns against Deceivers, Lest We Lose Our Reward: Conclusion.

1. The elder—In a familiar letter John gives himself a less authoritative designation than "apostle"; so 1Pe 5:1.

lady—Bengel takes the Greek as a proper name Kyria, answering to the Hebrew "Martha." Being a person of influence, "deceivers" (2Jo 7) were insinuating themselves into her family to seduce her and her children from the faith [Tirinus], whence John felt it necessary to write a warning to her. (But see my Introduction and 1Pe 5:13). A particular Church, probably that at Babylon, was intended. "Church" is derived from Greek "Kuriake," akin to Kuria, or Kyria here; the latter word among the Romans and Athenians means the same as ecclesia, the term appropriated to designate the Church assembly.

love in the truth—Christian love rests on the Christian truth (2Jo 3, end). Not merely "I love in truth," but "I love in THE truth."

all—All Christians form one fellowship, rejoicing in the spiritual prosperity of one another. "The communion of love is as wide as the communion of faith" [Alford].2Jo 1:1-4 The apostle testifieth his regard and good wishes

for a certain pious matron and her

children, and his joy in their good behaviour.

2Jo 1:5-9 He exhorteth them to persevere in

Christian love and belief, that they lose not their

full reward,

2Jo 1:10,11 and to have nothing to do with

those seducers that bring not the true doctrine of


2Jo 1:12,13 He hopeth to see them shortly, and

concludeth with salutations.

The elder; a general name of office, fitly appropriated with eminency here, he being the only apostle, probably, now surviving on earth.

The elect lady; this appears to have been some noted person, whom both her singular piety, and rank in the world, made eminent, and capable of having great influence for the support of the Christian interest, which her general value with all that had

known the truth, ( i.e. the Christians in those parts), shows. The opinion that a church is intended by this appellation, had it greater probability, is of no great importance, and need not here be disputed.

The elder unto the elect lady and her children,.... By the "elder" is meant the writer of this epistle, the Apostle John, who so calls himself either on account of his age, he being now near an hundred years of age, having outlived all the apostles: or on account of his office, being a bishop or overseer, not only of the church at Ephesus, but of all the Asiatic churches, which is the same with an elder; nor is this incompatible with his being an apostle; see 1 Peter 5:1, the elect lady is the person he writes unto; by whom is designed not the church of Christ, since such a way of speaking is unusual; and besides, he speaks of coming to see her face to face, and of the children of her elect sister: but some particular person, some rich, as well as gracious woman of John's acquaintance; and these words, "elect lady", are neither of them proper names of the person: some think that the word "Kyria", rendered "lady", was the name of the person, as "Domina" with the Romans, and answers to the Hebrew word "Martha"; for as "Mar", signifies lord, so "Martha, lady"; and then the inscription runs, "to the choice" or "excellent Martha"; and the Syriac and Arabic versions read, "to the elect Kyria": and others think that the word rendered elect is a proper name, and that this person's name was "Electa", as "Electus" (d) is a man's name; and then it must read thus, "to the lady Electa"; but her sister also is so called, and it can hardly be thought that two sisters should be both of a name; neither of them are proper names, but characters and titles of respect and honour: she is called a "lady", because she was a person of distinction and substance, which shows that God sometimes calls by his grace some that are rich and noble; and also that titles of respect and honour, where flattery is avoided, may be lawfully given to persons of dignity and wealth; so Nazianzen (e) calls his own mother by the same title; and it was usual to call women by this name from fourteen years of age (f): and this person also is said to be "elect"; either because she was a choice, famous, and excellent person, not only for her birth, nobility, and riches, but for her virtue, grace, and good works; or because she was chosen unto eternal life and salvation; and which the apostle might know without a special and divine revelation, by the Gospel coming with power to her; by the grace that was wrought in her; by the faith of God's elect, which she appeared to have, seeing it worked by love; and which may be, and ought to be concluded in a judgment of charity, of everyone that professes faith in Christ, and walks according to it; and this also makes it appear that election is of particular persons, and not of nations, communities, and churches, as such; nor is it unusual to salute single persons under this character; see Romans 16:13, this epistle is inscribed not only to this lady, but also to "her children"; who were not infants, but grown up, and had made a profession of the truth, and walked in it, 2 John 1:4, and both the mother and the children the apostle represents as the objects of his love:

whom I love in the truth; either as being in the truth and faith of the Gospel; for though all men are to be loved as men, and to be done well to, yet they that are of the household of faith, or are in the faith, are in and especial manner to be loved and respected; see Galatians 6:10; or the sense is, that the apostle loved this lady and her children sincerely and heartily, without dissimulation; not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth, 1 John 3:18,

and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; either the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the truth; not with a notional knowledge, but with the knowledge of approbation and affection; with a fiducial and appropriating one: or the Gospel, the word of truth; not with a speculative, but with a spiritual and experimental knowledge of it: and this is not to be understood of every individual person then living, which had such a knowledge of the truth; for it cannot be reasonably thought that every individual person should know this lady and her children; but of all such persons who had any knowledge of them; for such who are born again by the word of truth, love not only him that begot them, but all those who are begotten of him: this shows in what sense the word "all" is sometimes taken.

