From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain 1 to 3 John                           Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018



List of All Sources Quoted At End of File






Entire Second John

(Verses 1-13)




Verse 1                                               Translations

Weymouth:     The Elder to the elect lady and her children. Truly I love you all, and not I alone, but also all who know the truth,

WEB:              The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not I only, but also all those who know the truth;

Young’s:         The Elder to the choice Kyria, and to her children, whom I love in truth, and not I only, but also all those having known the truth,

Conte (RC):    The Elder to the Elect Lady, and those born of her, whom I love in the truth: and not I alone, but also all those who have known the truth,


Verse 1           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.  [3]

                        Notice that though John does not mention his name he speaks of himself as “the elder.”  The Epistle furnishes us with an example of the kind of service which was rendered by the elders, or presbyters, of Biblical days.  They exercised an oversight of a spiritual sort.  They gave guidance, in the way of practical directions, to those who were less instructed in the ways of the Lord.  They shepherded the flock of God.  [8]   

                        It is a designation which a writer personating John would scarcely have chosen, as being too indistinct.  On the other hand an Elder, who did not wish to personate the Apostle, would hardly call himself “The Elder.”  It is in addressing Elders that Peter calls himself a “fellow-elder” (1 Peter 5:1).  “The use of the word in this Epistle shows that he cannot have understood this title in the usual ecclesiastical sense, as though he were only one among many presbyters of a community.  Clearly the writer meant thereby to express the singular and lofty position he held in the circle around him, as the teacher venerable for his old age, and the last of the Apostles” (Döllinger).   [23]

                        Why he would not use the title “apostle” in the greeting.  It would not be needful, it would seem violently out of place, for the last survivor of the apostolic group to assert his apostleship and authority in a familiar personal letter, writing to one who would never think of him but with reverence.  [51]  

                        unto the elect lady.  Or possibly, unto the elect Kyria: but the other is better, as leaving open the question, which cannot be determined with any approach to certainty, whether the letter is addressed to an individual or to a community.  There is no article in the Greek, so that “to an elect lady” is a possible translation.  If we make κυρία a proper name (and no doubt there was such a name in use), we are committed to the former alternative.  The rendering “to the lady Electa” may be safely dismissed, if only on account of verse 13.  If Electa is a proper name here, it is a proper name there; which involves two sisters each bearing the same extraordinary name.  Compare “to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion” (1 Peter 1:1), and “for the elect’s sake” (2 Timothy 2:10).  Every Christian is elect or chosen out of the antichristian world into the kingdom of God.  [23]

                        On the assumption that a specific woman is under consideration.  No mention is made of her husband, and it may thence be inferred that she was a widow.  Had he been living, though he might not have been a Christian, it is to be presumed that some allusion would have been made to him as well as to the children, especially since there is reason to believe that only some of her children were pious (verse 4).  [18]

and her children.  Church members as being described.  For the Church as a mother compare Galatians 4:26.  [23]    

If the children are biological offspring. The word here rendered “children” (τέκνοις) would include in itself both sons and daughters, but since the apostle immediately uses a masculine pronoun, τοις it would seem more probable that sons only were intended.  At all events, the use of such a pronoun proves that some at least of her children were sons.  Of their number and character we have no information, except that (verse 4) a part of them were Christians.  [18]

On the Greek:  In the Greek “the lady” is feminine, “the children” are neuter, “whom” is masculine.  No argument can be drawn from this as to whether a Christian family or a Church is to be understood.  [23]

whom I love in the truth.  Either as being in the truth and faith of the Gospel; for though all men are to be loved as men, and to be done well to, yet they that are of the household of faith, or are in the faith, are in an especial manner to be loved and respected; see Galatians 6:10; or the sense is, that the apostle loved this lady and her children sincerely and heartily, without dissimulation; not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth, 1 John 3:18.  [16]

The repetition of “truth” in these verses:  Note the repetition of the characteristic word “truth,” which occurs five times in the first four verses.  All words respecting truth and bearing witness to it are characteristic of St. John.  In two of the five cases “truth” has the article; “all they that know the truth; for the truth's sake which abideth in us.”  It is not impossible that “the truth” here means Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Christ is the Revelation of Divine truth to man.  All who know Him love all faithful Christians for His sake.  To the apostle truth was not a mere notion, “or a set of notions, however large and accurate; it was no theory about God, but God Himself, and God manifest in the flesh in order that we might know Him and partake His life.”  [24]

and not I only.  I am not the only one who feels this way; this reaction is not unique to me alone.  [rw]

but also all they that have known the truth.  That is, all those Christians who had had an opportunity of knowing them, were sincerely attached to them.  It would seem, from a subsequent part of the Epistle (verse 10), that this female was of a hospitable character, and was accustomed to entertain at her house the professed friends of religion, especially religious teachers, and it is probable that she was the more extensively known from this fact.  [18]

“How could the children of an individual woman be regarded as an object of the love of all believers?”  The First Epistle is the answer to the question.  Every one who “has come to know the truth” enters that “Communion of Saints” of which the love of each for every other is the very condition of existence.  The Apostle speaks first in his own name, and then in the name of every Christian.  [23]



Verse 2                                               Translations

Weymouth:     for the sake of the truth which is continually in our hearts and will be with us for ever.

