Christian Fathers and the Knowledge of the Divine Being
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…

In the distinction of Christians, they are fathers who best know Him that was from the beginning.

I. THE OBJECT. By "Him that was from the beginning" is meant Christ, who is also thus elsewhere described (John 1:1, 2).

1. As to His office and saving efficacy (Revelation 13:8).

2. As to His personal subsistence (Micah 5:2; John 17:5). The benefit of this meditation.

(a) To further the joy of our faith, in that we see the infinite worth that is in His sufferings to satisfy justice and to expiate sin.

(b) To increase the strength of our confidence against all the assaults of the enemies of our salvation (1 John 5:5).

(c) That we may be more apprehensive of the greatness of His love, which we shall never be till we consider the dignity of His person.

(d) To show the readiness of our obedience, that we may receive His doctrine, and obey His laws; that we may not be ashamed of His truth, and the profession of His name.

(e) To increase our reverence, and that the ignominy of His Cross may not obscure His glory, nor lessen His respect in our hearts, but that we may have high and honourable thoughts of our humbled Lord in His lowest estate.

(f) To draw our hearts from all created things, and to lessen our respect to worldly vanities, that so our minds and hearts may more look after those things which are eternal and glorious. He that was before the world was will be when the world shall be no more.


1. Speculative and historical: with this most content themselves. The Jews had "a form of knowledge" (Romans 2:20), and so hath the formal Christian (2 Timothy 3:5) a map or model of gospel truths. There are different degrees of this — a memorative knowledge. Another degree above this is an opinionative knowledge, when they do not only charge their memories, but have a kind of conscience and judgment about these things. But yet wisdom entereth not upon the heart (Proverbs 2:10). They make men disputers of this world, but not serious practisers of godliness. They have a religion to talk of, but not to live by.

2. Practical and saving. The truth and soundness of our knowledge is mainly known by the effects. We are to "know Him that was from the beginning," so as —

(1)  To believe in Him, and to venture our eternal interests in His hands (Psalm 9:10).

(2)  To know Him so as to esteem and prize Him (Philippians 3:8, 9).

(3)  To know Him so as to embrace Him with love and desire (John 4:10).

(4)  To know Him so as to obey Him (Jeremiah 22:16).

III. WHAT IS HEREIN PROPER TO FATHERS, or how can this be a ground of distinction between them and others, since all Christians are indispensably bound to know Christ? (John 17:3)

1. Whatever is said of either age, fathers, young men, or babes, doth certainly belong to all; as to overcome the wicked one, so to know Him that was from the beginning. To know the Father is common to all the ranks, only most eminently in one more than in the other.

2. There is some peculiar fitness in these characters, and in the several ages mentioned; as —

(1) Plenitude of knowledge belongeth to the ancient (Job 12:12).

(2) Old men are versed in the knowledge of ancient things, and love to discourse of things done long ago. So the apostle commendeth his fathers, or old men, for that they have known the Ancient of Days, or the eternal Son of God, which maketh them more happy than all that knowledge which they have gotten by many years or long experience in the world.

(T. Manton, 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.

A Description of Young Men in Christ
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