Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Context

makes all the difference.

1 John 2:12–14

I write to you, little children,
Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
I write to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
Because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children,
Because you have known the Father.
I have written to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
And you have overcome the wicked one.

This week’s five DEEPs form a unit on staying true to the gospel. This is John’s salutation.

But who is he addressing by little children, fathers, and young men? Two facts drive the answer.

First, every reason John gives for writing only applies to believers. Only believers are forgiven. Only believers have known Him. Only believers have overcome the wicked one.

Second, every reason also applies to every believer. All believers are forgiven, have known Him, and have overcome the wicked one.

So, all of this is addressed to all believers. That means it’s for us.


So, what’s the point? Why does John begin this unit by telling us all these reasons for writing?

John is setting up the context for what he’s going to say next. He’s stating his assumptions about the audience. This will affect our interpretation of what he says in important ways.

For example, if John were to say that we need to resist temptation, this context tells us that he’s not talking about what we need to do to become Christians; we’re already Christians. And we’ve also already overcome the wicked one. He’s not telling us how to do that either.

We’re going to need this because John is about to lay out some pretty blunt commands. This context assures us that John knows our spiritual condition, so many misunderstandings are precluded.

Unfortunately, this also means that for any modern readers who aren’t believers, the following lessons are for information only.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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