There has always been a difference of opinion and discussion concerning the Second and Third Epistles ascribed to John, the apostle. Neither the ancient church nor the modern critics have been entirely agreed concerning the writer, the persons addressed, or even concerning their title to a place in the Canon. The limited space to which I am confined will not allow me to enter at length into these controversies, further than to say that every hypothesis which refers to the authorship to any one else than John, the apostle, rests upon filmy foundations. The conjecture that they were written by a "Presbyter John," who was a contemporary of the apostle, and also lived at Ephesus, is based upon a fragment preserved from Papias, a Father in the second century, who mentions what he had learned from "the elders," or ancients, and among them names "the Elder John," who was a personal disciple of Christ. Since in the very same sentence he names seven apostles and calls them not apostles, but "elders," or "ancients," those are hard pressed who assume that he meant by the "Elder John," some other personal disciple of Christ than the son of Zebedee. There is no evidence that any "John the elder" lived in the apostolic age, a separate life from John the apostle. In addition, the language, doctrine and style of the two epistles point to the author of the fourth gospel, and especially to the writer of the First Epistle of John.
SUMMARY.--The Address to an Elect Woman and Her Family. The Commandment of Love. Antichrists. Godspeed Not To Be Given to These Opposers. Greetings.
1-3. The elder. John, unlike Peter and Paul, nowhere in his writings speaks of himself as an apostle. Peter also speaks of himself as an elder. John probably uses the term here, not officially, but in reference to his great age, as the only survivor of the apostles, and perhaps then the only personal disciple of the Lord living. Unto the elect lady. The term is Kyria in the Greek, a term which we know to have been a female proper name. Hence many of the best commentators from the time of Athanasius have held that this is the name of the sister. If not a proper name Kyria would be the feminine form of Kurios (Lord), the term applied to Christ, a worldly title unaccountable in the church, which does not recognize artificial distinctions of rank. To avoid this difficulty some have held that by "Kyria" the church is meant. It is better to regard the term a proper name. Whom. That is, the mother and her children. 2. For the truth's sake. Those who love in truth, love for the truth's sake. 3. Grace be with you. The usual benediction of the saints. The Lord Jesus Christ. The Revision omits Lord, a word which occurs nowhere else in John's Epistles.
4-6. I rejoiced greatly. Because he had found her children walking in the truth, by keeping the commandment of the Father. The commandment referred to, the one which sums up all, is love. 5. And now I beseech thee, lady. Kyria in Greek. If lady at all it would mean "your ladyship." Not as though I wrote a new commandment. Love embraces all. Compare 1 John 2:7. See notes there. 6. And this is love, etc. Keeping the commandments is the demonstration of love. Compare 1 John 5:3, and John 14:15, 14:23.
7-11. For many deceivers are entered into the world. See notes on 1 John 2:18; 2:22-24, and 4:1. Antichrist. Opposed to Christ. 8. Look to yourselves. Let not these deceivers lead you astray. The full reward. Belonging to all saints who continue to abide in Christ. 9. Whosoever transgresseth. He that lives a life of transgression cannot abide in Christ. Abideth in the doctrine. The teaching, the Gospel. 10. If there come . . . and bring not this doctrine. That of Christ. If he be a deceiver, an opposer of Christ, one who denies that "Jesus Christ came in the flesh." Receive him not into your house. Do not recognize him as a brother and extend to him a brotherly welcome. He is not to be fellowshipped. Neither bid him God speed. Give him no encouragement in his work of destruction. To give him greetings is to wish for his success. 11. For he that biddeth, etc. He that gives him these prayerful greetings and encouragement becomes a partaker, to that extent, in his evil deeds.
12, 13. Having many things. Though many more things occurred that he wished to write about, he hopes soon to see her and speak face to face. 13. The children of thy elect sister. It is usually supposed that this refers to a sister in the flesh, also one of the elect, whose children, probably grown up and Christians, were at that time with John.