And now I beseech you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)2 John 1:5. Now, I beseech thee, Kuria — This sort of address suits a particular person much better than a whole church, consisting of many individuals, to which, in the opinion of some, this letter was directed; not as though I wrote a new commandment — A commandment which thou didst never hear before; but that which we had from the beginning — Of our Lord’s ministry. Indeed it was in some sense from the beginning of the world; that we love one another — More abundantly. The apostle does not here speak of a new commandment in the sense in which our Lord used that phrase John 13:34; (see on 1 John 2:7-8;) but his meaning is, either that the commandment to love one another, which he gave to this family, was not a commandment which had never been delivered to the church before, or that it was not a commandment peculiar to the gospel. The first of these seems to be the apostle’s meaning; as he tells this matron that the disciples of Christ had had this commandment delivered to them from the beginning. In inculcating mutual love among the disciples of Christ so frequently and so earnestly in all his writings, John showed himself to be, not only a faithful apostle of Christ, but a person of a most amiable and benevolent disposition; his own heart being full of love to all mankind, and particularly to the followers of Jesus, he wished to promote that holy and happy temper in all true Christians.
Not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee - John presumed that the command to love one another was understood as far as the gospel was known; and he might well presume it, for true Christianity never prevails anywhere without prompting to the observance of this law. See the notes at 1 Thessalonians 4:9.
That we love one another - That is, that there be among the disciples of Christ mutual love; or that in all circumstances and relations they should love one another, John 15:12, John 15:17. This general command, addressed to all the disciples of the Saviour, John doubtless means to say was as applicable to him and to the pious female to whom he wrote as to any others, and ought to be exercised by them toward all true Christians; and he exhorts her, as he did all Christians, to exercise it. It was a command upon which, in his old age, he loved to dwell; and he had little more to say to her than this, to exhort her to obey this injunction of the Saviour.
not … new commandment—It was old in that Christians heard it from the first in the Gospel preaching; new, in that the Gospel rested love on the new principle of filial imitation of God who first loved us, and gave Jesus to die for us; and also, in that love is now set forth with greater clearness than in the Old Testament dispensation. Love performs both tables of the law, and is the end of the law and the Gospel alike (compare Notes, see on 1Jo 2:7, 8).
that we—implying that he already had love, and urging her to join him in the same Christian grace. This verse seems to me to decide that a Church, not an individual lady, is meant. For a man to urge a woman ("THEE"; not thee and thy children) that he and she should love one another, is hardly like an apostolic precept, however pure may be the love enjoined; but all is clear if "the lady" represent a Church.1Jo 2:7,8. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 John 1:5-6. καὶ νῦν ἐρωτῶ σε] νῦν is used here, not temporally, but logically. Düsterdieck refers it to the immediately preceding subordinate clause: καθὼς κ.τ.λ.; Ebrard, on the other hand, to the idea εὕρηκα κ.τ.λ.; but it is more correctly referred to ἐχάρην κ.τ.λ.; the joy which the apostle felt is the cause of his present request (so also Brückner and Braune). John says ἐρωτῶ instead of the usual παρακαλῶ, as the request is suitable to the Church, as a κυρία.
οὐχ ὡς ἐντολὴν γράφων σοι καινὴν κ.τ.λ.] Comp. 1 John 2:7.
ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους] dependent on ἐρωτῶ, comp. John 17:15, not on ἐντολὴν ἔχομεν (Baumgarten-Crusius), “for this is used in a subordinate clause merely, and ἐρωτῶ would be without connection and without object” (Brückner). ἵνα states here also not merely the purpose, but the substance of the request (contrary to Braune).—2 John 1:6. καὶ αὕτη … ἵνα] The same construction, 1 John 5:3. The apostle is not distinguishing the commandment of love from the other commandments (de Wette), but is describing the walking according to the commandments of God as the substance and essence of love; with justice, for, in the first place, only that love is moral—or more particularly, Christian—in its character which is founded on obedience toward God, and therefore “consists in the fulfilment of the commandments of God that regulate our relationship to our neighbour” (Ebrard); and, in the second place, the aim of all the divine commandments is nothing else than love. Brückner, Braune, and others here interpret ἡ ἀγάπη incorrectly of “Christian love simply,” including also the love of God and Christ; the close connection of this sentence with the preceding one (ἡ ἀγάπη clearly refers back to ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους) compels us to understand ἡ ἀγαπή of Christian brotherly love. The thought last expressed is specially emphasized by the following words. According to the reading: αὕτη ἡ ἐντολή ἐστι, we must translate: “This commandment is (consists in this), as ye have heard from the beginning (no other than this), that ye should walk ἐν αὐτῇ.”
