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1. The elder (o presbuterov). The word is used originally of seniority in age. So Luke xv. 25. Afterward as a term of rank or office. Applied to members of the Sanhedrim (Matt. xvi. 21; Acts vi. 12). Those who presided over the Christian assemblies or churches (Acts xi. 30; 1 Timothy v. 17, 19). The twenty-four members of the heavenly court in John's vision (Apoc. iv. 4, 10; v. 5, 6, 8, 11, 14). Here, with reference to official position, coupled, presumably, with age.
Unto the elect lady (eklekth kuria). An expression which baffles all the commentators. It is supposed by some that the title describes a person, by others, a society. The views of the former class as to the person designated, are
(1.) That the letter was addressed to a certain Babylonian named Electa.
(2.) To a person named Kyria.
(3.) To Electa Kyria, a compound proper name. Those who regard the phrase as describing a society, divide on the question whether a particular Christian society or the whole Church is intended. It is impossible to settle the question satisfactorily.
Children (teknoiv). May be taken either in a literal or in a spiritual sense. For the later, see 1 Timothy 1, 2; Gal. iv. 25; 3 John 4. Compare also vv. 4, 13. The explanation turns on the meaning of ejklekth kuria. If it mean the Church, children will have the spiritual sense. If it be a proper name, the literal.
Whom (ouv). Comprehensive, embracing the mother and the children of both sexes.
I love (agapw). See on John v. 20.
In the truth (ejn ajlhqeia. Omit the. The expression in truth marks the atmosphere or element of truth in which something is said, or felt, or done. See John xvii. 17. In truth is equivalent to truly, really. Compare Colossians i. 6; John xvii. 19.
That have known (oi egnwkotev). Either have come to know, or as Rev., know. The perfect tense of ginwskw, to learn to know, is rendered as a present: I have learned to know, therefore I know. See on 1 John ii. 3.
Shall be with us (meq hmwn estai). With us has the emphatic position in the sentence: and with us it shall be. Note the change from abideth in to shall be with, and see on John xiv. 16, 17.
3. Grace be with you, mercy and peace (estai meq hmwn cariv eleov eirhnh). The verb is in the future tense: shall be. In the Pauline Epistles the salutations contain no verb. In 1 and 2 Peter and Jude, plhqunqeih be multiplied, is used. Grace (cariv) is of rare occurrence in John's writings (John i. 14, 16, 17; Apoc. i. 4; xxii. 21); and the kindred carizomai to favor, be kind, forgive, and carisma gift, are not found at all. See on Luke i. 30. Mercy (eleov), only here in John. See on Luke i. 50. The pre-Christian definitions of the word include the element of grief experienced on account of the unworthy suffering of another. So Aristotle. The Latin misericordia (miser "wretched," cor "the heart") carries the same idea. So Cicero defines it, the sorrow arising from the wretchedness of another suffering wrongfully. Strictly speaking, the word as applied to God, cannot include either of these elements, since grief cannot be ascribed to Him, and suffering is the legitimate result of sin. The sentiment in God assumes the character of pitying love. Mercy is kindness and goodwill toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them. Trench observes: "In the Divine mind, and in the order of our salvation as conceived therein, the mercy precedes the grace. God so loved the world with a pitying love (herein was the mercy), that He gave His only-begotten Son (herein the grace), that the world through Him might be saved. But in the order of the manifestation of God's purposes of salvation, the grace must go before the mercy and make way for it. It is true that the same persons are the subjects of both, being at once the guilty and the miserable; yet the righteousness of God, which it is quite as necessary should be maintained as His love, demands that the guilt should be done away before the misery can be assuaged; only the forgiven may be blessed. He must pardon before He can heal.... From this it follows that in each of the apostolic salutations where these words occur, grace precedes mercy" ("Synonyms of the New Testament").
With you. The best texts read with us.
From God - from Jesus Christ (para Qeou - para Ihsou Cristou). Note the repeated preposition, bringing out the twofold relation to the Father and Son. In the Pauline salutations ajpo from, is invariably used with God, and never repeated with Jesus Christ. On the use of para from, see on John vi. 46; 1 John i. 5.
4. I rejoiced. Expressions of thankful joy are common in the Pauline salutations. See Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon.
Greatly (lian). The word is found in John's writings only here and 3 John 3.
I found (eurhka). See on John i. 41. Rev., I have found.
Of thy children (ek twn teknwn). The rendering is obscure. Rev., rightly, supplies certain. Compare John xvi. 17.
In truth (en alhqeia). Compare 3 John 3. See on 1 John i. 8.
5. New (kainhn). See on Matt. xxvi. 29.
We had (eicamen). The apostle identifies himself with his readers.
6. Love (h agaph). The love just mentioned in the verb we love. That (ina). See on John xv. 13.
After His commandments (kata tav entolav autou). For walk, with kata after, according to, see Mark vii. 5; Rom. viii. 4; xiv. 15; 1 Corinthians iii. 3; 2 Cor. x. 2. Very often with ejn in. See John viii. 12; xi. 9, 10; 2 Corinthians iv. 2; 1 John i. 7, 11. Both constructions are found 2 Corinthians x. 2, 3.
