Sunday, December 13, 2015

Jesus on Spiritual Maturity: From Children to Young Men to Fathers (1 John 2:12-14)

I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one
(1 John 2:12-14,

[What John wrote is what Jesus would have had said]. Apostle John here concludes this section by using a style of writing which some translations set in poetic style. Notice that John addresses three different groups: children, young men, and fathers. There has been a great deal of debate over whether or not John really meant these groups to be three age levels, or whether he meant these groups to be understood in a spiritual sense. In the context of this passage, to me, it seems that John probably was speaking about the groups in a spiritual way (but then again, obviously old John saw everyone as younger than him since he was about 100 years when he wrote this letter).

Just as there are children, young people, and parents in a physical ways, so there are these groups in a spiritual sense as well. “Children” are the new-born in Jesus Christ; they have only recently come into a relationship with Jesus. John applauses them because their sins have been forgiven; they are at peace with God. The “young men” are more developed believers than the children. They exemplified wisdom and stability to those who are younger in their faith. The young men have been given the gift of strength. I like to think that I’m in the “young men” level (or at least by now, I’m supposed to be). As I struggle with the temptations of this life, I may grow tired and want to give up or give in. But with the gift of strength where “the word of God abide” in me, I can be confident and fearless in facing what may seem so overwhelming to me. The Apostle also applause the “fathers” because they have received the gift of increased knowledge and great maturity.

So, John is applauding us! No matter how long we have been a (true) Christian, we have received certain special gifts which belong to no others outside of Christ, namely, the gift of forgiveness, personal knowledge of God, and the strength to grow and develop as God’s children. All of these will eventually be given to us as we grow into maturity in Christ. Let us “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). As Jesus Himself “grew in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and all the people” (Luke 2:52), so we must become. Amen.


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