Bible Query from
Q: In 2 Jn 1 and 3 Jn 1, how do we know that John the apostle wrote these books?
A: The books do not say who wrote them, but John in his Gospel and 1 John was reluctant to use his name. 2 and 3 John have a similar style to 1 John and the Gospel of John.
Q: In 2 Jn 1, 5, who is the elect lady?
A: There are two theories on the identity of the elect lady.
A Particular Lady: A particular, but now unknown, lady in the early church.
Allegorical: The church in general. The church is called the bride of Christ in John 3:29; Revelation 21:2,9; 22:17; and Ephesians 5:25-33.
While John uses the plural "you" in 2 John 8 and asking people to love one another in 2 John 5, the letter was actually not just to a lady, but to a lady and her children. A lady and her offspring is also mentioned in Revelation 12:17. See When Critics Ask p.543-544 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.745-746 for more info.
Q: In 2 Jn 7, who is John addressing as not believing "Jesus came in the flesh"?
A: Two groups of people later emerged as denying Jesus coming "in the flesh". They taught that Jesus was similar to phantom, who just appeared to have a physical body.
Proto-Gnostics, including believed that salvation was through secret, mysterious knowledge, the physical world was bad, and Jesus was a phantom. See the discussion on 1 John 1 "Who were the Gnostics" for a little more info. For a lot more info, see Tertullian’s Against Marcion (204 pages 207 A.D.), Hippolytus’ Refutation of All Heresies (222-235/6 A.D.), Irenaeus’ Against Heresies (182-188 A.D.), and Clement of Alexandria Stromata (193-202 A.D.) See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.746-748 for more info on this question.
Docetists were others who denied that Jesus was coming in the flesh.
For both groups, the origin of this idea likely was from Greek philosophy, which taught that matter was impure. If Jesus was perfect and sinless, Jesus could not have a body of matter, or so their philosophy went.
Q: In 2 Jn 7 and 1 Jn 2:18,22, is the Antichrist a person?
A: Yes. While there is also a spirit of the Antichrist, the Antichrist is a person who claims "I am He" and deceive people as a false Christ, as Matthew 24:23-24 shows. The antichrist is not Satan, but rather a human being whom Satan will use.
Q: In 2 Jn 7 and 1 Jn 2:18,22, are there many antichrists, or is there just one?
wA: There is only one primary Antichrist according to Matthew 24:4-5,26; Mark 13:6,14; Luke 21:8; Daniel 9:26-27, 11:36-37; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; and Revelation 13:1-10. However, there are many lesser antichrists as 1 John 2:18,22 and 2 John 7 show. There might be a relationship between someone having the spirit of the antichrist in them (1 John 4:3), and what psychologists describe as a Messiah complex.
The following people have either made the following claims, or else others made the following claims about them.
|Grigori Rasputin (at least some others claimed this)|
|Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown (died 11/16/1978)|
|Rev. Moon of the Unification Church|
|Jacob Katzan (1977-)|
|Guru Maharah Ji of the Divine Light Mission|
|many Hindu and New Age gurus|
|...A Jewish Messiah Come the First Time|
|Sabbatai Sebi/Zvi In Sept. 1666 A.D. he was forced to become Muslim|
|Rabbi Schneerson of New York (now dead)|
|probably Theudas in Acts 5:36. He claimed to be someone great|
|...The Mahdi in Shi’ite Religions|
|First Fatimid caliph ‘Obaidallah/’Ubaydullah (909-933/934 A.D.)|
|Imam al Husayn bin al-Kasim al-’Iyani (1010-1013 A.D.) (Husayniiya Zaydite sect)|
|Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1879 A.D., Ahmadiyya Movement)|
|Baha’u’llah (Baha’is) (1817-1892)|
|Husayn ‘Ali Nuri Baha’, half-brother to Baha’u’llah|
|Sliman Murshad of Syria (1900-1949)|
|The Mahdist movement in Sudan|
|...Zoroastrian Messiahs, or Saoshyants|
|Mohammed was worshipped as visible God by Muhammidiyya|
|‘Ali is divine according to the ‘Ulyaniyya/’Alaya’iyya|
|‘Ali bin Abi Talib and Saliman al-Farisi. They did not claim to be God, but long after their death some ‘Alawite sects worshipped them as sort of a Muslim Tritheism.|
|Lord Hakim (The Druze) (996-1021 A.D.)|
|God existed in the form of all the prophets according to the Rizamiyya / Muslimiyya Shi’ite sect|
|John F. Kennedy|
|Prince George (American Revolutionary War)|
Q: In 2 Jn 8, how can Christians lose what they have worked for?
