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 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… 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. Nothing in the text of 2 John requires us to substitute a symbolic meaning for the plain literal meaning of John’s words. Presumably the Christian community to which he wrote knew who he was. 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… 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? A church would have to be called either “chosen lady” or “children” not both. To take the “chosen lady” as a symbolic name for a church, we would have to ignore vv. Jude, the shortest letter that was clearly written to a church, is twice the length of 2 or 3 John. 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. 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! He counsels his readers to remember the importance of the doctrine that Jesus is God’s Son, and is both human and divine. 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. 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. The chosen lady, like Lydia in Acts 16, probably worked hard in some cottage industry. It could mean that the people respected him as amature man. 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. 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. Here are some important posts to understand my blog. 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). 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. 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. 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. Paul does not mention her name; he simply refers to her as Rufus’ mother. John called those whom he led his children. 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. Help CBE spread the message that #Godvalueswomen. The context suggests that "the elect lady" is not a single person but a group of people. Revelation consistently uses the “Babylon” metaphor for Rome. In John 14:17, the Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth. 2 John 1:1-13 This letter is from John, the elder. I believe this is the strongest objection to the metaphorical view. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 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”? 2 John. The original recipient knew to whom the writer was referring, but you have no idea. Interesting. 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. Hal, Who is the ‘elect lady and her children’ addressed in 2 John? John is the "Elder." Then, as now, most women give birth to children at some time in their lives. The “children” are the members of this local church. The lady greeted in 2 John is also, most likely, a high-status woman and a householder. Nothing in 1 Peter compels us to take the woman who is “in Babylon” as anything other than a real woman. 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 fact that she was receiving direct correspondence and instruction from John the apostle is quite significant. 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. 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. **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. 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! We have the New Testament image of the church as the bride of Christ. 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. They are on my growing list of people to look up when I get to heaven! 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). Secondly, commentators point out that most of the pronouns referring to the recipients of the letter are plural. 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! 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. “Truth,” as the term is used in the Johannine letters, is another name for Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit. 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. 7. 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. However, it is a great leap of logic to say that we must take the woman to be a metaphor. The bearer may have been an emissary of John’s church or the chosen lady’s church. 4. Perhaps God did not call her to a place of public ministry until later in life. 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. Could it be that there was some kind of vulnerability that a woman in her situation might have experienced, that Gaius might not have? 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. 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 … 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." Sarah, Perpetua, Rhoda, Thecla, and the “ladies” mentioned in the Septuagint, were high-status women; some were in charge of their own households. As shown by the contexts of Ephesians 5:32 and Revelation 12, the church is sometimes referred to as a … She was well-known among the churches to which 1 John was written. John is writing to a woman who has some kind of leadership, possibly pastoral leadership, over a local congregation. John 7:53–8:11 in the New Revised Standard Version: . 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. 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. 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. Israel is portrayed as a woman— the sometimes unfaithful wife of Yahweh. Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: The Elect Lady—2 John ← Back to Mary Elizabeth Baxter's Bio & Resources. He also stresses the importance of living a life of love. 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. It makes sense that he would refer to those led by his colleagues (the chosen lady and her chosen sister) as their children. There is no more reason to make the “chosen lady” into a church than there is to make the “beloved comrade” into a church. He may well have been alive when Acts was written. John is writing a personal letter to a lady and her family. It appears that this is a personification of a church and not a literal lady. 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. 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. 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). The doctrinal content is so brief that it seems to assume the reader’s familiarity with 1 John. At the start of the letter, the writer calls himself the‘*elder’. 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. 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. It is not unusual for the Scripture to do so (EPHESIANS 5:22f; II CORINTHIANS 11:2; etc.). Everybody’s responsibility ends up being nobody’s responsibility. 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. (John also wrote Revelation in which he refers (Revelation 12:1)to the … 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. Everything in 2 John is found in fuller form in 1 John. 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 chosen lady may have been a leader in the church for many years, balancing her public ministry with work, home, marriage, and parenting. 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! 2 John Greeting. 9-11 of 2 John. I beseech thee, lady. 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. Thank you for taking the time to look and ponder this verse. 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. Here it means that the writer is a leader in the church. We may presume that she had been devoted to her husband and 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). Thank you! The brevity of the letter argues against it being primarily a letter to a church. Just how important might she have been? Clearly, kuria is not a rare or obscure word. 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. Metaphors abound in Scripture, but common sense and context usually tell us if the writer is speaking metaphorically. 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”. 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. 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. However, the most reasonable conclusion from the limited data in 2 John is that she was a prominent leader in the Christian church. 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. Since the letter is addressed to “a” (no article in the Greek text) chosen lady and her children, this poses no difficulty. uncritically assumes that the chosen lady and her chosen sister (2 John 13) should be taken as metaphors for churches. Some of the elect lady’s children may have been her sons and daughters and/or people she had personally led to the Lord. As she led in the church, all these people were in her care. 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 the New Testament, the word translated “pastor” is poimen. Paul uses it in that sense in Ephesians 6. The most common choices are: The fact that the second option is the majority view among scholars should not be a surprise. They had a duty to learn, but somebody had to teach them. 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. If the lady and her children were all one collective metaphor for the church, why bother with the distinction at all? In the context of 2 John, the word probably denotes a woman who was in a place of authority or leadership. Romans 16:7, the only place they are mentioned, is the kind of reference that makes us wish we knew more. 2 John 1:13 The children of thy sister Elect salute thee. 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. The verb has, perhaps, a tinge of peremptoriness about it ἐρωτῶ: "This is a request which I have a right to make." John was expressing his love for the chosen lady as a colleague in ministry. Jesus never despised the little children; He took them up in His arms and blessed them, saying, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." In those days when Christians were being persecuted such coded salutations were often used. 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