2 John 1:4
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
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(2) St. John had lately had opportunity of observing bow some of the matron’s children proved their adherence to the truth by their daily conduct. Having congratulated her about this, he states the chief thing which he desires of her: the pure Christian love which implies every other grace and virtue; in other words, walking after the divine commandments. That this love should be pure, that these commandments should be unimpaired, it was necessary to remember that nothing new could be added to the original message of Christ. This warning was timely, because many errors had already appeared, especially that greatest error which denied the Incarnation. The family must, therefore, be on its guard, lest it should be cheated of its reward. The test was very simple: any advance beyond the doctrine of Christ. It would be better for the family not to entertain in their house any who had committed themselves to these doctrines of development (2John 1:4-11).

(2 a.) (4) I rejoiced . . .—Comp. Romans 1:8; 1Corinthians 1:4; 2Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:3.

Of thy children.—Probably those met at home.

Walking in truth.—Comp. John 8:12; 1John 1:6-7; 1John 2:6; 3John 1:3-4.

As we have received a commandment.—That is, walking according to the revelation of God’s will in Christ Jesus.

(2 b.) (5) Love is the Christian’s moral disposition of mind, which embraces all other virtues and graces. It implies faith, because it is founded on Christian principle, and can only be tested by a right belief. It implies purity, because it is modelled on the love of God, and has abjured the old man. It implies unselfishness, because it desires the good of the other for his own sake and God’s. It implies humility, because it distrusts itself, relies on God, and thinks more of the other than of itself. (Comp. John 13:14; John 15:12; 1 Corinthians 13; Ephesians 5:2; 1Peter 4:8; 1John 3:11; 1John 3:23; 1John 4:7; 1John 4:21.)

Not as though.—See the Notes on 1John 2:7-8; 1John 3:11.

(2 100) (6) The attitude of love in general, whether towards God or man, is best defined and described as “walking after God’s commandments.” It might have been thought that love would be a vague immeasurable feeling, differing chiefly in intensity; but the Christian disposition which is described as love is that practical and enlightened result of faith which naturally acts and expresses itself by following God’s will in all things. (Comp. 1John 4:7; 1John 4:16.)

(2 d.) This is the commandment.—The sum of all God’s commandments for us is this: that we should be doers of the word which we have heard since first Christ began to fulfil the Law and the Prophets, and not of any other. All development from what He said, or from what we have repeated from Him is disobedience and error. (Comp. 1John 2:24.)

(2 e.) The appearance of deceivers is the reason for this warning against false progress (2John 1:7).

The ground of his love for the matron and her family was that they held to the truth. He is proportionately anxious that they should not go beyond it through evil influences.

(7) Deceivers.—“Those who cause others to wander.” (Comp. 1John 2:26; 1John 4:1-6; 1Timothy 4:1.)

Entered into the world.—Comp. 1John 2:19; 1John 4:1.

Confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.—Rather, confess not Jesus Christ coming in flesh. The Greek implies the idea only, without reference to time. (Comp. 1John 4:2-3.) The expression would include both those who denied that Jesus was the Messiah, and those who, for Gnostic theories, held Him to be only a phantom, declaring the Incarnation to be an impossibility.

This is . . .—Rather, the deceiver, and the antichristi.e., among all the human errors by which the influence of the Evil One is manifested, this is the most destructive. Those who adopt such errors are the most fatal deceivers and opponents of Christ and truth.

(2 f.) The warning (2John 1:8).

(8) Look to yourselves.—For the triple “we” in this verse, read “ye.” The result of the error would be loss of the fellowship with the Father and the Son in truth and love. (Comp. Galatians 3:1-4; Galatians 4:11.)

Which we (or, ye) have wrought.—Their faith, hope, love, and the growth of the Christian graces.

A full reward.—The diminution of the reward would be in proportion to the gravity of the error. The reward would be the peace of God which passeth all understanding, the blessed stability, firmness, and joy which truth and love communicate. (Comp. Colossians 3:24; Galatians 4:2.)

(2 g.) The test (2John 1:9).

