Fellowship in the Truth
Churches and their members must walk in the truth and watch out for falsehood.
The author identifies himself simply as “the elder.” Several Christian writers of the second and third century ascribe the letter to the apostle John. Similarities in vocabulary to 1 John supports his authorship. He would likely have written the letter later in life, perhaps around 90 AD.
Literary Structure and Content
I. Opening Statement: The apostle John writes a personal letter to a church and its members whom he loves in
truth, with others who know the truth, for the sake of the truth; and extends a benediction of grace, mercy,
and peace from both the Father and His Son which come in truth and love (1-3).
John addresses the letter to “the chosen lady and her children.” This is a metaphorical way of saying “the church and its members.” There is an emphasis on “truth” in John’s greeting. He refers to “truth” four times in the greeting. We are to believe the truth. We are to walk in the truth. We are to keep to the truth.
II. Walking in the Truth: We walk in the truth by loving each other and living according to God’s commandments (4-6).
A. Churches who walk in the truth bring joy to those who lead (4).
B. We walk in the truth by loving each other according to God’s commandment (5).
C. Living according to God’s commandment is love (6).
III. Watching out for Falsehood: We watch out for falsehood by holding on to apostolic teaching, by abiding in
the teaching of Christ, and by rejecting false teachers (7-11).
A. There are many deceivers in the world who reject the incarnation of Christ in keeping with the spirit of
B. We are watch out for ourselves that we do not wander from apostolic teaching, that we may receive a
full reward (8).
The truth guards us from falsehood. Deceivers seek to draw us away from the truth. Keeping to the truth insures a full reward. Do not leave the truth. Do not add to the truth.
C. We are to abide in the teaching of Christ (9).
D. We are to reject false teachers and not even affirm them with a greeting (10-11).
IV. Closing Statement: The apostle John has much more to write but desires the joy of coming and speaking in
person; and extends the greetings of the church from which he is writing (12-13).
Theological Reflection and Application
Local churches and the believers in them are to know the truth and live the truth. There are those who will seek to lead churches and believers away from the truth. We are to protect the church against those who distort the truth by not welcoming them into fellowship. The truth specifically centers on the person, teaching and sacrifice of Christ.