“Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.” ~ 2 John 3
Explanation of the Text: John continues his greeting to his fellow believers receiving this letter. Like other New Testament writers, his greeting includes an exhortation, in this case John draws attention to grace, mercy, and peace. However, John’s address is very distinct in that he doesn’t say “to you” but rather “with us.” John’s words are not of expectation or hope for the people, but rather affirm something definitive in the believer’s life: grace, mercy, and peace, that comes from God.
John MacArthur notes these three words as a description of God’s plan of salvation. “Grace views sinners as guilty and undeserving (Romans 5:20; Ephesians 1:7); mercy views them as needy and helpless (Matthew 5:3; Romans 11:30-32; Ephesians 2:4-5; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3); peace is the result of God’s outpouring of both (Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:20)” (1).
However, it is noted that John does not write of just any grace, mercy, and peace. Instead he qualifies it by noting that it is from God. In fact, John notes that these are gifts specifically from both God the Father and from Jesus Christ. Not only is this important for understanding about God’s gifts, but it is incredibly important because we see John confirm Jesus Christ as deity.
Finally, John indicates that grace, mercy, and peace are contained in truth and love. As the epistles of John gather together to form a teaching that obstructs and confronts false teaching, truth becomes an important basis. Further defined with that is the need for love. If love is not rightly applied with the truth, it has the potential to do more harm for the testimony of Christ than it can do good.
Examination & Application of the Text: John writes with great confidence of God’s grace, mercy, and peace given to people. It is an example of the great confidence that we should have as a child of God (1 John 3:1). Because of who God is and who we are in God, He has extended Himself to the point of offering grace, mercy, and peace to us. These are gifts that cannot be extended to us by any man, woman, or child. They are spectacular both in nature and because of who gives them. As John writes with certainty that these have already been received by believers, believers are to find comfort and confidence in them.
Furthermore, John’s explanation that these are bound in truth and love provides a foundation for all that we do. When truth and love are not present in whatever activity or action we are engaged in, then it is meaningless. We must conduct ourselves, whether we are confronting, compromising, or connecting with someone, it must be done in truth and love. In fact, remembering the words of William Hendriksen and Simon Kistemaker provide a great overview of John’s words in verse 3 when they writes: “The three virtues (grace, mercy, and peace) flourish in an environment where truth and love prevail. Truth unites the Christian community when it faces the common foe of falsehood; it is evident among Christians when they demonstrate their unity in showing love toward one another” (2).
(1) John MacArthur, 1, 2, 3 John, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2007) 219.
(2) Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, Exposition of James and The Epistles of John, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001), 376.