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Asbury Bible Commentary – II. The Greeting (V. 3)
II. The Greeting (V. 3)

John adopts the threefold greeting used in the Pastoral Epistles. These blessings flow from the Father and the Son of the Father. “Grace and mercy are both expressions of God's love, grace to the guilty and undeserving, mercy to the needy and helpless. Peace is that restoration of harmony with God, others and self which we call ‘salvation.’ Put together, peace indicates the character of salvation, mercy our need of it and grace God's free provision of it in Christ” (Stott, 204). The wording of this statement about Jesus Christ indicates that John has in mind the false teachings that he discounts in vv. 7-11.

Both truth and love are keynotes of this short letter, the former being used five times and the latter four times. These two are important correlatives in Johannine theology. Love without truth is sentimentality, and truth without love is harshness (see Eph 4:15).