ἡ ἐντολή resumes the preceding τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ. the transition from the plural to the singular is not difficult; comp. 1 John 3:22-23.
ἵνα states the substance of the commandment, and ἐν αὐτῇ refers to ἀγάπῃ (de Wette-Brückner, Lücke, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Braune), and not to ἐντολή (Sander); for this would not only give an inadmissible tautology, but would also be contrary to John’s mode of expression, in which the phrase: περιπατεῖν ἐν τῇ ἐντολῇ, does not appear.
By the intervening clause καθὼς ἠκούσατε, “a subordinate definition of the ἐντολή” (Lücke, de Wette) is not given, but it is observed that the readers have heard from the beginning what is the substance of the divine commandment; the apostle thereby refers back to what was said in 2 John 1:5 (so also Düsterdieck, Ebrard, Brückner, Braune). The circle that results from this interpretation only serves to bring clearly out the identity of brotherly love and obedience toward God.
 Köstlin incorrectly interprets (p. 218): “the old commandment, that we should love one another, means nothing else than that we should abide in what He has commanded us to believe.” That ἐντολή here denotes the command to believe (1 John 3:23), finds no confirmation in the context.—Ebrard unjustifiably asserts that the obscurity of the expression in this verse is to be explained by the fact that the apostle intentionally alludes to some passages of the First Epistle, with which he assumes the Kyria to be familiar.2 John 1:5-6. The Comprehensive Commandment. “And now I ask thee, Kyria, not as writing a new commandment to thee but the one which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love—that we walk according to His commandments; this is the commandment, even as ye heard from the beginning—that we should walk in love,”
These counsels are just a summary of the doctrines expounded at large in the first Epistle. There is here a sort of reasoning in a circle: The commandment is Love; Love is walking according to His commandments; His commandments are summed up in one—Love.
5. And now] As in 1 John 2:28 (see note there), this introduces a practical exhortation depending on what precedes. ‘It is my joy at the Christian life of some of thy children, and my anxiety about the others, that move me to exhort thee’.
I beseech thee] S. John uses the same verb (ἐρωτᾷν) as that used of making request about ‘sin unto death’ (1 John 5:16). It perhaps indicates that he begs as an equal or superior rather than as an inferior. In both passages the Vulgate rightly has rogo, not peto. In classical Greek the verb = interrogo, ‘I ask a question’, a meaning which it frequently has in N. T. S. Paul uses it very seldom, and always in the sense of ‘I request’: his usual word is παρακαλῶ, which S. John never employs.
a new commandment] See on 1 John 2:7.
from the beginning] See on 1 John 2:7.
that we love one another] ‘That’ (ἵνα) introduces the purport of the command; but perhaps the notion of purpose is not wholly absent (see on 1 John 1:8 and comp. 1 John 3:23). It is doubtful whether ‘that we love’ depends upon ‘commandment’ or upon ‘I beseech thee’.
5–11. We now enter upon the main portion of the Epistle, which has three divisions: Exhortation to Love and Obedience (5, 6); Warnings against False Doctrine (7–9); Warnings against False Charity (10, 11). As usual, the transitions from one subject to another are made gently and without any marked break.2 John 1:5. Οὐχ ὡς—καινὴν, not as—new) Love performs both pages: truth produces nothing else.
 The Old as well as the New Testament love to God, and love to our neighbour—E.Verses 5-11. - 2. MAIN DIVISION. Exhortation. Having thus stated what has led to his writing, the apostle passes on to the central portion of the letter (verses 5-11), which consists of three exhortations: to love and obedience (verses 5, 6); against false doctrine (verses 7-9); against false charity (verses 10, 11). The transition to this practical part of the Epistle is indicated by the opening particles, "And now." Verse 5. - I beseech thee, lady. The verb has, perhaps, a tinge of peremptoriness about it ἐρωτῶ: "This is a request which I have a right to make." Respecting the "new commandment" and "from the beginning," see notes on 1 John 2:7. We may reasonably suppose that St. John is here reminding her of the contents of his First Epistle. The parallels between this Epistle and the First are so numerous and so close, that we can scarcely doubt that some of them are consciously made. There are at least eight such in these thirteen verses, as may be seen from the margin of a good reference Bible.
See on Matthew 26:29.
We had (εἴχαμεν)
The apostle identifies himself with his readers.
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