Noting that the pronouns translated “your” in verse 4 and “you” in verse 5 are singular, we deduce that John was writing primarily to the lady, but what he wrote was meant to be shared with the church that she led. Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: The Elect Lady—2 John ← Back to Mary Elizabeth Baxter's Bio & Resources. Israel is portrayed as a woman— the sometimes unfaithful wife of Yahweh. John refers to this lady’s “chosen sister” at the end of this letter (2 Jn 13), which may be code for a greeting from the children of another woman, or members of another church or group of churches. You will need to register to be able to join in fellowship with Christians all over the world.. We hope to see you as a part of our community soon and God Bless! Perhaps she was the wife or daughter of a Roman official (compare Philippians 4:22 where Paul sends greetings from the saints who are of Caesar’s household). Do I want the blog to fail? Perhaps God did not call her to a place of public ministry until later in life. Everything in 2 John is found in fuller form in 1 John. John is writing to a woman who has some kind of leadership, possibly pastoral leadership, over a local congregation. John is writing a personal letter to a lady and her family. Hal, Who is the ‘elect lady and her children’ addressed in 2 John? (Yes. She was well-known among the churches to which 1 John was written. As she led in the church, all these people were in her care. The fact that she was receiving direct correspondence and instruction from John the apostle is quite significant. Simply looking at how the language of lady and children is used in verse 1 (which is used again in verse 4), a metaphor for an entire church seems odd to me. In 2 John, most scholars agree from biblical evidence that “the elder” was the apostle John. It is also the word used for a master over a slave or servant (for example, Luke 12:42). While English does not distinguish between you (singular) and you (plural)—except in my native deep South where we have the singular “you,” the plural “y’all,” and the emphatic plural “all of y’all”—if we examine personal letters we have written and received, we would find places where the writer was addressing only the individual recipient and also places where the writer was addressing the whole family. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. I think this is plausible, but some of the questions that arise create new problems. 1. This is in accord with II John 1, 13. Jude, the shortest letter that was clearly written to a church, is twice the length of 2 or 3 John. There is no doubt that a reference to children in 3 John 4 is of John calling the members of Gaius’ church spiritual children, and there is no doubt that 3 John is written to a church congregation. Certainly, “the beloved Gaius” is 3 John 1 is not thought to be a metaphor; I highly doubt anyone would be treating the addressee as a metaphor for the church if it were written to “the chosen father” or a “chosen man”. Israel and the church are often portrayed metaphorically as a woman. To take the “chosen lady” as a symbolic name for a church, we would have to ignore vv. John enjoyed a collegial relationship with both Gaius and the chosen lady, based upon a shared commitment to Jesus Christ and the truth that is in him. The doctrinal content is so brief that it seems to assume the reader’s familiarity with 1 John. It could mean that the people respected him as amature man. Some of the elect lady’s children may have been her sons and daughters and/or people she had personally led to the Lord. The Second Epistle of John, often referred to as Second John and often written 2 John or II John, is a book of the New Testament attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the other two epistles of John, and the Gospel of John (though this is disputed). Philip’s four daughters, who were single women, were ministers of the Gospel in New Testament times. John was expressing his love for the chosen lady as a colleague in ministry. Similarly with various references to people in the New Testament: In Acts 16, we read of the jailer at Philippi who was converted. A. T. Robertson, citing the reference in 1 Corinthians 9:5 to Peter’s wife who traveled with him, made the plausible suggestion that the woman “in Babylon” may have been Peter’s wife.3 Robertson tends to interpret the text literally unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. The bearer may have been an emissary of John’s church or the chosen lady’s church. It makes sense that he would refer to those led by his colleagues (the chosen lady and her chosen sister) as their children. It appears that this is a personification of a church and not a literal lady. She argues that it is inconsistent with John’s use of terminology for both terms to refer to a church.8 John would not have used competing metaphors in a letter that is only half a page long! “In truth,” as the expression is used in 2 and 3 John, is precisely equivalent to the Pauline expressions “in Christ” and “in the Lord.” Smalley’s argument is the weakest of any offered in support of the metaphorical view. If you are not paying close attention, you might miss a surprising detail at the very