2 John 1–6 (NKJV)
As John begins this second letter to the elect lady and other believers, he continues to speak of love and build on the concept of holiness as he did in the previous letter. John’s first letter spoke specifically of the love of God and one another, and the importance of living a life free of sin.
1 The Elder,
To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, 2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:
3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.2 John 1-3
As John opens the letter, he identifies himself as “The Elder,” a position of authority in the church as one who is a leader and teacher of those under his care. This would equate to a pastor or overseer in the church of today. This designation probably indicated that he was the bishop or superintendent of the Johannine churches under his care in Ephesus. While the name John is not used here, it is understood that the writer could be John or one of the elders under his leadership in the Johannine community. He addresses the letter to the elect lady and her children, loved by John and others who have know the truth. This truth abides in all believers and leads them to love one another and will be with those who believe forever. He offers grace, mercy, and peace to the readers, namely, the elect lady and her children. This “elect lady” could be a particular, unnamed person. However, this could just as easily be a reference to the church in a particular city or region to which the elder writes, and the “children” could be the members of that church. These blessings conveyed are attributed to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and are offered in truth and love.
4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received a commandment from the Father. 5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.2 John 4-6
Paul moves from the extended greeting to the first item of teaching here as he commends the membership of the church for “walking in the truth.” These members are obeying the commandment from the Father to do so, and are creating joy for a leader such as John. He then intimates that the commandment he is longing to share with them is not a new commandment, but rather the commandment that God had given the church from the beginning. That commandment is that Christians everywhere love one another! This love is typified by walking according to His commandments, and one of the very first commandments is that Christians love one another (right after the commandment that they love God with all their being). Therefore, John is instructing the people of the church to walk in this holy and definite commandment to love one another at all times and in all places. One cannot claim to love God and hate his brother or her sister. No, as John already established in his previous letter, to say one loves God and does not love those in the body of Christ is contradictory on its face. So, love God, love one another, and then you can love souls enough to bring them into the kingdom as well. This commandment must be obeyed. or everything else is moot.