1 John 2:12, “I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.”
John, the Beloved Apostle begins to change his tone from the previous verses. He begins by addressing the Christians he’s writing to as part of his family and in the process pointing out each stage of maturity.
This is an important lesson for us as brothers and sisters, because sometimes we forget that we are ALL at different stages of our Christian development and it isn’t dependent upon our natural age or for that matter, the time we have been serving the Lord! The Apostle is reminding us of that in the way he is addressing his Church family.
In this verse he addresses those in the early stages of their maturity. “I write to you, little children,” because he is addressing those that are new to rebirth or the salvation gift. Truly and again no matter our physical age, when we have bowed our heads and asked Christ Jesus to forgive us of all of our sins, and have believed in that promise that we ARE forgiven we are as a babe in the spiritual and have been newly (re)born.
Remember the writer of Hebrews expounded on this principle when he wrote in Hebrews 5:13-14, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Now granted, the writer of Hebrews was chastising the church for not moving beyond that of a child and that is NOT what the Apostle John is doing here, but rather pointing out the very natural progression of movement in life, even as it applies in the spiritual. He is calling the “little children” in the Church to remember the basics of their childhood, that is, there sins HAVE been forgiven and their salvation IS through Christ Jesus! Newly reborn spiritual children are not expected truly know much more than that.
Here is another aspect also that is hinted at; children can find protection and comfort in the presence of their older family members. Whether it be older brothers and sisters or more mature parental figures. So it is with a child of God. A newly reborn spiritual child should know beyond a shadow of a doubt that those who have been living this spiritual journey ahead of them can be a source of comfort and protection when things start to get a little rough. Often times we think the more mature are just relegated to teaching the younger, when in actuality, they often times need the emotional and natural support while they are learning to walk in this new realm. Remember back to your early days; the enemy was looking to cause you to stumble at every turn. Whatever example drew you to Christ in the Holy Spirit, you still needed examples who continued to walk in the journey the child (in the Lord) is only beginning to walk in.
One other point and it wasn’t meant to be put as a side-note either, but notice the progression in John’s writing. “Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.” We derive the benefit of forgiveness and redemption. Our salvation was purchased at such a high price and every CHILD of God should remember AND be reminded of that; but John is making another profound statement and that is that we have been forgiven “for His name’s sake!” We WERE forgiven that we might be free, BUT it was also that His name might be glorified and magnified by all who seek redemption; “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12.
1 John 2:13, “I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.”
John continues on as he addresses fathers, those that have spiritual maturity, those who have KNOWN in an intimate way our Heavenly Father through the Son of God! Fathers have the advantage of time and experience behind them. They have experienced Christ’s presence whether they walked the natural earth with Him or not. They have not just experienced His presence, but His power and authority as well and they have learned from their experiences.
Any of you who have read my posts notice that I often refer to the Bible as the Living Word of God, for to me, it is so much more, so much deeper than just writing on pages between two covers! Just as it itself expresses it IS the Living Character and Nature of Christ Jesus (the anointed One). It has ALWAYS been this way, even before Jesus came to earth in the fleshly form of a man! His Character and Nature are found throughout the Old Testament and it has ALWAYS been to point man to a relationship with the Father, God Almighty!!
God has ALWAYS, beyond time and space that we can imagine, had a plan for ALL of His creation. It was meant to be written down, by the inspiration AND power of the Holy Spirit so that upon His return to His throne, we ALSO could walk with Him as the disciples and early Apostles did! We, over two thousand years later can still gain experience, power and authority through a relationship, based upon the Character and Nature of Jesus Christ as it is empowered by the Holy Spirit whom Jesus Himself promised would be with us!! We just have to be willing to open the pages held between those two covers and allow His Spirit to commune with our spirit. Remember, John is reminding fathers, that we “have known Him who is from the beginning.”
I have stated this often times before also, and it applies so perfectly here. “Little children” will believe in Him and believe what is taught from those with experience, but “fathers” will KNOW. There is a state within our lives that advances mere belief into KNOWLEDGE. Do not take me wrong, I am NOT belittling the concept of belief in the slightest for it is the basis, the foundation of our faith, but faith, once experienced becomes actual knowledge! Spiritual fathers KNOW the Heavenly Father, they KNOW the Son of God and who He is! They KNOW the presence, power and authority of the Holy Spirit, because of belief evolving into true experiential knowledge!
You will know how the Apostle is addressing you the reader of the Word, by the spiritual level at which you are at. His (the Apostle) is addressing us ALL, at whichever level we are at, for we are as he implies, all part of “the Family of Christ!”
Then the Apostle addresses the young men and you may wonder why he chose this progression; children, fathers, then young men. “Oh to be young again!” so many say even to this day and when I myself look back upon my youth and younger days, I reminisce about the struggles I have been through to get to the place of maturity where I am today! Oh to be on fire; flamed with the passion and strength that comes with youthfulness! I know many of you, my peers have thought exactly the same thing!
But, I would not be where I am in the Lord today, and neither would any of the other fatherly peers I have, if it wasn’t for the trials and testing that we have had to endure and go through to gain the strength and confidence associated with experience in the Lord. Just like physical exercise, meant to keep one healthy and strong as well as confident, so is the spiritual “exercises and endurances” that we must see through to strengthen our spiritual muscles AND our spiritual mind! That is the “plight” of the young men in the Lord upon their journey to spiritual fatherhood (maturity) in the Lord!
But John is applauding the young men, for to be young and strong in the Lord means that you ARE a spiritual WARRIOR in God’s army! You HAVE defeated the wicked one! By the mere means of advancing from the pure milk of the Word to a soldier who can wield the Sword of the Word is a feat of the young and the strong! You are GAINING the experience needed to be a power and an authority in the Holy Spirit!
