There is one major distinction between this letter and John’s first letter. 1 John is not addressed to a specific audience, while this letter is written from “the Elder, to the elect lady and her children…” (v.1). Even though this does not provide much detailed information about the recipients of this letter, it does reveal that John was writing to a woman and her children whom he knew well. From the words of the letter the reader can assume that the female recipient was a follower of Christ whom John wanted to warn about the deceitfulness of the false teachers. According to vv. 10-11, it appears that these false teachers had come into the community where this woman lived and were attempting to reside with believers; in other words, they were trying to take advantage of Christian hospitality. The woman to whom John addresses this letter may have opened her home to these evil teachers, so he was writing to provide instructions about the conditions upon which to extend kindness to others.
Some may read this letter and think that John’s words are harsh, especially since he has already written about the necessity of loving others; however, when a person or group of people are seeking to deceive believers, different actions apply. It is important that believers distance themselves from those who claim to represent God but, in reality, are trying to lead them away from the truth.
Dear God, provide understanding for this brief letter John has written and may I be careful to heed every word.