A: While God can take away material belongings from Christians, earthly possessions are insignificant compared to the heavenly rewards John is talking about here. We do not work for our salvation, but we do receive rewards in Heaven for our work (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). We can lose those according to 2 John 8.
Q: In 2 Jn 9, what exactly is running ahead, and how does that relate to not continuing in Christ?
A: If your desires and goals generally align with God’s, but you want to do thing show you want, in your own way, you are not following God. God’s will often includes patient waiting, loving others by accommodating them, and working together. In China there is a fable about two drunk men having a contest as to who could draw a snake faster. One guy was winning, and then in the extra time he put arms and legs on the snake, which disqualified him. An important part of drawing, or serving, is knowing when to pause or stop. Serving God is not just about the destination but also the journey.
Q: In 2 Jn 9, does continuing give you the Father and Son, or does continuing demonstrate you already have the Father and Son?
A: 1 John 2:23 shows that it demonstrates we have the Father and the Son. If continuing was a prerequisite to getting the Father and the son, then no Christian would have the father and the Son until they died.
Q: In 2 Jn 10, what does this refer to?
A: There are two main complementary views.
Home hospitality: The most common view is that these false teachers should not be welcome in our homes. While Christians are to be hospitable in general, our homes and hospitality are not to give aid to propagating false teaching.
Church hospitality: Since churches primarily met in homes until Christianity was legalized, this refers to two things:
1. Specifically, not welcoming traveling false teachers into house churches, and
2. More generally, not giving cultists a platform to preach false doctrine. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.748-749 and When Cultists Ask p.301-302 for more info on this view.
Of course nothing prevents both views from being true.
Q: In 2 Jn 10, should we ever welcome non-Christians into our homes?
A: Sure, Christians are to practice hospitality. Romans 12:13 and 1 Timothy 5:10 tell us to practice hospitality without qualifying this to be only for other Christians. However, 2 John 9-11 says that people who "run ahead" and do not continue in the teaching of Christ are not to be welcomed in houses. Two points.
1. Who are they? Those who run ahead are those who intellectually heard the teaching of Christ, but did not continue and now teach something different. These people include apostates from Christianity and many cultists.
2. What are we to do? We are not to take them into our homes or welcome them. While some translations say "your houses", "your" is not found in the Greek. The prohibition is both for house churches and our own homes. This is consistent with 1 Corinthians 4:11-13, which says we are not to associate with any who call themselves a brother but who lives an ungodly life.
See also the previous question.
Q: In 2 Jn 10, should we ever welcome cultists into our homes?
A: Genuine Christians disagree on this.
No: Many, including an ex-Jehovah’s Witness Christian named William Schnell, say that obedience to this verse means never to let them in. Letting them in implies a desire to learn from them. William Schnell wrote this in How to Witness to a Jehovah’s Witness.
Yes, under certain circumstances: The point of the verse was to never give them the impression that we respect their soul-perishing heresy. For the purpose of sharing the Gospel with them it is OK as long as we make it clear we do not endorse or approve of their views. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.322-323 for more on this second view.
Q: in 2 Jn 10 are we not to let false teachers into our homes, or are we to love our enemies as Matthew 5:44 says?
A: Both. Giving someone the impression that their soul-perishing error is OK is one of the most unloving things you can do for that person. Loving someone does not simply mean acting soft regardless of the circumstances, but sometimes it includes caring enough to have tough love.
See both Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.246 and When Critics Ask p.544-545 for a second, different answer.
Q: In 2 Jn 11, how can a people help heretics?
A: People can provide money, housing, and other material help for heretics. For example, the liberal World Council of Churches was giving money to Robert Mugabe's guerilla group in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Those guerillas were persecuting missionaries of churches that were members of the World Council of Churches.
