“The ELDER, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever…” 2 John 1:1-2.
“The ELDER”, is John, who was also an apostle/disciple of Christ. It is evident that this letter along with the two other epistles of John; first and third John were written around the same time.
The time line for John’s writings is generally accepted as follows. The gospel of John was written between 80 and 90 A.D. before his banishment to Patmos by Roman Emperor Domitian; Revelation was written on Patmos circa 90 to 96 A.D.
“I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:9.
On September 18, 96 A.D. Domitian having been escorted off this mortal coil through court intrigue and the use of a dagger; at noon, ceased to be emperor.
And soon after, the aged apostle John left Patmos and returned, most likely to Ephesus where these final epistles are said to have been written.
There has been a lot of speculation as to what or who this elect or chosen lady is. The word for lady is kyria, and it means just that a lady; however some suppose this to be the name of an individual corresponding to Martha, while others think it is a rendering of the word kuriake, meaning church. There are several ways of viewing this.
If this is a reference to an actual woman, it is possible that she is hostess to a church in her house, since house churches were not uncommon in those days.
Her children, spoken of here, may well be the Christians who attended the church in her house. This theory seems to cover every objection which might be raised to refute the thought that this is a real lady.
If this is merely a lady and her household being referred to, then the children would be her own, which will bring up some other problems as we will see as the study progresses.
There is no mention of her husband so it is possible that she was a widow or her husband was an unbeliever; not too unusual since a woman named Lydia is also mentioned without naming her husband.
“Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ And she constrained us.” Acts 16:14-15.
These things are written of Timothy who had a Greek father and Jewish mother.
“Then he [Apostle Paul] came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.” Acts 16:1.
“…when I [Paul] call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:5.
These are two reasons why the husband may remain unmentioned, either through decease or unbelief.
The theory that the word kyria is the name of an individual brings in the same objections as the above thought that it is a woman, her children, and her household.
The idea that the word kyria should be kuriake, meaning church is a good fit for everything mentioned in the text of this epistle, but it does not give a good reason for the leap from one word to another completely different one.
The motivation for changing the word lady to church is suspect. There are many women mentioned in the Bible, Martha and Mary received Jesus into their home, why can this chosen lady not simply be honored for hosting a house church in her home?
Concerning the word “truth”, written five times in this letter, is as follows. “I love in truth…those who have known the truth…because of the truth…in truth and love…some of your children walking in truth…” verses 1-4.
The same Greek word is used in all of these verses and means, the truth which is the gospel or that which the gospel presents.
William Kelley defined truth in this manner; “Truth is the revelation of all things as they really are, from God Himself.”
It is intended here that the word truth will be defined within this narrow limitation; in short truth is the doctrine of Christ as the gospel presents it.
“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-24.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13.
So these verses might be rendered in this manner, “The ELDER, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ, because of the truth which is in Christ abides in us and will be with us forever…”
“Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” 2 John 1:3.
Grace expunges sin through Christ’s sacrifice, mercy comes to those who accept Christ and relieves their miseries, and peace is the result of both grace and mercy. Truth and love is that in which the above dwell in the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father. I owe this beautiful insight to the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8.
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27.
“I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.” 2 John 1:4.
“…I have found some of your children walking in truth…” this is a troubling statement if this letter is addressed to the household of a woman and her children. If the woman herself were walking in the truth, why are not all of her children doing the same?
“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4.
In the last sentence above it is the fathers who are referred to, however, in a household where the father is missing or unsaved, the burden of training children in the Lord would fall upon the mother.
“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:20-21.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.
It is possible that this elect lady knew these things and her children would have been taught Scriptural principles from an early age that they might walk in truth.
If it were necessary for the woman to correct her children, John the apostle as an elder could have encouraged her to take control, but he said nothing.
Granted, no matter how hard some parents try to do the right thing, some of their children are just plain rebellious. Sad to say, this is a tragedy that occurs in both Christian and non-Christian homes.
While it is true that this is a flimsy argument against this letter being addressed to a woman and her children, it is noted here for your consideration.
“Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2.
There are many times as above, where God’s children are addressed as such, making it quite possible that the children referred to in this epistle are children of God and not of the elect woman. This is seen further when the last verse in this epistle is examined.
“The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.” 2 John 1:13.
If this is literally meant to be addressed to the elect lady and her children; why is it that only the children of her elect sister greet her and not her sister herself in verse 13? Is it because her sister in this case is a sister house church?
Consider now that the children mentioned in 2 John 1:4 are members of the church in the elect lady’s house. This would explain why she had no control over whether they were all walking in the truth.
“I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.” 2 John 2:4.
This is the tragedy of the church both then and now. John said that he “…found some of your children walking in truth”, some of your children, not all, or even most, but some were walking in the truth of the doctrine of Christ. So, it is true that all of us do not have the heart for this.
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4.
Have you ever wondered what it means that we will reign with Christ? If we all reigned with Him, who would we reign over?
“This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
The word endure means not to retreat even under suffering, to cling to Christ through misfortune, or trials.
The King James renders the word endure as, “if we suffer”. The idea here is not just being thrown to the lions, but rather even the sufferings we endure today, such as poverty, joblessness, sickness, or family crises, to name a few.
The intent here is that we cling to the promises of Christ and not deny Him out of frustration, or become faithless.
This is a tall order, yet if we walk in truth that is to say to live our lives in Christ according to His word, we will endure and we will rule with Him. If not, we shall not be part of the governing body in eternity.
Whether or not you care about such things, remember that there are other rewards to be lost through faithlessness, both here and in heaven.
When we all stand in heaven, we will see things from an entirely different perspective. I implore you to carefully consider these eternal things, before it is too late.
Chosen Lady, 2 John 1:1-4 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 3-13-12, updated on 8-4-18.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.