The children of your chosen sister send their greetings. (2 John 1:13)
Here we go again…
As we finish the book of 2 John we come back to the same issue we have addressed more than once. Was the “chosen lady” a real person, or a personification of the church? Were her children her real children, or members of her church family?
And now that the “children” of the “chosen lady’s chosen sister” send their greetings what are we to think? Did the “chosen lady” have a real “chosen sister” whose children lived at Ephesus, or are we talking about the church collectively?
In the church I serve, we use the female gender to describe churches that fall within the same family tree. Since Jesus loved the church as a husband loves his bride, and gave Himself up for her, this seems only natural. Our congregation has “sister” churches that were begun by different people, but who share a common heritage. We have “daughter” churches, which were planned church plants. We even have a church “granddaughter” which was begun by one of our daughters. We don’t call the people in these churches “children” but we do sometimes refer to them as “brothers and sisters.”
Does it matter whether the “lady” and “sister” mentioned in 2 John are literal or figurative?
Well…in a way no…but in a way yes.
In a way “no” because the important thing was that the truth was preserved.
But in a way “yes” because embedded in this discussion is the role of women in the early church. It is no small thing to say the Apostle John wrote a letter to a literal “chosen lady.” The only possible reason he would have had for doing so was that he believed she had sufficient influence in her church family to make a difference. And we must remember, there were some serious challenges referenced in John’s letter, not the least of which was the nature of Jesus as the Son of God and dangerous false teachers.
Were these challenges to be taken on by a specific woman, or was John speaking to the church as a family?
My personal inclination is to take the literal view of the “chosen lady.” I think John needed her to help preserve the purity of her church family. This doesn’t mean the “chosen lady” had an official title, but she definitely had an important role.
But then, we all have a role in upholding the doctrine of Christ, in our personal walk, and in the church collectively.
And somewhere there is a “chosen sister” watching to see if we are successful.
We can’t afford to let her down.
Dear God, thank You for those who preserve the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.