Wednesday, 1 July 2020
The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen. 2 John -13
John now makes a change in his address from the previous verse. The two verses are presented in the following manner –
Having many things to write to you (2nd person plural), I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you (2nd person plural) and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
The children of your (2nd person singular) elect sister greet you (2nd person singular). Amen.
First, in not mentioning the “elect sister” in the greeting there are various ideas. One is that the elect sister is either deceased or absent at the time. The other is that the “elect sister” is actually a church body. Therefore, the greeting is coming from those of the church who form the body.
This would be the same as if the “elect lady” of verse 1 is a church body. But then why make the change to the singular if it is addressed to a church and not an individual? It seems unlikely. However, the same type of change from the singular to the plural is found in Moses’ words when addressing Israel in Deuteronomy 4, for example.
There, it is certain that he is speaking to all, but at times it is focusing on individual responsibility within the whole, and at times, it is focusing on collective responsibility of the whole. The change here could be the same. It does not answer definitively whether the elect lady (and the elect sister) is a church or an individual, but neither option is excluded.
Either way, and because of this, John’s words can be used as a template for writing to either individuals or a group. The main idea to be gained from his words is that the focus of the believer is to be on Jesus Christ, but it must be Jesus Christ as he is portrayed in Scripture – God incarnate. Nothing else can be considered acceptable to identify a true believer. Greetings between individuals and churches are only to be extended to those of the true faith.
It would not be acceptable for a church that accepts Jesus Christ as God incarnate to write a letter to a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation saying, “We greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord of one is not the same as the “Lord” of the other. Likewise, a single believer in Jesus Christ should not write such a letter to an apostate individual or group, greeting him or them in such a way.
Fraternal greetings within the context of the faith must only be made to those who are grounded in the same proper faith. With this understood, John closes with “Amen,” or “so be it” and “truth.” Though some manuscripts do not include this, it is probably rightly included in the letter. The word beautifully closes out this short but important letter from the hand of John.
Life application: From the pen of the heartfelt and beloved apostle of the Lord Jesus, we have searched the intimate words of John to “the elect lady and her children.” We can be pleased that God kept the nature of the true recipient from us so that we can use this letter as a guide when addressing individuals or church bodies.
Take time to re-read the letter one more time before you finish your study today, and think on the layout and theme of it. In the future, try to use it as a guideline when writing on similar issues. If this is a part of the Bible, then it is approved of God in both style and content.
Closing out with the word “Amen,” or “truth,” makes a nice touch. Truth has been the very focus of the letter. Where truth is, there will be no tendency to demonstrate love without correction – something John has carefully pointed out. Love without truth is ultimately a condemning love. Let us remember this as we speak and write about the truth of God’s plan for humanity.
Lord Jesus, what a treat it is to study and think on the depth of Your precious word. You have given it for our edification. Each day we read it, we feel so edified. We peer into its love and truth, and come away with a deeper knowledge of what touches Your very heart. Until You come for us, may we always demonstrate love, but may it be a love which is combined with truth. Amen.