“The Elder: To the elect lady and her children” ~ 2 John 1a
Explanation of the Text: There is little information here for us to examine. However these few words provide an introduction and background of the letter that John writes. We note first, “The Elder.” As we previously noted, the elder is a phrase John uses here to refer to himself, noting both his advanced age and his authority (for more on the background see our previous devotion by clicking here). It is typical for the author to introduce himself from the outset of the letter, and here John does that, although rather than using his name he simply refers to himself as the elder.
After learning who the author is, we are then able to learn who the intended recipient of John’s words. The question for many is, “Who is the elect lady and her children?” There are a number of differing views, with two having serious consideration. There are some who say that this refers to the church and its members, while others say it is simply a Christian woman and her children. Keeping with a literal hermeneutic, it makes sense to understand the reference literally to a woman and her children. The style of the writing is simplistic and notes a closeness between author and reader thus furthering the argument that in view is a woman.
Little is known about the elect lady and her children, and it profits little to speculate beyond the mere basics that we do know. Because the letter is written to her and not her husband, the expectation is that she is a widow and she and her family are definitely Christians who follow Christ. She has a reputation of being hospitable, as addressed within the letter. It would also make sense that the church probably met at her house, and thus the letter was probably well-known to the congregation and not just her and her children.
Examination & Application of the Text: As of right now, we see primarily the context of the John’s writing, which is important to interpreting the text. There is an important note here in that John calls the lady elect. While election, or choosing, is part of God’s plan for people, this title has a different significance. The reference becomes a title for the lady denoting the position of who she is in Christ. The word ‘elect’ notes who she is as a child of God. This title must provide a great confidence for the lady! Surely this position accentuates the joy of the Christian life and provides motivation for continuing to strive. As a child of God, we too then, have full confidence of our position before a holy God.