In this brief letter, John wrote with a personal tone to the “elect lady and her children.” The teachings recall those in his first epistle, with emphasis on walking in the truth and separation from the false teachers.
Did You Know...?
1. Elect lady (1): If the term “elect lady” is interpreted literally, the epistle was written to an unnamed lady. It could also be possible that her name is Cyris (Greek eklekta kuria, translated “elect Cyria”), or Electa (translating the Greek as “the lady Electa”). (see
2. “Do not receive him” (10): “Itinerant missionaries were the means by which Christianity spread throughout the Empire. They looked to local churches to aid in their mission by providing hospitality (Roman inns were notorious for being dirty and fleainfested). The problem was that some of the people seeking room and board were false teachers, expounding erroneous doctrines….” [ref]
3. Paper and ink (12): “‘Paper’ is papyrus, made from reeds and rolled up like a scroll. The pen was a reed pointed at the end, and the ink was a compound of charcoal, vegetable gum and water. Written letters were considered an inferior substitute for personal presence or for a speech, and writers sometimes concluded their letters with promise to discuss matters further face-to-face.” [ref]
- Love Based on Truth (1:1-3)
- Walking in Truth (1:4-6)
- Abiding in Truth (1:7-11)
- Greetings (1:12-13)
What was the occasion and purpose of this letter?Hide Answer
Many deceivers who do not acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come into the flesh have gone out into the world (7). The author warns the believers to watch out and reject these deceivers (10,11).
Record what the epistle says about “truth.”Hide Answer
The truth abides in the believers and will be with them forever (2). God’s grace, mercy, and peace will be with us in truth and love (3). When believers walk in truth, it is an occasion for joy (4).
If “the elect lady” were interpreted figuratively, what could John be referring to?Hide Answer
The church (cf. Eph 1:4).
What is the connection between truth and love?Hide Answer
Truth and love go hand in hand. Our love for one another must be done in the truth and based on the truth (1,6). On the other hand, the truth is expressed in love, so that anyone who confesses the Lord Jesus must also love his brothers (5).
What are some examples of “love” without truth and explain why such love can only hurt?
Why does John mention both the Father and the Son in his benediction (3)?Hide Answer
Some claimed to know the Father but denied the Son (7; cf. Jn 12:44). The benediction emphasizes the divinity of Christ and His relationship to the Father (“the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father”).
What does this paragraph teach us about love?Hide Answer
Love is a commandment which we have had from the beginning (5). To love is to walk according to God’s commandments (6).
Why is keeping God’s commandments considered love (6)?Hide Answer
Love is the spirit and underlying principle of all of God’s commandments (Mt 22:35-40; 7:12; Rom 13:10).
What are “the things we worked for” in verse 8?Hide Answer
“We” may include the believers (some translations read, “you do not lose the things you worked for”) as well as God’s workers, who have worked hard to build up the believers’ faith in Christ (1Cor 3:10). If believers forsake the truth, their works of faith would be in vain (1Cor 9:27), and the work that was done by God’s workers will also be in vain (Gal 4:11).
What is the doctrine of Christ and what does it mean to abide in the doctrine of Christ?Hide Answer
The doctrine of Christ includes both the teachings of Christ and the teachings about Christ (that He has come in the flesh). In either meaning, we are to acknowledge Jesus as Lord by always walking according to His commands.
Why shouldn’t we receive or greet those who do not preach the doctrine of Christ? Is this instruction against the spirit of love?Hide Answer
Acknowledging and receiving false teachers is to share in their evil deeds (11). Love must be practiced in the truth (cf. 1). Receiving false teachers is an action that denies Christ. It would allow false teachings to penetrate the church, causing harm to believers. Anyone who denies Christ or disobeys God does not have true love because his actions can only lead others away from God to destruction.
How does the exhortation in 4-6 prepare the readers for the exhortations to resist the wickedness of false preachers?Hide Answer
John reminds the believers that true love involves keeping Christ’s commandments and helping others to do so. Anyone who sins, shares in the evil of deceivers, or leads others astray does not have love.
What is the significance of verse 12?Hide Answer
Unlike the false preachers who could only bring harm, John will come to meet with the believers and have fellowship with them so that their joy may be full. Fellowship and love in the truth result in joy.
What is the value of speaking face to face as opposed to writing?Hide Answer
Speaking face to face allows more intimate interaction (cf. Rom 1:11,12).