start of the letter, the address from the author to the recipient of the letter. Kuria, which occurs twice in 2 John and no where else in the New Testament, is a feminine form of the Greek word kurios. That word is generally translated as “lord”, or “master”, and yes, that is the Greek word used when Jesus is referred to as “Lord”. The verb has, perhaps, a tinge of peremptoriness about it ἐρωτῶ: "This is a request which I have a right to make." We may reasonably suppose that St. John is here reminding her of the contents of his First Epistle. And I’ll state up front that I left this reference out of my study on the leadership roles of women in the Bible, because I don’t think we can be as conclusive and certain on the identity of this woman as with the others I listed in that post. Have we not all received and written personal letters that were addressed primarily to one member of the household but meant to be shared with the whole family? John calls the lady in 2 John “the elect” because she believed in Jesus Christ and was therefore saved; she was a member of the universal Church. Some interpreters see the lady not as an individual but as a symbol of the church as a whole or of a local body of believers. First of all, the Greek words are eklecte kuria, which we will examine in a bit. It was a way of expressing the hope that the same God who brought down the oppressive power of Babylon long ago would also bring down the oppressive power of Rome. In 1 and 3 John, we have good precedent for a church leader addressing those in his care as his children. Metaphors abound in Scripture, but common sense and context usually tell us if the writer is speaking metaphorically. Help CBE spread the message that #Godvalueswomen. In the context of 2 John, the word probably denotes a woman who was in a place of authority or leadership. The context suggests that "the elect lady" is not a single person but a group of people. The Babylonian empire was long gone by the time 1 Peter was written. 2 John. Certainly, there were people still living in Philippi who knew him by name, but Luke does not tell us that name. This is supported by 1 Timothy 3:13, which implies that overseers were chosen from among those who had served well as deacons. Like letters from the attic of the old family home, our New Testament letters mention many people of whom we know little or nothing. Why would the term be used differently in 2 John? If the church met in her home, she would have been the one to say who was or was not welcome there. Before the Industrial Revolution, nearly all industry was cottage industry and nearly all women’s work included much more than caring for children and keeping house. Most of the published commentaries on John’s letters interpret the chosen lady of 2 John as a metaphor for a church rather than as a literal woman. It seems more reasonable to think that the term “chosen lady” served to identify this woman as well as her actual name, in the same way that a Cyprian Levite name Joseph became better known to the apostles and to us as Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”, Acts 4:36). Life is often described as a journey. All of the language seems to resemble a letter written to a church congregation (with 1 and 3 John providing clear parallels) rather than just a family, and so the most literal reading of option one is unlikely. In a non-technical context, it would be translated “shepherd.” (The translation “pastor” is simply the substitution of a Latin word for a Greek word.) No one denies that Scripture often uses feminine metaphors for Israel and the church, but that does not necessarily mean that the woman of 2 John should be interpreted metaphorically Scripture is also full of references to literal women, and the literal women greatly outnumber the metaphorical ones! But the writer was an *elder overall the churches in a large area.Much of this letter is like John’s first letter. THE ELECT LADY (2 John 1:1-3)1:1-3 The Elder to the Elect Lady and to her children, whom I love in truth (it is not only I who love you and them, but so do all who love the truth) because of the truth which abides in us and which will be with us for ever. 9-11 of 2 John. Before 1936 few English-speaking scholars doubted the traditional view that the author of the three letters ascribed to John were written by the same man who authored the Fourth Gospel. The church’s responsibility to exclude false teachers was primarily her personal responsibility. Since the letter is addressed to “a” (no article in the Greek text) chosen lady and her children, this poses no difficulty. Everybody’s responsibility ends up being nobody’s responsibility. John was sending the letter to a woman who was a shepherd of a congregation, and the letter was also intended to be read to the entire congregation, as was conventional with apostolic letters. The chosen lady may have been a widow. Her public ministry may have been a long-deferred desire of her heart. It sounds very much like a position of church authority in line with prophet, pastor, or at the very least, the homeowner of the church (as was Philemon) but with a significant role in discipling, teaching, and mentoring church members. A third argument for taking the chosen lady as a metaphor for a church is that Israel and the church are frequently portrayed with feminine metaphors. Thank you for taking the time to look and ponder this verse. Paul uses it in that sense in Ephesians 6. The internal evidence of 2 John clearly supports a collective reference, however. She was a gracious and loving person. Tip: to find an exact phrase or title, enclose it in quotation marks. John tells the chosen lady and her children to judge between true and false doctrine and to exclude those who try to bring in false teaching. 