“The Elect Lady” by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 9/21/17.
Not often observed in the conversation (ahem, debate) about women in ministry is 2 John, a letter addressed by John (according to traditional scholarship) to a woman who is the leader of a house church. The whole text immediately follows so you can read it, with important expressions italicized (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/09/18/that-elect-lady/#OBQt5oIiGz6dbf3Z.99)
…Yes, in church history some have argued that the “elect lady” of 2 John is the church itself and not a female leader. But William David Spencer, in his final piece as editor of Priscilla Papers (28.3, 2014, pp. 1-4), has devoted some space to showing that in fact it is far more likely that the “elect lady” is the church leader of a house church.
1. 2 and 3 John are close enough that few question the same authorship, making parallels between the letters especially important.
2. Inasumch as 3 John’s address is Gaius, who is clearly the leader of that church, it follows that the “elect lady” of 2 John is most likely the same at “her” church. Some speculated her name was “Electa” or “Kuria” (from the Greek of 2 John 1).
3. The use of “children” in the Epistles of John refers to church members. The lady must be distinguished from the children and, therefore, the “lady” cannot be the church itself.
4. By calling them “your children” the “lady” functions as the pastor of those children, much as Gaius does in 3 John. To call the “lady” the church as a whole, then, fails at the simplest level of language.
5. Women were the point persons/leaders in many early house churches: Chloe (1 Cor 1:11), Lydia (Acts 16:40), mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12), Nympha (Col 4:15), Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19), Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus (Philemon 1-2), and perhaps Stephana (1 Cor 16:15, 17) [from p. 3, from his wife Aida Besancon Spencer’s study].