*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
That your joy may be full By full joy, he expresses more clearly the complete and perfect happiness which we obtain through the Gospel; at the same time he reminds the faithful where they ought to fix all their affections. True is that saying, "Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also." (Matthew 6:21.) Whosoever, then, really perceives what fellowship with God is, will be satisfied with it alone, and will no more burn with desires for other things. "The Lord is my cup," says David, "and my heritage; the lines have fallen for me on an excellent lot." (Psalm 16:5, 6.) In the same manner does Paul declare that all things were deemed by him as dung, in comparison with Christ alone. (Philippians 3:8.) He, therefore, has at length made a proficiency in the Gospel, who esteems himself happy in having communion with God, and acquiesces in that alone; and thus he prefers it to the whole world, so that he is ready for its sake to relinquish all other things.
And these things write we unto you - These things respecting him who was manifested in the flesh, and respecting the results which flow from that.
That your joy may be full - This is almost the same language which the Saviour used when addressing his disciples as he was about to leave them, John 15:11; and there can be little doubt that John had that declaration in remembrance when he uttered this remark. See the notes at that passage. The sense here is, that full and clear views of the Lord Jesus, and the fellowship with him and with each other, which would follow from that, would be a source of happiness. Their joy would be complete if they had that; for their real happiness was to be found in their Saviour. The best editions of the Greek Testament now read "your joy," instead of the common reading "our joy."
That your joy may be full - Ye have already tasted that the Lord is good; but I am now going to show you the height of your Christian calling, that your happiness may be complete, being thoroughly cleansed from all sin, and filled with the fullness of God.
And these things write we unto you,.... Concerning the deity and eternity of Christ, the Word and concerning the truth of his humanity, and the manifestation of him in the flesh; and concerning that eternal life and salvation which is declared in the Gospel to be in him; and concerning the saints' fellowship one with another, and with God the Father, and with Jesus Christ:
that your joy may be full; meaning either their spiritual joy in this life, which has Christ for its object, and is increased by the consideration of his proper deity, his incarnation and mediation by a view of free justification by his righteousness, and atonement by his blood; by a sight of his glorious person by faith, and by intimate communion with him, and a discovery of his love, which passeth knowledge: and which joy, when it is large, and very great, may, in a comparative sense, be said to be full, though not absolutely so, and being as much as can well be enjoyed in this state; and nothing can more contribute to it than a declaration of the above things in the Gospel, and an experimental acquaintance with them, and enjoyment of them: or else it may intend the joy of the saints in the world to come, in the presence of Christ, where are fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore; and so may express the ultimate glory and happiness of God's people, which is the chief end, as of his purposes, promises, and covenant, so of the Gospel, and the declaration of it. The Syriac version renders it, "that our joy, which is in you, may be full"; it is the joy of the ministers of the word, when the saints are established in the faith of Christ's person and offices, and have communion with him, with which view they declare him, and bear record of him. Some copies read, our joy.
these things--and none other, namely, this whole Epistle.
write we unto you--Some oldest manuscripts omit "unto you," and emphasize "we." Thus the antithesis is between "we" (apostles and eye-witnesses) and "your." We write thus that your joy may be full. Other oldest manuscripts and versions read "OUR joy," namely, that our joy may be filled full by bringing you also into fellowship with the Father and Son. (Compare John 4:36, end; Philippians 2:2, "Fulfil ye my joy," Philippians 2:16; Philippians 4:1; 2-John 1:8). It is possible that "your" may be a correction of transcribers to make this verse harmonize with John 15:11; John 16:24; however, as John often repeats favorite phrases, he may do so here, so "your" may be from himself. So 2-John 1:12, "your" in oldest manuscripts. The authority of manuscripts and versions on both sides here is almost evenly balanced. Christ Himself is the source, object, and center of His people's joy (compare 1-John 1:3, end); it is in fellowship with Him that we have joy, the fruit of faith.
That your joy may be full - So our Lord also, John 15:11; John 16:22. There is a joy of hope, a joy of faith, and a joy of love. Here the joy of faith is directly intended. It is a concise expression. Your joy - That is, your faith and the joy arising from it: but it likewise implies the joy of hope and love.
*More commentary available at chapter level.