1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; 2 For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. 2. In fact, the only reason why there is any debate, in my mind, is because the lady’s proper name isn’t given, for which there can be any number of plausible guesses. This would be someone (or some group) who would know that John was the "Elder.") However, it does make great sense for John to write “something to the church” (3 John 9, most likely a reference to the letter we know as 1 John) and then to send along at the same time or shortly thereafter two personal notes (2 and 3 John) to encourage embattled church leaders who were guiding the church through the stormy waters of doctrinal confusion. We have no known example in the New Testament or in early Christian literature of the term kuria being used in a clearly metaphorical sense. Then, as now, most women give birth to children at some time in their lives. Some also argue that the use of “chosen lady” instead of a personal name may just as well indicate John’s concern for the safety of an individual as his concern for the safety of a church. Here are some important posts to understand my blog. John wrote to "the chosen lady." And so unlike 3 John, in which Gaius is addressed directly, it is not likely that there was a woman named Electa or Kuria; neither were at all common in the ancient world. Sign up for our newsletter to receive our most up-to-date news, articles, and information. The language simply doesn’t point in that direction. 1969) professes: In II John 1:1, the Elder addresses his letter to “the Elect Lady and her children,” which interpreters generally understand to be a symbolic reference to a … The chosen lady, like Lydia in Acts 16, probably worked hard in some cottage industry. For example, would a house church have different sets of spiritual “children” under the same roof (some are Gaius’ children, some are the elect lady’s, etc.)? In v. 6 the addressee is mentioned using second … 2 John 1 The elder, To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth— because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: Read verse in New International Version In my time as a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Dale Moody often exhorted us to “Remember that the Bible often sheds considerable light on the commentaries!” Yet all too often commentators follow the interpretations of previous commentators, like sheep following the sheep in front of them right over a cliff. When we read the letters that make up the greater part of our New Testament, we are reading someone else’s mail. THE ELECT LADY. In other words, all three letters may have gone to the same church, and 2 & 3 may have gone to specific embattled church leaders as encouragement. If this chosen lady is given such a significant title, is the addressee of a letter from the apostle John written to a church with instructions on both doctrine and church fellowship, and she has spiritual “children” under her care, what roles could this possibly sound like? There is one little reference in the New Testament that often goes overlooked in the discussion about women in ministry, and women in the Bible. In Galatians 4:1, Paul uses kurios to speak of someone who is not under the authority of a guardian or trustee. Then, in Romans 16, Paul sends greeting to Rufus and his mother. The original recipient knew to whom the writer was referring, but you have no idea. 2 John 1:5. There is no more reason to make the “chosen lady” into a church than there is to make the “beloved comrade” into a church. In John’s theology, to know the truth is to know Jesus and to know Jesus is to know the truth. In those days when Christians were being persecuted such coded salutations were often used. And so the third option for interpretation would threaten some strongly-held beliefs about the roles of women in the church. (John also wrote Revelation in which he refers (Revelation 12:1)to the … These letters might mention the names of many people well-known to both the writer and the recipient but unknown to you. We have other examples to show that early Christians often referred to Rome as “Babylon.” Thus, we can safely conclude mat “Babylon” means Rome in 1 Peter 5:13. No evidence suggests that the recipients of 2 John would have understood the term metaphorically. 2 John chapter 1 KJV (King James Version) 1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;. We will probably not know this side of heaven. The Lady and Her Children; Read 2 John 1:1-2. I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth—as does everyone else who knows the truth—because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever. The unanswered question we are left with is, Why was the chosen lady of 2 John not identified by her proper name, but Gaius is named in 3 John? 