I John 2:12-14
In a Nutshell
John explains his message for his variegated readership or audience.
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Why isn't John satisfied with writing to heads of households?
12 I am writing to you, [prep] children, because your offences are forgiven because [you are] 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 people, because you have overcome the evil one. 14 I wrote to you, [prep] children, because you know the Father. I wrote to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I wrote to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you, having overcome the evil one.
So many of the letters of the New Testament, particularly those of Paul, are written to churches. The letters that frame the Apocalypse are also all to churches, even though the individual reader is made privy to these letters dictated by Jesus Himself, the One who moves among the candlesticks. But this letter from "the disciple whom Jesus loved" is different. In sending out this encouraging reiteration of the teaching of his Rabbi, John shows his deep concern to connect with all those who might be in earshot, those who now find themselves caught up in the light that Jesus has brought. In this respect his letter confirms that the Good News of Jesus Christ makes its direct appeal to children - Let the children come to me - stop hindering them! - even as it reminds parents of their task before Heaven to bring up their offspring "in the fear and admonition of the Lord". John's explanation of his letter can be put in these terms:
My family in Christ Jesus, we are bound together with our sins forgiven because of the love of the Father.
Those overseeing households, fathers, mothers, parents, elders you've already known of this all along, so I write to you again simply because you have known this all along.
And you young people, ready to take your adult responsibilities, I write to you because this forgiveness means you have already been delivered from the evil one. I write this because you need to have such encouragement to keep up your own strength.
This strange listing of those receiving his letter, is John's acknowledgment of what Jesus has achieved in their lives. It is due to an anointing (2:20, 27) that they have the gift of faith, and continue to walk in the light as he is in the light (1:7, 2:6). That fellowship [KOINONIA] undergirds this letter-writing. John shows once more that he vividly recalls Jesus' teaching at a time of great trauma for His disciples.
These are the things I have spoken to you in order that you might have peace in me. In the world you will experience all kinds of distress but cheer up, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Here we recall the possibility that those associated with the name of Jesus, time and again, misunderstand the message He has brought. The idea that John writes to encourage some kind of "love" mysticism, to be found by going out of this world, cannot grasp what he is saying here. Just like Mark's gospel, this letter understands that the good news has been given to encourage all of God's children.