Podcast: Second and Third John
John was by far the longest-living disciple of Christ. He faced persecution and, ultimately, exile to the island of Patmos. Second and Third John were most likely written at the very end of his life – possibly after Revelation to the second generation of believers after the church began in Acts two.
Second John refers to an “elect lady.” This most likely refers to a church because John says, “whom I love in the truth… and all who know the truth love this lady.”
Secondly, at the end of the letter, John says, “The children of your elect sister greet you,” which refers to the church John is writing from.
The first half of Second John emphasizes the relationship between truth, love, and obedience. The second half focuses on awareness of false teaching. John combats the false teaching of Gnosticism, the belief that the flesh is bad and the spiritual is good. It concludes that Jesus couldn’t have come in the flesh because the flesh is bad. John warns the church not to accept this teaching.
John also warns the church not to associate with people who teach and adhere to false teaching. However, this did not mean the church could not be hospitable or help those in need. It meant to not support the ministry and teaching of false doctrines that minimize the seriousness of sin.
Third John acknowledges the importance of providing for ministers and teachers who come in the name of the Lord. If they teach false doctrine, the church should not accept them.
Another issue that John addresses is that the church was not extending hospitality to those who needed it.
John refers to the church as “friends,” because there is a spiritual bond and they are friends with God. Friendship with God comes through Christ and is what fellow believers have with one another.
In summary, Second and Third John admonish the church to exercise their devotion to Christ in obedience, truth, and love by being aware and cautious of those who would come in and try to teach false doctrine. This is the sign of true friends and family in the faith.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas, TX, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.