Some Introductory Thoughts

J. Vernon McGee told of a man in the South who had an interesting way of dividing the three epistles of John. He called them “one-eyed John,” “two-eyed John,” and “three-eyed John” because of the Roman numerals (I, II, III) placed in front of them. Our focus in this study will be on “two-eyed John” (II John).

Second and Third John have been called “twin sisters.” They seem to have been written at or near the same time. They are about the same size and they look a lot alike (2 John 1, 3 John 1). However, they are clearly not identical twins. After all, there are some key contrasts.

  • Second John was written to a well-beloved woman. Third John was written to a well beloved man.
  • Second John prohibited hospitality to those teaching error. Third John prescribed hospitality to those teaching truth.
  • Second John dealt with men who were deceivers. Third John dealt with a man who was a dictator.
  • Second John contains less than 300 Greek words and was likely written on a single sheet of papyrus. This is the second shortest book in the Bible. Third John is slightly shortly, although it has one more verse.

We should not let size of 2 John fool us. Although it is small, it is powerful. You might compare it to a nitro-glycerin pill for your heart.

This short book is divided into 4 sections

  1. 2nd John 1-3 — Greeting the Chosen Lady
  2. 2nd John 46 — Walk in Christ’s Commandment
  3. 2nd John 7-11 Beware of Antichrist Deceivers
  4. 2nd John 12-13 John’s Farewell Greeting


2nd John (Intro: Part 2) and “The Elect Lady”



Author & Date: The author is the Apostle John. He describes himself in 2 John 1 as the “Elder” which conveys the advanced age of the Apostle. Most likely he composed this letter ca. 90-95 A.D. from Ephesus. He was so well known and loved among the churches that his name would not be needed in the greeting.

It is fitting that John simply refers to himself as “the elder” or “the aged.” The same root word is used here that was used by Paul to describe himself in the postcard of

Philemon (Phile. 9). Burton Coffman noted that the penman of this epistle was so well known and loved that he needed no other title. It should also be noted that the postcard was hand-delivered by someone who could have told the readers who it was from.

I. Greeting The “Elect Lady” (2 John 1-3)

Verse 1: Who is John writing to? Who is the “Elect Lady?” and “her children?” “Chosen” in some versions. Both of the views mentioned below may be right.

There are 2 main views on this verse. John McArthur writes, “Some think that this refers metaphorically to a particular local church, while ‘her children’ would refer to members of the congregation. The more natural understanding in context, however, is that it refers to a particular woman and her children (i.e., offspring) who were well known to John.”

If Second John was written to a literal lady, then it is the only Biblical book that is addressed to a woman.

Verse 2 — Truth is one of the main themes in this short epistle

Truth is one of John’s favorite words. We find it 27 times in the gospel of John, 10 times in First John, 5 times in Second John, and 6 times in Third John. Truth seems to be the key word of the second epistle. In fact, he used it 4 times in the salutation and 5 times in the first 4 verses. He established from the beginning what the letter was about

In addition to the word “truth,” we find the word “commandment” 4 times and the word “doctrine” 3 times. While it is true that 3 of the 4 uses of commandment have one specific commandment in mind – the command to “love one another,” it nonetheless refers to the revealed truth of God. Thus, truth is referred to 12 times in the 13 verses of this book

The Passion of the Truth. The word passion simply refers to strong feelings or emotions. John had a passion or great love for truth. Of course, this was transferred to those who loved truth as he did. He loved the truth and he hated every false way (Psa. 119:138). He loved those who loved truth and hated those who didn’t (Psa. 139:21-22).

John had a great love for this sister and her children because they loved the truth as he did. He did not love them because of some special beauty that they possessed; nor, for that matter did he love them for a winsome personality. Perhaps, the “chosen” (Chosen) lady and her children possessed both of these traits. However, John loved them because of the common love that they had for truth.