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Who We Are and What We Have in Christ – 1 John 2:12-14


Who We Are and What We Have in Christ.

Text: 1 John 2:12-14
This is a ‘greeting’ of sorts, perhaps a hymn – or even a ‘transition’ – like between the slides on a powerpoint! Certainly it’s an exhortation to the Christians to show them who they are, and what they have in Christ.

1. The Age References.
The first thing that we notice is that John at first glance seems to be speaking to three separate age-groups. I wonder why he would do that? In the Bible there’s no separate meetings for children, (or for women or men for that matter) – the whole church worshipped together. So, is John really splitting the church up into three separate groups, with a separate message for each of them? Let’s look at them….

Little Children. Greek τεκνια in 12, in 13, παιδια. τεκνια is a child young in age, παιδια is a child young in experience, in need of discipline and training. I am writing to you, little children
Strong Young Men. νεανισκοι. I am writing to you, young men
Fathers. πατερες I am writing to you, fathers

Yet at least one commentator thinks that there is little difference in these age distinctions. He reasons that we are all in every one of those categories. Let’s think about that possibility for a moment. Perhaps…

* All these Christians are little children to John! After all, when John is writing this epistle he is an octogenarian at least. Certainly of advanced age, and certainly with the right to call the others ‘little children’. It was a term of endearment. He spoke to them with great fondness and with pastoral love.
John is referencing their spiritual age. Also, we must always bear in mind that spiritual maturity has nothing whatsoever to do with our age or the length of time we have been saved! But there is another issue. Perhaps…

* All Christians are little children in Christ! Right throughout this book, 9 times, John speaks of ALL the believers as little children. He doesn’t do so with the other two terms, young men and fathers. 1 John 2:1 The book ends with this very phrase.
Now, why is John calling all these Christians, (and us) little children? Didn’t Jesus teach us that if we are going to be part of his kingdom, that we must come to him as little children? We are to become as babies, with total dependence on him as our father and God. Matthew 18:1 But we are to grow in grace, to make progress in the Christian life.

The normative Christian life is to make progress, to begin as little children, and then become strong young believers, and then to become wise old parents, helping others to progress, while at the same time, holding on to The Lord with that simple childlike trust that we first had.

2. Writing what I have Written.
Notice how many times in this poem John says ”I am writing” (γραφω) or “I have written”. (εγραψα). Notice there the difference in tense. ‘I am writing’ is present tense. ‘I have written’ is past tense (actually past perfect). Why would John do this. Perhaps to make an emphasis. To drive home the point, and to link the preceding sections of the letter with the sections that are to come. To show that the whole letter is all to remind Christians who they are and what has been done for them.

3. The Characteristics of these Believers.
Note carefully, that each one of these groups has characteristics that are common to all Christians:-

a) They are all forgiven. because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
Forgiveness is the heart of the Gospel. Acts 5:31,
For His name’s sake. The phrase is an interesting one. For example, Psalm 79:9  In the OT a man’s name was an indication of his nature. Jesus (Joshua) means ‘Saviour’ – that’s why the angel said, you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. When John says that we have forgiveness in his name, or for his name’s sake, he is reminding his that Christ’s nature is forgiveness. His desire is to pardon sinners!

b) They all have a personal relationship with God. you know him who is from the beginning / because you know the Father. We KNOW GOD!


c) They all have overcome the devil through the Word. the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. The devil has been defeated in the lives of these people. Not through their own strength, or some mighty spiritual victory but positionally because of the work of Christ on the cross, where Jesus died and Satan was defeated. But there is a progressive work here too. The application of the Word of God to their lives on an daily ongoing basis, will help them to recognise Satan’s pull on their lives, and to resist him, and live humble penitent lives. Overcoming through the word is such a simple matter. Just let God’s word dwell in your heart.
Now, all of these three blessings are common to every born again Christian.

Conclusion. In his next section, John is going to introduce a new section, dealing with the Christian and the world. (1 John 2:15-17) and before he can do that he needs us to know some very important foundational truths and it’s those truths he is setting out in this little transition. Regardless of our spiritual immaturity or maturity, age or youth, we Christians have been forgiven, and come to know God through a saving relationship with Christ, – overcoming the devil through the daily practical application of God’s Word to our lives.

From → 1st John

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