(d) Herodian. Hist. l. 1. c. 51, 52, 53, 54. (e) Epist. ad Basil. 4. p. 769. vol. 1.((f) Epictet. Enchirid. c. 62.

The elder unto the {a} elect {b} lady and her children, {1} whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

(a) This is not a proper name, but is to be taken as it sounds that is to say, the worthy and noble lady.

(b) Excellent and honourable woman.

(1) The bond of Christian union is the true and constant profession of the truth.

2 John 1:1. ὁ πρεσβύτερος] The definite article restricts the general idea πρεσβύτερος to a particular person, to whom this epithet is specially appropriate. That this is most probably the Apostle John, see Introduction, sec. 1. The reflection on his age may have led the apostle to write, not ὁ ἐπίσκοπος, but ὁ πρεσβύτερος.

ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς] The interpretation of these words has from the earliest times been very diverse, according as either ἐκλεκτή or κυρία has been regarded as a proper noun, or both words have been considered as appellatives. The first opinion (Lyranus, a Lapide, Lorinus, Cappellus, Grotius, Wetstein, etc.) has been with justice given up by modern commentators; it is clearly enough opposed not only by the mode of its conjunction with κυρία, but also by 2 John 1:13. The second view, according to which κυρία is the proper noun, is found as early as in Athanasius, and afterwards in Bengel, Carpzovius, Heumann, Krigel (Commentatio de κυρία Johannis, Lips. 1758), Paulus, Lücke, de Wette, Brückner, Guericke, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Braune, etc. That Κυρία appeared as a feminine proper name is not to be doubted, see Grutteri, Inscriptt. p. 1127, num. xi.; comp. Heumann: Poecile de Cyria Johannis; but if this view be taken, not only is the adjective ἐκλεκτή strange, as it never is assigned to any individual in the N. T. as a single predicate except in Romans 16:13 (where, however, ἐν κυρίῳ is put along with it), but also its connection with the proper noun, instead of Κυρίᾳ τῇ ἐκλεκτῇ, comp. 3 John 1:1; Php 1:1-2; Romans 16. Lücke, it is true, refers to 1 Peter 1:1 : ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις; but here the case is different, as παρεπιδήμοις is not a proper noun, as even Brückner admits, though he nevertheless falls back on a “familiar carelessness” in this case.[1] The third interpretation is found in Luther (“the elect woman”), Hornejus, Wolf, Rittmeier (Diatriba, de electa domina, Helmst. 1706), Baumgarten-Crusius, Sander, etc. According to Epictetus, chap. 62: αἱ γυναῖκες εὐθὺς ἀπὸ τεσσαρεσκαίδεκα ἐτῶν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνδρῶν κυρίαι καλοῦνται, women might certainly be called κυρίαι; but this was plainly only a polite address, corresponding not to the German “Frau” (woman), but to the German “Herrin” (lady). It hardly corresponds with the apostolic dignity of the author, however, to describe the receiver of the Epistle in the superscription by this name of a conventional politeness.[2] But the opinion of Knauer (Stud. u. Krit. 1833, Part 2, p. 452 ff.), that by ἐκλεκτὴ κυρία is to be understood Mary, the mother of Jesus, lacks any tenable foundation (see Lücke on this passage).

