Summary: In 2 John, the Apostle John addresses a very important question: What should I do about false teaching? To answer that question John deals with two major subjects.
Walking in truth and love
The concept of NT Postcards is not as far off as it might seem. Four books in the NT and one in the OT have only one chapter.
• 2 John
• 3 John
Originally, these short books served a similar purpose to postcards. The author had a short message he needed to get out quickly. In 3 out of the 4 NT postcards, the author expresses a wish to personally visit the recipient soon.
These letters would have been written on a single piece of papyrus. In NT times letters were not delivered by a Post Office. Benjamin Franklin invented the Post Office as we know it. Instead letters were delivered by personal couriers. You had to find a person who was going that direction, a person you trusted with your letter, and make sure you had it ready by the time they were leaving. Sometimes you had to get the letter written quickly in order to meet their timetable. Thus, only one piece of papyrus.
So an important question to ask when approaching one of these letters is this:
What was so urgent about this subject that the writer had to get the letter out quickly?
To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth — and not I only, but also all who know the truth — 2because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
3Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
4It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. 5And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 6And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
7Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.
12I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
13The children of your chosen sister send their greetings. 2 John 1-13 (NIV)
In 2 John, the Apostle John addresses a very important question:
What should I do about false teaching?
To answer that question John deals with two major subjects:
• Truth when it comes to teaching
• Love when it comes to his relationship with the recipient
These two concepts very clearly dominate this letter and are closely related to each other.
John is concerned that his reader remain faithful to the truth
John’s reader is someone he called "The Elect Lady."
We don’t know what this means exactly. It may be the obvious, that John is writing to a woman and her children. The other possibility is that the "lady" is a church and her "children" are other associated members. It does not matter, John is writing to Christians in this letter, Christians who have been confronted with false teachers. Whether he is writing to a family or to a community of believers, John is concerned about their relationship with the truth.
Truth is mentioned 5 times in the first four verses. It describes
• John’s love for the Elect Lady and her children
• The beliefs of Christians
• Christ in all believers
• Christ’s relationship to those He indwells
• some of the "children" about whom John writes
John appeals to these believers because he truly loves them. They know the truth as it has been taught to them from the most reliable sources. Not only that, John acknowledges that truth is not just an abstract concept or virtue.
Truth is a person and He lives in everyone who believes in Him. John is the one who clarified for us that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. An appeal to truth is an appeal to this person who lives inside his beloved friends.