My Grandson, Tristen joined the U.S. Army when he was just under 18 years old. He was 18 when sent to boot-camp and in a month will turn 20. He joined the Military Police to follow in his father’s footsteps to serve within Law Enforcement and when he joined, he was a strapping young teenager. I can tell you that from the experience he has already garnered, he is no longer just a teen, interested in parties and socializing and “stuff!” He followed a direction he believed was from the Lord and he has stayed focused on that direction and though still a young man today, he has achieved experiences and insights AND confidence that can’t be found in many his age. Needless to say, we are ALL proud!
But what makes us most proud, is to see him develop his skills in continually trusting in the Lord. He’s a young man, he still has questions, he still stumbles from time to time, but all these things, all the trials and what seem to be obstacles are teaching him that he CAN trust the Lord in all things and it is just like the PT (Physical Training) he has to participate in almost every day to make him and keep him strong, alert and confident, so it is with the spiritual PT that the Lord requires of him as a young man. With each exercise, with each trial and obstacle, he is becoming the Spiritual Warrior that Christ Jesus has called him to be! This is the very thing the Apostle John is reiterating and reminding those he has written too!
Now remember, throughout all this, John is not speaking of natural age specifically. He is talking to those of a spiritual age and maturity. The timeline of the spiritual and the natural does not always coincide. A brother of mine asked me the other day if from time to time we can have some face-time because he’s still young in the Lord. Hope I don’t offend him, but he’s not quite as old as I am but yet no young man, age-wise either. He’s been serving the Lord he said for about sixteen years. Well, we each do a lot of blogging, him a lot more than me and the posts he makes and the posts from others he so wisely reposts on his site made me a bit surprised when he said he’d only been serving the Lord for sixteen years!!! Another “confirmation” to me, that what John is writing has no bearing on actual age at all. Spiritually speaking I would argue with anybody that this man is well beyond his “spiritual” years! But then again, that is what a heart that is malleable and soft before the Lord is capable of. If you let Him, the Lord will shape you into what He wants in little to no time at all, if you are surrendered!
John then goes on to write what seems like a reiteration: “I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.” There are two possible explanations for why John again writes to those as “little children. First, he is again reminding that though they may not be mature in the Lord yet, one thing they do KNOW and that is the Father, through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. This is the most popular belief but to stay in context with what is coming in the next verse, I personally do not believe this explanation, though it is of no doctrinal circumstance.
Rather, I believe (because of context) in the second explanation, that the Apostle is NOT writing again to just the “little children,” but rather those he is endeared too and whom he looks upon as family. John is older now, and even though in exile, considers those he is writing to as his close, loving family. So just as a “grandfather” would, he sums up these last two sentences with what amounts to saying, “I write to you, my dear, dear family,” (children, young and mature). Why? “Because you ALL have known the Father (through Christ Jesus)!”
1 John 2:14, “I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.”
Now don’t get too excited! It appears that the 14th verse is the same as the 13th verse. Could this be one those “mistakes” so many try to prove are in the Word? Look again. Have you spotted the difference yet? Let me tell you this; John was INSPIRED by the Holy Spirit to put down exactly what the Spirit of God wanted him to write. He KNEW what he was writing! His heart and mind were “moved” on by the Holy Spirit, our promised Guide and Counselor.
Have you seen it yet? A couple of things to bear in mind; repetition helps those who read/study something important to retain it. It means more and, has more of an impact upon the reader. But notice the difference now; in verse 13, John says, “I write to you (fathers, young).” In verse 14, John says, “I have written to you (fathers, young).” This is subtle, oh so very subtle, but it is meant first as a confirmation and a repetition to expound upon the importance of the previous verses. The first written in the present tense, “I write to you,” telling them, instructing them in his very reasoning why he is putting his thoughts to paper. The second, “I have written to you,” to stress the IMPORTANCE of why he is writing! He is saying in no uncertain terms, that what I am saying to you (and what follows) is too important to just skim over or to take lightly!
This is the very reason why I believe that when he penned the last part of the 13th verse he was more or less writing the “prologue” for the next verses to come. “FAMILY take note; you KNOW the Father, so listen to what I say next!” When you read and study the Word in context, it takes on a life that becomes clear to those that can spiritually discern. This is why I believe in the second explanation, and understand, this is my personal belief since studying the Word.
Fathers, you have experience that is of value. Young men, you are strong in the Lord and able to fight the good fight. Do not forget these things. Fathers, you can be an inspiration and instructor to those young men who are taking up the Sword of Truth. Young men, look to the fathers for wisdom and instruction. Little children, you know you are safe. You have soldiers to protect and help you on your journey, AND you have fathers who will lead and guide you with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. EACH of you, avail yourself to those who have experience to get to the next level of maturity.
Just a few simple Scriptures. Easy to read and gloss over, but when taken with some spiritual light shining on them, the wisdom, the inspiration of the Lord’s Hand shines brightly on them!!
One final thought on our place in the Lord:
As fathers we need to be there for one another, to fill in the gaps, where one lacks the other can fill in. This is where real Body Ministry begins to take place. Not all fathers are the same. We may walk with a higher level of maturity, but we are not all Apostles, we are not all Prophets, we are not all Pastors or Teachers. We need to fill the place that the Holy Spirit has placed us in and equipped us for, and, we need to do so with love and concern for those that are quickly coming behind us, looking to our experience and example.
Do you know where you stand? If you do, then take the steps that the Lord has established for you. Remember Psalm 37:23-24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.”
The Lord is delighted in the steps you take when you take the ones that He has set before you! Do not be afraid or doubt, for even when we stumble, and we all do, it is again, the Lord and His strength that holds us up!!