on 2-john 1 :13
The children of thy elect sister - Probably her own sister, who lived at Ephesus; and, being acquainted with the apostle's writing, desired to be thus remembered to her. Elect, both in this and the first verse, signifies excellent, eminent, or honorable. See on 2 John 1:1 (note).
Amen is wanting in the most ancient MSS., and in most of the versions; but ἡ χαρις μετα σου and μεθ' ὑμων, Grace be with thee, or with you, is found in several MSS. and versions.
Subscriptions in the Versions: -
The end of the Second Epistle. - Syriac.
The Second Epistle of John is ended. - Philox. Syriac.
Praise be to God for ever, Amen! - Arabic.
In the Manuscripts: -
The Second of John. - Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus.
The Second of John to the Parthians. - One of Colbert's MSS.
The Second catholic Epistle of St. John the apostle and divine.
There are other subscriptions, but, like the above, they are worthy of little regard.
This epistle is more remarkable for the spirit of Christian love which it breathes than for any thing else. It contains scarcely any thing that is not found in the preceding; and out of the thirteen verses there are at least eight which are found, either in so many words or in sentiment, precisely the same with those of the first epistle. The most remarkable part of it is the tenth and eleventh verses, (2 John 1:10, 2 John 1:11) relative to the orders concerning the heretical teacher; and from them we see how such teachers were treated in the apostolic Church. They held no communion with them, afforded them no support, as teachers; but did not persecute them.
On this model the conduct of all Christians should be formed, relative to the teachers of false doctrine in general. To go thus far, we have apostolical authority, to go farther, we have none. And let us still remember, in all cases it is our duty to love even our enemies, and consequently to do them any act of humanity and mercy.
on 2-john 1 :13
The children of thy elect sister greet thee - Of this "elect sister" nothing more is known. It would seem probable, from the fact that she is not mentioned as sending her salutations, that she was either dead, or that she was absent. John mentions her, however, as a Christian - as one of the elect or chosen of God.
Remarks On 2John
In view of the exposition of this Epistle we may make the following remarks:
(1) It is desirable for a family to have a character for piety so consistent and well understood that all who know it shall perceive it and love it, 2 John 1:1. In the case of this lady and her household, it would seem that, as far as they were known, they were known as a well-ordered Christian household. John said he loved such a family; and he said that it was loved by all who had any knowledge of them. What is more lovely to the view than such a household? What is better fitted to make an impression on the world favorable to religion?
(2) it is a matter of great rejoicing when any part of a family becomes truly religious, 2 John 1:4. We should rejoice with our friends, and should render unfeigned thanks to God, if any of their children are converted, and walk in the truth. No greater blessing can descend on a family than the early conversion of children; and, just as angels rejoice over one sinner that is converted, we should rejoice when the children of our friends are brought to a knowledge of the truth, and devote themselves to God in early life.
(3) it is our duty to be on our guard against the arts of the teachers of error, 2 John 1:7. They abound in every age. They are often learned, eloquent, and profound. They study and understand the arts of persuasion. They adapt their instructions to the capacity of those whom they would lead astray. They flatter their vanity; accommodate themselves to their peculiar views and tastes; court their society, and seek to share their friendship. They often appear to be eminently meek, and serious, and devout, and prayerful, for they know that no others can succeed who profess to inculcate the principles of religion. There are few arts more profound than that of leading people into error; few that are studied more, or with greater success. Every Christian, therefore, should be on his or her guard against such arts; and while he should (upon all subjects) be open to conviction, and be ready to yield his own opinions when convinced that they are wrong, yet he should yield to truth, not to people; to argument, not to the influence of the personal character of the professed religious teacher.
(4) we may see that it is possible for us to lose a portion of the reward which we might enjoy in heaven, 2 John 1:8. The rewards of heaven will be apportioned to our character, and for our services in the cause of religion in this life, and those who "sow sparingly shall reap also sparingly." Christians often begin their course with great zeal, and as if they were determined to reap the highest rewards of the heavenly world. If they should persevere in the course which they have commenced, they would indeed shine as the stars in the firmament. But, alas, their zeal soon dies away. They relax their efforts, and lose their watchfulness. They engage in some pursuit that absorbs their time, and interferes with their habits of devotion. They connive at error and sin; begin to love the comforts of this life; seek the honors or the riches of this world; and though they may be saved at last, yet they lose half their reward. It should be a fixed purpose with all Christians, and especially with such as are just entering upon the Christian life, to wear in heaven a crown as bright and studded with as many jewels as "can possibly be obtained."
(5) we may learn from this Epistle how to regard and treat the teachers of error, 2 John 1:10. We "are not to do anything that can be fairly construed as contenancing their doctrines." This simple rule would guide us to a course that is right. We are to have minds open to conviction. We are to love the truth, and always be ready to follow it. We are not to be prejudiced against anything. We are to treat all people with kindness; to be true, and just, and faithful in our contact with everyone; to be hospitable, and always ready to do good to any who are needy, whatever their name, color, rank, or opinions. We are not to cut the ties which bind us to our friends and kindred, though they embrace opinions which we deem erroneous or dangerous; but we are in no way to become the patrons of error, or to leave the impression that we are indifferent as to what is believed. The friends of truth and piety we should receive cordially to our dwellings, and should account ourselves honored by their presence, Psalm 101:6-7; strangers we should not forget to entertain, for thereby we may entertain angels unawares, Hebrews 13:2; but the open advocate of what we regard as dangerous error, we are not to receive in any such sense or way as to have our treatment of him fairly construed as patronising his errors, or commending him as a teacher to the favorable regards of our fellowmen.
Neither by our influence, our names, our money, our personal friendship, are we to give him increased facilities for spreading pernicious error through the world. As people, as fellow-sufferers, as citizens, as neighbors, as the friends of temperance, of the prisoner, of the widow, the orphan, and the slave, and as the patrons of learning, we may be united in promoting objects dear to our hearts, but as "religious teachers" we are to show them no countenance, not so much as would be implied in the common form of salutation wishing them success. In all this there is no breach of charity, and no want of true love, for we are to love the truth more than we are the persons of men. To the person himself we should be ever ready to do good. We should never injure that individual in any way - in his person, property, or feelings. We should never attempt to deprive him of the right of cherishing his own opinions, and of spreading them in his own way, answerable, not to us, but to God. We should impose no pains or penalties upon him for the opinions which he holds. But we should do nothing to give him increased power to propagate them, and should never place ourselves by any alliance of friendship, family, or business, in such a position that we shall not be perfectly free to maintain our own sentiments, and to oppose what we deem to be error, whoever may advocate it.
on 2-john 1 :13
1:13 The children of thy elect or Christian sister - Absent, if not dead, when the apostle wrote this.