ELECT LADY (ἐκλέκτη κυρία). This title was used in the salutation of 2 John 1:1. It has been understood to identify a Christian woman, the acquaintance of the Elder who wrote the letter. Her sister may have been his hostess at the time he wrote. “Lady” in Gr. was sometimes a proper noun, and some have thought it should have been transliterated (Kuria or Cyria) as was Gaius’ name in 3 John. It is more likely that the reference was a figure of speech referring to the church to which the letter was addressed, as also the closing reference to “sister” would be understood as a designation for a Christian community. The symbolism of the church as a mother and its members as children may be hinted in 1 Pet 5:13 also. The election of God’s people was a prominent idea in the OT and the figure of the Messianic community as a woman bearing children may likewise be understood in Galatians 4:25 and Revelation 12.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
la’-di (eklekte kuria; 2 Joh 1:1):
In accordance with strict grammatical usage these words of address may be translated in three ways: "to an elect lady" (which as an address is too indefinite); or, both words being taken as proper names, "to Eklekte Kuria" (an improbable combination of two very rare names); or "to Eklekte, lady" = anglice, "to the lady (or `Madam’) Eklekte."
The other translations which have been given--"to the elect lady" or "to the elect Kuria"--are open to objection on account of the omission of the article; but this violation of rule is perhaps not without parallel (compare 1Pe 1:1).
The translation adopted will partly depend upon whether we regard the epistle as addressed to an individual or to a community. Dr. Rendel Harris believes this question to be settled by the discovery in the papyri of numerous instances which prove that kurios and kuria were used by ancient letter-writers as terms of familiar endearment, applicable to brother, sister, son, wife, or intimate friend of either sex (Expositor, March, 1901; see also Findlay, Fellowship in the Life Eternal, chapter iii). In the light of this suggestion we should naturally translate, "to my (dear) lady Eklekte."
Grammatically, this is strongly supported by 1Ti 1:2 and 2Ti 1:2 (Timotheo gnesio .... agapeto .... tekno = "to Tim othy my true .... beloved .... child"); and the fact that the name Eklekte has not yet been discovered, though Eklektos has, offers no grave objection. This is the translation favored by Clement of Alexandria, who says of the epistle: scripta vero est ad quandam Babyloniam nomine Electam, significat autem electionem ecclesiae sanctae ("It is written to a certain Babylonian, Electa by name; but it signifies the further election of the holy church"). It seems doubtful whether he means by the last clause that Electa is simply a personification of the church, or a real person whose name was derived from the Christian idea of election. Either way the rendering, "to the lady Electa," is suitable, and upon the whole it seems the best. Eklekte is not an adjective but a noun. If a person is intended, it is "the lady Electa"; if a church, it is designated, not "the elect Lady," but "the lady Elect." The mention of "thy elect sister" in 2 Joh 1:13 does not hinder either supposition.
See further CYRIA; JOHN, THE EPISTLES OF. Robert Law