The two final letters of the elderly Apostle John, although brief, have some valuable lessons for us. The first is addressed to “the elect lady” but there is no indication who she is. I like to see her as being the mother of Jesus; we read nothing of Mary after she is named as being among the assembly with her children; the word “brothers” includes sisters. This occurs after Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 1:14).

John writes to this special “lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth” (2 John 1). So they are loved by others, now this is especially understandable if this is Mary and her other sons and daughters. He tells this “elect lady” he “rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth” (verse 4).

We recall that John recorded that earlier not “even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5) and Mary stood by the cross with just one supporting person, John! We read in John 19:26,27, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’. Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home”. A bond was formed then with Mary and, soon after the resurrection, with her other children! And later, it seems, her son James, called “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19) played an important role in the Jerusalem ecclesia.

The Greek word for “elect” is usually translated as “chosen”. We will soon see John use it in Revelation; the time when the Lamb conquers all opposition “and those with him are called chosen and faithful” (17:14). Those genuinely faithful become the elect, the chosen who will reign with him. Our minds cannot imagine this!

In his third letter John makes the point “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (verse 4). We note the word “walking” – not simply knowing what is truth. When we were young, and it is more than 65 years since my wife and I were baptised, it was normal for believers to teach and encourage, setting their children an example in knowing and then “walking” in the way of truth. But today the scene has become different; the ways of the world are in the faces of our children. Let us renew our efforts to set the example of such “walking” more clearly – being supplemented by our loving and earnest words of encouragement to all around us.