Today we will consider the second and third epistles of the Apostle John. These are the two shortest books of the Bible, written by John near the end of the first century A.D. 2 John is addressed to “the elect lady and her children,” which is believed to be a metaphor for the church, or (more likely) one particular church to which John was writing (1:1). That all who know the truth (Christ) Who abides in “us” and will be with “us” forever speaks of the union of believers to each other through our union with Christ (vv. 1-2). John further makes the church one organic whole with his greeting “grace…will be with us” (v. 3).
That John rejoiced to find “some of your children walking in the truth” would indicate that he is speaking to one particular church (v. 4). He says here what he emphasized in his first letter: they are to love one another (v. 5), which has always been the commandment of God (v. 6). He says this to contradict the teaching of false teachers – the deceivers and anti-Christs (v. 7). Again, people were denying the true humanity of Christ. John warns this church not to believe such deception (v. 8), and to remember that those who are of God will live obediently to the Triune God (v. 9). John tells the church to disassociate themselves from these false teachers completely (vv. 10-11).
John then says that he has more to say, but that he will say it in-person (v. 12). This explains the brevity of the letter. He wanted to remind them to abide in love for each other and sound doctrine because of the urgent need because of the false teachers. The letter ends with what is likely a greeting from his whole church to their church (v. 13).
3 John is addressed to a man named Gaius (1:1). This man appears to be a convert of John, as he refers to him as one of his children (v. 4). He writes to commend Gaius because his reputation is one of love and obedience (v. 3). Gaius had apparently taken in Christians in need though he did not know them personally (v. 5). They were likely missionaries sent from John’s church (likely in Ephesus) (v. 7). Helping them in their mission by providing for their needs is taking part in their ministry (v. 8 – see Phil 4:17).
The writing John refers to in verse 9 could be 2 John. This man Diotrephes seems to have ignored John’s instructions, and even spoke against the Apostle and/or his teaching (v. 10). He also refused to extend the same love and hospitality that Gaius did, and even wants to throw those who disagreed with him out of the church. John will take care of this when he comes. He exhorts Gaius to imitate good (sound doctrine, love) which will be a proof of his standing in Christ (v. 11). Demetrius may be one of the missionaries John is sending. He vouches for his character, as have others (v. 12).
John also tells Gaius that he has more to say, and will tell him when he comes (vv. 13-14). John then greets Gaius from the whole church in Ephesus, and asks Gaius to greet his church from them (v 15).