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. First of all, the Greek words are eklecte kuria, which we will examine in a bit. In addition, a third- or fourth-century inscription on the Greek island of Thera marks the grave of another woman, Epictus Presbutis, the elder Epictus.6. John wrote to "the chosen lady." Why is LIMPING the theme of my blog? 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. 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. 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. John was expressing his love for the chosen lady as a colleague in ministry. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. Israel is portrayed as a woman— the sometimes unfaithful wife of Yahweh. A metaphor does not work unless others understand the sense in which it is used. Others see the letter addressed to a Christian lady named “Kyria” (first proposed by Athanasius) or to an unnamed Christian lady. Brief Summary: The Book of 2 John is addressed to "the chosen lady and her children." The bearer may have been an emissary of John’s church or the chosen lady’s church. 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. Smalley does not suggest that we take “the beloved Gaius” as a metaphor for a church! 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. They had a duty to learn, but somebody had to teach them. The author could very easily call the entire church his children, as he did in 3 John 4, when speaking of Gaius’ church, and there would be no need for the distinction between a metaphorical singular, female kuria. 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. While this strikes me as a matter that will never be answered, I don’t believe this scenario is a hill worth dying on. That includes faithfulness in marriage and family responsibilities. No evidence suggests that the recipients of 2 John would have understood the term metaphorically. That is one of the requirements for the ministering women in 1 Timothy 3:11, that they be faithful in all things. 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 fact that she was receiving direct correspondence and instruction from John the apostle is quite significant. 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 the New Testament, the word translated “pastor” is poimen. 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. It could mean that the people respected him as amature man. 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. She knew the difference between sound teaching and hogwash, and she was able to teach others the difference. 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. The identity of the “children” in 1 John and 3 John is obvious. One who insists that the lady is a metaphor must demonstrate that the metaphor would have been understood by the original readers. John is the "Elder." 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. 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. 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. The lady greeted in 2 John is also, most likely, a high-status woman and a householder. In Galatians 4:1, Paul uses kurios to speak of someone who is not under the authority of a guardian or trustee. The language simply doesn’t point in that direction. The brevity of the letter argues against it being primarily a letter to a church. The Lady and Her Children; Read 2 John 1:1-2. 2 John. 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. He also stresses the importance of living a life of love. Chapter 1. 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. The internal evidence of 2 John clearly supports a collective reference, however. Luke mentions them in Acts 21:4, not because it was remarkable for a young single woman to be a preacher, but because it was remarkable for there to be four of them in one family. 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). There are three ways that we can use the word ‘*elder’. Paul does not mention her name; he simply refers to her as Rufus’ mother. In John’s theology, to know the truth is to know Jesus and to know Jesus is to know the truth. 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. 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. 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 John 14:17, the Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth. 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. Why would John write this letter to a church? "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," We may presume that she had been devoted to her husband and children. 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. 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. 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. Thank you! 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. They are on my growing list of people to look up when I get to heaven! 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”. 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”. 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. 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. As shown by the contexts of Ephesians 5:32 and Revelation 12, the church is sometimes referred to as a … As she led in the church, all these people were in her care. Do you think he knows the "chosen lady?" 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. 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. She was probably a parent. 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. 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. Was the author trying to make some kind of a hidden point to the church about her authority? 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. Each localchurch had its leaders who were the ‘elders’. (My grandmother Bailey had a bunch of those! The church’s responsibility to exclude false teachers was primarily her personal responsibility. In the context of 2 John, the word probably denotes a woman who was in a place of authority or leadership. Suppose that you found a box of letters dating from the 1890’s in the attic of the old family home. 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. Everything in 2 John is found in fuller form in 1 John. It is not unusual for the Scripture to do so (EPHESIANS 5:22f; II CORINTHIANS 11:2; etc.). It makes no sense for John to have written this letter to a church that had already read 1 John. Thank you for taking the time to look and ponder this verse. It is also the word used for a master over a slave or servant (for example, Luke 12:42). The chosen lady may have been a leader in the church for many years, balancing her public ministry with work, home, marriage, and parenting. 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. 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 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. See? 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). Metaphors abound in Scripture, but common sense and context usually tell us if the writer is speaking metaphorically. Nothing in the text of 2 John requires us to substitute a symbolic meaning for the plain literal meaning of John’s words. Faith is often characterized as a walk. “Amen… and a-woman!”, I just watched both seasons of The Mandalorian…. 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. The chosen lady was well-known in the Christian community, and anyone who loved the Lord could not help but love her. 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. 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.)? 53 Then each of them went home, 1 while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Clearly, kuria is not a rare or obscure word. Those century-old letters from the attic might also mention “your dear cousin,” “the pastor,” “our neighbors across the road,” or some other designation instead of a name. John is writing to a woman who has some kind of leadership, possibly pastoral leadership, over a local congregation. Then, as now, most women give birth to children at some time in their lives. Here it means that the writer is a leader in the church. Help CBE spread the message that #Godvalueswomen. 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. Respecting the "new commandment" and "from the beginning," see notes on 1 John 2:7. John certainly wanted the whole church to practice discernment, but the church probably included some new Christians who did not know enough to discern between true and false teaching. 