Summary: This is an introduction to a study of 2 John. Is the chosen lady an individual or is it a church?
As we continue to study the writings of the Apostle John, we come to the book of 2 John. It is believed to be written by the Apostle John around 85-95 AD. In the very first verse it is written to the chosen lady. Is the chosen lady an individual who was very dear to John, or is she a church who is symbolically referred to as the chosen lady? Opinions vary on this but it doesn’t affect the message.
But when all the facts are considered, the evidence points heavily toward the chosen lady being a very precious lady who loved the Lord with all her heart. We have to remember there were no church buildings in that day. The church met in the homes of faithful believers who had homes large enough to handle the crowd. There is a good possibility that the church met in this dear lady’s home. One author states that the Greek word for “lady” literally means Martha. She apparently lived near Ephesus.
The purpose of the letter is twofold.
1. To exhort the lady to love all believers no matter what they did. Apparently she had taken a stand for Christ against false teachers, and some in the church were criticizing, backbiting, and turning against her. She needed to love them despite their rotten and ungodly behavior.
2. To exhort the lady to continue to stand against false teachers and not to let them into her home. The church was probably meeting in her home so the importance of refusing hospitality to false teachers could not be overstressed. (There’s a lesson in just that one statement.)
2 John is not written to any specific church. It’s a very personal letter written from the heart of a tender pastor who deeply loves this dear lady in the Lord. But it’s a general epistle governing traveling ministers. After the apostles died off, a clash arose over the ministers of local churches and the traveling ministers. There were some false ministers who had begun to fill the pulpits of the local churches and others who had begun to travel about taking advantage of the Christians who were kind enough to provide them food and lodging during their ministry and stay.
Because of this abuse, some within the churches arose and began to oppose all traveling minsters. John writes the chosen lady to warn her of false teachers. Then in John’s third letter, which we will get to in a few weeks, John writes Gaius to encourage him to receive true teachers. So with that said let’s dig in to 2 John.
READ verse 1. It looks like this lady had written to John about the problem of false teaching that had infiltrated the church or her home. So John was writing her as a dear friend and warning her against the false teaching. This first section deals solely with the lady and her children. She is the elect or chosen lady.
Elect means to be chosen by God. It means to be one of God’s holy and dearly loved followers. This is exactly what Paul said about believers: he said they were “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.”
This lady was elected to be holy, or set apart. She was chosen to be one of the dearly loved followers of God. READ 1B-2.
She was loved in the truth. This tells us how we should love one another—in the truth. What does that mean? It means that we are to love one another in Jesus Christ. Jesus said that He is the truth. But Jesus also said that the Word of God is truth. (Jn. 17:17)
All that a person should be is spelled out for us in the Word of God. So God’s Word spells out the perfect and ideal person, just what God wants a person to be.
So we are to love one another in the truth—in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Word of God. This means that we are to love one another as Jesus loved and as the Word of God instructs us. And I think we know that this love is different from the love that is displayed in the world.
The world’s love focuses on infatuation and passion, feelings and sentimentality, personal pleasure and loving those who love us.
But the love of Jesus and the Word of God is a different love. It’s a sacrificial love—a love that helps people even they are unlovely and unattractive. It’s the love that reaches out to people even when they don’t deserve it. It’s the same type of love that God gives to us when we are unlovely and don’t deserve it.
And this means something wonderful. It means that no matter who we are, no matter what we have done, no matter how terrible we have been, we are loved by Christ. And it also means that we are loved by others. No matter how unloved we may feel; how lonely and empty, there is a multitude of people who love us just as Christ loves us.