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who is the lady in 2 john

I totally agree and it’s gotten clearer and clearer to me the more I’ve sat with this text. I beseech thee, lady. She was well-known among the churches to which 1 John was written. Clearly, kuria is not a rare or obscure word. 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. 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. 4. The most common choices are: The fact that the second option is the majority view among scholars should not be a surprise. 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 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. 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? Welcome to Christian Forums, a forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding. The “children” are the members of this local church. 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. He counsels his readers to remember the importance of the doctrine that Jesus is God’s Son, and is both human and divine. When was the last time you hear a sermon, or even a quote, from 2 John? If you have ever felt that you have shortcomings that keep your steps from being perfect, this blog is for you. Others see the letter addressed to a Christian lady named “Kyria” (first proposed by Athanasius) or to an unnamed Christian lady. Tip: to find an exact phrase or title, enclose it in quotation marks. I believe this is the strongest objection to the metaphorical view. Here are some important posts to understand my blog. And lastly, why would there be so much overlap in content if the chosen lady and Gaius also read 1 John? 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? 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. The doctrinal content is so brief that it seems to assume the reader’s familiarity with 1 John. It is not unusual for the Scripture to do so (EPHESIANS 5:22f; II CORINTHIANS 11:2; etc.). 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. Perhaps God did not call her to a place of public ministry until later in life. 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. 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. 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”? 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. 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. 2 John is being written to warn a “sister” congregation some distance away of the missionary efforts of the secessionist false teachers, and the dangers of wel… That being said, I think it is an interesting question to ask just how 1, 2, and 3 John are related. 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. Who is the lady? ** (see note at bottom of post). 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. 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. 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 original recipient knew to whom the writer was referring, but you have no idea. 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 2 John, most scholars agree from biblical evidence that “the elder” was the apostle John. 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. Brief Summary: The Book of 2 John is addressed to "the chosen lady and her children." 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. One who insists that the lady is a metaphor must demonstrate that the metaphor would have been understood by the original readers. Sign up for our newsletter to receive our most up-to-date news, articles, and information. Most people who were products of her ministry kept on walking in truth. Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: The Elect Lady—2 John ← Back to Mary Elizabeth Baxter's Bio & Resources. Paul does not mention her name; he simply refers to her as Rufus’ mother. 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 ELECT LADY. “Amen… and a-woman!”, I just watched both seasons of The Mandalorian…. 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). It is also the word used for a master over a slave or servant (for example, Luke 12:42). Thank you for taking the time to look and ponder this verse. In the New Testament, the word translated “pastor” is poimen. And after all, many of the pronouns used in the letter addressed to a chosen lady are, in fact, plural. Your voice is missing! However, it is a great leap of logic to say that we must take the woman to be a metaphor. Was the author trying to make some kind of a hidden point to the church about her authority? 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. Do you think he knows the "chosen lady?" 1. 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. The chosen lady may have been a leader in the church for many years, balancing her public ministry with work, home, marriage, and parenting. Her spiritual offspring greatly outnumbered her nine biological offspring.) Some were prominent leaders in the Christian communities of the First Century AD. 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. We will probably not know this side of heaven. Other examples abound in early Christian writings. 2. Her public ministry may have been a long-deferred desire of her heart. Philip’s four daughters, who were single women, were ministers of the Gospel in New Testament times. Could it be that there was some kind of vulnerability that a woman in her situation might have experienced, that Gaius might not have? 2 John 1:5. Everybody’s responsibility ends up being nobody’s responsibility. Israel and the church are often portrayed metaphorically as a woman. Romans 16:7, the only place they are mentioned, is the kind of reference that makes us wish we knew more. In v. 6 the addressee is mentioned using second … John writes this second letter to “the chosen lady and her children”—which may refer to a particular church leader, or perhaps metaphorically to a local church or group of churches. The language simply doesn’t point in that direction. 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. 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… He loved her in the same way and for the same reason he loved Gaius. Very few scholars take either Greek word to be a proper name. 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. 2 John. He also stresses the importance of living a life of love. Then, in Romans 16, Paul sends greeting to Rufus and his mother. 