Progression beyond Christ’s teaching, a sign of the absence of God; refusal to go beyond His lines a proof of the presence of Father and Son.

(9) Transgresseth.—Rather, goeth beyond. (Comp. Matthew 21:9; 1Timothy 1:18; 1Timothy 5:24; 2Timothy 3:7; 2Timothy 3:14; Titus 1:9.)

The doctrine of Christ.—That which Christ taught. (Comp. Matthew 7:28; Matthew 16:12; Matthew 22:33; Mark 1:22; Mark 4:2; Mark 12:38; John 8:31; Acts 2:42; Acts 5:28.)

Hath not God.—Comp. 1John 2:23; 1John 5:12.

(2 h.) Practical direction (2John 1:10-11).

Although it would be possible to love unbelievers, in the sense of earnestly desiring that they might come to a knowledge of the truth, it would be wrong—for sincere Christians it would be impossible—to hold out to them the right hand of fellowship. Especially dangerous would it be for the matron and her family. (Comp. 2Timothy 3:6.)

(10) If there come.—The construction implies that it was the case. St. John was dealing with facts. St. Paul held the same view (Romans 16:17; Galatians 1:8-9; Titus 3:10-11; and, in regard to morals, 1Corinthians 5:11; 1Corinthians 16:22).

This doctrine.—See 2John 1:9. He is not speaking of those who had never heard or been instructed in the doctrine of Christ; they would be less dangerous. He means those who deliberately altered the Apostolic teaching. And his reason is evidently chiefly the religious welfare of the matron and her family. The case supplies an important instruction in the theory of Christian social conduct.

Receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.—These are no terms of ordinary politeness, which the Apostle does not forbid, but terms of close Christian intimacy and spiritual communion, the deliberate cultivation of personal acquaintance, fraternal intercourse. The highest sort of Christian brotherly love—love, that is, in its fulness and truth—can only find reciprocity in the same atmosphere of Christ, on the same basis, and in the same characteristics. (Comp. 2Corinthians 6:16.)

(11) Is partaker of his evil deeds.—Condones his false doctrine; puts himself in a position to accept it; shares the guilt of his disloyalty by sympathising with him; and in this way lowers his whole moral standard, doing an injury to “God, Christ, the Church, the truth, individual communities, and his own soul.” If any interpret the exhortations to love in the Epistles of St. John too liberally, or by too low a measure, this passage is a wholesome corrective. In applying this teaching to modern times we should remember (1) that St. John is only speaking of those who deliberately deprave the doctrine of Christ in its great outlines; (2) that there may be much in ourselves, in our systems, in our quarrels, in our incrustations of divine truth, in our want of the sense of proportion in dealing with divine things, which may have hindered others from receiving Christ.

2 John 1:4. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children — That is, some of thy children; walking in truth — In a manner agreeable to the gospel. It is probable that John speaks of such of her children as he had met with in the course of his travels, probably at their aunt’s house, 2 John 1:13; and that having conversed with them, and observed their conduct, he had found reason to conclude that they were truly pious, and sound in the faith. After their return home, it seems, he inscribed this letter to them as well as to their mother, and by the commendation which he bestowed on them in it, he no doubt encouraged them much to persevere in the truth. By the joy which this circumstance gave the apostle, was manifested the disposition of a faithful minister of Christ; for such derive great happiness from the faith and holiness of their disciples.

1:4-6 It is good to be trained to early religion; and children may be beloved for their parents' sake. It gave great joy to the apostle to see children treading in their parents' steps, and likely in their turn to support the gospel. May God bless such families more and more, and raise up many to copy their example. How pleasing the contrast to numbers who spread irreligion, infidelity, and vice, among their children! Our walk is true, our converse right, when according to the word of God. This commandment of mutual Christian love, may be said to be a new one, in respect of its being declared by the Lord Christ; yet, as to the matter, it is old. And this is love to our own souls, that we obey the Divine commands. The foresight of the decay of this love, as well as of other apostacies, or fallings away, might engage the apostle to urge this duty, and this command, frequently and earnestly.I rejoiced greatly that I found ... - That I learned this fact respecting some of thy children. The apostle does not say how he had learned this. It may have been that he had become personally acquainted with them when they were away from their home, or that he had learned it from others. The word used εὕρηκα heurēka would apply to either method. Grotius supposed that some of the sons had come to Ephesus on business, and that John had become acquainted with them there.