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. I beseech thee, lady. There is clear evidence within the New Testament and mounting evidence from other sources that women served alongside men in prominent places of leadership in the early church. There was no public mail service, so John would have entrusted this letter to someone he knew who was going to the city where the recipients were located. I believe this is the strongest objection to the metaphorical view. Thank you for chiming in, Phyllis! Interesting. Verses 1-13. Your voice is missing! Naturally, the reading of option 3 would lead to the unpopular conclusion that a woman had an authoritative position in a local church, so much so that other members of the congregation were called her spiritual children. 53 Then each of them went home, 1 while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. The passage. Scripture portrays Jerusalem as the mother of Israel, an image that is reflected in Galatians and Revelation. "The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth," Burdick takes this view.7 When my wife and I adopted our daughters, somebody gave us a list of definitions for adoptive families—“natural children” are defined as “children who were not created in a laboratory by a mad (or even slightly unhappy) scientist.” Our girls are our “natural children.” But in addition, some of the elect lady’s children probably were her spiritual offspring, people she had personally led to faith in Jesus Christ. 3 Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. uncritically assumes that the chosen lady and her chosen sister (2 John 13) should be taken as metaphors for churches. 2 John is being written to warn a “sister” congregation some distance away of the missionary efforts of the secessionist false teachers, and the dangers of wel… Sarah, Perpetua, Rhoda, Thecla, and the “ladies” mentioned in the Septuagint, were high-status women; some were in charge of their own households. The respectful tide kuria indicates, at the very least, the high regard accorded her by John and the Christian community This usage in 2 John may suggest that the title kuria was used the same way the term “Mother” is used in African-American churches today, as a tide of respect for a godly older woman whose good influence extends far beyond her immediate family. Paul calls Euodia and Syntyche his “fellow-workers”—the same term he elsewhere applies to Timothy—and says that they “shared his struggle in the Gospel.” Karen Jo Torjesen cites evidence that we have from the post-apostolic age: A Mosaic in the Basilica of Sts. For example, the use of … Significantly, he takes both the woman “in Babylon” and the chosen lady of 2 John to be actual women. If the lady and her children were all one collective metaphor for the church, why bother with the distinction at all? And lastly, why would there be so much overlap in content if the chosen lady and Gaius also read 1 John? It makes no sense for John to have written this letter to a church that had already read 1 John. The views presented by one influential commentator are often unquestioningly adopted by succeeding commentaries. It could meanthat the person was old. Secondly, commentators point out that most of the pronouns referring to the recipients of the letter are plural. I totally agree and it’s gotten clearer and clearer to me the more I’ve sat with this text. Other examples abound in early Christian writings. It is also possible that she was single (although in the first century AD it is less likely that a single woman would have been the head of a household). **11/25/20 update; after several years of continuing to study the issues related to 2 John and this mysterious “elect lady”, I would probably take back my previous statement about not being conclusive about this person’s identity. John called those whom he led his children. There is no reason not to take the woman “who is in Babylon” to be an actual woman, a leader or prominent member of the church at Rome who was well-known to the recipients of 1 Peter. Clearly, kuria is not a rare or obscure word. Jesus never despised the little children; He took them up in His arms and blessed them, saying, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." Most of the published commentaries on John’s letters interpret the chosen lady of 2 John as a metaphor for a church rather than as a literal woman. Gifts of Stock, Mutual Funds, and Retirement Accounts, CBE International’s Favorite Books of 2020, From My Point of View: Meditation on Luke 7:36-50, How Faith Mission Pioneers Understood Women’s Roles, Sign Up to Get CBE’s Academic Journal Online, O’day, Gail R., “1, 2, and 3 John” in, Smalley, Steven S. “1, 2, and 3 John” in. Perhaps your 90-year-old aunt could tell you about some of them, but you never would be able to identify some of the people mentioned in those old letters. The word is kuria, the feminine form of kurios, a common New Testament word translated “Lord” or “master.” The masculine form kurios is used to denote the head of a household or the master of a slave. Here in this little letter is all the Bible tells us about the chosen lady: John had the highest regard for her as a colleague in ministry. The word translated “Lady” occurs nowhere in the New Testament outside of 2 John. It would not have been out of place for John—while writing the letter specifically to Mary—to have addressed the church as a very special lady. That is one of the requirements for the ministering women in 1 Timothy 3:11, that they be faithful in all things. Why is LIMPING the theme of my blog? The Apostle John, like his Master, came down to the weak and feeble. When John wrote that five kings had fallen and that one existed, he was describing the Roman Empire. It seems to me that many have bias of females leading in ministry. 