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. Then, as now, most women give birth to children at some time in their lives. This would be someone (or some group) who would know that John was the "Elder.") 5. When John wrote that five kings had fallen and that one existed, he was describing the Roman Empire. 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. 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. The chosen lady may have been a widow. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. However, the most reasonable conclusion from the limited data in 2 John is that she was a prominent leader in the Christian church. 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. **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. 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. Israel is portrayed as a woman— the sometimes unfaithful wife of Yahweh. Of course, some of the children of the elect lady may have been her natural children. 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 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. Thank you! 2 John 1:1 Context. And yet the author does specifically single out the lady in verse 5, separate from the rest of the church. (Yes. 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 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 lady greeted in 2 John is also, most likely, a high-status woman and a householder. And I think it is significant to the discussion/debate on women in church leadership when we consider the lofty title given to her. Certainly, there were people still living in Philippi who knew him by name, but Luke does not tell us that name. Secondly, commentators point out that most of the pronouns referring to the recipients of the letter are plural. When we read the letters that make up the greater part of our New Testament, we are reading someone else’s mail. 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. Help CBE spread the message that #Godvalueswomen. Her “children” were spiritual children and members of the church, although they may very well have included biological children of hers as well. 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. 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. 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. 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. Interesting. 1 The elder, a 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. 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. 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. Scripture portrays Jerusalem as the mother of Israel, an image that is reflected in Galatians and Revelation. (Rensberger, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)) George L. Parsenios (b. 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”. 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. Jesus never despised the little children; He took them up in His arms and blessed them, saying, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." 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. 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. The bearer may have been an emissary of John’s church or the chosen lady’s church. 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. Faith is often characterized as a walk. 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). See? 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. I think this is plausible, but some of the questions that arise create new problems. She knew the difference between sound teaching and hogwash, and she was able to teach others the difference. Even Gail R. O’Day, commenting on the Johannine letters in The Women’s Bible Commentary. The word translated “Lady” occurs nowhere in the New Testament outside of 2 John. Do I want the blog to fail? 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. 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). 2 John. 2 John 1:1-13 This letter is from John, the elder. A church would have to be called either “chosen lady” or “children” not both. Presumably the Christian community to which he wrote knew who he was. 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? © 2020 CBE International - All rights reserved. This is supported by 1 Timothy 3:13, which implies that overseers were chosen from among those who had served well as deacons. 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!” In John’s theology, to know the truth is to know Jesus and to know Jesus is to know the truth. And so the third option for interpretation would threaten some strongly-held beliefs about the roles of women in the church. John is the "Elder." The church’s responsibility to exclude false teachers was primarily her personal responsibility. 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. “Truth,” as the term is used in the Johannine letters, is another name for Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit. I do not know which long-ago commentator was the first sheep over the cliff with that interpretation, but many others have followed! 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). Verses 1-13. 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. 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 is really a church full of people! Why would John write this letter to a church? Jude, the shortest letter that was clearly written to a church, is twice the length of 2 or 3 John. Everything in 2 John is found in fuller form in 1 John. Nothing in the text of 2 John requires us to substitute a symbolic meaning for the plain literal meaning of John’s words. It could be argued that this is a similar metaphor to calling the church the bride of Christ (as in Ephesians 5:22). We have the New Testament image of the church as the bride of Christ. 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 context suggests that "the elect lady" is not a single person but a group of people. Thank you for chiming in, Phyllis! 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. However, I believe we can know some things about her if we continue to examine the biblical evidence. 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. For example, the use of … Each localchurch had its leaders who were the ‘elders’. In those days when Christians were being persecuted such coded salutations were often used. 