Already at an early date κυρία was taken as a symbolic description of the Christian Church; so Jerome (ep. xi. ad Ageruchiam) and the Scholiast I. (ἐκλεκτὴν κυρίαν λέγει τὴν ἐν τινὶ τόπῳ ἐκκλησίαν), and later Calovius, Whiston, Michaelis, Augusti, Hofmann (in his Weissagung u. Erfüllung, II. p. 321, and in his Schriftbew. I. p. 226 ff.), Hilgenfeld (1855), Ewald, etc. It is true the word does not elsewhere appear in this signification, but according to its connection with Him who is ὁ κύριος, the Church may certainly be called κυρία in its relationship to the individual members.[3] Both the contents of the Epistle, which is lacking in the slightest individual reference to a single person, and the way in which John speaks to the receivers of the Epistle and passes judgment on them (comp. what follows in this verse; further, 2 John 1:4-5; 2 John 1:8; 2 John 1:10); and, finally, the way in which the sister and her children are mentioned,[4]—are no less opposed to the opinion that the Epistle was written to one particular woman, than they are in favour of the opinion that it was directed to a Christian Church; only κυρία must not be regarded as the name of honour of any one particular Church, according to Serrarius of the Corinthian Church, or according to Augusti of that of Jerusalem; it is rather a name suitable for every Church, by which, therefore, that Church could also be described to which the Epistle is directly addressed.[5]

καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς] If κυρία is a description of the Church, the τέκνα are her individual members. The representation of the Church as a mother, and of her members as her children, occurs elsewhere also; comp. Galatians 4:26.

οὓς ἐγὼ ἀγαπῶ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ] If we take κυρία as a proper noun, then οὕς indicates that by τέκνοις only sons are to be understood; but why then does not the apostle write: καὶ τοῖς υἱοῖς αὐτῆς? If the τέκνα are the members of the Church, however, then οὕς is used here exactly as τεκνία μου, οὕς in Galatians 4:9; comp. also Matthew 28:19 : τὰ ἔθνηαὐτούς. Suitable though the masculine is to denote all Church-members, it would be just as unsuitable to denote members of one family, if this consisted not merely of sons, but—as Braune here supposes—of daughters also. ἐγώ is used emphatically, inasmuch as the apostle wants to bring out his intimate relationship to the members of the Church.

ἐν ἀληθείᾳ in its connection with ἀγαπῶ is not = ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ, as if the (Christian) truth were thereby indicated as the element in which love has its existence (Bengel, Düsterdieck), but it is used adverbially, not, however, to emphasize the sincerity of the love, but, as the word itself states, the truth of the love (Ebrard: “I love thee with that love which is a love in truth;” similarly Lücke: “it is the real Christian love that is meant,” and Braune).

καὶ οὐκ ἐγὼ μόνος, ἀλλὰ πάντες] All who have known the truth share with the apostle love to the τέκνα of the κυρία. This addition also goes to show that κυρία is not a proper noun; for how could the children of an individual woman be regarded as an object of the love of all believers? Bengel, with whom Düsterdieck agrees, remarks indeed on this: communio sanctorum, but the apostle’s mode of expression presupposes an actual knowledge about one another. Several commentators accordingly have recourse to a weakening of the idea πάντες,[6] which, however, is arbitrary.

ἀλήθεια is the divine truth, of which the believer becomes a partaker in Christ. The emphasis of ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑ both here and in 2 John 1:2 is caused by the antithesis to the ΠΛΆΝΟΙ (2 John 1:7). The bracketing of the words: ΚΑῚ ΟὐΚΤῊΝ ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑΝ, “spoils the clearness of the connection, and is also logically not quite correct, because 2 John 1:2 refers not only to ἘΓΏ, but also to ΠΆΝΤΕς” (Lücke).

[1] According to Ewald, it is “foolish to think” that “the apostle is here writing to an individual woman.”

[2] Against the distinction between the expressions “Frau” and “Herrin,” Braune adduces the etymology of the former word (Frau, feminine of fro = Herr); this is quite irrelevant here, however, as it is not the German, but the Greek, expressions, that are in question; it is the distinction between γυνή and κυρία. That “Frau” originally corresponded to the expression κυρία is certain,—the word is even yet frequently used in this sense,—but it docs not therefore follow that the Greek κυρία became so much weakened in usage as the German word “Frau.”

[3] Hofmann recalls the description of the Church in the Apocalypse as the νύμφη and the γυνή. When Ebrard objects to this, that the Church in contrast with the “Lord” is not “the lady,” but the obedient handmaid, it must be remembered that she is here spoken of not in regard to her subordinate relationship to Christ, but in regard to her superior relationship to her individual members.

[4] De Wette also says: “The way in which her sister and her sister’s children are mentioned is favourable to the idea that a single Christian Church is meant.”

[5] That the Epistle is directly addressed to a particular Church is evident from ver. 12; the want of references to individual circumstances may perhaps be explained by the fact that it also had an encyclical design; that the author, however, “had in view the whole of orthodox Christendom” (Hilgenfeld), is just as little appropriate to this Epistle as to the First.—Braune’s considerations are of little importance; the name of the Church might be omitted, because the bearer of the Epistle knew to what Church he had to take it; ἐκλεκτή is by no means unsuitable with κυρία = ἐκκλησία, according to ἡ ἐν Βαβυλῶνι συνεκλεκτή (by which the Church is certainly to be understood); it has not been asserted that the relationship of the mother in Galatians 4:26 has been given to a single Church.

