2 JOHN i. 1, 2. “The elder unto the elect lady and her children,
whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that
have known the truth.”
HOW much is implied very often by the mere phrase or
style with which a letter is begun or ended! So it was in
the apostolic age, and the opening words of St. John’s
letter are full of interest of this kind. He would pour out
his heart to the chosen mother and her children, and he
calls himself simply “the elder,” a name which at once
touches their hearts.
The “elect lady” was a Christian mother whose name
was well known in the Asiatic churches. Mark that this
Epistle is not written to Apostolic Christendom, or some
separate Church, but simply to a mother and her children.
I. The moral atmosphere which surrounded this friend-
ship was sincerity. “Whom I love in the truth.” Not
“truly.” St. John means that truth of thought and feel-
ing, truth of speech and intercourse was the very air in
which his affection for this Christian woman had grown up.
This love between man and man dies outright where there
is on either side a well-grounded suspicion of the taint of
II. St. John loved this lady and her children in truth,
and therefore he did not hesitate to “speak the truth in
love.” There is such a thing as speaking the truth in ill-
nature, not for the benefit of the instructed but for the
gratification of the instructor. The apostle warns them
of dangers, and entreats them to “Take heed, that ye
lose not the things that ye have wrought.”
III. The motive power of this love was the true faith.
“For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be
with us for ever.” “The truth” means here the true faith.
This was the combining link between this lady and St.
John. There are many other links which produce among
men a sense of brotherhood, but they are transient com-
pared to this link. This truth centred in a Person whom
St. John had seen, touched, and handled. “We know the
Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding,
that we may know Him that is true.” Christian friend-
ships are humanly speaking among the strongest preser-
vatives of the Church of Christ.
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.