English: unfoldingWord® Translation Notes

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2 John

2 John front

Introduction to 2 John

Part 1: General Introduction

Outline of the Book of 2 John
  1. Greeting (1:1-3)
  2. Encouragement and the greatest commandment (1:4-6)
  3. Warning about false teachers (1:7–11)
  4. Greetings from fellow believers (1:12-13)
Who wrote the Book of 2 John?

The letter does not name of the author. The author only identified himself as “the elder.” The letter was probably written by the Apostle John near the end of his life. The content of 2 John is similar to the content in John’s Gospel.

What is the Book of 2 John about?

John addressed this letter to someone he called “the chosen lady” and to “her children” (1:1). This could refer to a specific friend and her children. Or it could refer to a specific group of believers or to believers in general. John’s purpose in writing this letter was to warn his audience about false teachers. John did not want believers helping or giving money to false teachers. (See: Metaphor)

How should the title of this book be translated?

Translators may choose to call this book by its traditional title, “2 John” or “Second John.” Or they may choose a clearer title, such as “The Second Letter from John” or “The Second Letter John Wrote.” (See: How to Translate Names)

Part 2: Important Religious and Cultural Concepts

What is hospitality?

Hospitality was an important concept in the ancient Near East. It was important to be friendly towards foreigners or outsiders and provide help to them if they needed it. John wanted believers to offer hospitality to guests. However, he did not want believers to offer hospitality to false teachers.

Who were the people John spoke against?

The people John spoke against were possibly those who would become known as Gnostics. These people believed that the physical world was evil. Since they believed Jesus was divine, they denied that he was truly human. This is because they thought God would not become human since the physical body is evil. (See: evil, wicked, unpleasant)

2 John 1

2 John 1:1

Tradition identifies the apostle John as the writer of this letter. Though possibly addressed to an individual woman, because he writes that they should “love one another,” this is probably to a church. All instances of “you” and “your” in this letter are plural unless noted otherwise. In this letter, John includes himself and his readers by using the word “us” and “our.” (See: Forms of You and Inclusive and Exclusive “We”)

ὁ πρεσβύτερος; ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς

This is how letters were started. The name of the author can be made explicit. Alternate translation: “I, John the elder, am writing this letter to the chosen lady and her children” (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

ὁ πρεσβύτερος

This refers to John, the apostle and disciple of Jesus. He refers to himself as “elder” either because of his old age or because he is a leader in the church.

ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς

This probably refers to a congregation and the believers that belong to it. (See: Metaphor)

2 John 1:3


These are important titles that describe the relationship between God and Jesus. (See: Translating Son and Father)

ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ἀγάπῃ

The word “truth” describes “love.” Possibly it means “in true love.” (See: Hendiadys)

2 John 1:4

τῶν τέκνων σου

The word “your” is singular. (See: Forms of You)

καθὼς ἐντολὴν ἐλάβομεν παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός

“just as God the Father commanded us”

2 John 1:5

σε, κυρία…γράφων σοι

These instances of “you” are singular. (See: Forms of You)

οὐχ ὡς ἐντολὴν καινὴν γράφων σοι

“not as though I were commanding you to do something new”

ἀλλὰ ἣν εἴχαμεν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς

Here, “beginning” refers to “when we first believed.” Alternate translation: “but I am writing to you what Christ commanded us to do when we first believed. (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

ἀρχῆς, ἵνα ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους

This can be translated as a new sentence. Alternate translation: “beginning. He commanded that we should love one another”

2 John 1:6

αὕτη ἡ ἐντολή ἐστιν, καθὼς ἠκούσατε ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς, ἵνα ἐν αὐτῇ περιπατῆτε

Conducting our lives according to God’s commands is spoken of as if we were walking in them. The word “it” refers to love. “And he has commanded you, since you first believed, to love one another” (See: Metaphor)

2 John 1:7

John warns them of deceivers, reminds them to remain in Christ’s teaching, and warns them to stay away from those who do not remain in Christ’s teaching.

ὅτι πολλοὶ πλάνοι ἐξῆλθαν εἰς τὸν κόσμον

“For many false teachers have left the congregation” or “For many deceivers are in the world”

πολλοὶ πλάνοι

“many false teachers” or “many imposters”

Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐρχόμενον ἐν σαρκί

Coming in the flesh is a metonym for being a real person. Alternate translation: “Jesus Christ came as a real human” (See: Metonymy)

οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ πλάνος καὶ ὁ ἀντίχριστος

“They are the ones who deceive others and oppose Christ himself”

2 John 1:8

βλέπετε ἑαυτούς

“Watch out” or “Pay attention”

ἀπολέσητε ἃ

“lose your future rewards in heaven”

μισθὸν πλήρη

“complete reward in heaven”

2 John 1:9

πᾶς ὁ προάγων

This refers to a person who claims to know more about God and truth than everyone else. Alternate translation: “Whoever claims to know more about God” or “Whoever disobeys the truth”

Θεὸν οὐκ ἔχει

“does not belong to God”

ὁ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ, οὗτος καὶ τὸν Πατέρα καὶ τὸν Υἱὸν ἔχει

“Someone who follows Christ’s teaching belongs to both the Father and the Son”

τὸν Πατέρα καὶ τὸν Υἱὸν

These are important titles that describe the relationship between God and Jesus. (See: Translating Son and Father)

2 John 1:10

λαμβάνετε αὐτὸν εἰς οἰκίαν

Here this means to welcome him and treat him with honor in order to build a relationship with him.

2 John 1:11

κοινωνεῖ τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ τοῖς πονηροῖς

“shares with him in his evil deeds” or “helps him in his evil deeds”

2 John 1:12

The words “you” in verse 12 are singular. The word “your” in verse 13 is plural. (See: Forms of You)

John’s letter closes with his desire to visit them and gives greetings from another church.

οὐκ ἐβουλήθην διὰ χάρτου καὶ μέλανος

John does not wish to write these other things but would like to come say the words to them. He is not saying that he would write them with something other than paper and ink.

στόμα πρὸς στόμα λαλῆσαι

“Face to face” here is an idiom, meaning to speak in their presence. Alternate translation: “speak in your presence” or “speak to you in person” (See: Idiom)

2 John 1:13

τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἀδελφῆς σου τῆς ἐκλεκτῆς

Here John speaks of this other church as if it were a sister to the readers’ church and the believers that are a part of that church as if they were that church’s children. This emphasizes that all believers are a spiritual family. (See: Metaphor)