“Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. The children of your elect sister greet you.” ~ 2 John 12-13
Explanation of the Text: We come now to the conclusion of 2 John as John gives his final greetings. While there is some encouragement within to the saints from John, his primary focus on this letter is concern for the saints and the false teaching that takes place. Although John tells the readers that he has more he wants to say, here he wastes no ink and paper by not wasting words. So serious are the circumstances, John thought it best to at least address it by letter with the hopes of visiting later.
As he draws to a close, he draws readers attention to the joy of Christian fellowship, something that he also opens with. While in verse four he expresses great joy in seeing their faithfulness, he indicates that there is a greater joy in Christian fellowship. John “underscores what the (Westminster) catechism does not: Christian joy in God, while given by and suffused with God, has its correlate in the joyous sentiments that God’s people share with one another” (1).
Finally, John closes by sending greetings from fellow Christians. John begins the letter by addressing the elect sister and he closes with greetings from her elect sister. There is debate about whether or not John is referring to a literal woman and her family or if John is writing figuratively to a church. And here I need to step back and retract what I initially said in our devotion on verse 1. Is was here I noted that my personal contention was that John was writing to a specific individual, however, the letter was most likely very public to all of the church. There are good scholars who would agree with this, but there are also good scholars who lean towards the letter as an addressing to a church only. Further study with this verse in mind tends to make me think that the elect lady is reference to a church so that John is writing to one church and sends greetings from a ‘sister’ church. Part of the thinking behind this is that John does not indicate that the sister sends greetings, but the children, which is often used to refer the fellow believers. With all of that said, any of us could be wrong and there is no major significance here that is worth causing dissension about.
Examination & Application of the Text: John’s closing draws our attention to the connectedness within the the body of Christ. Not only does John send greetings from fellow believers (whether he is referring to an entire church body or just a few individuals) but he also expresses the desire to spend time with them face to face. In fact, he would find great joy in being together with fellow believers.
This expresses how it should be in the Christian life. Not fitting into the world we should long to spend time with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We should live in anticipation of that next moment when we can see one another once again . . . and how much greater should our anticipation be of the next moment in which we can see our Lord and Savior.
What is your relationship with your fellow brethren? Is it so that it reflects a complete joy when you are together that is cemented and found only in a bond in Christ? How great would it be if our relationships with one another were reflective of that joy!
(1) Robert W. Yarbrough, 1-3 John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 359.