But the writer was an *elder overall the churches in a large area.Much of this letter is like John’s first letter. As a general letter to a church, 2 John is redundant. John called those whom he led his children. John is the "Elder." 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. While this strikes me as a matter that will never be answered, I don’t believe this scenario is a hill worth dying on. We may be sure that her ministry role was defined not by her gender but by her spiritual gifts, the call of God upon her life, the divinely implanted desires of her heart, the needs she faced, and the opportunities she had. In John 14:17, the Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth. 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! 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. She was well-known among the churches to which 1 John was written. We may reasonably suppose that St. John is here reminding her of the contents of his First Epistle. 2 For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.. 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. Ted's Response: In most of Chapters 12-14 of Revelation, John makes a restatement of the second half of the 70th Week (just as he did in Chapter 11). John’s second letter is missed frequently due to its brevity (a painfully slow read will only take 2 minutes) and lack of unique content from 1 John. 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 is writing a personal letter to a lady and her family. 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 arguments in favor of interpreting the lady as a metaphor for a church are basically these: First, it is suggested that in a time when the Christian movement had fallen into disfavor with Rome, the metaphorical “chosen lady” would have made the letter appear to be an innocent personal note if it had fallen into hostile hands before reaching its destination. Similarly with various references to people in the New Testament: In Acts 16, we read of the jailer at Philippi who was converted. He may well have been alive when Acts was written. The internal evidence of 2 John clearly supports a collective reference, however. 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? 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 “chosen” is a common New Testament word—our English word “elect” comes from it. 2 John 1:5. The fact that she is paired with Mark in 1 Peter 5:13 certainly indicates she was as much a literal person as he was. They are on my growing list of people to look up when I get to heaven! Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), my study on the leadership roles of women in the Bible, Lamar Wadsworth writes in the Priscilla Papers, What newborn breastfeeding struggles taught me about God, And all God’s people said? 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. 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. It makes no sense for John to have written this letter to a church that had already read 1 John. "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," In v. 6 the addressee is mentioned using second … Prudentiana and Praexedis in Rome honors four women, one of whom is identified as Theodora Episcopa—Episcopa is the feminine form of episkopos, the word translated “bishop” or “overseer.” Although the hands of ancient misogynists tried to scratch out the feminine endings on “Theodora” and “Episcopa,” the old inscription remains a legible witness to one who was both a woman and a bishop. She knew the difference between sound teaching and hogwash, and she was able to teach others the difference. 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. (John also wrote Revelation in which he refers (Revelation 12:1)to the … 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. 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. The language simply doesn’t point in that direction. I think it is a safer conclusion to believe that John is writing to a separate church, and the chosen lady is a leader of great importance. The basic meaning of the word is “authority” or “master.” It is very unlikely that kuria (feminine form) is a proper name. **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. 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. 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”. 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. 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. © 2020 CBE International - All rights reserved. When we read the letters that make up the greater part of our New Testament, we are reading someone else’s mail. 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. 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. 2 John. O’Day offers no reasons for her position, she simply asserts that it is so!2. Nothing in 1 Peter compels us to take the woman who is “in Babylon” as anything other than a real woman. At the start of the letter, the writer calls himself the‘*elder’. 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. Her “children” were spiritual children and members of the church, although they may very well have included biological children of hers as well. There are three ways that we can use the word ‘*elder’. **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. 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. The chosen lady may have been a widow. 2 John 1:3 Grace be with you, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus the Son of the Father: in truth and charity. The bearer may have been an emissary of John’s church or the chosen lady’s church. Jude, the shortest letter that was clearly written to a church, is twice the length of 2 or 3 John. The elect lady and her children refers to a particular local church at some distance from the community where the author is living at the time. 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. The Apostle John, like his Master, came down to the weak and feeble. 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. 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. 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. 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). 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. 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 John’s theology, to know the truth is to know Jesus and to know Jesus is to know the truth. Sarah, Perpetua, Rhoda, Thecla, and the “ladies” mentioned in the Septuagint, were high-status women; some were in charge of their own households. That includes faithfulness in marriage and family responsibilities. 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. Each localchurch had its leaders who were the ‘elders’. 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. 5. For example, Romans 16 lists a number of leaders well-known to the early church but unknown to us—including two otherwise-unknown apostles, a man named Andronicus and a woman named Junia. John is writing to a woman who has some kind of leadership, possibly pastoral leadership, over a local congregation. This would be someone (or some group) who would know that John was the "Elder.") She and her son were well-known to the church in Rome, but they are obscure figures for us. 2 John 1:1 Context. 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. The church’s responsibility to exclude false teachers was primarily her personal responsibility. Like letters from the attic of the old family home, our New Testament letters mention many people of whom we know little or nothing. 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 wrote to "the chosen lady." 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. 