I. The Destination (Vv.1–2)

The letter is addressed to the chosen lady. This may refer to an individual, or it may be a euphemism for a local congregation. The nature of the contents leads most contemporary interpreters to identify the lady as a church. Her children would then refer to members of the church who are known to the author. These somewhat veiled references may reflect a period of persecution when it was prudent to avoid speaking too openly.

The word of address is given with deep affection. The phrase love in the truth may mean “in all Christian sincerity” (Stott, 202), since the definite article is absent in the Greek. There could also be a suggestion that some are outside the truth, reminiscent of the situation addressed in 1 John.