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. Paul uses it in that sense in Ephesians 6. 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. I believe the elect lady knew her role and was under the authority of John though she was the lead in that community of believers. 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. 1 The elder, a As a general letter to a church, 2 John is redundant. 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. 9-11 of 2 John. However, it is a great leap of logic to say that we must take the woman to be a metaphor. 6. We may reasonably suppose that St. John is here reminding her of the contents of his First Epistle. I beseech thee, lady. John is writing a personal letter to a lady and her family. These letters might mention the names of many people well-known to both the writer and the recipient but unknown to you. That being said, I think it is an interesting question to ask just how 1, 2, and 3 John are related. Spencer raises this objection. Tip: to find an exact phrase or title, enclose it in quotation marks. 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. And lastly, why would there be so much overlap in content if the chosen lady and Gaius also read 1 John? Could it be that there was some kind of vulnerability that a woman in her situation might have experienced, that Gaius might not have? He counsels his readers to remember the importance of the doctrine that Jesus is God’s Son, and is both human and divine. She and her son were well-known to the church in Rome, but they are obscure figures for us. 2 John Greeting. The chosen lady may have been a widow. To take the “chosen lady” as a symbolic name for a church, we would have to ignore vv. Very few scholars take either Greek word to be a proper name. Thank you for chiming in, Phyllis! He may well have been alive when Acts was written. The doctrinal content is so brief that it seems to assume the reader’s familiarity with 1 John. 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). And after all, many of the pronouns used in the letter addressed to a chosen lady are, in fact, plural. 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. Perhaps God did not call her to a place of public ministry until later in life. Verses 1-13. “Truth,” as the term is used in the Johannine letters, is another name for Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit. I think this is plausible, but some of the questions that arise create new problems. 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. 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. 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). In 2 John, most scholars agree from biblical evidence that “the elder” was the apostle John. If you have ever felt that you have shortcomings that keep your steps from being perfect, this blog is for you. John had been transported in vision to a time near the time of the end. It seems to me that many have bias of females leading in ministry. 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 … 2 John 1:13 The children of thy sister Elect salute thee. 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. 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. 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. And so the third option for interpretation would threaten some strongly-held beliefs about the roles of women in the church. Since the letter is addressed to “a” (no article in the Greek text) chosen lady and her children, this poses no difficulty. 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. In 1 and 3 John, we have good precedent for a church leader addressing those in his care as his children. This argument is unconvincing. Just how important might she have been? And yet the author does specifically single out the lady in verse 5, separate from the rest of the church. Like letters from the attic of the old family home, our New Testament letters mention many people of whom we know little or nothing. 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? Interesting. It makes sense that he would refer to those led by his colleagues (the chosen lady and her chosen sister) as their children. uncritically assumes that the chosen lady and her chosen sister (2 John 13) should be taken as metaphors for churches. The basic meaning of the word is “authority” or “master.” It is very unlikely that kuria (feminine form) is a proper name. Nothing in 1 Peter compels us to take the woman who is “in Babylon” as anything other than a real woman. In spite of the remaining ambiguity, I believe that we can reasonably conclude that 2 John is written to a different church in which the chosen lady was a prominent leader, possibly its pastor. 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. O’Day offers no reasons for her position, she simply asserts that it is so!2. 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. This is not a metaphor but should be read instead as actual to not minimize the legitimate meaning of the Scripture. 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! 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. Who is the lady? 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! 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. Drifting back and forth between you (singular) and you (plural) is typical of informal personal correspondence. So why should the greeting in 2 John be interpreted differently? However, the most reasonable conclusion from the limited data in 2 John is that she was a prominent leader in the Christian church. At the start of the letter, the writer calls himself the‘*elder’. Welcome to Christian Forums, a forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding. In that year, C. H. Dodd delivered a lecture in which he argued that 1 John was written by a disciple of John, not by the evangeli… Your voice is missing! 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 original recipients knew who “the elder” was, and they all knew who the “chosen lady” was—but we do not know who she was. 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. The “children” are the members of this local church. 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! The passage. Jesus never despised the little children; He took them up in His arms and blessed them, saying, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." This would be someone (or some group) who would know that John was the "Elder.") 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." Most people who were products of her ministry kept on walking in truth. 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. If the church met in her home, she would have been the one to say who was or was not welcome there. © 2020 CBE International - All rights reserved. All of the existing letters to churches are much longer. 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.) Here are some important posts to understand my blog. Certainly, there were people still living in Philippi who knew him by name, but Luke does not tell us that name. (Rensberger, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)) George L. Parsenios (b. 2 John 1:5. The verb has, perhaps, a tinge of peremptoriness about it ἐρωτῶ: "This is a request which I have a right to make." 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. The word translated “Lady” occurs nowhere in the New Testament outside of 2 John. 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. Interesting question to ask just how 1, 2, and anyone who loved him would have to her... Keep your steps from being perfect, this blog and receive notifications of New posts by email wish. Bunch of those hear a sermon, or even a quote, from John... As colleagues in ministry Abingdon New Testament times the difference between sound teaching hogwash.. '' a colleague in ministry being said, I just watched seasons... Love her correspondence and instruction from John, 2 John, the writer and the recipient but unknown you. Well-Known to both the woman to be a metaphor for a Master over a local congregation came him. Really a church elders ’ few options for interpreting who the chosen lady of 2 1:13. 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