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Course Hero. (2018, April 27). New Testament Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 23, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/New-Testament/

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Course Hero. "New Testament Study Guide." April 27, 2018. Accessed July 23, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/New-Testament/.

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Course Hero, "New Testament Study Guide," April 27, 2018, accessed July 23, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/New-Testament/.

New Testament | 2 John | Summary

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Summary

The "elder" writes to a church community and encourages them to hold fast to faith in the face of false teachers and divisions.

  • The letter is addressed to "the elect lady and her children," probably a metaphorical way of referring to the ekklēsia (Greek for "church, assembly") and its members (2 John 1).
  • The author urges them to love one another.
  • They should be on the lookout for "deceivers," those people who "do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" (2 John 7). The author even calls someone who teaches this way "the antichrist" (2 John 8).
  • The right option for the Christ-believers is to continue in Jesus's teaching, remaining united with the Father and the Son.
  • The author conveys greetings from "your elect sister and her children," probably the church community in the city from which he writes (2 John 13).

Analysis

With multiple elevated claims about the divine nature of Jesus the Christ, the author is invested in defending a "high" Christology that is distinctively Johannine. The most important issue seems to be the incarnation, a point emphasized in the prologue of John's Gospel (especially John 1:14). The idea of Jesus's incarnation in the flesh is apparently being challenged by some group of opponents, and the author does not hold back in condemning those who teach that Jesus did not come "in the flesh" (2 John 7).

Other sorts of teachings are seen as problematic, too. The author reminds his readers that the definition of love is "that we walk according to his commandments" (2 John 6). There might be some ethical or ritual matters in view, and different members of the Christ-believing community are not behaving in consistent ways. The letter's preoccupation with the dangers of deception and schism suggests that at the time of composition, the community was undergoing some sort of crisis.

Because the author mourns community divisions, it is also worth considering what the letter might reveal about real and ideal positive relationships among Christ-believers. The letter is addressed to "the elect lady and her children," which most interpreters think is a symbolic reference to a church and its members. The church could be referred to as a "lady" because the Greek noun for a church assembly, ekklēsia, is feminine. Identifying the church as a lady with children might also reflect Christian ideas that the church is a source of nourishment and training for its members, who are being guided to a mature faith.

By situating himself as an "elder" in relation to the "children" of the Christ-believing community, the author uses a household or kinship metaphor to legitimize his authority. At the same time, the family language suggests the Christ-believers share bonds of affection and the obligation to care for one another. Finally, the author expresses a desire to see his addressees face to face instead of relying solely on epistolary communication.

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