Love in the Truth
The Elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth…
(2 John 1)
The writer of this letter did not choose to conform to the standard practice of letter writers during the life and times of Christ. The writer did not identify himself in the beginning of this letter but simply chose the term “the Elder.” This self-designation only occurs in the two letters of John the Apostle.
We know three things about the time that this letter was written. First, the term elder was commonly used in the local churches to designate those who taught and governed the local church. Second, we know from tradition that John served with the elders in the church of Ephesus during the last 25 years of his life. Third, the writer used the definite article “the” and not the word “an.” Most theologians believe this establishes and indicates the unique position and authority of the writer. John, the last living apostle and disciple of Jesus Christ, as the elder writes with apostolic authority to this “elect lady” and “her children.”
There are two schools of thought as to the identity of this lady and her children. The first school of thought believes this to be a figurative use and reference. The thought is that the lady represents a local church that John is writing to and the children represent the individual members of the congregation. The second school of thought believes this to be a literal use and reference. They would hold that this is a specific woman that John knows and that the children are actual children that resulted from the union of this particular woman and her husband. This woman is probably a widow.
Regardless of the school of thought that you choose to go along with, it is John’s sentiment and confidence in the love and truth of Christ with which we are to gripped with. John has real and clear feelings of Christian love for this woman and her children. John stresses his personal feelings of love for her as a believer.
This love is not the word one would use for personal affection or friendship. It is the highest level of ethical love that is characteristic of God himself. Why does John love her so? What kind of love does he have?
It is a love that operates and emanates from the realm of “the truth.” This is the truth that is embodied in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. John’s love issues forth from the fact that both this lady, along with her children, and John have placed their faith in the divinely inspired truth which God revealed in the incarnate Christ. John loves this woman because both she and he have believed God’s message of reconciliation in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
John assures her that not only does he love her for this reason but all who know the Lord Jesus Christ in this manner loves her also. As believers we love all who are in Christ as evidenced by their walking in the truth, verse 4. You and I are to love believers with the love characterized by God because they are believers. This is why we can love in particular each believer in our own local churches. We love them not because they are lovable, lovely, or even loving, but because they too by virtue of believing the message of God revealed in Christ belong to God.