Of thy children walking in truth - That is, true Christians; living in accordance with the truth, for this constitutes the essence of religion. The expression used here, "of thy children," (ἐκ τῶν τέκνων ek tōn teknōn,) means some of thy children; implying that he knew of a part of them who were true Christians. This is clear from the Greek construction, because:

(a) if he had meant to say that he had found them all to be of this description, the sentiment would have been directly expressed, "thy children;" but as it is, some word is necessary to be understood to complete the sense; and,

(b) the same thing is demanded by the fact that the participle used ("walking" - περιπατοῦντας peripatountas) is in the accusative case.

If he had referred to them all, the participle would have been in the genitive, agreeing with the word "children," (τῶν περιπατοῦντων tōn peripatountōn) - Lucke. Whether the apostle means to say that only a part of them had in fact embraced the gospel, or that he had only known that a part of them had done it, though the others might have done it without his knowledge, is not quite clear, though the former supposition appears to be the correct one, for if they had all become Christians it is to be presumed that he would have been informed of it. The probability seems to be that a part of her children only were truly pious, though there is no evidence that the others were otherwise than correct in their moral conduct. If there had been improper conduct in any of her other children, John was too courteous, and too delicate in his feelings, to allude to so disagreeable a circumstance. But "if that pious lady," to use the language of Benson, "had some wicked children, her lot was not unique. Her consolation was that she had some who were truly good. John commended those who were good, in order to excite them in the most agreeable manner to persevere."

As we have received a commandment from the Father - That is, as he has commanded us to live; in accordance with the truth which he has revealed. The "Father," in the Scripture, is everywhere represented as the Source of law.

4. I found—probably in one of his missionary tours of superintendence. See [2653]Introduction, at the end, and 2Jo 12; 3Jo 10, 14.

of thy children—some.

in truth—that is, in the Gospel truth.

as—even as. "The Father's commandment" is the standard of "the truth."

Some of her sons, it is probably conjectured, he had met with, upon their occasions, at Ephesus, where, it is thought, he now resided, and found them to have a good savour of religion, and to walk according to rule, which was matter of great joy to him.

I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children,.... Not all, but some of them; for good parents have not always good children, or at least not all of them; Adam had a Cain, Abraham an Ishmael, and Isaac an Esau: God is pleased to show his discriminating grace in tribes and families, by taking some, and leaving others: it is a great mercy when any are called by grace, and instead of the fathers are the children: and this was the case of some of the children of this elect lady, they were

walking in the truth: in Christ, the truth, by faith, as they had received him; and in the truth of the Gospel, as they had embraced and professed it; they abode in it, and by it, and made a proficiency in the knowledge of it, which may be signified by walking, that being a progressive action: as also they walked according to it, and as became it; and likewise they walked in the truth of Gospel worship, discipline, and ordinances:

as we have received a commandment from the Father; and which has been made known by Jesus Christ, as his mind and will. Now as it is matter of joy and gladness to godly parents when their children walk in the paths of faith, truth, and holiness, so it is also to ministers of the Gospel, as well as to the angels in heaven; it gives them an inward pleasure and joy, and which is not only expressed by them, to such children and their parents, but is also abundant by many thanksgivings unto God.

{2} I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in {d} truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

(2) This true profession consists both in love towards one another which the Lord has commanded, and also especially in wholesome and sound doctrine, which also is delivered to us: for the commandment of God is a sound and sure foundation both of the rule of conduct and of doctrine, and these cannot be separated from one another,

(d) According as the truth directs them.

2 John 1:4. The Epistle begins with the assurance of joy at the conduct of those to whom it is addressed. The preface to most of the Pauline Epistles is similar. This verse refers back to the preceding ἐν ἀληθείᾳ; 2 John 1:5, on the other hand, to ἐν ἀγάπῃ.