[6] Hornejus: omnes fideles, non quidem qui in toto orbe tum temporis erant, sed qui in illis partibus et simul Dominam illam et liberos ejus norant.—Lücke: “πάντες κ.τ.λ., i.e. all Christians (perhaps of this place?) who know the Kyria and her children;” Braune agrees with this explanation, but would regard “as included, even those who would later become acquainted with her”—which is clearly unsuitable.

2 John 1:1-3. Superscription of the Epistle.

2 John 1:1-3. The Address. “The Elder to elect Kyria and her children, whom I love in Truth, and not I alone but also all that have got to know the Truth, because of the Truth that abideth in us; and with us it shall be for ever. Yea, there shall be with us grace, mercy, peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father in Truth and love.”

1. The Elder] It is probably on account of his age that the Apostle styles himself thus: and it is a designation which a writer personating S. John would scarcely have chosen, as being too indistinct. On the other hand an Elder, who did not wish to personate the Apostle, would hardly call himself ‘The Elder.’ It is in addressing Elders that S. Peter calls himself a ‘fellow-elder’ (1 Peter 5:1). “The use of the word in this Epistle shews that he cannot have understood this title in the usual ecclesiastical sense, as though he were only one among many presbyters of a community. Clearly the writer meant thereby to express the singular and lofty position he held in the circle around him, as the teacher venerable for his old age, and the last of the Apostles” (Döllinger). “In this connexion there can be little doubt that it describes not age simply but official position” (Westcott). See Appendix E.

unto the elect Lady] Or possibly, unto the elect Kyria: but the other is better, as leaving open the question, which cannot be determined with any approach to certainty, whether the letter is addressed to an individual or to a community. There is no article in the Greek, so that ‘to an elect lady’ is a possible translation. If we make κυρία a proper name (and no doubt there was such a name in use), we are committed to the former alternative. The rendering ‘to the lady Electa’ may be safely dismissed, if only on account of 2 John 1:13. If Electa is a proper name here, it is a proper name there; which involves two sisters each bearing the same extraordinary name. Comp. ‘to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion’ (1 Peter 1:1), and ‘for the elect’s sake’ (2 Timothy 2:10). Every Christian is elect or chosen out of the antichristian world into the kingdom of God.

and her children] Either the children of the lady, or the members of the community, addressed in the Epistle. For the Church as a mother comp. Galatians 4:26.

whom I love in the truth] Omit the article, and comp. ‘let us love in deed and truth’ (1 John 3:18): ‘whom I love in all Christian sincerity’, or in a Christian temper. In the Greek ‘the lady’ is feminine, ‘the children’ are neuter, ‘whom’ is masculine. No argument can be drawn from this as to whether a Christian family or a Church is to be understood.

but also all they that have known] Better, as R. V., but also all they that know: literally, that have come to know (see on 1 John 2:3). At first sight this looks like a strong argument in favour of the view that ‘the elect Lady’ is a Church. “How could the children of an individual woman be regarded as an object of the love of all believers”? The First Epistle is the answer to the question. Every one who ‘has come to know the truth’ enters that ‘Communion of Saints’ of which the love of each for every other is the very condition of existence. The Apostle speaks first in his own name, and then in the name of every Christian. “For all Catholics throughout the world follow one rule of truth: but all heretics and infidels do not agree in unanimous error; they impugn one another not less than the way of truth itself” (Bede).

1–3. Address and Greeting

1–3. Like most of the Epistles of S. Paul, the Epistles of S. Peter, S. James, and S. Jude, and unlike the First Epistle, this letter has a definite address and greeting. In its fulness the salutation reminds us of the elaborate openings of the Epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and to Titus.

2 John 1:1. Ὁ πρεσβύτερος, The Elder) This Epistle also has three parts:—

I.  THE INSCRIPTION, 2 John 1:1-2.

II. THE COMMENDATION of those who practise hospitality: in which—

1. He approves of the former benefits of Cains, 2 John 1:2-6.

2. He draws forth the commendation itself, introducing reasons and examples on both sides [of a good and of the opposite character], 2 John 1:6-10.

