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I believe that the actual verse to which the question is referring is 2 John 1:1, rather than 1 John 1:1. In my opinion, John did not use the word "lady" in 2 John 1:1 to refer to the church, or to Mary the mother of Jesus, whom Catholics later referred to as "Our Lady" ("Notre Dame", in French), but was writing to an actual Christian (as indicated by John calling her "elect", meaning "chosen" by God, as all Christians are) woman, whose name or specific identity he did not provide, and who had children who were also serving God. (This interpretation is supported by the concluding mention in 2 John 1:13 of the lady's sister, who was apparently also a Christian.) (As with the woman to whom John was writing, the sister to whom he referred was an individual person, rather than a church or congregation.)
I think John wrote this letter to the spiritual leader of one of the house churches he had established during his missionary journeys. He is keeping the person's identity a secret to protect the church from persecution. The children he refers to in verse 1 are the believers who attend this house church. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:16-17). In this letter John is substituting the word "truth" for the Holy Spirit. Paul, in his letters often referred to himself as the spiritual father of the churches he had established [birthed] and they were his spiritual children. The terms brothers and sisters are commonly used in all the letters and do not refer to physical families but to the spiritual family of God, to people who are fellow believers in Jesus Christ. In Verse 4 he comments with great joy that some of these believers are walking in the truth [walking by the Spirit]. But others have been indulging the desires of their flesh. In verse 5 he urges the leader to help the church obey Christ's commands by walking in love for one another. John warns this spiritual leader in verses 7 and 8 to guard the church against deceivers and antichrists who work their way into the church to lead others astray. He reminds her in verse 9 that anyone who teaches a message other than the teaching of Christ is not from God. He tells her in verse 10 that if anyone comes with another teaching she must not welcome them into her house [the local church], or they will be sharing in the deceivers wicked work. In verse 12, John tells her he has much more to say but wants to visit her and the church that meets in her house so their joy may be complete. In the final verse 13 John sends greetings from the children of her sister. The children are believers in another house church led by the sister. The sister is another spiritual leader of a local church. We need to remember that all these new testament books and letters were circulated and read in many, if not all, the churches of Jesus Christ for their instruction, warning and encouragement.
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