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Prepared for the Spiritual Battle (1 John 2:12-14)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 14 July 2013 00:00

In 1 John 2:12-14, John reminds his Christian readers of their spiritual assets. He does so by referring to his readers with three designations and then repeating the sequence of three.

(1) 12 I write to you, little children,
Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
The forgiveness of sins has overcome a huge barrier to fellowship with God and continues to do so on a daily basis (1:5-2:2). Evidently, the false teachers called the readers’ entire salvation experience into question and probably asserted that the readers have never experienced true forgiveness. But John says here that indeed they have!

(2) 13a I write to you, fathers,
Because you have known (come to know) Him who is from the beginning.
Here, in addressing the readers as fathers, John has in mind the idea of knowing God (2:3-11). As in 2:3-4, John uses the perfect tense: “Because you have come to know Him …”
For the concept of coming to know God, John prefers to use the Greek perfect tense as it conveys the idea of a state or situation that results from what has been accomplished in the past.

(3) 13 b I write to you, young men,
Because you have overcome the wicked one.
This no doubt refers to the victory achieved over Satan when they believed in Jesus for eternal life (1 John 5:4-5). 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 tells us that Satan is actively engaged in blinding men’s minds for the very purpose of preventing faith in the gospel of God’s Son.
When God breaks through that blindness and a lost sinner believes in Jesus for eternal life, then Satan is directly defeated. And since the effects of the new birth can never be reversed by Satan, this defeat is decisive and permanent (Luke 8:12). At the very least, then, the readers, viewed as young men, have experienced this victory, and so can be truly said to have overcome the wicked one (1 John 5:4).

Notice that under the designations “little children” (1:5-2:2) and “fathers” (2:3-11) that John has had previous information in mind, but that is not the case with his reference to “young men.”
There has been no mention of the wicked one so far in 1st John.
This looks ahead to what he will discuss about the ones he designates as “antichrists” in 2:18-27 who are obviously agents of Satan (cf. 4:1-6).
This explains why the designation of these believers to whom John is writing as “young men” follows, rather than precedes “fathers.”
Now we move to “round two” in vv 13c – 14 ~ the start of another sequence with the same order ~ little children – fathers – young men.
What we will see here is that
(1) the statement made to the readers as little children is entirely changed.
(2) the statement made to the readers as fathers is entirely the same, and
(3) the statement made to the readers as young men is partly changed and partly the same

(1) 13 c I write to you, little children, (The word for “little children is different ~ paidion)
Because you have known (come to know) the Father.

(2) 14a I have written to you, fathers,
Because you have known (come to know) Him who is from the beginning.
The statement to the fathers doesn’t change, so he changes to the past tense (I have written) to denote the repetition. The only possible advance knowing the One who is from the beginning is in one’s depth of knowledge of God.
In these categories (little children and young men) statements made in the first set indicate what might be called minimum experience in each category, while the second set in those same two categories (little children and young men) expresses more advanced experience in the category in question.
As little children, therefore, the readers have gone well beyond the minimum experience of the experience of the forgiveness of sin.
All believers have experienced this (Acts 10:43).
Even in the earliest days as little children in God’s family, they experience “family forgiveness” as they confess their sins to God their heavenly Father (1:9).
But obviously over time they can “come to know” the Father with whom they are having fellowship.
Just as a baby cannot be said to do much more than recognize his parents, so it is in the spiritual realm.
Coming to know the Father requires time in the faith and spiritual growth.
John uses the Greek perfect tense to communicate the idea of coming to know God.
That tense conveys the idea of a state or a situation that results from what has been accomplished in the past (2:3-4 and 2:13-14)

(3) 14b 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.

Viewed again as those who have conquered Satan, yet are said to further possess strength and God’s Word is vitally alive (abides, 2:6) in them. This comes right out of Jesus’ teaching on the mutually abiding relationship between the Vine and the branches (John 15:1-8). The strength of these young men comes from abiding in Christ which makes available to them the resource of answered prayer (John 15:7). And that is a resource we all need to use as we do battle against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12, 18). The stress in this passage on knowledge attained and victory achieved creates the strong impression that John regards his readers as well-equipped to confront the spiritual dangers about which he will be warning them in the verses that will follow ~ 2:15-27.

(Note: These notes borrow heavily from my Greek instructor at Dallas Seminary ~ Zane C. Hodges’ Commentary on The Epistles of John.)

 

 

 

 

 

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