2 John 1:1-13
Key Verse: 1:4
“It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.”
1. How does John begin this letter? To whom is it addressed? What does
it mean that he calls himself an elder?
2. Why does he call her a "chosen lady"? Why is it significant that
John wrote this woman as a fellow leader in the church?
3. Why does he love this chosen lady and her children? How could she
raise her children in the truth? What is the truth that lives in
4. What does it mean to walk in the truth? How can we who live in this
relativistic world have an absolute value system? In what sense is
Jesus the truth? (Jn 3:16; 14:6; 1Pe1:24,25)
5. Read verses 5-6 again. What does it mean to walk in obedience? To
walk in love? How is this related to walking in the truth?
6. Read verses 7-13. What must be our attitude toward deceivers? Why?
Who were the deceivers? Who are they today? Why must we keep on
teaching the Bible? (Heb 4:12)
In St. John's time there was an absolute male-dominant society. Men
did not have any idea to love women, but regarded them as those who
were supposed to serve men. Even if a woman contributed a lot, her
merit was not credited at all, because women had already been
discredited by birth. At that time, in all countries, the world was
ruled by valiant heroes and men of conquest. As a result, physically
weak women were despised and regarded with no respect. Also, children
were not regarded as normal human beings, because they could not earn a
due amount of money. Children had to earn their respect through much
fighting in the front lines of battles, and plundering many spoils. At
that time, it was beyond imagination for women and children to receive
proper respect. But St. John, in his epistle 2 John, recognized sincere
Christian women and their children as chosen people. It is indeed
amazing. Only in God do women have an honorable place. Only from
sincere men of God do women receive proper respect. Thank God for
John's truthful, revolutionary thought world. As we have studied, in
this epistle, St. John recognizes women as chosen people. John also
encourages them to keep up their life of faith by walking in the truth
and by walking in obedience to love one another. In that time of the
Gnostic world, he encourages them to continue in the teaching of the
Bible. Finally, he sternly warns them that they should not get in touch
with the antichrists.
First, the chosen lady and her children (1-3).
St. John shows himself to be the holy man of God. Also, he shows his
faith that men and women are absolutely equal. For a person like St.
John, it was not easy to write an epistle to a woman. But he took his
pen and wrote a short letter to the chosen lady. St. John said, "To the
chosen lady...," not "a chosen lady." St. John said to her, "the chosen
lady." St. John used the definite article, for this lady was definitely
a woman of great influence over the flock of God. John also recognized
her as the elder of the church. John used the word "elder" about
himself (2Jn 1:1; 3Jn 1:1). St. John honored this lady as an elder like
himself. It is obvious that this one lady believed that Jesus is the
Son of God who came to this world to become the atoning sacrifice for
the sin of the world, and through his resurrection he made it possible
for us to inherit the kingdom of God. She worked hard for her children,
in the hope that Jesus is coming today or tonight. She was truly a holy
pilgrim and she was a good influence to the growing children who were
liable to be influenced by the worldly consensus. When we read the
history of the Jews, we find that mothers of the families led the
Sabbath rituals. They also mainly educated their children, especially
in the Torah, which was the book of all kinds of regulation. These
women did not have the New Testament. They did not teach much of the
Old Testament, but mostly the Torah. During the time of over 2,000
years of persecutions, Jewish mothers educated their children with the
Torah and monotheism. After 2,000 years, Jews were accepted by the
people of the world. Now they are happy. But we cannot forget Jewish
mothers' contribution during the 2,000 years under fiery persecution of
how they devoted themselves to educate their children.
Generally, before marriage women dedicate themselves to the work of
God. But if they are blessed with many children then they tend to worry
about the future security problem and fall in love with their children.
As a result, they spoil them completely until they are totally useless.
We learn that the chosen lady whom St. John mentions had her children,
but she did not spoil her children with human love. She raised them
with the truth of God. It seems to be a small matter. But it is very
important for a mother to raise her children in the truth. Generally,
worldly mothers spend much money to entertain their children with all
kinds of activities and fun. Thus, they do not raise their children in
the truth. Rather, they spoil their children in the worldly consensus.
But this chosen lady raised her children in the truth. Thus, she was a
good influence to her fellow Christians.
