The Guileless Spirit Abiding in the Light in its Threefold Aspect of Childhood
1 John 2:13
I write to you, fathers, because you have known him that is from the beginning. I write to you, young men…

These verses form, I think, a break or interruption in the apostle's line of argument. John calls upon those to whom he writes to consider, not only what he is writing to them, but what they themselves are to whom he is writing; what he is entitled to assume in and about them as likely to ensure a favourable reception of his message.

I. CONSIDERED IN ITSELF, the appeal recognises, on the one hand, a common character in all believers, that of "little children," and on the other hand a distinction between "fathers" and "young men."

1. In addressing us all as little children, John makes a distinction between his first and his second appeal. It is the same thought in reality, only put in somewhat different lights. For the Father is truly known, only in the forgiveness of our sins for His Son's name's sake.

2. The appeal is next made to the two classes or companies into which we may be divided: those who are fathers in Israel, and those who are young men.

II. IT STANDS BETWEEN TWO OPPOSITE PRECEPTS; the one positive, the other negative. "Love the brotherhood" (vers. 9-11); "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" (ver. 15). To love the Father, and the brethren as the Father's family; not to love the world lying in the wicked one; these are the contrasted commands between which the apostle's earnest and affectionate appeals occur. The entrance of the light into the world, its entrance into the hearts of as many as are in Christ, necessarily causes a division. It unites by a new bond of brotherhood the children of the light among themselves. And it separates between them and the world. The separation, or distinction, is not of their own making, but of God's. He is in the light. He is Himself the Light. It is He who is the Divider, and not they. Nor is the distinction of such a sort as to feed or nurse vaingloriousness on our part, or to be invidious as regards the world. Far otherwise. It is fitted to humble us in the very dust, as often as we think of what we are in ourselves, and but for sovereign mercy must ever have been; of what many, very many, around us are; less guilty, by many degrees, than we; and more likely than we to win, not only earth's approval, but, one would almost say, even Heaven's favourable regard too. What am I? And what are they?

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, little children, because you know the Father.

The Childhood of Grace
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