"The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love." - 2 John 1:1-3 ESV
John uses a title. The apostle of love uses a title. I know there are some who don't like titles. Our culture has become progressively casual and some people have been hurt by people who wield titles like knifes to cut other people's self images down to size... but here is the Apostle using one.
He might have used it to obscure his identity so that only this lady and the believers there could know it was him. There were likely many Johns around and he was now an old Apostle so the elder could have been some inside joke that John had with this person and the others who would read his correspondences. Still.
He calls the recipient of the letter 'the elect lady' which also could have been an inside reference bestowing a great honor on a humble but very valued person.
John obscured his identity while revealing himself and magnified her identity all in the very first line of his letter. It is no wonder that this little letter was chosen as canon. It shines of love, honor, respect, grace and mercy. It adds very little that is new to our understanding but there is no doubt that it is God speaking through a man to every elect lady. Every woman who has believed has that title not just this one. Every woman born of God is loved by those who know the truth. No elect lady is ever alone. She is known and exalted in standing.
I call people by their titles and if they insist I call them by their first name then I call them by their title or rank and then add their first name. You may see this as the exaltation of a man or even disrespecting their wishes but I see it as the obscuring of a man and a kind declaration that says, 'You and I are going to have a doctrinal rapport. We have something good and valuable between us. God Is here and I am not now nor ever going to be familiar with you. This is no personality-fest.' I may not give my title to them. I may just let them find out from someone else. Like everything else I want to be led. Even though I am 'formal' with people I don't want to insist they be formal with me. This is my conviction based on edification in these United States of America. I might do something else somewhere else but this is how I combat the air here and now.
Do you think this elect lady was eager to hear what else the Apostle said after this loving generous introduction? I do. If John had started the correspondence with the pressing issues and forgone the greeting would it have been the same?
Grace takes dusty people and downright dirty people and exalts them in brightness as mercy erases the evidence of grime. Declaring to some one that that they are more than just the name their parents gave them reflects a deep truth. God has made us to be more than what we were born with. Our end will be better than our beginning just because we got to know Him.
"To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you." - 1 Peter 1:1b-2 ESV
Can we start and end with love and respect? I want to. It is my desire that everyone I speak to today would have more after our conversation than they did before we spoke. Or if not more than they would realize what they already do have. People who know the King may be dispersed in the world but they are still the chosen of God.