Many people think that children's education depends on school study
curriculum, doing homework, and going to a top-class university to get
a good job. But by doing so, they only become "my own man" with extreme
selfishness. This kind of result occurs when mothers of the families
are filled with worldly vanity of a woman. Mothers must raise children,
first and last of all, to be men and women of truth. In other words,
mothers must help their children to grow in their inner man in the
truth. This is much better than giving them silver and gold and some
inheritance. A woman's duty is fundamentally to stay home and take care
of the children so that they may grow in the truth and in their inner
man. How important a mother's role is! When we study world history, the
world changed many times, not through kings and feudal lords and the
ruling systems, but because of one woman in each generation who
influenced the whole world to be changed in the course of history.
Among them, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the best example. She could
hardly breathe when she thought about Joseph, her fiance. She needed no
other favor than that of Joseph. But the word of the Lord came upon her
through the archangel. The angel's tiding to Mary in Luke 1:30-33 was
as follows: "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You
will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the
name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most
High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he
will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never
end." Again, Luke 1:35 says, "The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will
come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So
the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'" Mary answered,
"May it be to me as you have said" (Lk 1:38). When we read Luke's
gospel, we find that Mary followed the teachings of the Bible. She
circumcised her son on the eighth day after birth. She also took him to
the Passover so that pre-teen Jesus could have the opportunity to learn
the word of God. She participated in Jesus' suffering to the end, even
standing beneath the cross, crying (Jn 19:25). Thus, Mary helped Jesus
to grow in wisdom and stature (Lk 2:52). Mary also helped Jesus to
practice the truth at the cost of her pain, which was like a sword
piercing her soul (Lk 2:35). Mary has been worshiped in history as the
true mother of Jesus. Even people in the former USSR threw away
religion, they kept multi-millions of icons, the pictures of Mother
Mary. Pope John Paul II is the most popular man in contemporary times.
But he also worships Mary as the holy mother of Jesus. Many ignorant
Catholic members do not know about Jesus. They only ask Mary's motherly
love and blessing. Indeed, Mary was the mother of a new era of human
There were many influential women in the political world. One was
the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, Josephine. She didn't understand
Napoleon Bonaparte's greatness in being a military genius. She only
begged Napoleon's human love. When she was not loved, she did not
respect Napoleon. Napoleon conquered the world of the time, but he
could not win his wife's love and died of terrible loneliness. His
death in terrible loneliness was not from confinement in an island
after defeat at Waterloo, but because he was not respected by his wife.
We have a wrong idea about a woman's role. But we must see women as
human beings, as St. John did. Another influential woman was Cleopatra.
She was mindful of her royal subjects' welfare and won their support.
She also made a good friendship with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Thus, she ruled part of the world in Egypt. At that time, her influence
was so great that the trend of history was diverted. There is a saying,
"If Cleopatra's nose was an eight of an inch lower, the world history
would have been different."
These days, there are many women of God and women of prayer. Many
people treat them with no respect in this materialistic world. Many
fallen men only see women as the object of their sinful pleasure. What
terrible mad dogs! Many a man divorces his wife with no fault. This is
a great sin against God. A woman is a mother of the universe. We must
be like Dr. Joseph Chung. His wife went to southern Illinois to take
care of her oldest daughter after her daughter's baby was born. She
stayed there for three weeks. Dr. Joseph Chung missed her too much and
he almost became a depression patient. He was not simply missing his
wife. He missed her influence, which made him rest and enjoy peace when
he came home. This happened because Dr. Joseph Chung saw her in the
truth, not because of his beautiful romanticism. Here we learn that we
must see women in the truth of God like St. John. We also learn that a
woman's role is precisely educating her children in the truth. Most
women have jobs to make a little more money, abandoning their children
at the babysitter. They have no strength to educate their children in
the truth. This is a great mistake in the last part of the 20th
century. We must pray that women in the last part of the 20th century
may be dedicated like the chosen lady St. John introduced to us. St.
John was so grateful for the chosen lady and her influence. St. John
blesses her with a great blessing, saying, "Grace, mercy and peace from
God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us
in truth and love" (3). Let's pray that all the women in this
generation may be praised as the chosen lady.
Second, walking in the truth (4).
Look at verse 4. "It has given me great joy to find some of your
children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us." What
does "the truth" mean in this verse? First, the secular philosophers
define that the truth must have "universality." For example, the truth
must be applied to the people in the first century as well as the
people in the last part of the 20th century. The truth must be applied
to the grandparents, and, at the same time, it should be applied to the
grandchildren, even to the kings and foot soldiers. There is no such
thing in the world. Jesus is the truth, because his promises apply to
the people in B.C. and A.D. They also apply to the people of America,
the people of Africa, the people of Great China, and the people of La
Second, the truth must have "absolute value." Many people's value
system changes moment by moment these days. In the past, a
mansion-house was thought to be invaluable to the worldly people. But
these days, a mansion-house is thought to be too burdensome because it
demands huge tax money and constant maintenance. In the past,
professors at the university were regarded as noble men. These days,
professors get very little salary. One professor at Northwestern taught
for 20 years. But his gross pay was $35,000 with no raise at all. He
should have written many books and should have been a more creative
professor. But he was an easygoing person and lived very poorly and
influenced his son to be a drug abuser.