2 John 1 reads: To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth,”, Back up. Well, in this case, kuria and all of the pronouns used in reference to the letter’s recipient are singular, and all of the references to children are indeed plural. A church would have to be called either “chosen lady” or “children” not both. The letter, presumably written by the same John (the elder) who wrote 1 John and 3 John, addressed to someone called the chosen (or “elect”) lady and her children. Paul clearly teaches us in 1 Timothy 5:1-2 that men and women can work together as colleagues in ministry without any hint of impropriety. Paul used the same word in Romans 16 to describe Rufus as a “choice man in die Lord.” Jesus used this word when he said, “Many are called but few are chosen.” In Colossians 3:12, this word is used to describe believers as “those who have been chosen by God.” It can be used in the sense of “respected” or “honorable.” Here in 2 John, the word probably should be taken in the sense of “elect” or “chosen.” Certainly, she was chosen in the Ephesians 1 sense of being “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world,” but she was also chosen in the sense of having been either appointed by the apostle John or chosen by the church to a place of leadership. The identity of the “children” in 1 John and 3 John is obvious. While we do not have a flow chart showing the organizational structure of first century churches (which probably varied somewhat depending on the place and whether the church was predominately Jewish or Gentile), we should probably take “pastor/shepherd” as an umbrella term including both overseers and deacons. **11/25/20 update; after several years of continuing to study the issues related to 2 John and this mysterious “elect lady”, I would probably take back my previous statement about not being conclusive about this person’s identity. Presumably the Christian community to which he wrote knew who he was. 1 a The elder to the elect lady and her children, b whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who c know d the truth, 2 e because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: 3 f Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in … Was the author trying to make some kind of a hidden point to the church about her authority? 1 The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; 2 For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. At the start of the letter, the writer calls himself the‘*elder’. Of course, some of the children of the elect lady may have been her natural children. But I believe that the evidence of those other women makes the case that it was normative for women to have authoritative roles in the early church, and strengthens the case I will make today. Brief Summary: The Book of 2 John is addressed to "the chosen lady and her children." We do not know, but we may be sure that she struggled to balance public ministry with many other responsibilities, just as female and male ministers do today. 1 The elder, a All of her children may have been grown, giving her more time and energy to devote to public ministry than she had when her children were younger. Had the letter fallen into hostile hands, they would have had no idea who the chosen lady was, regardless of whether the chosen lady was an individual or a church. See? 2 John Greeting. They had a duty to learn, but somebody had to teach them. That being said, I think it is an interesting question to ask just how 1, 2, and 3 John are related. I see at least seven reasons supporting the position that the “chosen lady” should be understood as a designation for an actual woman who was a leader in the church, rather than as a metaphor for the church. My reasoning for this is that the use of 2nd person pronouns (“you”) in the text, shifting between singular (addressing the elect lady herself) and plural (addressing the entire congregation), leaves me with virtually no other logical conclusion. A parallel to the “chosen lady” designation occurs in 1 Peter 5:13, “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son Mark.” This is the strongest argument in favor of the metaphorical view, but it is not strong enough to prove the case. John and 3 John, the word translated “pastor” is poimen a householder Babylonian Empire was gone. Was referring, but many others have followed, she would have to a. The identity of the end certainly indicates she was well-known among the to! 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