1 elder. “The elder” is, of course, the beloved disciple John. The vocabulary, tone and content of this short epistle clearly prove that it was written by the same author as John’s gospel and his first epistle. He evidently called himself “the elder” both because he was an old man by this time and also because the various churches of Asia (to whom his letters were undoubtedly circulated) all acknowledged him as entitled to this official designation. Uniform tradition holds that he was the presiding elder, or bishop, of the church at Ephesus in particular, but all these churches honored and respected him as holding apostolic authority.
1 elect lady. Although a number of modern writers believe John was writing to a particular woman leader of one of the churches, it seems more likely that he was personifying the church under the figure of a gracious lady (compare II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27,32). No other canonical epistle is addressed to an individual, unless that individual is addressed by name (e.g., III John 1). Some have suggested that “lady” is actually a proper name (Greek kuria), but the adjective “elect” is never elsewhere used as an individual appellation (e.g., “the wellbeloved Gaius,” III John 1). Another obvious problem is that this lady was assumed to have considerable authority in the church, whereas the Apostle Paul had made it plain that, in the church, no woman was “to usurp authority over the man” (I Timothy 2:12).
1 children. The “children” so addressed, as well as other children that had moved away (II John 4), were evidently those who had been won to Christ through the ministry of this church. Perhaps, since John did not mention its location, this church was addressed as representing all the churches of the region.