International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
That is, "chosen," "selected."
In the Old Testament the word represents derivatives of bachar, elegit;
In the New Testament eklektos. It means properly an object or objects of selection.
This primary meaning sometimes passes into that of "eminent," "valuable," "choice"; often thus as a fact, in places where the King James Version uses "chosen" (or "elect") to translate the original (eg. Isaiah 42:1 1 Peter 2:6). In the King James Version "elect" (or "chosen") is used of Israel as the race selected for special favor and to be the special vehicle of Divine purposes (so 4 times in Apocrypha, Tobit and Ecclus); of the great Servant of Yahweh (compare Luke 23:35; the "Christ of God, his chosen"); compare eminent saints as Jacob, Moses, Rufus (Romans 16:13); "the lady," and her "sister" of 2 Jn; of the holy angels (1 Timothy 5:21); with a possible suggestion of the lapse of other angels. Otherwise, and prevalently in the New Testament, it denotes a human community, also described as believers, saints, the Israel of God; regarded as in some sense selected by Him from among men, objects of His special favor, and correspondingly called to special holiness and service.
See further under ELECTION. In the English versions "elect" is not used as a verb: "to choose" is preferred; eg. Mark 13:20 Ephesians 1:4.
e-lekt' la'-di (eklekte kuria; 2 John 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 1 Peter 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 1 Timothy 1:2 and 2 Timothy 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 John 1:13 does not hinder either supposition.
See further CYRIA; JOHN, THE EPISTLES OF. Robert Law