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. 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. Presumably the Christian community to which he wrote knew who he was. 2 John is short enough to fit on one side of a sheet of parchment—typical of the length of many Greek personal letters that exist from the New Testament period. Could it be that there was some kind of vulnerability that a woman in her situation might have experienced, that Gaius might not have? 1 The elder, a When was the last time you hear a sermon, or even a quote, from 2 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. Israel and the church are often portrayed metaphorically as a woman. Ultimately, in the New Testament, “the Lord” functions as the equivalent of the Hebrew word Adoniah, as a designation for Jesus Christ. 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? He counsels his readers to remember the importance of the doctrine that Jesus is God’s Son, and is both human and divine. Faith is often characterized as a walk. It could meanthat the person was old. Greek scholar Henry Dana used to prescribe a good rule to his students: “When the plain sense of the text makes common sense, seek no other sense.”, 3. The word translated “chosen” is a common New Testament word—our English word “elect” comes from it. 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. “Amen… and a-woman!”, I just watched both seasons of The Mandalorian…. We will probably not know this side of heaven. However, I believe we can know some things about her if we continue to examine the biblical evidence. John called those whom he led his children. Romans 16:7, the only place they are mentioned, is the kind of reference that makes us wish we knew more. ** (see note at bottom of post). Why would the term be used differently in 2 John? Aida Besancon Spencer, in her book Beyond the Curse, cites Clement of Alexandria in the second century AD who clearly used the word to denote persons ordained to places of public ministry.1. The chosen lady may have been a widow. This argument is unconvincing. The passage. If the lady and her children were all one collective metaphor for the church, why bother with the distinction at all? We may reasonably suppose that St. John is here reminding her of the contents of his First Epistle. (Rensberger, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)) George L. Parsenios (b. 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! This is in accord with II John 1, 13. John’s second letter warned the churches against false teachers. She was well-known among the churches to which 1 John was written. This is clear from 2 John 2, which speaks of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever, an obvious allusion to the promises of Jesus concerning the Holy Spirit as recorded in John 14. “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. Why would John write this letter to a church? Of course, some of the children of the elect lady may have been her natural children. 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.)? 2. She was probably a parent. 2 John. 5. Israel is portrayed as a woman— the sometimes unfaithful wife of Yahweh. That is all we know about her, but that is enough to uphold her as a worthy model for a church leader and as a biblical example of a Christian woman who engaged in public ministry that included teaching and preaching the word of God. John wrote to "the chosen lady." 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. Similarly with various references to people in the New Testament: In Acts 16, we read of the jailer at Philippi who was converted. 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. The term kuria, which implies that she was the head of a household, and the absence of any reference to her husband suggest that she was widowed. I believe this is the strongest objection to the metaphorical view. 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. I think this is plausible, but some of the questions that arise create new problems. 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. It could mean that the people respected him as amature man. Jesus never despised the little children; He took them up in His arms and blessed them, saying, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." 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. 2 John. (My grandmother Bailey had a bunch of those! 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 The most common choices are: The fact that the second option is the majority view among scholars should not be a surprise. Your voice is missing! The word translated “Lady” occurs nowhere in the New Testament outside of 2 John. When the Christian movement faced persecution by the Romans, we know that “Babylon” became a Christian code name for Rome. The internal evidence of 2 John clearly supports a collective reference, however. Thank you! As a general letter to a church, 2 John is redundant. Just how important might she have been? Life is often described as a journey. They are on my growing list of people to look up when I get to heaven! And after all, many of the pronouns used in the letter addressed to a chosen lady are, in fact, plural. The wording differs little from the address of 3 John “to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.” Smalley notes nothing unusual about John’s description of Gaius as one “Whom I love in the truth,” He views it as a rather conventional greeting in his comments on 3 John 1,5 which is precisely what it is. © 2020 CBE International - All rights reserved. Secondly, commentators point out that most of the pronouns referring to the recipients of the letter are plural. The Lady and Her Children; Read 2 John 1:1-2. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. He may well have been alive when Acts was written. The identity of the “children” in 1 John and 3 John is obvious. 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. John had been transported in vision to a time near the time of the end. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 192) [Miscellanies, 2.66], implies his knowledge of other Epistles of John besides the First Epistle; and in fragments of his Adumbrations [p. 1011], he says, "John's Second Epistle which was written to the virgins (Greek, "parthenous"; perhaps Parthos is what was meant) is the simplest; but it was written to a certain Babylonian named the Elect lady." 2 John 1:1-13 This letter is from John, the elder. The Apostle John, like his Master, came down to the weak and feeble. In 1 and 3 John, we have good precedent for a church leader addressing those in his care as his children. This is not a metaphor but should be read instead as actual to not minimize the legitimate meaning of the Scripture. It seems to me that it is far more likely that there was an actual lady in some kind of leadership in this church, and the members looked to her as a spiritual parent… which often signified an authoritative, even pastoral, role (see the Apostle Paul calling Onesimus his child in the letter to Philemon). The lady greeted in 2 John is also, most likely, a high-status woman and a householder. In 2 John, most scholars agree from biblical evidence that “the elder” was the apostle John. 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. It makes sense that he would refer to those led by his colleagues (the chosen lady and her chosen sister) as their children. It could be argued that this is a similar metaphor to calling the church the bride of Christ (as in Ephesians 5:22). The Babylonian empire was long gone by the time 1 Peter was written. We do not know the identity of the “beloved comrade” Paul addresses in Philippians 4:3, but no one suggests that he is a metaphor for a church! 2 John 1:5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as writing a new commandment to thee, but that which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. He also stresses the importance of living a life of love. 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. Philip’s four daughters, who were single women, were ministers of the Gospel in New Testament times. The chosen lady, like Lydia in Acts 16, probably worked hard in some cottage industry. 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? **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. While this strikes me as a matter that will never be answered, I don’t believe this scenario is a hill worth dying on. Sign up for our newsletter to receive our most up-to-date news, articles, and information. And so the third option for interpretation would threaten some strongly-held beliefs about the roles of women in the church. 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;. Thank you for chiming in, Phyllis! 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. In John’s theology, to know the truth is to know Jesus and to know Jesus is to know the truth. At the basic level of language, if the “lady” was a metaphor for the entire church, why would there even be a need for “the children”? All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 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. The doctrinal content is so brief that it seems to assume the reader’s familiarity with 1 John. 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 Book of 2 John Commentary by Ron Beckham : The letter called 2 John was likely written from Ephesus; in about 90 A.D. Verse 1. It is a fun mystery to ponder, but I do not think it constitutes evidence that the “elect lady” may have been a metaphor for the entire congregation. The doctrinal content is extremely similar, so much so that Lamar Wadsworth writes in the Priscilla Papers that 2 & 3 John assume familiarity with 1 John. 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. But if John was so concerned about protecting the identity of the recipients), then why is Gaius clearly identified as the addressee of 3 John? 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. Here are some important posts to understand my blog. 2 John 1:1 Context. 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