Does 2 John 1:10 refer to pagans, Protestants, or outright heretics?


I’m just a bit confused as to who this verse is talking about. At first I thought it was talking about heretics, but it doesn’t specify, it only says “those who do not bring this doctrine”, so would that include pagans as well?


Protestants didn’t exist at the time, so it certainly isn’t referencing them. They also believe Jesus came in the flesh, which would also put them at odds with the group John is referencing (2 John 1:7).

Most likely, it is a reference to Gnostics. Both John and his “spiritual grandson” St. Irenaeus, who wrote Against Heresies, seemed particularly interested in refuting Gnostics.


From the classic and ever valuable resource, the Rev. George Leo Haydock Bible Commentary. Accept no modern substitutes!

Ver. 10. Nor say to
him, Hail; or peace be to you, God speed you, all hail; or use
any form of saluting him, as you would a friend, much less receive
or entertain him in your house: this admonition is in general to
forewarn persons of the dangers which may arise from a familiarity
with heretics, and such as teach evil doctrine. But by this is not
forbidden civility, kindness, and a sincere charity for all men, by
which we ought to wish and pray for the eternal salvation of every
one. I translate Ave by peace be to you, because this was the
usual salutation among the Jews, and in those times, as we see Luke
xxiv. and John xx.


If you look back a few verses, you see which heretics he’s referring to:

For many seducers are gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: this is a seducer and an antichrist. [8] Look to yourselves, that you lose not the things which you have wrought: but that you may receive a full reward. [9] Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son. [10] If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you.

St. John was talking about those who denied that Jesus came in the flesh. I believe that was a brand of heresy called Docetism. Lots of gnostic heresies were around when John was writing this letter, and he was warning them to be careful of those who preached these heretical ideas.


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