who is the lady in 2 john

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? Stephen Smalley contends that the Elder’s declaration of love for the lady and her children, along with his assertion that this love is shared by all who know the truth, should be taken as indications that the chosen lady should be understood metaphorically.4 But why? 2 John 1:13 The children of thy sister Elect salute thee. The passage. Other examples abound in early Christian writings. 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. I think this is plausible, but some of the questions that arise create new problems. 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. Secondly, if this is the case and all the letters went to the same church, why might 3 John be addressed to Gaius under his proper name, and 2 John be to someone cryptically called the chosen lady? Why would John write this letter to a church? Scripture portrays Jerusalem as the mother of Israel, an image that is reflected in Galatians and Revelation. A church would have to be called either “chosen lady” or “children” not both. The context suggests that "the elect lady" is not a single person but a group of people. A metaphor does not work unless others understand the sense in which it is used. 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. Presumably the Christian community to which he wrote knew who he was. Do I want the blog to fail? 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. But the writer was an *elder overall the churches in a large area.Much of this letter is like John’s first letter. Verses 1-13. That responsibility rested most heavily upon the shoulders of one person, the chosen lady to whom this letter was written. 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. In the context of 2 John, the word probably denotes a woman who was in a place of authority or leadership. Drifting back and forth between you (singular) and you (plural) is typical of informal personal correspondence. Initially, however, two "signs" are seen—a "woman" and an "enormous red dragon"—indicating that they are not literal but, rather, are symbolic of other things, which were present in the world long ago. 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. In 1826, the English Methodist commentator Adam Clarke wrote, “I am satisfied that no metaphor is here intended; that the epistle was sent to some eminent Christian matron, not far from Ephesus, who was probably a deaconess of the church, who, it is likely had a church at her house, or at whose house the apostles and traveling evangelists preached, and were entertained.”9 Clarke was right as far as he went—I would only add that the chosen lady’s ministry probably went beyond being a gracious hostess, although it surely included that. “Truth,” as the term is used in the Johannine letters, is another name for Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit. 7. The fact that she was receiving direct correspondence and instruction from John the apostle is quite significant. Jesus never despised the little children; He took them up in His arms and blessed them, saying, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." Just as in the Gospel of John the author does not explicitly identify himself with the Apostle John, so here he prefers the designation the elder. Chapter 1. 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. The word translated “Lady” occurs nowhere in the New Testament outside of 2 John. It is not unusual for the Scripture to do so (EPHESIANS 5:22f; II CORINTHIANS 11:2; etc.). It is also the word used for a master over a slave or servant (for example, Luke 12:42). “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. The lady greeted in 2 John is also, most likely, a high-status woman and a householder. The original recipients knew who “the elder” was, and they all knew who the “chosen lady” was—but we do not know who she was. 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). uncritically assumes that the chosen lady and her chosen sister (2 John 13) should be taken as metaphors for churches. 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. The original recipient knew to whom the writer was referring, but you have no idea. The doctrinal content is so brief that it seems to assume the reader’s familiarity with 1 John. Ultimately, in the New Testament, “the Lord” functions as the equivalent of the Hebrew word Adoniah, as a designation for Jesus Christ. In John 14:17, the Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth. 4. They had a duty to learn, but somebody had to teach them. Just how important might she have been? Life is often described as a journey. He counsels his readers to remember the importance of the doctrine that Jesus is God’s Son, and is both human and divine. I beseech thee, lady. 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. In 1 and 3 John, we have good precedent for a church leader addressing those in his care as his children. John’s second letter warned the churches against false teachers. So why should the greeting in 2 John be interpreted differently? 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.) Israel is portrayed as a woman— the sometimes unfaithful wife of Yahweh. 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. 53 Then each of them went home, 1 while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Who is the lady? This is not a metaphor but should be read instead as actual to not minimize the legitimate meaning of the Scripture. Why is LIMPING the theme of my blog? However, the most reasonable conclusion from the limited data in 2 John is that she was a prominent leader in the Christian church. 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? ** (see note at bottom of post). Very few scholars take either Greek word to be a proper name. Even Gail R. O’Day, commenting on the Johannine letters in The Women’s Bible Commentary. 2 John. Hal, Who is the ‘elect lady and her children’ addressed in 2 John? 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. Clearly, kuria is not a rare or obscure word. Each localchurch had its leaders who were the ‘elders’. Like letters from the attic of the old family home, our New Testament letters mention many people of whom we know little or nothing. 1. 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! There are three ways that we can use the word ‘*elder’. 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. THE ELECT LADY. 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. Perhaps God did not call her to a place of public ministry until later in life. 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? However, I believe we can know some things about her if we continue to examine the biblical evidence. 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 word translated “chosen” is a common New Testament word—our English word “elect” comes from it. This could either have been a lady of important standing in the church or a code which refers to the local church and its congregation. We may presume that she had been devoted to her husband and children. When the Christian movement faced persecution by the Romans, we know that “Babylon” became a Christian code name for Rome. Similarly with various references to people in the New Testament: In Acts 16, we read of the jailer at Philippi who was converted. If the lady and her children were all one collective metaphor for the church, why bother with the distinction at all? 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. 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! Metaphors abound in Scripture, but common sense and context usually tell us if the writer is speaking metaphorically. 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. Like Mary the mother of Jesus (last seen preaching in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost), Philip’s four daughters, Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary of Rome, the apostle Junia, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, Euodia, Syntyche, Nympha, Claudia, Apphia, and the ministering women of 1 Timothy 3:11, the chosen lady was a minister of the Gospel in the fullest sense of the term, one of many women who were able ministers of the Gospel in New Testament times. 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. 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. We know little about Rufus and less about his mother, not even her name. While I would not build my whole case upon the brevity of the letter, that along with the other factors considered strengthens the case for viewing 2 John as a personal letter from one minister of the Gospel to another. 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. In John’s theology, to know the truth is to know Jesus and to know Jesus is to know the truth. **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. 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. 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. 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. John had been transported in vision to a time near the time of the end. And so the third option for interpretation would threaten some strongly-held beliefs about the roles of women in the church. Barker, Brooke, Bruce, Marshall, McDowell, Smalley, Stott, and Westcott are representative of many who view the chosen lady as a metaphor for a church, and her children as members of the church. John is the "Elder." He loved her in the same way and for the same reason he loved Gaius. 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