Third, the truth must be "unchangeable forever." There is nothing in
the world which does not change. Once America was the possession of
American Indians and Hispanic people. But America is now the
possession of people of the whole world. Computer technology changes so
rapidly. So we are tempted to buy new computers again and again. Now
many enjoy e-mail and sophisticated graphics. The most surprising thing
is that human beings change in their outer appearance very quickly. A
few years ago, one young girl was known as a little kid and a talented
violinist. But she is no more a child. She grew enough to get married.
So she became engaged to Dr. Charles Kim. Nobody can stop the change of
the world. Shakespeare's English was a kind of standard English in his
time. But now his English is too antiquated to read. So we know the
contents of his stories, but we cannot appreciate the beauty of his
sentences. His books are not universal at all at the present time. So,
as an American, no one dares to take a Ph.D. course in Shakespeare. His
books cannot be absolute value at all.
Only Jesus is the one who is universal, for he is the Son of God.
His teaching about the way of salvation, the forgiveness of sins, and
especially his divine lifestyle applies to the people of the first
century and to the people of this post-Christian era. His teaching
applies to the father Abraham and to us all. John 3:16 says, "For God
so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." This one verse
applies to the man of standing, Nicodemus, as well as to all of us.
Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life."
This verse applies to the people of all ages. The Bible says man is
like grass and all his glory is like the flowers of the field. The
grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands
forever (1Pe 1:24,25). Jesus never changes. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus
Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Jesus is the only
absolute value. We may have everything. Yet if we lose our lives, the
things of the world are totally useless. But in Jesus we have the
gospel of salvation, eternal life and our eternal reward, the kingdom
of God. Therefore, Jesus is the absolute value and the truth. Look at
verse 4. "It has given me great joy to find some of your children
walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us." It is not easy
to walk in the truth. But we cannot walk in the falsity. It is obvious
that we must walk in the truth and we must be a good influence to our
children so that they may walk in the truth. We must have the
realization that we can do nothing, but the word of God can work in any
kind of wretched person's heart. Then God will bless us to bear much
fruit and he will make our joy complete (Jn 15:11).
Third, walking in obedience to love one another (5-6).
Look at verses 5-6. "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 one
another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.
As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in
love." When we prayerfully meditate on these verses, we learn that
obedience to God is to love one another. It is the old commandment of
God and at the same time, it is the new commandment of God. Jesus said
in John 13:34, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have
loved you, so you must love one another." St. John also said in verses
5-6, "I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in
obedience to his commands." How can we love one another? Fallen men are
born to hate everybody around them. St. John also had such an
experience. When he did not know Jesus personally, even though he lived
the common life together with Jesus, he hated Peter, born leadership
material. But since Jesus came into his heart, his darkness of hatred
disappeared and the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
smeared into his heart like the heavenly sunlight. This once notorious
man of hatred, John, became an outstanding man of love in the Bible. He
loved Jesus. He loved the flock of God's sheep more than his own life.
He loved to obey the world mission command out of his love for Jesus.
Fallen man cannot love others naturally. Therefore, we must obey God's
command intentionally and love one another by the help of the Holy
Objectively speaking, it is funny that a husband hates his wife. It
is also funny that a man of great potentiality hates one of his
classmates. How funny it is to hate others. We don't know how much we
hate others. But we must come back to our senses and decide to obey
God's command so that we may grow to love one another. This is the
first step of becoming a child of God. Suppose there were no love of
God in the world, how sorry we would be! Most people do not care about
the love of God. But we must know that God is love (1Jn 4:8,16). When
we have the love of God in our hearts and practice the love of God for
our brethren, there is true happiness. There is heavenly sunshine in
our souls. We can have spiritual insight to see the heavens opened and
the glory of God revealed over all mankind. Also, the peace of God
rests upon all mankind.
Fourth, continue to teach the Bible (7-9).