WEB:              for the truth's sake, which remains in us, and it will be with us forever:

Young’s:         because of the truth that is remaining in us, and with us shall be to the age,

Conte (RC):    because the truth which dwells in us shall be with us for eternity.                                    


Verse 2           For the truth's sake.  For the truth’s sake denotes that John loves this woman and her children because of the devotion to the truth.  [9] 

                        Or:  Because you have embraced the same truth of the gospel which I myself, and other faithful Christians, have received.  [35]

which dwelleth in us.  In us who are Christians; that is, the truths of the gospel which we have embraced.  Truth may be said to have taken up a permanent abode in the hearts of all who love religion.  [18] 

and shall be with us for ever.  This truth shall be with us for ever, hence a love that is based on it will be permanent.  [9] 

Its abode with us is not for a night or a day; not for a month or a year; not for the few years that make up mortal life; it is not a passing stranger that finds a lodging like the weary traveler for a night, and in the morning is gone to be seen no more; it has come to us to make our hearts its permanent home, and it is to be with us in all worlds, and while ceaseless ages shall roll away.  [18] 

The Christian teaching is not in the process of evolution.  It is not passing from one stage to another as theologians and religious philosophers devise new systems.  It is “the faith once…[for all] delivered unto the saints” (Jude verse 3).  That which is new and not “from the beginning” is a deceit and a delusion.  [30]



Verse 3                                               Translations

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

WEB:              Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Young’s:         there shall be with you grace, kindness, peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Conte (RC):    I was very glad because I discovered some of your sons walking in the truth, just as we received the commandment from the Father.


Verse 3           Grace be with you, mercy, and peace.  Overview:  “Grace” covers men's sins; "mercy," their miseries.  Grace must first do away with guilt before misery can be relieved by mercy.  Therefore grace stands before mercy.  Peace is the result of both; therefore stands third.  Casting all our care on the Lord, with thanksgiving, maintains this peace (Philippians 4:6-7).  [4] 

                        Overview:  Bengel:  Grace removes guilt; mercy, unhappiness; and peace implies continuance in grace and mercy.”  [49] 

                        A prayer that [these things] might be manifested to this family in promoting truth and love.  [18]

                         It is not so much a prayer or a blessing, as the confident assurance of a blessing; and the Apostle includes himself within its scope.  This triplet of heavenly gifts occurs, and in the same order, in the salutations to Timothy (both Epistles) and Titus.  The more common form is “grace and peace.”  [23]

                        Grace be with you.  Grace” is the favor of God towards sinners (see John 1:14).  “Grace” is rare in the writings of John; elsewhere only John 1:14; John 1:16-17; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 22:21. [23]

mercy.  “Mercy” is the compassion of God for the misery of sinners.  [23]

and peace.  “Peace” is the result when the guilt and misery of sin are removed.  [23]

Peace = salvation.  [50]

from God the Father.  Literally, “from the presence of, or from the hand of (παρά) God the Father:  see John 1:6; 16:27:  the more usual expression is simply “from” (ἀπό), as in Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2, &c.  [23]

and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  Mark how here the Lord Jesus the Son is associated with the Father as the Author and Giver of all grace.  [42]

the Son of the Father.  The statement, “the Son of the Father” is unique; it is not found elsewhere in the New Testament and is in full keeping with the object of this little Epistle, for the denial of Christ coming in the flesh, and the warning against these deceivers, is the chief message of the Epistle.  [38]

in truth and love.  These two words, so characteristic of John (see 1 John 1:8; 2:8; 3:1), are key-notes of this short Epistle, in which “truth” occurs five times, and “love” twice as a substantive and twice as a verb.  “Commandment” is a third such word.  [23]

In the Godhead the two are essentially united:  “God is Light” and “God is Love.”  In human society they ought to be united:  truth without love becomes cold, stern, and even cruel; love without truth becomes unstable and capricious.  [24]         



Verse 4                                               Translations

Weymouth:     It is an intense joy to me to have found some of your children living true Christian lives, in obedience to the command which we have received from the Father.

WEB:              I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, even as we have been commanded by the Father.

Young’s:         I rejoiced exceedingly that I have found of thy children walking in truth, even as a command we did receive from the Father;

Conte (RC):    I was very glad because I discovered some of your sons walking in the truth, just as we received the commandment from the Father.                      


