Date: Around A.D. 85-95
Purpose: To warn against extending hospitality to false teachers.
1 The elder [Gr. presbyteros: an old man, an older man deserving respect, a church officer; probably John who by now was advanced in years], To the chosen lady [either a specific person or some local church: possibly a lady who had opened her home to the church and who had indiscriminately entertained visiting teachers who did not teach the truth about Jesus; possibly a church referred to as a “lady” to protect the identity of the church should the letter fall into unfriendly hands] and her children [members of church], whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth [cf. Jn. 14:6]—
2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
3 Grace, mercy and peace [peace comes only after experiencing God’s grace and mercy] from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son [affirms the deity of Christ], will be with us in truth and love.
4 It has given me great joy to [points to content and reason for rejoicing] find some of your children walking [means to obey; one’s total way of life; continuous, habitual pattern of walking] in the truth [the truth revealed by God], just as the Father commanded [“God’s commandments focus ‘the truth’ on specific areas of life.” (Wiersbe)] us.
Note: John used the word “truth” several times as he started this letter about false teachers who were spreading error and lies about Jesus Christ.
5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love [an act of the will] one another [cf. Jn. 13:34; 1 Jn. 4:7].
6 And this is love: that we walk [action] in obedience to his commands [cf. 1 Jn. 5:3]. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
■ Instruction / Warning
7 Many [cf. 2 Pet. 2:2] deceivers [teach wrong doctrine and lead people away from the truth; wrong doctrine always leads to wrong living], who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh [a part of the Gnostic heresy denied the incarnation; the belief that Jesus came in the flesh (the incarnation) is fundamental to the Christian faith; cf. 1 Jn. 4:1-6], have gone out [possibly from the church] into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist [literally “against Christ;” cf. 1 Jn. 2:22; one committed to destroying the faith of the Christian community].
Note: “Christianity stands or falls with its Christology.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, p. 366)
8 Watch out [beware; take heed] that you do not lose [to destroy; to lose what has been gained] what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully [cf. 2 Pet. 1:11].
9 Anyone who runs ahead [perhaps reference to claims of false teachers to offer “advanced” teaching; in John’s eyes they had run beyond the boundaries of Christian truth] and does not continue [remain true to the basic doctrines of the Christian faith] in the teaching of [or about] Christ [cf. v. 7: “Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh”] does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone [a traveling teacher] comes to you and does not bring [requires spiritual discernment to detect false teaching] this teaching [probably refers to the teaching about the incarnation: that God became human in Jesus Christ (cf. v. 7)], do not take him into your house [do not offer shelter and lodging; keep them at a distance because they can endanger the spiritual health of the home and the church] or welcome [in either a private or official way; to give a welcome indicates fellowship and solidarity] him.
Note: Are we careful about who or what we allow to enter into our homes?
Note: Read the following passages to learn more about Christian hospitality.
• Romans 12:13
• 1 Timothy 3:2
• 1 Timothy 5:3-10
• Hebrews 13:2
• 1 Peter 4:8-10
• 3 John 5-8
11 Anyone who welcomes [to greet; to have fellowship with; we must not give false teachers (who represent antichristian groups) the slightest impression that their doctrine is acceptable] him [one who denies that Christ came in the flesh] shares in his wicked work.
■ Conclusion [cf. 3 John 13-14]
12 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
13 The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.