ἐχάρην λίαν] not: “I have greatly rejoiced” (Luther); the aorist is to be kept in its own meaning. The apostle is speaking historically of the time at which he had the experience which he states in the following words.

ὅτι εὕρηκα ἐκ τῶν τέκνων σου περιπατοῦντας ἐν ἀληθείᾳ] ἐκ τῶν τέκν. is not = τὰ τέκνα σου; it is indicated by the ἐκ that John could not boast the περιπατεῖν ἐν ἀλ. of all,[8] but not that “he had not become acquainted with all” (Düsterdieck). Braune’s observation is erroneous, that “as the article is wanting with περιπατοῦντας, it is not indicated that the other children were not walking ἘΝ ἈΛ.” With ΠΕΡΙΠΑΤΕῖΝ ἘΝ, comp. John 8:12; 1 John 1:6-7; 3 John 1:3-4, and several other passages.

ΕὝΡΗΚΑ indicates a previous meeting with the children of the ΚΥΡΊΑ—and hence a previous sojourn of the apostle in the Church to which he is writing; incorrectly, Sander: “I have found as the result of my examination;” the preterite ἘΧΆΡΗΝ does not suit this interpretation.

If ΚΥΡΊΑ be a proper noun, it remains uncertain where the apostle met with her children. Lücke, on account of 2 John 1:12, considers it unlikely that the apostle had been in the family; “he seems to have met the ΤΈΚΝΑ somewhere else without the mother” (so also Braune). Not only this uncertainty, but also the circumstance that John does not express himself further about the children who are not walking in the truth, indicates that he is not speaking of a family, but of a Church, which is erroneously disputed by Braune.

ΚΑΘῺς ἘΝΤΟΛῊΝ ἘΛΆΒΟΜΕΝ] ΚΑΘΏς (which is not to be taken here, with Ebrard, argumentatively = “because indeed”) does not more particularly define the ΠΕΡΙΠΑΤΕῖΝ in itself, as if ἘΝ ἈΛΗΘΕΊᾼ were only added adverbially for confirmation = “who in truth walk as,” etc.; but ΚΑΘΏς refers to the ΠΕΡΙΠΑΤΕῖΝ ἘΝ ἈΛΗΘ., and ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑ is Christian truth, as in 2 John 1:3; thus: “who are walking in the truth, according as we received commandment” (Düsterdieck). By this, however, we are not to understand one particular commandment, but the obligation which is contained in the Christian faith to walk in the truth; παρὰ τοῦ πατρός] see 2 John 1:3; the intervention of the Son is implied.

[8] Ebrard appropriately: “It is a delicate way in which the presbyter covers the blame which he has to express in a mere limitation of praise.

2 John 1:4. The Occasion of the Epistle. “I was exceedingly glad because I have found some of thy children walking in Truth, even as we received commandment from the Father.”

ἐχάρην, of a glad surprise (cf. Mark 14:11). He had been too often disappointed in lads like these (see Introd., p. 155). They had profited by the nurture of their godly home, the best equipment for the battle of life. “No man should ever leave money to his children. It is a curse to them. What we should do for our children, if we would do them the best service we can, is to give them the best training we can procure for them, and then turn them loose in the world without a sixpence to fend for themselves” (Cecil John Rhodes). εὕρηκα, “I have found”. He sits down at once and writes to Kyria. How glad she would be that her lads, far away in the great city were true to their early faith! ἐκ τῶν τέκνων, “some of thy children” (a tenderer word than “sons,” υἱῶν), “members of thy family,” not implying that others had done ill; the lads who had come to Ephesus. περιπατοῦντας, κ.τ.λ., ambulantes in veritate, die in der Wahrheit wandeln, “ordering their lives according to the precepts of the Gospel”. See note on 1 John 1:6.

4. The Occasion of the Epistle

4. The Apostle has met with some of the elect lady’s children (or some members of the particular Church addressed), probably in one of his Apostolic visits to some Church in Asia Minor. Their Christian life delighted him and apparently prompted him to write this letter.