Verse 4           I rejoiced greatly.  Like Paul, the Elder leads up to his admonition by stating something which is a cause of joy and thankfulness:  compare Philemon verse 4; 2 Timothy 1:3; Romans 1:8; &c.  [23]

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 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.  [18]

of thy children.  This shows that the lady must have had at least three children.  Some have seen in it a sad, gentle hint that there were others of her children who did not walk in the truth.  [7] 

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.  [16]

Theoretically all of them could have been Christians:  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 to allude to so disagreeable a circumstance.  [18]

Or (assuming a congregation is being addressed in the epistle rather than an individual):  He gives prominence to the satisfactory side of his visit, simply hinting at the less satisfactory by the little word of (i.e., some of) thy children.  [50]

walking in truth.  Holding to the truth of the gospel, and living according to it.  The truth manifested itself in their heart experience, and in their general conduct.  The truth was the element, motive power, and mould of their life.  [52]

“Walking in truth” refers to both belief and practice of the Gospel.  [47]

Walking in the truth supposes that it has a practical and progressive tendency, and those only are true believers who live under its influence.  To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, is to walk after His commandments:  2 John verse 6.  Walking stands opposed to indifference and inaction:  many know the truth who neither love it nor walk in it.  [13]

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.  [18]

The commandment referred to, the one which sums up all, is love.  [3]

“As” -- even as.  “The Father's commandment” is the standard of “the truth.”  [4]    



Verse 5                                               Translations

Weymouth:     And now, dear lady, I pray you--writing to you, as I do, not a new command, but the one which we have had from the very beginning--let us love one another.

WEB:              Now I beg you, dear lady, not as though I wrote to you a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

Young’s:         and now I beseech thee, Kyria, not as writing to thee a new command, but which we had from the beginning, that we may love one another,

Conte (RC):    And now I petition you, Lady, not as if writing a new commandment to you, but instead that commandment which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.


Verse 5           And now I beseech thee, lady.  As an apostle he might command (see Philemon, verse 8).  Entreaty is oftentimes more potent than a command. The term rendered “beseech” implies that he had a right so to appeal to her.  [51]

The verb has, perhaps, a tinge of peremptoriness about it ἐρωτῶ:  “This is a request which I have a right to make.”  [24] 

                        Possibility:  John seems to have some anxiety about some of the children of the lady, who were in danger from deceivers.  [49] 

not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee.  A commandment which thou didst never hear before.  [35]

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 1 Thessalonians 4:9.  [18]

but that which we had from the beginning.  What they had heard from the first publication of Christianity.  [17]

Respecting the “new commandment” and “from the beginning,” we may reasonably suppose that 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.  [24] 

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, 17.  This general command, addressed to all the disciples of the Savior, 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.  [18]

A potential problem hinted at?  Had John heard something which indicated a want of love, or does he here make simply the appeal which would be fitting even to the angels?  On this point we can make no answer.  [51]



Verse 6                                               Translations

Weymouth:     The love of which I am speaking consists in our living in obedience to God's commands. God's command is that you should live in obedience to what you all heard from the very beginning.

WEB:              This is love, that we should walk according to his commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

Young’s:         and this is the love, that we may walk according to His commands; this is the command, even as ye did hear from the beginning, that in it ye may walk,

Conte (RC):    And this is love: that we walk according to his commandments. For this is the commandment that you have heard in the same way from the beginning, and in which you should walk.  


Verse 6           And this is love.  The love which I mean consists in this (see 1 John 1:5).  In 2 John verse 5 obedience prompts love; here love prompts obedience.  This is no vicious logical circle, but a healthy moral connection, as is stated above on verse 4.  Love divorced from duty will run riot, and duty divorced from love will starve.  See 1 John 5:3.  The Apostle has no sympathy with a religion of pious emotions:  there must be a persevering walk according to God’s commands.  In writing to a woman it might be all the more necessary to insist on the fact that love is not a mere matter of feeling.  [23]

that we walk after his commandments.  There may be love on the lips without obedience in the life; but love in the heart must produce obedience in the life.  [8] 

Just as in the sphere of thought truth must be combined with love (see 2 John 1:3), so in the sphere of emotion love must be combined with obedience.  Warm feelings, whether towards God or towards man, are worse than valueless if they are not united, on the one hand with obedience, on the other with truth.  This was the elect lady's danger; in [her enthusiasm] she was forgetting her obligations to the truth and the commandment.  [24]

This is the commandment.  That is, this is His great and special commandment; the one by which His disciples are to be especially characterized, and by which they are to be distinguished in the world.  See John 13:34.  [18]

That, as ye have heard from the beginning.  Of our preaching.  [2]

The commencement of the Christian era.  From the first there had been no deviation from this teaching that love must characterize the entire life.  [51]

ye should walk in it.  Walk in it; live by it; using it as your standard of self-judgment.  [rw]

it.  In love:  not the commandment.  [1]   

The keeping of God’s commandments consists in loving God and loving our brother.  Love is the best safeguard against error.  [49]



Verse 7                                               Translations

Weymouth:     For many deceivers have gone out into the world--men who do not acknowledge Jesus as Christ who has come in human nature. Such a one is 'the deceiver' and 'the anti-Christ.'

WEB:              For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don't confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist.

Young’s:         because many leading astray did enter into the world, who are not confessing Jesus Christ coming in flesh; this one is he who is leading astray, and the antichrist.

Conte (RC):    For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has arrived in the flesh. Such a one as this is a deceiver and an antichrist.


