2 John 1–2 (HCSB)
1 The Elder:
To the elect lady and her children: I love all of you in the truth—and not only I, but also all who have come to know the truth — 2 because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever.
2 John is a short book, comprising of only 13 verses in a single chapter. Yet, the HCSB separates the text into three pericopes. The first three verses comprise the greeting. We normally would not expect a whole lot of significance in a greeting, but we shall see that there is much to glean here.
First we look at how John introduces himself, done first in ancient letters. John refers to himself as “The Elder”. At first we might take this at face value and simply assume John is referring to himself as an older man. But it seems the title might have more meaning than that. First, John does not clarify his name as well, his title is left as “The Elder”, suggesting his audience knew him. Not only that, but the title conveys the sense of being an older, respected, leader in the community, in this case the church, and certainly John the Apostle meets that requirement. So we should also properly assume the author has a certain amount of authority, his words carry weight, and he has some sort of leadership qualities with the audience. Second, if the letter was written in the late first century, then it is likely that john was the only remaining apostle alive. Hence, “The Elder” likely had the additional meaning of John being the eldest apostle, and all the authority that would come along with that.
Next we come to the letter’s recipient: “the elect lady and her children”. It may be possible that the letter is written to a specific woman and her children, but the much more likely scenario here is that a church is the audience, and the people of the church would be her children.
And look at John’s comment about loving this church, and her people, he does so “in the truth”, as well as all people who “know the truth”. And this is “because of the truth that remains in us.” We know Christ is the truth (John 14:6), so it seems that John is telling us that when we join the body of Christ we are loved by the rest of the body, and at the same time we become lovers of the rest of the body, even new members that come after us. Isn’t this the kind of love we should be striving for? An everlasting, perfect love? And this is what John tells us we get to experience when we become Christians.
Finally, John blesses his reader, along with himself, or more aptly, the church. And again, just as Jesus was the foundation and fount of our love, so here He is the source of “grace, mercy, and peace.” Again, we see the focus is on God, not on man. And through a simple introduction, John has shown and reminded us of that.
Lord, thank You for being our fountain, our source of love, mercy, and grace. I pray that we would fully surrender to You, become a part of Your church, Your body, and exude Your love to the rest of the body, while we receive the same blessing. Amen.