From the beginning (ap archv). See on John i. 1.
In it (en auth). In love: not the commandment.
7. Deceivers (planoi). See on we deceive ourselves, 1 John i. 8. Are entered into (exhlqan eiv). Rev., are gone forth into. The A.V. follows the reading eijshlqon entered into. The tense is the aorist, strictly rendered, went forth. It may indicate a particular crisis, at which they went forth from the Christian society.
Who confess not (oi mh omologountev). The article with the participle describes the character of this class of deceivers, and does not merely assert a definite fact concerning them. Compare Mark xv. 41, "other women which came up with Him" (ai sunsnsbasai). Confess. See on Matt. vii. 23; x. 32.
Is come (ercomenon). Wrong. The verb is in the present participle, coming, which describes the manhood of Christ as still being manifested. See on 1 John iii. 5. In 1 John iv. 2 we have the manifestation treated as a past fact by the perfect tense, ejlhluqo.ta has come. Rev., that Jesus Christ cometh. So in 1 Thess. i. 10, thv ojrghv thv ejrcomenhv is the wrath which is coming; which has already begun its movement and is advancing: not merely, as A.V., the wrath to come, which makes it wholly a future event. See on lingereth, 2 Pet. ii. 3.
An antichrist (o anticristov) Rev, rendering the definite article, the antichrist. See on 1 John ii. 18.
8. Look to yourselves that (blepete eautouv ina). %Ina in order that, marks the intent of the caution. See on John xv. 13.
We lose (apoleswmen). The best texts read ajpoleshte, ye lose. So Rev, with destroy in margin. For the meanings of the verb see on Luke ix. 25. We receive (apolabwmen). The best texts read ajpolabhte ye receive. The compounded preposition ajpo, has the force of back: receive back from God.
9. Whosoever transgresseth (pav o parabainwn). The best texts read proagwn goeth onward. So Rev., with taketh the lead in margin. The meaning is, whosoever advances beyond the limits of Christian doctrine. Others explain of those who would set themselves up as teachers, or take the lead. Such false progress is contrasted with abiding in the teaching. On the construction, pav every one, with the article and participle, see on 1 John iii. 3.
Abideth - in (menwn en). See on 1 John ii. 6.
Doctrine (didach). Better, as Rev., teaching.
Of Christ. Not the teaching concerning Christ, but the teaching of Christ Himself and of His apostles. See Heb. ii. 3. So according to New Testament usage. See John xviii. 19; Acts ii. 12; Apoc. ii. 14, 15. In the doctrine of Christ. Omit of Christ. Didach teaching, is used thus absolutely, Rom. xvi. 17; Tit. i. 9.
10. If there come any (ei tiv ercetai). Better, Rev., if anyone cometh. The indicative mood assumes the fact: if anyone comes, as there are those that come. Cometh is used in an official sense as of a teacher. See on 1 John iii. 5.
Neither bid him God speed (kai cairein autw mh legete). Lit., and say not unto him "greeting!" Cairein rejoice, hail, was the customary form of salutation. It was also used in bidding farewell; but in the New Testament always of greeting (Acts xv. 23; xxiii. 26; Jas. i. 1). 70 "Now whoever cometh and teacheth you all these things, before spoken, receive him; but if the teacher himself turn aside and teach another teaching, so as to overthrow this, do not hear him" ("Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," ch. 11. See on Matt. x. 10).
11. Is partaker (koinwnei). The verb occurs nowhere else in John's writings. The kindred noun koinwnia fellowship, is peculiar to the First Epistle. See on 1 John i. 3; also on partners (Luke v. 10); fellowship (Acts ii. 42); partaker (1 Pet. v. 1.).
Paper (cartou). Only here in the New Testament. The Egyptian papyrus or byblus, Cyperus papyrus, anciently very common, but not now found within the limits of the country. It is a tall, smooth flag or reed, with a large triangular stalk, containing the pith which furnished the paper. The paper was manufactured by cutting the pith into strips, arranging them horizontally, and then placing across them another layer of strips, uniting the two layers by a paste, and subjecting the whole to a heavy pressure. The upper and middle portions of the reed were used for this purpose. The fact that the plant is no longer found is significant in connection with Isaiah's prophecy that "the flags (Hebrews suph, papyrus) shall waste away" (Isa. xix. 6). The plant grew in shallow water or in marshes, and is accordingly represented on the monuments as at the side of a stream or in irrigated lands. 71 The Jews wrote on various materials, such as the leaves of the olive and palm, the rind of the pomegranate, and the skins of animals. The tablet (pinakidion, Luke i. 63) was in very common use. It consisted of thin pieces of wood, strung together, and either plain, or covered with papyrus or with wax.
Ink (melanov). Lit., that which is black. The word occurs only once outside of John's Epistles (2 Cor. iii. 3), and only three times in all (2 John 12; 3 John 13). Ink was prepared of soot or of vegetable or mineral substances. Gum and vitriol were also used. Colored inks, red and gold, were also employed. 72 To come unto you (genesqai prov umav). Or, to be present with you. For the phrase, see 1 Cor. ii. 3; xvi. 10.