Tuesday, January 22, 2013
2nd John Part 3
1:1 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, cont.
We know from hundreds of verses throughout the New Testament that faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ saves. For example:
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” 1st Corinthians 1:18-21.
In fact, Paul contrasts the merit of human achievement in these verses with the saving grace of the gospel message, and how those who are esteemed at having merit are not likely recipients of the gospel’s power to save. The gospel is for the young and old, strong or weak, rich or poor, wise or unwise. It takes no merit to trust in Jesus Christ and rely on His merit. To believe is not a work; to believe is to receive salvation and be made one of God’s elect. It may be that God predestined on criteria other than what we have presently considered; but criteria He did have, otherwise “elect according to the foreknowledge of God” and “whom He foreknew He did predestine” are entirely meaningless statements robbed of any value.
It seems that this woman John is writing to is well loved within the Christian community, and for good reason, since there is apparent report that some of her children at least are walking in the truth, 2nd John 1:4. Though some consider “the elect lady” to be a church body that John is addressing, this small letter seems quite personal, commending this Christian woman for her sanctified lifestyle, and that she has reared children who follow in the steps of their mother. The other possibility, slightly more radical, is that this older woman is like Pheobe, the servant (possibly deaconess) from Cenchrea mentioned in Romans 16:1. Like Aquila (Acts 18:26; Romans 16:3) or Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3) she may have been a woman whose ministry impacted young Christian minds and John was commending her for her ministry. The more traditional interpretation of the “elect lady” being a church also fits with this epistle, and in either way the message John conveys to his readership is clearly understood.