Commentary on "John's Letter to the Chosen Lady"
Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, September 12, 2009
Though small, John the apostle’s second letter is important to the body of Scripture. He wrote this letter late in his life; at the time, he was probably the last living apostle. John the apostle possessed great authority and importance in the church, but like the Lord Jesus, he humbly speaks with gentleness, love, and authority to the dear believers.
Similarly to other small letters in the New Testament, this letter contains John’s most important instructions for the “chosen lady and her children,” (v.1) to whom the letter is addressed. This letter is not a primary source of doctrine: it refers repeatedly to “the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever” (v.2) and thus assumes that the truth (the gospel of Jesus Christ) has already been given to them and is already abiding in them. Rather, it is a short exhortation that anticipates a personal visit. Although he does “not want to do so with paper and ink,” but to come and “speak face to face” (v.12), John uses what paper, ink, and time he has to write these few words.
Given his paper, ink, and time constraints, we would do well to pay attention what John does write: it constitutes the most important apostolic instructions he had for these believers. Correct doctrine and practice in the church is not just a matter of having right beliefs; it also involves emphasizing what is important over what is not important. While the letter is not a primary source of doctrine, it does tell us that for those who have been established on the rock of Jesus Christ, the most important things are remaining in truth, obeying Jesus’ command to love one another, and avoiding false teachers.
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