“I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 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.“ 1 John 2.12-14
It’s not often that in a letter we get the straightforward reasons why a letter is being written. Sometimes we have to read into it, discern it, interpret it. But in this case, John clearly states at least six reasons for why he is writing. And, he tells us exactly the audience for each reason. However, in this entry, I will highlight only the first three reasons.
To the “dear children,” I am assuming this is all the people in the church, both women and men, boys and girls alike. Everyone who is a recipient of the letter and consequently of the Gospel. He writes, “because your sins have been forgiven on account of his (Jesus’) name. So the first reason he writes is so all will know they have been forgiven their sins — a huge deal considering the abolishment of the Jewish sacrifice system and the destruction of the Temple. (Consider the comfort this would provide these Jews.)
Second reason, to the “fathers” (are these church fathers/leaders or actual fathers?) — “because you know him who is from the beginning.” I am guessing it is church fathers, the leaders of the congregation, who also might be earthly fathers. John is affirming the One True God they have been worshipping and serving since birth is the same God in Jesus Christ. Again, this to me is seemingly directed at the Jews and these early worshippers of the faith. This helps ground them in the knowledge of God and their prior study, faithfulness to him.
The third reasons, out of six, but the last I will cover is to the “young men” — can we assume this to be the young zealots in the church? The young me who are energized, faithful, seeking God fully and zealous for God. For them, it’s “because they have overcome the evil one.” Now whether or not they conquered evil for God is another question. John writes to those young, full of passion, the future leaders of the church maybe with the “hope” that they will overcome the evil one. It’s basic psychology that when we are encouraging someone to be successful in a specific area that we say they have already achieved that desire. Could it be the same way with these young men? John is no longer a young man. He is most certainly middle-aged when this is written but he knows what it was like to be young and impulsive, hot-blooded and full of life.
John gets real “human” at this point when addressing these three groups of people and the reasons for his letter. He meets them not just on a spiritual level but on an emotional one as well. He of course is writing by the power of the Holy Spirit who is inspiring his words and guiding his hand.
It’s a word for us today as well as he read and interpret this message for ourselves. We too take comfort in the fact that we are forgiven our sins, that we have known the Father since the beginning, and that we have (and still are) overcoming the evil one.
Our victory in Christ is complete. Rejoice in this fact and share this good news with all you meet today!
“O Lord God, thank you for this truth of your word. For early mornings to reconnect with your word and be filled with your Spirit. Come now, Lord Jesus, walk with me. Guide me. Lead me. Redeem me. Help me turn from evil and toward holiness. Help me know the depth of your love and the grace in your hand. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen