Archibald Thomas Robertson

The Epistle of Second John

About A.D. 85 o 90

By Way of Introduction

There is little to add to what was said about the First Epistle except that here the author terms himself “the elder” (ho presbuteros) and writes to “the elect lady” (eklektēi kuriāi). There is dispute about both of these titles. Some hold that it is the mythical “presbyter John” of whom Papias may speak, if so understood, but whose very existence is disproved by Dom Chapman in John the Presbyter and the Fourth Gospel (1911). Peter the apostle (1Pe 1:1) calls himself “fellow-elder” (sunpresbuteros) with the other elders (1Pe 5:1). The word referred originally to age (Luk 15:25), then to rank or office as in the Sanhedrin (Mat 16:21; Act 6:12) and in the Christian churches (Act 11:30; Act 20:17; 1Ti 5:17, 1Ti 5:19) as here also. A few even deny that the author is the same as in the First Epistle of John, but just an imitator. But the bulk of modern scholarly opinion agrees that the same man wrote all three Epistles and the Fourth Gospel (the Beloved Disciple, and many still say the Apostle John) whatever is true of the Apocalypse. There is no way of deciding whether “the elect lady” is a woman or a church. The obvious way of taking it is to a woman of distinction in one of the churches, as is true of “the co-elect lady in Babylon” (1Pe 5:13), Peter’s wife, who travelled with him (1Co 9:5). Some even take kuria to be the name of the lady (Cyria). Some also take it to be “Eklecta the lady.” Dr. Findlay (Fellowship in the Life Eternal, p. 31) holds that Pergamum is the church to which the letter was sent. The same commentaries treat 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John as a rule, though Poggel has a book on 2 John, 3 John (1896) and Bresky (1906) has Das Verhaltnis des Zweiten Johannesbriefes zum dritten. Dr. J. Rendel Harris has an interesting article in The Expositor of London for March, 1901, on “The Problem of the Address to the Second Epistle of John,” in which he argues from papyri examples that kuria here means “my dear” or “my lady.” But Findlay (Fellowship in the Life Eternal, p. 26) argues that “the qualifying adjunct ‘elect’ lifts us into the region of Christian calling and dignity.” It is not certain that 2 John was written after 1 John, though probable. Origen rejected it and the Peshitta Syriac does not have 2 John and 3 John.

Taken from "Word Pictures in the New Testament" by Archibald Thomas Robertson