Verse 7           For.  As connected with the danger of false teachers.  This word “for” is not here to be regarded as connected with the previous verse, and as giving a reason why there should be the exercise of mutual love, but is rather to be understood as connected with the following verse, verse 8, and as giving a reason for the caution there expressed:  “Because it is a truth that many deceivers have appeared, or since it has occurred that many such are abroad, look to yourselves lest you be betrayed and ruined.”  The fact that there were many such deceivers was a good reason for being constantly on their guard, lest they should be so far drawn away as not to receive a full reward.  [18]

                        As connected with the necessity of love.  Some would make this conjunction introduce the reason for verse 8:  “Because many deceivers have appeared … look to yourselves.”  But this is altogether unlike John’s simple manner; to say nothing of the very awkward parenthesis which is thus made of “This is . . . Antichrist.”  “For” or “Because” points backwards to verses 5-6, not forwards to verse 8.  “I am recalling our obligations to mutual love and to obedience of the Divine command, because there are men with whom you and yours come in contact, whose teaching strikes at the root of these obligations.”  [23]

many deceivers.  By whom are meant false teachers, who are described by their quality, “deceivers,” deceitful workers, pretending to be ministers of Christ, to have a value for truth, a love for souls, and a view to the glory of God, but lie in wait to deceive, and handle the word of God deceitfully; and by their quantity or number, “many,” and so likely to do much mischief.  [16] 

are entered into the world.  They aren’t just limited to one place or one reason.  They are quite capable of popping up wherever Christians are.  [rw]

“The world” here may mean “the earth” or “human society:”  or we may take it in John’s special sense of what is external to the Church and antichristian; see 1 John 2:2.  [23]

Interpreted as openly non-apostolic in loyalty and teaching:  Many had “entered” or “gone out” into the world who were nothing but deceivers.  He does not say you notice, “gone out into the church,” but “into the world.”  He alludes apparently to the same kind of people as those that he warned us against in chapter 2 of his first Epistle.  Those, he said, “went out from us,” giving up all pretence of being connected with the church.  They turned their backs, it appears, upon the church of God, and they went forth into the world as missionaries of greater “light” than any which the church had possessed. Influenced by the powers of darkness they became heralds of notions which were a skilful blend of heathen philosophies and Christian terms.  They still talked about Christ, but their “Christ” was not the Christ of God.  [8] 

who confess not.  The many deceivers and those who confess not are the same group, and this is their character—unbelief and denial of the truth.  “Confess not” = deny.  [23]

that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.  Who maintain that He assumed only the appearance of a man, and was not really incarnate.  See 1 John 4:2-3.  [18]

Who disbelieve either His prophetic, or priestly, or kingly office.  [2]

These deceivers denied not merely the fact of the Incarnation, but its possibility.  In both passages A.V. and R.V. translate as if we had the infinitive mood instead of the participle.  The difference is, that with the participle the denial is directed against the Person, “they deny Jesus;” with the infinitive it is directed against the fact, “they deny that He cometh” or “has come.”  Note that Christ is never said to come into the flesh; but either, as here and 1 John 4:2, to come in the flesh; or, to become flesh (John 1:14).  To say that Christ came into the flesh would leave room for saying that the Divine Son was united with Jesus after He was born of Mary; which would be no true Incarnation.  [23]

This is a deceiver.  Not only is he wrong, he is so seriously wrong that what he teaches can only legitimately be labeled as a “deception.”  [rw]

These false teachers are called “deceivers,” but they lead to false living as well as to false views of truth.  Belief and life are inseparable.  Faith always manifests itself in works.  Corrupt doctrine inevitably results in corrupt morals.  [44]

The strong words of the apostle are the expression of a glowing conviction.  Our strong words [however] are too often the expression of a heated temper; and a man who loses his temper in argument cares more about himself than about the truth.  Let us remember the noble words of Augustine to the heretics of his own day:  “Let those rage against you who know not with what toil truth is found, and how difficult it is to avoid errors; who know not with how much difficulty the eye of the inner man is made whole; who know not with what sighs and groans it is made possible, in however small a degree, to comprehend God.”  [24] 

and an antichrist.  Fighting against Christ.  [2]

Opposed to Christ.  [3]

The nature of the anti-Christ:  The one talked of and warned against in the primitive teaching, or at least one fulfilling the idea of the antichrist.  See 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3.  Here, as before, is evidence that an antichrist is not one who denies outright the Lord Jesus Christ, but one who, professing to receive Christ, yet denies essential things about Him.  It is one who teaches Christ, yet not the Christ in His full nature and office.  It is evident, with this definition, that there are many antichrists still in the world.  [52]

Note on the Greek [in the ESV and NASB, “the deceiver and the antichrist”]:   Rather, This is the deceiver and the Antichrist: a good example of inadequate treatment of the Greek article in A.V.  Luther is more accurate, “Dieser ist der Verführer und der Widerchrist.”  The transition from plural to singular (see verse 6) may be explained in two ways:  1. The man who acts thus is the deceiver and the Antichrist; 2. These men collectively are the deceiver and the Antichrist.  In either case the article means “him of whom you have heard:”  “the deceiver” in reference to his fellow men; “the Antichrist” in reference to his Redeemer.  [23]         




Verse 8                                               Translations

Weymouth:     Keep guard over yourselves, so that you may not lose the results of your good deeds, but may receive back a full reward.

