As we have done with every New Testament letter, before we look at the details of a letter we need to examine the structure of the letter. The author of 2 John is â€œthe elder.â€ This, of course, tells us nothing about who the author is. As we read this letter I think the author will become obvious. But let us wait to make the conclusion of who the author is until we have read the whole letter.
The recipients of the letter are â€œthe chosen lady and her children.â€ Some think this is symbolic for a local church. I think there are two reasons why the symbolic view of the chosen lady and her children must be rejected. First, the way we interpret any form of communication is that we accept what a person says literally unless the context demands otherwise. This is also how we interpret the Bible. We take the words of the scripture literally unless the text demands otherwise. There is nothing in this text to suggest that the author is speaking figuratively. Second, interpreting the chosen lady and her children as a local church requires a denominational view of the church. Who is the chosen lady? Those who take a symbolic view would say the local church. Then who are her children? Those who accept a symbolic view would say the members of the local church. But a church is not an entity, institution, or a denomination. The church is people. The members are what make up a church. There is no church without the people. So how can we say that the lady is the church and the children are the members? Such symbolism is simply not biblical. Therefore, we need to interpret this letter as being written to a lady and her children. Many letters in the New Testament were written to individuals (Philemon, 1 & 2 Timothy) so we should not think that this letter cannot be to an individual. Notice that in the recipient section of the letter, the author speaks about truth. The author loves the recipients in the truth and all of those who have known the truth love the chosen lady and her children because the truth abides in them. We should realize that this letter is going to be about walking in truth.
The salutation is the standard greeting in New Testament times: â€œGrace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Fatherâ€™s Son, will be with us in truth and love.â€ Paul in his letters also spoke of the grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 4 the author gives his thanksgiving: â€œIt has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.â€ The author is thankful and joyful because the chosen ladyâ€™s children are walking in truth, obedient to the commands of the Lord.
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