Introduction: 2,3 John are very short letters, written in the same Johannine community that produced the Gospel of John and 1 John. They were probably written by the same author as 1 John. Jude is a letter that claims to be by Jude, the brother of James (and Jesus), but it likely dates to the end of the first century, since it refers to the apostolic age as something in the past.
2 John: The elder to the church: I was overjoyed to find so many of you walking in the truth and loving one another. However, many deceivers say Jesus never came in the flesh; they are antichrists! Guard against them, and do not welcome these people into your house.
3 John: The elder to the beloved Gaius: I was overjoyed of your faithfulness to the truth. Please help my friends, even though they are strangers, and support them in their missionary work. Diotrephes does not acknowledge our authority and refuses to help us, even expelling those in his church who do so.
Jude: Certain intruders haven stolen in among you, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny Jesus. Remember that the Lord, once he saved his people from Egypt, destroyed those who did not believe. Even disobedient angels were cast down in chains to wait for the judgment of the great day; Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. These intruders also reject authority and slander the angels; even the archangel Michael did not slander the devil! Enoch prophesied about these people: “the Lord is coming […] to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way” (1 Enoch 1.9). You, beloved, must stay away from these people and build yourselves up on your most holy faith.
- It seems that Diotrephes is returning the favor: just as the elder refuses to extend hospitality to the deceivers in 2 John, Diotrephes refuses to extend hospitality to the elder’s envoys.
- Jude relies heavily on the Book of Enoch, which is no longer considered scripture by either Christians or Jews. The disobedient angels, described in Gen 6:1-4, are the sons of God who had sex with human women; they are described more extensively in 1 Enoch 6-16. The intruders are compared to “wandering stars” (v13) because in Enoch, the “wandering stars” (planets) were said to be disobedient angels. The encounter between Michael and Satan is from extrabiblical Jewish tradition. When Michael was about to bury the body of Satan, Satan accused Moses of being a murderer; Michael answered with “May the Lord rebuke you” (notably without rebuking Satan himself).