2 John

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2 John
Book Number 63
Testament New
Number of Chapters 1
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Literary Genre General Epistle
References Used Bibliography: 2 John

One of the shortest letters in the Bible, the fact that 2 John made it into the Bible at all is a testament to its' importance. The length is probably intentionally short so that it can fit on one papyrus (Brown 395). It has traditionally been associated with John, but the text itself does not say, and doubts about the authenticity of the book existed from the time of Origen (Guthrie 885). The author refers to himself as “the elder” which sets itself apart from 1 John, where that author does not. The author of 3 John also refers to himself as the elder, creating a connection between the two books.

This has led some scholars for hundreds of years to think that “John the Elder” is different than the John who wrote the Gospel and Revelation. Others think that it was a disciple of John the apostle who wrote all three epistles (Brown 395). However, even though there is little evidence that John wrote the letter, there is even less reason to conclude that he could not have or didn't. John would have been quite old at the time of writing this letter and quite possibly had enough respect and fame that he did not have to identify himself as more than “the elder”.

The letter was written to “the select lady” which could be either a specific person or a community referred to as a lady (Guthrie 891), with her children being members of the church (Gundry 340). That none of these people are mentioned by name indicates it probably isn't to a specific person. The most likely option appears to be an open letter to the Church as a whole, which is often referred to as feminine.

This letter was apparently written to deal with false teachings being spread by teachers traveling from church to church (Guthrie 893). Emissaries from both the elder and these false teachers were arriving and the church was giving them too much hospitality. Hospitality was good, but don't believe everything everyone says, and don't give hospitality to false teachers.

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2 John 1