John wrote this letter in order to emphasize the basics of following Christ - truth and love - and to warn against false teachers.
Author and Date
The second epistle of John is the shortest book in the Bible at only 13 verses long. Despite its brevity, it is generally divided into two parts:
- Watch out for false teachers (1-11)
- Conclusion (12-13)
False teachers were a dangerous problem for the church to which John was writing. His warning against showing hospitality to false teachers may sound harsh and unloving to many today, yet these men were teaching heresy that could seriously harm many believers - for eternity. Note that John does not mean that Christians should treat false teachers as subhuman or even that orthodox Christians should never speak to wicked people - see 1 Corinthians 5:10. Still, Christians must maintain a careful distance from those who teach heresies which can ruin the soul.
Major themes contained in second John include the following:
Truth - Following God's Word, the Bible, is essential to Christian living because God is truth. Christ's true followers consistently obey his truth. In order to be loyal to Christ's teaching, we must seek to know the Bible, but we must never twist its message to our own needs or purposes or encourage others who misuse it.
Love - Christ's command is for Christians to love one another. This is the basic ingredient of true Christianity. To obey Christ fully, we must believe his command to love others. Helping and giving to meet others' needs put love into practice.
False Leaders - We must be wary of religious leaders who deny or undermine Christ's teaching. We must not give them a platform to spread false teaching. Do not encourage those who are opposed to Christ. Politely remove yourself from association with false leaders. Be aware of what is being taught in your church.
Life Application Bible - New International Version. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Zondervan Publishing House, 1989.