“I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” ~ 1 John 2:13-14
Explanation of the Text: Taking into account verse 12, these section of verses address a trifecta of people: children, fathers, and young men. It is clear that these verses go together in a poetic form (as evidenced by the format of the ESV translation). However, there is also a distinction with verse 12 that must be noted. John uses two different words for children in verses 12 and 13. In verse 12, the term he uses is a reference to all of those who are children of God, thus meaning every believer. However, here in verse 13, the Greek term used renders a meaning of young children who are still in their household under the care and guidance of parents. For that reason, there is a distinction that must be made between verse 12 and verses 13-14.
It is to the John’s discussion of these children that we first turn our attention to. John indicates that he writes to children as ones who know the Father. These are the young in Christ, perhaps recent converts, who know not the details of their Christian faith. However, as a young child knows who his father is, so to does one who has recently expressed faith in Jesus Christ. A young child may know who his father is, recognize his voice, but he does not know the details about his father (i.e. his background, etc.). However, the fact that a child knows his father, or in this case a new believer knows his spiritual Father establishes profound comfort, joy, and peace because of who the Father is.
In verses 13b and 14b, John then addresses the young men. These young men are at a great point in life because they have overcome the evil one. Verse 14 reveals that they have done so because they are strong as a result of the word abiding in them. These are not young men merely in age, but in spiritual maturity. Unlike those children who know their father, these young men have a greater understanding of who their Father is because of the word, however they have not yet arrived to being fathers themselves. Yet, they grow in their knowledge and understanding of the word and thus they are able to stand strong and defeat the evil one.
Finally, John writes to fathers who know not just the Father but know Him as the one who was from the beginning. These are the spiritually mature Christians who have grown in spiritual wisdom and are the leaders over those who are not as spiritually mature.
Examination & Application of the Text: From these verses we see several things. The primary thing to note is the progression of the Christian faith from a babe in Christ to a full grown adult. The Christian life is one of constant growth in which we feat on the Word of God, growing first in our knowledge of Him and then ultimately reflecting Him in our own personal walk. In this process there are two things to note. First, it means we are never expected to know everything, but simply that we are committed to always learning and growing. Second, this suggests that growth in Christ is an outpouring of being in Christ.
A second thing to note is how the word of God provides for spiritual nourishment. As young men were able to overcome the evil one, it is expected that the fathers addressed here were able to grow to spiritual maturity through the Word. From this comes the recognition of needing to be in Scripture. It is essential to our spiritual vitality and thus necessitates that we make it an active part of our lives.
Finally, there is comfort in knowing God the Father. As our spiritual Father, it is to Him we come for guidance, for wisdom, for instruction, for correction, and for anything else that may be necessary. As a sovereign God, there can be no greater thing than to find a relationship with Him.
Questions to Consider:
- Do you spend sufficient time in the word? A good tool to evaluate this is your spiritual growth and your relationship with God
- Do you have an intimate relationship with the Father? If not, perhaps it is related to insufficient time with Him through a relationship (i.e. time in His word and time in prayer to Him).
- What can you do to make the Word an active part of your life? Perhaps it means going to bed a few minutes later or getting up earlier. Maybe its scheduling the time everyday so that you assure yourself a specific block of time.