People can also give approval to heretics. For example, democratic vice president Walter Mondale wrote, "Knowing of your congregation’s deep involvement in the major social and constitutional issues of our country is a great inspiration to me" U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale in a letter of reference - for Rev. Jim Jones (of later Jonestown infamy) on 12/2/1978.
Q: In 2 Jn, how do we know if what we have today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35.
2. Evidence of the early church. Here are the writers who referred to verses in 2 John.
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes 2 John 10,11 as by John, the disciple of the Lord in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 1 ch.16.3 p.342.
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes 2 John 7-8a. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.16.8 p.443 as by the Lord’s disciple in his epistle. He switches two clauses, but other than that the phrasing is exact, and this phrasing is found only in 2 John 2:7-8a.
(disputed) Origen (225-254 A.D.) "What are we to say of him who leaned on Jesus’ breast, namely, John, who left one Gospel, though confessing that he could make so many that the world would not contain them? But he wrote also the Apocalypse, being commanded to be silent and not to write the voices of the seven thunders. But he also left an epistle of very few lines. Suppose also a second and a third, since not all pronounce these to be genuine; but the two together do not amount to a hundred lines." Commentary on John from the fifth book.5 no.3 p.346-347
The Muratorian Canon (170-210 A.D.) ANF vol.5 p.603 mentions the two letters of John.
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) discusses at length the views of Dionysius of Alexandria on questions relating to 2 and 3 John, as well as whether or not Revelation was by the same John as the Gospel and 1 John. Fragment 1 ch.4-5 in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (319-339/340 A.D.) book 7 ch.25 p.309-310.
Eusebius of Caesarea (319-339/340 A.D.) discusses at length the views of Dionysius of Alexandria on questions relating to 2 and 3 John, as well as whether or not Revelation was by the same John as the Gospel and 1 John. Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History book 7 ch.25 p.309-310.
Athanasius (367 A.D.) does not refer to any specific verses in 1,2,3 John, but he lists the books of the New Testament in Festal Letter 39 p.552
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.)
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) mentions three books of John as part of the New Testament. It quotes 2 John 1a.
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) (implied) mentions the seven epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude. Catechetical Lectures Lecture 4 ch.36 p.27-28
Didymus the Blind (398 A.D.) refers to 2 John 9
The schismatic Lucifer of Cagliari, Sardinia (361-c.399 A.D.) refers to 2 John 8
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) quotes all of 2 John 1 as by John. Letters of Jerome Letter 146 ch.1 p.288
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) refers to 2 John 3
John of Damascus (706-749 A.D.) "...seven Catholic epistles, viz. one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude..." Exposition of the Orthodox Faith book 4 ch.17 p.90
Evidence of heretics and spurious books
3. Earliest manuscripts we have of 2 John show there are small manuscript variations, but no theologically significant errors.
p74 (=Bodmer 17) Acts 1:2-5,7-11,13-15,18-19,22-25; 2:2-4; 2:6-3:26; 4:2-6,8-27; 4:29-27:25; 27:27-28:31; James 1:1-6,8-19,21-23,25,27; 2:1-3,5-15; 18-22, 25-26; 3:1,5-6,10-12,14,17-18; 4:8,11-14; 5:1-3,7-9,12-14,19-20; 1 Peter 1:1-2,7-8,13,19-20,25; 2:6-7,11-12,18,24; 3:4-5; 2 Peter 2:21; 3:4,11,16; 1 John 1:1,6; 2:1-2,7,13-14,18-19,25-26; 3:1-2,8,14,19-20; 4:1,6-7,12,16-17;5:3-4,9-10,17; 2 John 1,6-7,13; 3 John 6,12; Jude 3,7,12,18,24 (7th century)
7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament has James 2:4 and 1 Peter 1:12
7th century - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition
6th century - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
Uncial 0232 c.300 A.D. according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts (Aland considers it 5th or 6th century) 2 John 1-9
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.), Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.), and Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D) have all of 2 John.
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4rth century
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
See www.BibleQuery.org/2jnMss.html for more on early manuscripts of 2 John.
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