This letter was written by ‘the elder’ to ‘the chosen lady and her children’ (see 2 John 1:1). In a time of persecution when identifying people by their real names could have endangered lives, John uses psuedonyms to refer to himself (‘the elder’) and the church (‘the chosen lady’) and its members (‘her children’) to whom he is writing.
The style and content have many similarities to John’s First Letter and to John’s Gospel (compare, for example, 2 John 1:5 with 1 John 2:7 & John 13:34-35, or 2 John 1:12 with 1 John 1:4, John 15:11 & John 16:24). It was probably written shortly after John’s First Letter – between c.86 and 88AD.
This brief letter was written to warn believers not to welcome false teachers into their homes. These false teachers – known today as ‘Gnostics’ – believed that Jesus was truly divine, but argued that he was not fully human.
Love each other
2 John 1:1-3 John, the leader (‘elder’) of the church in Ephesus, sends greetings from the ‘mother church’ to his ‘children’ in one (or more) of the other churches in Asia Minor (see Map 29).
St John's Church, Ephesus
2 John 1:4-6 He urges the believers to follow Jesus’s command to “love each other” (2 John 1:5) (see 1 John 2:7, John 13:34-35 & Leviticus 19:18).
2 John 1:7-11 John warns the believers about false teachers “who do not confess that Jesus Christ came to earth as a human” (2 John 1:7).
He tells them to be on their guard if these false teachers arrive at their doors. They shouldn’t welcome them into their homes in case they assist them in spreading false teachings.
2 John 1:12-13 John says he is planning to visit the believers shortly. He concludes with greetings from their ‘chosen sister’ – a reference to the ‘mother church’ in Ephesus.