There were many deceivers, who did not acknowledge Jesus Christ as
coming in the flesh. They worked hard to deceive many people in the
church. The chosen lady who ministered to the flock of God was not
deceived by the Gnostics, the intellectual hedonists. Then they went
out from the church and publicly lived a wild life in the world. St.
John defines such people as the deceiver and the antichrist. As long as
the chosen lady was there, there was no danger that God's flock of
sheep would be taken away. But if the chosen lady was not there, there
was a liability that the flock of God's sheep would be deceived and
taken by the Gnostics (7,8).
Here St. John shows the clear direction how to overcome the
Gnostics' deception. The best way to defeat the Gnostics was to
continue to teach the Bible to God's flock. Look at verse 9. "Anyone
who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not
have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the
Son." The one-to-one Bible study or group Bible study seem to be
trivial matters. But the word of God has the transforming power.
Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper
than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and
spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the
During his earthly ministry, Jesus once gave crowding people enough
bread to satisfy their hunger out of five loaves of bread and two fish,
brought by Reverend Father Andrew. The next time they came, Jesus
taught them the true meaning of the bread, which is his flesh. People
began to run away, 100 by 100, 50 by 50, 30 by 30. Finally, all of them
ran away except for the twelve disciples. It was a very discouraging
moment for Jesus. So he asked Peter, "You do not want to leave too, do
you?" Peter answered quietly, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the
words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of
God" (Jn 6:67-69). This story tells us that as long as we have the
words of God, even if 5,000 people run away, we can remain in Jesus. On
the other hand, those who come to the church but do not have the word
of God in them are the same as the Gnostics, the antichrists.
When we think about Paul, there is a strong impression that Paul
engaged in mass evangelism. But Paul had never had such an expensive
meeting. He only had group Bible study. When group Bible study didn't
work well, he shaved his head and engaged in one-to-one Bible study at
the Tyrannus Bible center for a long time (Ac 19:9). Truth does not
smear into our souls so easily. So even St. Paul had to teach people
through one-to-one Bible study. When Paul went to Rome as an
ambassador in chains, many Jewish immigrants visited him. Then he made
Bible study appointments. Paul taught the Bible in this way. Obviously,
Paul's Bible teaching was on a one-to-one basis. Most of them didn't
believe. But a few people believed his Bible teaching. Seemingly his
Bible teaching was not successful. But it was successful, and it
conquered the Roman Empire.
When we see Jesus' life on earth, the major part of his ministry was
healing the sick and teaching the Bible. He even taught the Bible in
Jerusalem, where crucifixion awaited, from early morning to late night.
These days many churches do not teach the Bible. They enjoy social
gatherings and discussions. The pastors say many things out of their
common sense, not teaching the spirit of the Bible according to the
Bible passages. This is the reason many churches lost their influence
and cannot be the salt of the world. They are as corrupt as the worldly
people. How beautiful it is to teach the Bible to our beloved young
souls. May God help us to continue to teach the Bible through
one-to-one Bible study.
Fifth, do not get in touch with antichrists (10-13).
Why should we not get in touch with antichrists? It is because if we
talk with them, we share in their wickedness and ungodly chatting (11).
This seems to be a small matter. But men are good and evil. And to grow
to be a good person is very difficult. In St. Augustine's case, it took
40 years to be a good person in Christ. But one can be a devilish
person very promptly and unbelievably, because the atmosphere of the
world is like heavy raining of wickedness. If we work in the heavy
rain, we get wet. Therefore, we must not get in touch with antichrists.
Many proud people were confident that they could persuade antichrists.
But we have seen that none of them was successful to win them over to
God. Rather, they were devoured by the antichrists because they are
liars and murderers. St. John once went to a public bath and saw
Cerinthus, an antichrist. Then he picked up his clothes and fled from
the public bath in order not to talk with the antichrist. Once the
saintly Polycarp met the antichrist Marcion. Marcion asked, "Do you
recognize me?" "I recognize Satan's firstborn," answered Polycarp. We
must draw a clear borderline between Christians and antichrists.
Otherwise, there is a great peril that one Christian would stumble by
the antichrist and, finally, the whole church can stumble.
Look at verse 12. St. John wanted to see them face to face. Even the
most carefully written letter can be misunderstood or misinterpreted.
But meeting face to face solves everything because they can communicate
through heart to heart. Here we learn that St. John really wanted to
visit them even though he was too old to visit them. We must learn that
visitation of God's flock of sheep is so important.
May the mothers of this generation come to know Jesus and raise
their children in the truth, Jesus Christ our Lord. May God help us to
give an honorary place from our hearts to the women of God.