III.   THE CONCLUSION, 2 John 1:13-13.

Γαΐῳ, to Caius) Caius of Corinth, who is mentioned Romans 16:23, either closely resembled this Caius, the friend of John, in his hospitality, or he was the same person: if he were the same person, he either migrated from Achaia into Asia, or John sent this letter to Corinth.

Verse 1. - The elder. Not an unlikely appellation to have been given to the last surviving apostle. Other apostles had been called elders; their successors also were called elders; but St. John was "the elder." That there was a second John at Ephesus, who was known as "the elder," to distinguish him from the apostle and evangelist, is a theory of Eusebius, based upon a doubtful interpretation of an awkwardly worded passage in Papias. But it is by no means certain that any such person ever existed. Irenaeus, who had read Papias, and been intimate with Polycarp, the disciple of St. John, seems to know nothing of any such person. Even if he existed, there is little reason for attributing this Epistle to him; it is too like the First Epistle to be by a different author. Unto the elect lady. This rendering of ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ should be retained: ἐκλεκτή cannot be a proper name, on account of verse 13; κυρία need not be one. We commit ourselves to nothing that is disputable if we render κυρία "lady;" whereas if we render it "Kyria" it is open to any one to object that perhaps the lady's name was not Kyria, and that perhaps she is not an individual at all, but a Church. She is elect, as being chosen out of the dominion of the evil one (1 John 5:19) into the Christian family. She is thus reminded at the outset of the relationship between them; she is a member of that elect company of believers of which he is the elder. It is futile to ask who this lady is. There have been various conjectures, some of them absurd; but we know no more than the letter itself tells us. Evidently the lady and her children were not among the great ones of the earth; they have made no name in the world. And herein lies one of the chief lessons of the Epistle. Those mentioned in it were ordinary people, such as any Church in any generation might produce. But because they were faithful, and endeavoured to live up to their calling, the apostle loved them, and all true Christians loved them, and he dared to assure them that "grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father" should be their portion. Any Christian minister may give the same assurance to faithful Christians, however humble and inconspicuous, still. They may win no place in the history of the world that is passing away; but they have a place in the heart of him who abideth for ever. Note the characteristic repetition of the characteristic word "truth," which occurs five times in the first four verses. All words respecting truth and bearing witness to it are characteristic of St. John. In two of the five cases "truth" has the article; "all they that know the truth; for the truth's sake which abideth in us." It is not impossible that "the truth" here means him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christ is the Revelation of Divine truth to man. All who know him love all faithful Christians for his sake. To the apostle truth was not a mere notion, "or a set of notions, however large and accurate; it was no theory about God, but God himself, and God manifest in the flesh in order that we might know him and partake his life." 2 John 1:1The elder (ὁ πρεσβύτερος)

The word is used originally of seniority in age. So Luke 15:25. Afterward as a term of rank or office. Applied to members of the Sanhedrim (Matthew 16:21; Acts 6:12). Those who presided over the Christian assemblies or churches (Acts 11:30; 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Timothy 5:19). The twenty-four members of the heavenly court in John's vision (Revelation 4:4, Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:5, Revelation 5:6, Revelation 5:8, Revelation 5:11, Revelation 5:14). Here, with reference to official position, coupled, presumably, with age.

Unto the elect lady (ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ)

An expression which baffles all the commentators. It is supposed by some that the title describes a person, by others, a society. The views of the former class as to the person designated, are (1.) That the letter was addressed to a certain Babylonian named Electa. (2.) To a person named Kyria. (3.) To Electa Kyria, a compound proper name. Those who regard the phrase as describing a society, divide on the question whether a particular Christian society or the whole Church is intended. It is impossible to settle the question satisfactorily.

Children (τέκνοις)

May be taken either in a literal or in a spiritual sense. For the later, see 1 Timothy 1, 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Galatians 4:25; 3 John 1:4. Compare also 2 John 1:4, 2 John 1:13. The explanation turns on the meaning of ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ. If it mean the Church, children will have the spiritual sense. If it be a proper name, the literal.

Whom (οὓς)

Comprehensive, embracing the mother and the children of both sexes.

I love (ἀγαπῶ)

See on John 5:20.

In the truth (ἐν ἀληθείᾳ)

Omit the. The expression in truth marks the atmosphere or element of truth in which something is said, or felt, or done. See John 17:17. In truth is equivalent to truly, really. Compare Colossians 1:6; John 17:19.

That have known (οἱ ἐγνωκότες)

Either have come to know, or as Rev., know. The perfect tense of γινώσκω, to learn to know, is rendered as a present: I have learned to know, therefore I know. See on 1 John 2:3.

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