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…
Understand that the apostle is not writing here to any according to their bodily age; he is using human age as a metaphor for representing growth in the spiritual life. Grace is a matter of growth, and hence we have among us babes, young men, and fathers. It is honour enough to be in Christ, and certainly it is no small thing to be in spiritual things a man in the prime of life.
I. THEIR POSSESSION OF STRENGTH. "I have written unto you young men, because ye are strong."
1. These young men in grace are strong, first of all, in faith, according to that exhortation, "Be strong! fear not!" They know whom they have believed, and they are persuaded that He is able to keep that which they have committed to him.
2. This strength makes a man strong to endure. He is a sufferer, but mark how patient he is! He is a loser in business, and he has a hard task to earn his daily bread, but he never complains, he has learned in every state to be content. He is persecuted, but he is not distressed, he is not moved from the even tenor of his way.
3. This strength shows itself, next, in labouring for Christ. The young man in Christ is a great worker. He is up and at it according to his calling and ability.
4. So also are these young men strong to resist attack.
5. Furthermore, these young men are not only strong for resistance, but they are strong for attack. They carry the war into the enemy's territory.
II. THEIR NEED OF STRENGTH. "Ye are strong, and ye have overcome the wicked one." Between the lines of the text I read the fact that young men who are strong must expect to be attacked. Every sinew in the arm of faith will have to be tested. There is a heavy burden for the strong shoulder, and a fierce fight for the trained hand. Why does Satan attack this class of men most? I reckon, first, because Satan is not always sure that the babes in grace are in grace, and therefore he does not always attack beginners; but when they are sufficiently developed to make him see who and what they are, then he arouses his wrath. Satan knows that young men in grace can do his kingdom great harm, and therefore he would fain slay them. You are strong to overthrow his kingdom, and therefore you need not marvel that he desires to overthrow you. I think it is right that young men should endure hardness, for else they might become proud. Full of strength, full of courage, full of patience, full of zeal, such men are ready enough to believe the wicked one when he whispers that they are perfect; and therefore trial is sent to keep them out of that grievous snare of the evil one. Besides, not only might this young man be a prey to pride, but he certainly would not bring the glory to God untried that he brings to Him when he overcomes temptation. Besides, it prepares them for future usefulness.
III. THEIR PROOF OF STRENGTH. They have overcome the wicked one. They must be strong; for a man who can overcome the wicked one is no mean man of war. In what sense have these young men overcome the wicked one?
1. Well, first, in the fact that they have broken right away from his power. They were once his slaves, they are not so now.
2. Moreover, these young men have overcome the wicked one, not only in breaking away from his power and in driving him entirely out of possession so that he is no longer master, but they have overcome him in the very fact of their opposition to him. When a man resists Satan he is victorious over Satan in that very resistance.
3. But besides that, some of us who are young men in Christ have won many a victory over Satan. Have we not been fearfully tempted? But the mighty grace of God has come to the rescue, and we have not yielded.
4. Once more, in Christ Jesus we have entirely overcome the wicked one already; for the enemy we have to contend with is a vanquished foe — our Lord and Master met him and destroyed him. Ah, fiend, we who believe in Jesus shall defeat thee, for our Lord defeated thee! We are more than conquerors through Him that hath loved us.
IV. THEIR SOURCE OF STRENGTH. "The Word of God abideth in you." "The Word of God" — that is to say, we are to believe in the doctrines of God's Word, and these will make us strong. What vigour they infuse into a man! The promises of God's Word, too, what power they give a man! To get a hold of a "shall" and "will" in the time of trouble is a heavenly safeguard. "My God will hear me." "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee." Then mind the precepts, for a precept is often a sharp weapon against Satan. Remember how the Lord Jesus Christ struck Satan a killing blow by quoting a precept — "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." If the precept had not been handy, wherewith would the adversary have been rebuked? Every word of God is life to holiness and death to sin. Use the Word as your sword and shield: there is none like it. Now notice that John not only mentions "the Word of God," but the Word of God "in you." The inspired Word must be received into willing mind. How? The Book must he pleaded in the inmost heart, by the work of the Holy Ghost upon the mind. A man instructed in the Scriptures is like an armed knight," who, when he goes among the throng, inflicts many a wound, but suffers none, for he is locked up in steel. Yes, but that is not all; it is not the Word of God in you alone, it is "the Word of God abideth in you." It is always there, it cannot be removed from you. If a man gets the Bible right into him he is all right then, because he is full, and there is no room for evil.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.