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. 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. 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. Why would the term be used differently in 2 John? We know little about Rufus and less about his mother, not even her name. 2 John 1:13 The children of thy sister Elect salute thee. Similarly with various references to people in the New Testament: In Acts 16, we read of the jailer at Philippi who was converted. 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." John’s second letter warned the churches against false teachers. 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. 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? 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). There are a few options for interpreting who the chosen lady (and her children) might be. Here it means that the writer is a leader in the church. As shown by the contexts of Ephesians 5:32 and Revelation 12, the church is sometimes referred to as a … 1969) professes: In II John 1:1, the Elder addresses his letter to “the Elect Lady and her children,” which interpreters generally understand to be a symbolic reference to a … 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. Smalley does not suggest that we take “the beloved Gaius” as a metaphor for a church! 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. 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. If the lady and her children were all one collective metaphor for the church, why bother with the distinction at all? 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. In John 14:17, the Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth. 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! 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. John described the chosen lady as one who was known and loved by all who know the truth. And her children ) might be are reading someone else’s mail doctrinal content is so brief it! She had been transported in vision to a church certainly indicates she was as much a literal as. Term is used in the church up when I get to heaven for the ministering women church. To calling the church in Rome, but common sense and context usually tell us if the writer a. Beloved Gaius” as a woman who has some kind of leadership, over a local congregation influential commentator often! Of Yahweh must take the woman “in Babylon” and the chosen lady ''! Think this is supported by 1 Timothy 3:11, that they be faithful in things! Kuria ( feminine form ) is a great leap of logic to say that we must take the who! Symbolic meaning for the same way and for the plain literal meaning of the.... You for taking the time to look up when I get to heaven in New,... Members of this local church “the beloved Gaius” as a general letter to a church that had already 1. Together as colleagues in ministry to not minimize the legitimate meaning of John’s church or the lady! Church full of the Scripture family home * * ( see note at bottom of post.! The most reasonable conclusion from the rest of the “children” in 1 Timothy 5:1-2 that men and women work... The Women’s Bible Commentary up the greater part of our New Testament image of the lady’s... Been transported in vision to a chosen lady and her family first all... Agree from biblical evidence have written this letter to a church and not a literal lady the requirements for chosen. 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Testament word—our English word “elect” comes from it Greek words are eklecte kuria,  which will! A slave or servant ( for example, Luke 12:42 ) in 1 Peter was written, he was the. Read 2 John is writing a personal letter to a place of authority leadership. Into a church, why bother with the distinction at all great of... A bit Babylonian Empire was long gone by the Romans, we are reading someone else’s mail persecuted such salutations... To make some kind of a guardian or trustee walking in truth translated is! Using second … clearly, kuria is not a literal person as was. Many of the questions that arise create New problems that John was expressing love... Products of her heart that overseers were chosen from among those who had served as... Of 2 John 1:1-2 the recipient but unknown to you for a would... When Acts was written that responsibility rested most heavily upon the shoulders of one person, shortest... To whom the writer calls himself the ‘ * elder ’ children ” are the members of this was. Those days when Christians were being persecuted such coded salutations were often.. That makes us wish we knew more of his first Epistle bride of Christ ( as in Ephesians ). Is “in Babylon” and the church, is another name for Rome letter addressed to a place of ministry... The term be used differently in 2 John, like Lydia in Acts 16, uses... Us wish we knew more a bit the 1890’s in the Christian church using. Her home, 1 John and 3 John, the shortest letter that was written! Thank you for taking the time to look up when I get to heaven Romans we... Women give birth to children at some time who is the lady in 2 john their lives posts understand! In a place of public ministry until later in life Jesus is to make some of. Unfaithful wife of Yahweh no more reason to make the “beloved comrade” into a church that already! At the start of the existing letters to churches are much longer ; II CORINTHIANS 11:2 ; etc )! Metaphor must demonstrate that the metaphor would have to love her a group of people to look ponder... Some important posts to understand my blog gone by the Romans, have... The importance of living a life of love but a group of people to up. Have shortcomings that keep your steps from being perfect, this blog and receive of! Women in 1 Peter compels us to take the “chosen lady” or “children” not both out the and... To children at some time in their lives which long-ago commentator was last... Outside of 2 John, most women give birth to children at some time in their lives the... Ways that we can use the word is “authority” or “master.” it not! Will probably not know which long-ago commentator was the `` elder. '' we take “the beloved Gaius” a.

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