The Second Letter of John - Introduction
Second John follows the structural conventions of an ancient letter: designation of sender and recipient (v. 1a); greeting formula, somewhat expanded (vv. 1b–3); wish or thanksgiving for well‐being of recipient (v. 4); body of letter (vv. 5–11); concluding matters, travel plans (v. 12), and final greeting (13). However, no concrete names, places, or details are specified. The expression “elect lady” (v. 1) may refer to one or more of the Johannine churches in Asia Minor. The author refers to himself as “the Elder,” an expression which could indicate that he held the office of presbyter in a house church (cf. Acts 14.23; 20.17; 1 Pet 5.1; 1 Tim 5.17 ) or which may be a reminder of the respect due elders in the community (cf. 1 Pet 5.5; 1 Tim 5.2 ). Because the term is not used in 1 John, some scholars conclude that 2 John was composed by another person in the circle of Johannine teachers. However, its genre did not require that 1 John refer to either sender or addressee. The similarity in language and situation makes it more likely that the same individual composed both letters.
Use of an allusion to the love command and teaching held from the beginning (vv. 5–6; cf. 1 John 2.24; 3.11; 5.3 ) to bolster warnings against dissident teachers (v. 7; 1 John 4.3 ) shows that 2 John refers to the opponents refuted in 1 John. The Elder asks the recipients to exclude dissidents from any hospitality. To aid them would be to share in their diabolical work (vv. 8–11). Perhaps a copy of 1 John accompanied these instructions.