“THE ELDER, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth…”
There are two main usages of the word “elder” in the New Testament: 1) a person old in age (Acts 2:17) and 2) someone who holds the office or rank of leadership in the local church (Acts 20:17, 18; Ti 1:5,7). The “elder” here is the apostle John who holds rank in the cause of Christ.
Ac 20: 17 “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church… 28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
1 Pe 5: 1 “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed…”
Ti 1: 5 “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop [a bishop is an elder] must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.”
To the elect lady and her children,
Some interpreters believe that the phrase “elect lady and her children” refers metaphorically to the local church in Ephesus and its constituents. However, it is more natural or normal to take this phrase literally as a woman and her children. John does not name this woman.
The “elect lady” is a lady chosen of God. This “elect lady” was probably a widow with children. God chooses women to do His work.
Apparently the “elect lady” exercised love at the expense of truth. She showed hospitality to itinerate false teachers. These people denied Jesus as the sovereign Son of God. Genuine hospitality does not advance error. Love should never violate truth; instead, genuine love upholds truth. There is a close relationship between truth and love in the Scriptures.
True biblical love is always bound by truth.
There is a close relationship between truth and love in the Word of God. Truth is the motivation and context of genuine Christian love. True love is bound by truth. Pop psychology says that we love people regardless of what they believe. It contends that we are to put aside what we believe. Divergence and pluralism are the new standard of orientation to people. The principles of the Word never surrender truth for love. Faithfulness to truth overshadows and governs true biblical love.
2 Co 13: 7 “Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.”
Ga 2: 11 “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?’”
Everything we specifically know about God is through the truth of Scripture.
Jn 8: 31 “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”
2 Ti 2: 15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Ja 1: 18 “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”