Second Epistle of John
The Second Epistle of John, often referred to as Second John and often written 2 John, is a book of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 attributed to John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist
Saint John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John...

, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 and the other two epistles of John.


The language of this epistle is remarkably similar to 3 John. It is therefore suggested by a few that a single author composed both of these letters. The traditional view contends that all the letters are by the hand of John the apostle, and the linguistic structure, special vocabulary, and polemical issues all lend toward this theory.

Also significant is the clear warning against paying heed to those who say that Jesus was not a flesh-and-blood figure: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” This establishes that, from the time the epistle was first written, there were those who had docetic
In Christianity, docetism is the belief that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion; that is, Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die...

Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

, believing that the human person of Jesus was actually pure spirit.

Alternatively, the letter's acknowledgment and rejection of gnostic theology may reveal a later date of authorship than orthodox Christianity claims. This can not be assured by a simple study of the context. Gnosticism's beginnings and its relationship to Christianity is poorly dated, due to an insufficient corpus of literature relating the first interactions between the two religions. It vehemently condemns such anti-corporeal attitudes, which also indicates that those taking such unorthodox positions were either sufficiently vocal, persuasive, or numerous enough to warrant rebuttal in this form. Adherents of gnosticism were most numerous during the second and third centuries.

Thus, in regard to this matter and this document, either one of two explanations is commonly held:
  • Docetic
    In Christianity, docetism is the belief that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion; that is, Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die...

     and/or gnostic teachings were prevalent quite early in the history of Christianity
    Apostolic Age
    The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

    , and these views were considered heretical
    Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

     and dangerous by the young but established Christian church.
  • A late date of the composition (which often accompanies assertions of pseudepigraphal attribution
    Attribution may refer to:Something, such as a quality or characteristic, that is related to a particular possessor; an attribute.*Attribution , concept in copyright law requiring an author to be credited...



It reads as follows:

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us for ever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father. But now, dear lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning, let us love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it.

Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist! Be on your guard, so that you do not lose what we have worked for, but may receive a full reward. Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person.

Although I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink; instead I hope to come to you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

The children of your elect sister send you their greetings.

Interpretation of “The Lady”

The text is addressed to “the elect lady and her children,” and closes with the words, “The children of thy elect sister greet thee.” However, some translators prefer to transliterate the Greek word for "lady" with the proper name Kyria. The person addressed is commended for her piety, and is warned against false teachers.

Naturally, another interpretation is possible. In the 12th chapter of the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

, the writer speaks of a woman
Woman of the Apocalypse
The phrase Woman of the Apocalypse refers to a character from the Book of Revelation 12:1-18:1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in...

 and a dragon. The dragon plots maliciously against the woman and one of her children, but is frustrated in his attempts to do them harm. In anger he then pursues the rest of her children. Verse four of 2nd John reads, “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth.” It may be the woman of portent from Revelation to which this epistle is addressed.

More commonly, the lady is often seen as a metaphor for the church. The church being the body of believers as a whole and as local congregations. The children would be members of that local congregation. He also includes a greeting from another church in the last verse "The children of thy elect sister greet thee". The elect is a fairly common term for those who believe in the gospel and follow Christ.

There are two prominent Johns in the bible. John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

, who is a second cousin to Jesus (that is the son of Mary's cousin; Elizabeth. See Luke 1:36) and John the Apostle
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

, who was Jesus's first cousin, his mother Salome being Mary's sister (c.f. Matthew 27:56, Mark 16:1, and John 19:25). Based on this there is another, more intriguing, view, which is that the Elect Lady (a woman chosen by God) is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Certainly she was chosen of God. James and Jude (half brothers of Jesus) did not believe Jesus was the Messiah until after the resurrection. In light of this fact, verse 4 is John telling Mary he is happy her other children (James and Jude) have come to understand the truth about Jesus. The ending of 2 John could have been the apostle sending a family greeting at the end (2 John 13).

See also

  • Textual variants in the Second Epistle of John

External links

Online translations of the Second Epistle of John:

Online articles on the Second Epistle of John:
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