WEB:              Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward.

Young’s:         See to yourselves that ye may not lose the things that we wrought, but a full reward may receive;

Conte (RC):    Be cautious for yourselves, lest you lose what you have accomplished, and so that, instead, you may receive a full reward.                    


Verse 8           Look to yourselves.  [In other words:]  Be on your guard against, beware of, yourselves (Philippians 3:2).  It is possible that Cyria and her children may have been in some peculiar danger, may have just begun to come short, or at least to listen to one of the false charmers. Hence his sudden cry of warning, designed to be as a shock to persons on the very edge of peril.  [52]

When error abounds in the world, our first duty is not to attack it and make war upon it; it is to look to the citadel of our own souls, and see that all is well guarded there.  When an enemy invades a land, the first thing will not be to go out against him, regardless of our own strength, or of the security of our own fortresses, but it will be to see that our forts are well manned, and that we are secure there from his assaults.  If that is so, we may then go forth with confidence to meet him on the open field.  In relation to an error that is in the world, the first thing for a Christian to do is to take care of his own heart.  [18]

that we [you, NASB] lose not those things which we have wrought.  The meaning is, “Take heed that these deceivers do not undo the work which Apostles and Evangelists have wrought in you, but that ye receive the full fruit of it.”  [23]

but that we [you, NASB] receive 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.  (Compare Colossians 3:24; Galatians 4:2.)  [32]

“Full” shows the varying rewards in the present and in the heavenly life (Luke 19:16-19).  There are large possibilities in the Christian life, larger oftentimes than are realized.  Notice the dwindling spiritual life of Hebrews 5:11-12, and the attainable peace spoken of in Romans 5:1, Revised Version.  [51]  

Or:  Eternal life.  The word “reward” has reference to “have wrought.”  “Apostles have done the work, and you, if you take heed, will have the reward.”  Eternal life is called a full reward in contrast to real but incomplete rewards which true believers receive in this life; peace, joy, increase of grace, and the like.  Compare Mark 10:29-30.  [23]

Or:  The next verse explains the nature of the “full reward” which the lady and some of her children are in danger of losing—it is nothing less than God Himself.  [24]

                        Note on the different Greek verbs utilized:  The [Greek] authorities vary much as to the persons of the three verbs, “lose,” “have wrought,” “receive,” some reading “we,” and some “ye,” in each case.  The best reading seems to be, "That ye lose not the things which we have wrought, but that ye receive a full reward, i.e., beware of allowing our work in you to be undone to your grievous loss.  Through not seeing the meaning of the passage, some scribes changed “ye” into “we,” and others changed “we” into “ye,” thus making all three verbs in the same person.  There is a similar case in John 9:4, where the true reading seems to be, “We must work the works of him that sent me;” but in order to produce uniformity some scribes altered “we” into “I,” while others turned “me” into “us.”  [24]   



Verse 9                                               Translations

Weymouth:     No one has God, who instead of remaining true to the teaching of Christ, presses on in advance: but he who remains true to that teaching has both the Father and the Son.

WEB:              Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.

Young’s:         every one who is transgressing, and is not remaining in the teaching of the Christ, hath not God; he who is remaining in the teaching of the Christ, this one hath both the Father and the Son;

Conte (RC):    Everyone who withdraws and does not remain in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God. Whoever remains in the doctrine, such a one as this has both the Father and the Son.


Verse 9           Whosoever transgresseth.  Any law of God.  [2] [35]

                                                This describes him who does not receive the full reward, of whom they are warned, whereby they lose the reward.  [20]

                        Note on the Greek usage:  This is a simplification of a much more difficult reading (אAB), Whosoever, or Every one that goeth before (πᾶςπροάγων) or that goeth onwards.  The verb is fairly common in the Synoptists and the Acts, but occurs nowhere else in John’s writings.  It may be interpreted in two ways:  1. Every one who sets himself up as a leader; 2. Every one who goes on beyond the Gospel.  The latter is perhaps better.  These antichristian Gnostics were “advanced”  thinkers:  the Gospel was all very well for the unenlightened; but they knew something higher.  This agrees very well with what follows:  by advancing they did not abide.  There is an advance which involves desertion of first principles; and such an advance is not progress but apostasy.  [23]

and abideth not.  Does not persevere; in his belief of, and obedience to, the doctrine of Christ.  [35]

