Second Epistle of John
| Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
The Second Epistle of John is a Really Short Book, just like 3 John. Nobody is quite sure why these two personal letters were included in the Bible. At least, unlike 3 John, 2 John does contain about two paragraphs of Christian doctrine. One tells you, gentle reader, that the definition of love is to walk in His commandments. Another tells you how to identify the Antichrist and all false teachers, and not to welcome anyone who does not believe into your house.
2 John and 3 John are stubs. They are probably the stubbiest books of the Bible.
The Second Epistle of John has fewer verses than any other book in the Bible, and almost as few words as his Third Epistle. Unlike 3 John, this epistle is not addressed to a single individual despite appearances. When John (the "elder") greets the "elect lady" he is not addressing a literal woman but a certain church. This is supported by the final verse, which says, The children of thy elect sister greet thee. In Revelation 12:17 John uses the imagery of a woman and her children to paint the Church. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
There is a theory that the elect lady is actually Mary the mother of Jesus, who was given by Christ himself into John's keeping at the foot of the cross. If John needed to speak to her, then, it would have been in person rather than with a formal letter, and since she would be living in his own house, or at least in a nearby household that was maintained by John, he would hardly need to tell her in a letter to refuse admittance to false teachers as he does in verses ten and eleven when he commands, If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
In verse eight he says, "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward." This reveals that the "elect lady" is a plurality rather than a single person, and also that this plurality should attend to their own righteousness that they keep their crown in heaven. Of all the persons in the world, one would think that the mother of Jesus would not have to worry about her reward in heaven.
Second John also differs from 3 John in that it actually contains doctrine. Docetism and Gnosticism had crept into the church in the latter half of the First Century. Some said that Jesus never incarnated, but only had the appearance of flesh, because they were scandalized that Divinity would soil itself by associating so closely with mere flesh. Others said that Christ was raised as a spirit only, and did not experience a bodily resurrection. (Thus helping support the Jesus myth theory.) John made a point of addressing these issues in his first two epistles and in his Gospel.