I rejoiced greatly] Or, I have rejoiced greatly, or perhaps, as R. V., I rejoice greatly, if it is the epistolary aorist, as in 1 John 2:26; 1 John 5:13. The same phrase occurs 3 John 1:3 and Luke 23:8. The word for ‘rejoice’ (χαίρω) is cognate with ‘grace’ (χάρις) in 2 John 1:3. ‘Grace’ is originally ‘that which causes joy’: but there is no connexion between the two words here. Like S. Paul, the Elder leads up to his admonition by stating something which is a cause of joy and thankfulness: comp. Philemon 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:3; Romans 1:8; &c.

that I found] Better, that I have found, or because I have found. There is nothing in ‘I have found’ (εὕρηκα) to shew that there had been any seeking on the part of the Apostle, still less that there had been any examination as to the rightness of their conduct.

of thy children] This elliptical mode of expression (ἐκ τῶν τέκνων) is rather common in S. John (John 1:24; John 7:40; John 16:17; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 11:9; see on 1 John 4:13). It is impossible to say whether the expression is a delicate way of intimating that only some of the children were walking in truth, or whether it merely means that the Apostle had fallen in with only some of the children. The expression of affection in 2 John 1:1 is in favour of the latter supposition; but the strong warnings against intercourse with heretical teachers favours the former: some of her children were already contaminated. ‘Walking’ indicates the activity of human life (see on 1 John 1:7): ‘in truth’ is in Christian truth, as in 2 John 1:1; 2 John 1:3; in Christian tone and temper.

as we have received a commandment] The changes made in R. V., even as we received commandment, are all improvements in the direction of accuracy. ‘Even as’ (καθώς) points to the completeness of their obedience: comp. 1 John 2:6; 1 John 2:27; 1 John 3:3; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:17. The aorist points to the definite occasion of their reception of the commandment: comp. ‘heard’ 1 John 2:7; 1 John 2:24; 1 John 3:11; and ‘gave’ 1 John 3:23-24. ‘Commandment’ is the third key-word of the Epistle, in which it occurs four times. Love, truth, and obedience; these are the three leading ideas, which partly imply, partly supplement one another. Obedience without love becomes servile; love without obedience becomes unreal: neither of them can flourish outside the realm of truth.

from the Father] Literally, as in 2 John 1:3, from the hand of the Father (παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός). The Divine command has come direct from the Giver.

2 John 1:4. Εὓρηκα, I have found) A thing rarely found at the present day, a joy rarely experienced.—ἐκ τῶν τέκνων σου, of thy children) Cyria had at the least four children. Comp. 2 John 1:1 with 2 John 1:4. John had found these children in the house of their maternal aunt, 2 John 1:13.—καθὼς, even as) The rule.

Verse 4. - I rejoice greatly that I have found (certain) of thy children walking in truth. The Revised Version is certainly right in rendering εὕρηκα "I have found" rather than "I found;" and it is probably right in rendering ἐχάρην "I rejoice" rather than "I rejoiced." It looks like the idiomatic "epistolary aorist," of which we have had probable instances in 1 John 2:21 and 26. In this idiom the point of view of the recipient of the letter is taken instead of that of the writer. In Latin the imperfect is used in a similar way - scribebam, dabamus; and sometimes the perfect, scripsi, misi, and the like (comp. Acts 23:30; Philippians 2:25, 28; Philemon 1:11, 19, 21. See Moulton's Winer, page 347). We are probably to understand this verse as a gentle intimation on the part of the elder that he has reason to know that certain others of her children are not walking in truth. Through the elect lady's too indiscriminate hospitality, some of her children have been seduced by the deceivers who have come to her bringing other doctrine than that of Christ. 2 John 1:4Irejoiced

Expressions of thankful joy are common in the Pauline salutations. See Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon.

Greatly (λίαν)

The word is found in John's writings only here and 3 John 1:3.

I found (εὕρηκα)

See on John 1:41. Rev., I have found.

Of thy children (ἐκ τῶν τέκνων)

The rendering is obscure. Rev., rightly, supplies certain. Compare John 16:17.

In truth (ἐν ἀληθείᾳ)

Compare 3 John 1:3. See on 1 John 1:8.

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