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. The chosen lady may have been a leader in the church for many years, balancing her public ministry with work, home, marriage, and parenting. 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.)? This is in accord with II John 1, 13. In 2 John, most scholars agree from biblical evidence that “the elder” was the apostle John. Everybody’s responsibility ends up being nobody’s responsibility. 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. “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. 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. Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: The Elect Lady—2 John ← Back to Mary Elizabeth Baxter's Bio & Resources. 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. That responsibility rested most heavily upon the shoulders of one person, the chosen lady to whom this letter was written. In 1 and 3 John, we have good precedent for a church leader addressing those in his care as his children. Help CBE spread the message that #Godvalueswomen. This is supported by 1 Timothy 3:13, which implies that overseers were chosen from among those who had served well as deacons. Metaphors abound in Scripture, but common sense and context usually tell us if the writer is speaking metaphorically. 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. Tip: to find an exact phrase or title, enclose it in quotation marks. 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. 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? I might very well put the elect lady of 2 John very high on the list of biblical women who are evidence that God empowers women for ministry leadership, up with Junia, Lydia, Phoebe, Deborah, etc. Her public ministry may have been a long-deferred desire of her heart. 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 may presume that she had been devoted to her husband and children. 7. When John wrote that five kings had fallen and that one existed, he was describing the Roman Empire. The views presented by one influential commentator are often unquestioningly adopted by succeeding commentaries. Welcome to Christian Forums, a forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding. Thank you! 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. Respecting the "new commandment" and "from the beginning," see notes on 1 John 2:7. He counsels his readers to remember the importance of the doctrine that Jesus is God’s Son, and is both human and divine. 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 lady is really a church full of people! “Truth,” as the term is used in the Johannine letters, is another name for Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit. Just how important might she have been? We know little about Rufus and less about his mother, not even her name. 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. Israel and the church are often portrayed metaphorically as a woman. Paul does not mention her name; he simply refers to her as Rufus’ mother. Your voice is missing! He also stresses the importance of living a life of love. Smalley does not suggest that we take “the beloved Gaius” as a metaphor for a church! 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 … Here are some important posts to understand my blog. The verb has, perhaps, a tinge of peremptoriness about it ἐρωτῶ: "This is a request which I have a right to make." 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. Who is the lady? And I think it is significant to the discussion/debate on women in church leadership when we consider the lofty title given to her. 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. 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). The evidence strongly indicated she was at least a diakonos, a deacon like Phoebe in Romans 16—one who gave pastoral leadership to a house church, if not an episcopos, an overseer—one who had the oversight of a number of house churches. 1. I beseech thee, 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 the New Testament, the word translated “pastor” is poimen. (Rensberger, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)) George L. Parsenios (b. (My grandmother Bailey had a bunch of those! 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. Then, as now, most women give birth to children at some time in their lives. Clearly, kuria is not a rare or obscure word. Faith is often characterized as a walk. 2 John 1:13 The children of thy sister Elect salute thee. Philip’s four daughters, who were single women, were ministers of the Gospel in New Testament times. However, I believe we can know some things about her if we continue to examine the biblical evidence. John’s second letter warned the churches against false teachers. First of all, the Greek words are eklecte kuria, which we will examine in a bit. I totally agree and it’s gotten clearer and clearer to me the more I’ve sat with this text. Romans 16:7, the only place they are mentioned, is the kind of reference that makes us wish we knew more. Of course, some of the children of the elect lady may have been her natural children. See? Very few scholars take either Greek word to be a proper name. There is no more reason to make the “chosen lady” into a church than there is to make the “beloved comrade” into a church. We will probably not know this side of heaven. Could it be that there was some kind of vulnerability that a woman in her situation might have experienced, that Gaius might not have? Life is often described as a journey. Most people who were products of her ministry kept on walking in truth. No evidence suggests that the recipients of 2 John would have understood the term metaphorically. Drifting back and forth between you (singular) and you (plural) is typical of informal personal correspondence. The identity of the “children” in 1 John and 3 John is obvious. 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. Israel is portrayed as a woman— the sometimes unfaithful wife of Yahweh. 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. It appears that this is a personification of a church and not a literal lady. The doctrinal content is so brief that it seems to assume the reader’s familiarity with 1 John. Chapter 1. The brevity of the letter argues against it being primarily a letter to a church. Certainly, there were people still living in Philippi who knew him by name, but Luke does not tell us that name. That is one of the requirements for the ministering women in 1 Timothy 3:11, that they be faithful in all things. Some were prominent leaders in the Christian communities of the First Century AD. If the church met in her home, she would have been the one to say who was or was not welcome there. The passage. Thank you for chiming in, Phyllis! Hal, Who is the ‘elect lady and her children’ addressed in 2 John? 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. Here it means that the writer is a leader in the church. It makes sense that he would refer to those led by his colleagues (the chosen lady and her chosen sister) as their children. 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. He loved her in the same way and for the same reason he loved Gaius. 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 most common choices are: The fact that the second option is the majority view among scholars should not be a surprise. 2 John Greeting. 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. 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 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! 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. 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. 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. 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