1 John 2:12-17
Great leaders, like the Apostle John, care greatly about those that they are leading or discipling (those who they have influence over or feel great responsibility towards). The instructions John wrote about here are very significant. They teach us how to walk obediently – living out our faith in a practical way.
v12: Children: Gender neutral – i.e. either masculine or feminine. It is a word that shows endearment, revealing to us that John had a special relationship with the people that he was leading. John took these relationships very seriously, realising that he was responsible to lead the people properly so that they were edified and able to grow in spiritual maturity.
The context of this verse reveals to us that John is writing to all believers – young and old, those who are mature and immature in their faith.
- Your sins (all our sins) are forgiven: This is something that all believers have in common. Only through the work of Yeshua do we all find justification.
- For His name’s sake: Acts 4:12. The name of Yeshua (Jesus) speaks about salvation (Matt 1:21). If we are a member of G-d’s family, our sins have been forgiven through, or by means of, His name.
v13: Fathers: John is speaking to those who are more mature in the faith.
- Have known Him: Written in the perfect tense. This means that they knew Him in the past (for a period of time), they know Him now and they will continue to know Him into the future.
- Him: Literally ‘the One’, i.e. John is referring to Yeshua.
- Young men: Young adults. They have been in the faith for a while, and they are strong in it.
- Overcome: The implication is that they are living (walking and behaving) a victorious life.
- The wicked one: This could be a reference to the devil, or it could be speaking about evil in general.
- Children: The word used here refers to a child who is a young adolescent (i.e. Not a newborn baby). It is a word that implies that this son or daughter is in a position of service – they are found to be faithful. This is the same word that is found in Acts 3:26 and Acts 4:27 (see biblehub.com). The same word used here (and translated ‘children’) is used in these verses in Acts to speak of Yeshua. In Acts this same word is translated ‘servant’. Yeshua is called the servant of G-d. He was someone who was obedient and faithful. He brought honour to His Father’s name.
- The Father: This can mean Father G-d, but oftentimes ‘Father’ has to do with authority or provision. They know that G-d is the provider, and they look to Him and show their dependence on Him.
v14: I have written: Here we see a slight change. John has changed the tense of the word ‘write’ (‘have written’).
- From the beginning: One of the hallmarks of John’s writings (John 1:1-2). This gives us a clue that John most likely authored these epistles.
- Young men: John says something slightly different about them in this verse. In verse 13 he had commended them for overcoming the evil. These young people are living victorious lives.
- The Word of G-d abides in you: It is due to the fact that the Word of G-d is remaining in these young people that they are strong. They are committed to the Word of G-d. If we want to be strong then we too need to remain in the Word.
- You have overcome: When we are strong in the Word (G-d’s truth) we are able to overcome evil and live victorious lives. This means that we live lives that are pleasing to G-d, lives that are submitted to Him and carry out His will.
- Wicked or Evil: Those things that are not G-d’s will for our lives – immoral, ungodly, unrighteous things.
v15: Do not love the world: This is a commandment. The New Testament is full of commandments – telling us what to do and what not to do (those things that we are not to do are incompatible with our faith).
- Love: Love is a word of commitment, a word of giving. We must not give ourselves over to the world.
- Anyone: A nonspecific word that is far reaching to all people.
- The love of the Father is not in him: When we are not walking in the love of the Father we are not going to be experience the love of the Father. When we are not in His love we are not going to see things from His perspective, and nor will we be interested in His purposes. When we begin to love the things of this world we begin a downward spiral, rather than fulfilling the upward call of G-d’s will that we have been called to (Phil 3:14). When we love the things of this world we are not going to experience the Father’s provision – we will not receive the things that we need in order to serve Him.
v16: All: An inclusive word meaning ‘everything’.
- Lust (desires) of the flesh: This is contrary to the work of the Spirit.
- Lust/Desires of the eye: This person is going to be led by what he sees. When we are led by what we see we are going to be easily manipulated by the enemy (e.g. Samson) and will move further and further away from the purposes of G-d.
- The pride of life: This person is ostentatious, which means he likes to draw attention to himself, to his possessions etc. This behaviour is not appropriate for a believer.
- Father: G-d. G-d does not give us a desire to exalt ourselves, achieving and acquiring things in order to show them off to others.
v17: The lust of it…: All the desires that a person has for the world are going to wear out. Just like people’s desires begin to change as they are nearing death, so to, when the judgment of G-d begins to manifest itself, and is beginning to approach, people are going to begin to have a big change in their desires. They are no longer going to desire the things of this world, but the things of the Kingdom of G-d, but for many of them it will be too late.
- But: An important word of contrast.
- He who does…: An action word, but also a descriptive word. G-d knows our works.
- The will of G-d: We need to meditate, focus on, and build our lives upon the will of G-d. If we do not know, and if we are not committed to, the will of G-d our future will be miserable (Eccl 12:13-14). The commandments of G-d reveal to us the will of G-d.
- Abides: Remains. Continues on into eternity.
- Forever. The person who does the will of G-d has life forever – eternal life.