Introduction to II John
The one chapter epistle of II John was written, of course, by the Apostle John, who also wrote I John and III John, as well as the gospel of John and Revelation (see the introductions to these books). It was written probably from Ephesus sometime in the decade from A.D. 85 to 95.
This epistle is addressed by “the elder” to “the elect lady.” The word “elder” (Greek presbuteros can refer either to a pastor of a church or to an elderly person. In connection with the Ephesian church, John was both, but the nature of this letter suggests he was probably using the term in the latter sense in this case.
Commentators have differed over whether the phrase “elect lady and her children” (II John 1) refers to an actual family, or is a metaphor for a local church to which John had ministered, with its members. Though this is a matter of opinion, the over-all message of the epistle might seem more appropriate for a church than for a family. Perhaps it could apply to either one, and John intentionally left it open, so that it could be used for either purpose, as appropriate. The warnings and admonitions of John are important to heed for families, but even more so for churches. The closing greeting from “the children of thy elect sister” (II John 13) would be perhaps more appropriate as coming from a sister church, but again it could be interpreted either way. It is the message that is important. Do not encourage any who would pervert the true doctrine of Christ by allowing them to teach their anti-Christian doctrines and practices either in one’s home or church (II John 7-11).