I.e., treats the Christian revelation as a mere stepping-stone to more advanced doctrine.  The reference is to teachers who anticipated the Gnostics in asserting that they had gone beyond the apostolic faith and penetrated to deeper mysteries.  [45]

in the doctrine of Christ.  In the doctrine which Christ taught, or the true doctrine respecting him.  The language is somewhat ambiguous, like the phrase “the love of Christ,” which may mean either His love to us, or our love to Him.  Compare John 15:9.  It is difficult to determine here which is the true sense--whether it means the doctrine or precepts which he taught, or the true doctrine respecting him.  Macknight understands by it the doctrine taught by Christ and His apostles.  It would seem most probable that this is the sense of the passage, but then it would include, of course, all that Christ taught respecting himself, as well as His other instructions.  [18]

Believing and obeying it.  [2]

No claim of superior knowledge can be allowed which sets aside what Christ taught.  [7] 

hath not God.  Has no true knowledge of God.  [18]

This must not be watered down to mean “does not know God: it means that he has Him not as his God; does not possess Him in his heart as a Being to adore, and trust, and love.  [23]

He that abideth in.  Does not leave; does not depart from.  [rw]

the doctrine of Christ.  The opposite case is now stated, and as usual the original idea is not merely negatived but expanded.  “Of Christ” in this half of the verse must be omitted:  it has been inserted in some authorities to make the two halves more exactly correspond.  [23]

“Doctrine” in the NT is never synonymous with “dogma,” but means “teaching.”  [7] 

he hath both the Father and the Son.  This shows that “hath not God” [in the earlier part of the verse] implies “hath neither the Father nor the Son.”  [23]  


                        In depth:  Varying forms that not remaining within Christ’s doctrine may take [8].  We have this kind of thing quite full-blown today in what is known as “Modernism.”  The Modernist believes that religion or theology is a human science, and that like all sciences it must not stand still but advance with the times and with the increase of all human knowledge.  Hence he goes forward with much confidence to what he conceives to be greater light. No doctrine is sacred to the out-and-out Modernist.  There is hardly one doctrine of the Scripture which he leaves intact.   And there are forms of modernism which would hardly be classified as “Modernist” in the religious world.  They are not the less mischievous on that account.  They may as yet only “transgress” or “go forward” in certain particulars.  But it is the whole idea of “going forward” that is wrong.  If there may be development as to some details of the faith, why not as to all?



Verse 10                                             Translations

Weymouth:     If any one who comes to you does not bring this teaching, do not receive him under your roof nor bid him Farewell.

WEB:              If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him,

Young’s:         if any one doth come unto you, and this teaching doth not bear, receive him not into the house, and say not to him, 'Hail!'

Conte (RC):    If anyone comes to you, and does not bring this doctrine, do not be willing to receive him into the house, and do not speak a greeting to him.           


Verse 10         If there come any unto you.  It is implied that such people do come; it is no mere hypothesis.  “Cometh” probably means more than a mere visit:  it implies coming on a mission as a teacher.  [23]

and bring not this doctrine.  This doctrine which Christ taught, or the true doctrine respecting him and his religion.  [18]

receive him not into your house.  As either a teacher or a brother.  [2]

The command “receive him not into your house,” is relative.  It means not that we are to deny him meat and shelter altogether, if he be in need of them, but that we are not to fellowship him as a brother.  Even our personal enemies we are to bless and pray for, if they hunger we are to feed them and if they thirst give them drink.  But those who are the enemies of God by being enemies of His truth, we are to have nothing to do with in the capacity of fellow-Christians.  We must not aid them in their plans or bid them God speed.  [6] 

neither bid him God speed.  Do not aid or encourage him in any way.  [12]

The word used expresses the common form of salutation, as when we wish one health, success, prosperity.  It would be understood as expressing a wish for success in the enterprise in which they were embarked; and, though we should love all people, and desire their welfare, and sincerely seek their happiness, yet we can properly wish no one success in [a] career of sin and error.  [18]



Verse 11                                             Translations

Weymouth:     He who bids him Farewell is a sharer in his evil deeds.

WEB:              for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.

Young’s:         for he who is saying to him, 'Hail,' hath fellowship with his evil works.

Conte (RC):    For whoever speaks a greeting to him, is speaking with his evil works.


Verse 11         For he that biddeth him God speed [greets him, NKJV].  That gives him any encouragement, is accessory to his evil deeds.  [2]

                        “God speed,” you imply that he is capable of good speed and joy, and that you wish him it while opposing Christ; so you identify yourself as “having communion with [koinonei] his evil deeds.”  We cannot have communion with saints and with Antichrist at once.  [4] 

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 sympathizing 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 John too liberally, or by too low a measure, this passage is a wholesome corrective.  [32]

[The letter] was penned, however, in no spirit of narrowness or harshness or bigotry.  Its characteristic word is “love;” it breathes the broadest charity; and it reiterates that “old commandment” which Christ has made new:  “that we love one another.”  Still, there is a second word which is hardly less prominent and no less vital:  it is the word “truth.”  Love must not be allowed to lapse into sentimental softness and weak indifference, particularly when truth is at stake.  [44]



Verse 12                                             Translations

Weymouth:     I have a great deal to say to you all, but will not write it with paper and ink. Yet I hope to come to see you and speak face to face, so that your happiness may be complete.

