I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I John 2:12-13
One of the three primary enemies of believers is the world. Carnality, or worldliness, is a topic that is repeatedly addressed throughout the N.T. God desires for His children to be overcomers against the world. These verses will give us some insight into why we should strive to be victorious over the world.
The first reason I would note is that overcoming the world is a mark of spiritual maturity.
In verse twelve, John addresses these remarks to all believers. His use of teknia (translated, “little children”) is a term of endearment. He is reminding us that all believers have the same relationship with God. Our sins are forgiven for the sake of the name of Jesus. This means that everyone of us has the same opportunity for fellowship with Christ.
I believe that fellowship and maturity are closely related. The more one fellowships with the Savior, the more they will grow in knowledge of Him. This, of course, leads to greater levels of strength and spiritual maturity.
John was writing to the third-generation church. The “fathers” to whom he was speaking were of the same generation as Christ. Given the dispersion of the early church due to persecution, it was possible that he was writing to some who had actually seen or known Jesus. Thus he says, “You have known him that is from the beginning.” They have experienced an ongoing learning process in the doctrine of Christ.
The young men were the strong ones. They were old enough to remember the persecution. They had seen their parents pay the price for identifying with Christ. This had inspired them to take a stand for Jesus as well. They had continued in the doctrines of Christ as taught to them by the “fathers”, thus they were growing stronger and had actually experienced victory over the world.
The little children, (here it is translated from paidia, literally a “small child”) had a knowledge of the heavenly Father. John would desire for them to continue to grow in strength, knowledge and grace so that they would become “young men” and eventually “fathers” themselves.
We can only overcome the world when we are growing in our fellowship with Christ. Tomorrow we will see how the world pulls against us as believers, but may we be encouraged to draw closer to Christ, walk and talk with Him, and let His word dwell in us and cause to grow strong in the faith.