WEB:              Having many things to write to you, I don't want to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that our joy may be made full.

Young’s:         Many things having to write to you, I did not intend through paper and ink, but I hope to come unto you, and speak mouth to mouth, that our joy may be full;

Conte (RC):    I have much more to write to you, but I am not willing to do so through paper and ink. For I hope that I may be with you in the future, and that I may speak face to face, so that your joy may be full.                                                     


Verse 12         Having many things to write unto you.  The First Epistle will give us some idea of what these were.  [23]

                        [Things] that I would wish to say.  This language is such as would be used by one who was hurried, or who was in feeble health, or who hoped soon to see the person written to.  In such a case only the points would be selected which were of most immediate and pressing importance, and the remainder would be reserved for a more free personal interview.  [18]

                        Meaning of “write.”  Write’ is almost too limited in meaning for γράφειν, which like our “say” covers a variety of methods of communication.  [23]  

I would not write with paper and ink.  Paper” -- of Egyptian papyrus.  Pens were then reeds split.  “Ink” -- made of soot and water, thickened with gum.  Parchment was used for permanent manuscripts, in which the letters were preserved.  Writing tablets were used merely for temporary purposes, as slates.  [4] 

but I trust to come unto you.  He clearly had travel ideas in his mind.  The use of “trust” argues that they were more than mere possibilities, but had developed to the point that he felt fairly confident that he would be able to carry them out.  [rw]

and speak face to face.  There were so many needed instructions in his mind that he preferred to impart them personally.  This is understandable as we know that personal conversations have many advantages.  [9] 

Margin, as in Greek, “mouth to mouth.”  The phrase is a common one, to denote conversation with any one, especially free and confidential conversation.  Compare Numbers 12:8; Jeremiah 32:4.  [18]

that our joy may be full.  That we both may be pleased with what we hear and discuss.  [rw]

Speculation:  “The high associations with which” the phrase “is connected lead us to suppose that it would scarcely have been applied by John to any meeting but one of peculiar solemnity after a cruel and prolonged separation which had threatened to be eternal” (Bishop Alexander).  Compare Romans 1:12. [23]



Verse 13                                             Translations

Weymouth:     The children of your elect sister send greetings to you.

WEB:              The children of your chosen sister greet you. Amen.

Young’s:         salute thee do the children of thy choice sister. Amen.

Conte (RC):    The sons of your Elect Sister greet you.


Verse 13         The children.  Offspring.  [rw]

of thy elect sister.  It is justly observed by Macknight, that “the word elect here, as in 2 John verse 1, doth not signify chosen from eternity to salvation.  For the apostle could not know that the matron’s sister was so elected, unless the matter had been made known to him by a particular revelation, which is not alleged to have been the case by any who so interpret election.”  But it signifies, as the same expression generally does, in other passages of Scripture, a true believer in Christ, who, as such, is in a state of acceptance with God, and one of His chosen people.  See Ephesians 1:3-7.  It is proper to observe here also, that the salutations which the Christians in the first age gave to each other, were not of the same kind with the salutations of unbelievers, which were wishes of temporal health and felicity only; but they were prayers for the health and happiness of their souls, and expressions of the most sincere love.  [35]

greet thee.  The elect sister herself sends no greeting, because she does not live, as these children of hers do, near the apostle; perhaps she is dead. This message to the elect lady from her sister’s children is, perhaps, intended as a delicate intimation that they know why the elder is writing, and join in his affectionate warning. “The last sentences of this letter to the elect lady remind us that it is what it professes to be—a letter to a friend; that the friendship was the more natural and human because it was grounded on the truth; and that other ladies also elect were, like this one, not nuns, but mothers” (Maurice).  [24]

Amen.  The concluding “Amen” at the end of this Epistle, as at the end of most of the Epistles, is spurious.  Galatians, and perhaps 2 Peter, seem to be the only instances in which the “Amen” is genuine.  [24]



                        In depth:  Evidence that the “elect sister” is a congregation rather than a specific individual [23]?  That the elect sister herself sends no greeting is taken as an argument in favor of the “elect lady” being a Church, and the “elect sister” a sister Church, which could send no greeting other than that of its members or “children.”  But the verse fits the other hypothesis equally well.  Kyria’s nephews may be engaged in business at Ephesus under John’s Apostolic care:  their mother may be living elsewhere, or be dead.  It was perhaps from these children of her sister that the Apostle had knowledge of, the state of things in the elect lady’s house.  Their sending a salutation through him may intimate that they share his anxiety respecting her and hers.

                        And [24]:  Why the change from “you” πρὸς ὑμᾶς in 2 John 1:12 to “thee” σε here, if the letter is addressed to a community?  The change is very intelligible if “you” means “thee and thy family,” and “thee” means “thee in particular.”  [24]  









All commentaries are in the public domain; the copyright having expired or never been on them. 



1          Marvin R. Vincent, D.D.  Word Studies in the New Testament.  1886.  Internet edition. 


2          John Wesley.  Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible.  1754-1765.  Internet edition.


3          Barton Johnson.  People’s New Testament.  1891.  Internet edition.


4          Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, David Brown.  Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.  Unabridged edition.  Internet edition.


5          Charles Simeon.  Horae Homileticae.  1832.  Internet edition.


6          James Gray.  Concise Bible Commentary.  1897-1910.  Internet edition.


7          John Dummelow, editor.  Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible.  1909.  Internet edition. 


8          Frank B. Hole.  Old and New Testament Commentary.  Internet edition.            


9          E. M. Zerr.  Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament.  Internet edition.


10        Arthur Peake.  Commentary on the Bible.  1919.  Internet edition.


11        John A. Bengel.  Gnomon of the New Testament.  1897.  Internet edition.          


12        John S. C. Abbott.  Illustrated New Testament.  1878.  Internet edition. 


13        Joseph Sutcliffe.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  1835.  Internet edition. 


14        Matthew Poole.  English Annotations on the Bible.  1685.  Internet edition.        


15        Paul E. Kretzmann.  Popular Commentary.  1921-1922.  Internet edition.            


16        John Gill.  Exposition of the Entire Bible.  1746-1763.  Internet edition. 


17        Adam Clarke.  Commentary.  1832.  Internet edition.        


18        Albert Barnes.  Notes on the New Testament.  1870.  Internet edition.   


19        Heinrich Meyer.  Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.  1832.  Internet edition.             


20        Johann P. Lange.  Commentary on the Holy Scriptures:  Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical.  1857-1884.  Internet edition.        


21        William R. Nicoll, editor.  Expositor’s Greek Testament.  1897-1910.  Internet edition. 


22        Henry Alford.  Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary.  1863-1878.  Internet edition.        


23        Alfred Plummer.  Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.  1889.  Internet edition.  Basically a “simplified” version of the Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges.       


24        The Pulpit Commentary.  1897.  Internet edition.  


25        John Trapp.  Complete Commentary.  Lived 1601-1669.  1865-1868 reprinting.  Internet edition.  


26        William Godbey.  Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet edition.  


27        John Calvin.  Commentary on the Bible.  Internet edition.            


28        Joseph C. Philpot (1802-1869).  Commentary on Select Texts.  Internet edition.            


29        George Haydock (1774-1849).  Catholic Bible Commentary.  Internet edition.  

30        H. A. Ironside.  Ironside’s Notes on Selected Books.  1914.  Internet edition     


31        Lost source; rather than delete the material, I felt it better to simply list the unidentifiable volume and admit my error.          


32        Charles J. Ellicott, editor. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers.  Internet edition.          


33        Daniel D. Whedon.  Commentary on the Bible.  Internet edition. 


34        Philip Schaff, editor.  Schaff’s Popular Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet edition.  


35        Joseph Benson (born 1748).  Commentary of the Old and New Testaments.  Internet edition.  


36        Thomas Coke (published 1801-1803).  Commentary on the Holy Bible.  Internet edition.          


37        Robert S. Candlish.  The First Epistle of John Expounded In A Series of Lectures.  1877 edition.  Internet edition.           


38        Arno C. Gaebelein.  The Annotated Bible.  Internet edition.         


39        Joseph Parker.  The People's Bible.  Internet edition.       


40        Thomas Scott.  Commentary on the Bible.  Volume Six.  Fifth Edition.  London:  L. B. Seeley et al, 1822.           


41        Bernhard Weiss.  Commentary on the New Testament.  Volume Four.    New York:  Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1906.        


42        M. F. Sadler.  The General Epistles of SS James, Peter, John and Jude.  London:  George Bell and Sons, 1895. 


43        [Robert S. Hunt?]  The Cottage Commentary:  The Epistle to the Hebrews and the General Epistles.  London:  Joseph Masters, 1865.     

44        Charles Erdman.  The General Epistles:  An Exposition.  Philadelphia:  Westminster Press, 1918.      


45        W. H. Bennett.  The Century Bible:  The General Epistles—James, Peter, John, and Jude.  Edinburgh:  T. C. & E. C. Jack, 1901.     


46        John B. Sumner.  A Practical Exposition of the General Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude.  London:  J. Hatchard and Son, 1840.           


47        James C. Gray.  Biblical Museum:  Hebrews to the End of the New Testament.  London:  Elliot Stock, 1877. 


48        William G. Humphry.  A Commentary on the Revised Version of the New Testament.  London:  Cassel, Petter, Galpin & Company, 1882.    


49        Revere F. Weidner.  The Lutheran Commentary:  Annotations on the General Epistles of James, Peter, Peter, John, and Jude.  New York:  Christian Literature Company, 1897.           


50        A Short Protestant Commentary on the New Testament.  Volume 3.  Translated from the Third German Edition.  London:  Williams and Norgate, 1884. 


51        O. P. Eaches.  Clark’s Peoples Commentary:  I, II, and III John, Jude, and Revelation.  Boston:  American Baptist Publication Society, 1910.           


52        Henry A. Sawtelle.  Commentary on the Epistles of John.  Philadelphia:   American Baptist Publication Society, 1888.