Here are several purposes for John’s writing (1 John 2.12-14).
12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
Little children – term of endearment. Some commentators believe these are recent converts. Possibly; maybe. Some new Christians struggling with forgiveness? Maybe. Even some of the older members have trouble with it. Others say this is just aged John’s way of addressing these brothers/sisters in Christ en total.
Your sins are forgiven you – Perf. Pass. Ind. These Christians were forgiven of their sins (past) and continue to enjoy a state for forgiveness in the present; that is the abiding effect of forgiveness. This was something God did (passive) and that in Christ as propitiation and by His blood (1.7). And it is real! “You have been, and consequently stand forgiven of your past, or alien sins” – Guy N. Woods, 1st John commentary, pg.235.
For his name’s sake – or “through His name.” Indeed, Acts 4.12. Also, God the Father forgives us on account of Christ and his advocacy on our behalf.
13 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.
Fathers – those seasoned veterans of the faith.
You know him who is from the beginning – again, know is Perf. Act. Ind. Thus, you came to know/knew (in the past) and continue to know (present) “Him who is from the beginning.”
Him who is from the beginning – lit. “the one from (the) beginning” and the context would point us toward Christ (v.12). They know and continue to know Christ.
Young men – Those who are mature in the faith and possess great zeal for the Lord and church.
You have overcome the evil one – Again, Per. Act. Ind. They have overcome and continue to overcome the evil one. Not that the war is over, but that Christians wage war against a defeated enemy.
The evil one – Satan
Children – different word from above and it has its subtle nuance of difference. However, just exactly the audience intended with this word is debated by scholars. It would appear that John has the whole church in mind when he uses it. Brother Guy N. Woods explains the difference between the terms (Teknia v. paidia) – Teknia are relatively new Christians who are still in the “childhood” stage of faith in Christ. Paidia are those brand new baby Christians.
You know the Father – yet another perf. Act. Ind. Verb. They came to know (knew) and continue to know him (in context, via obedience to the commandments).
14 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.
I write – epistolary aorist, referring to this epistle, not some other correspondence.
Fathers – same as previous verse, those saints more mature than others with a long and rich experience. John writes the exact same to the Fathers twice. Why?
Young men – same as previous verse.
Strong – if physical, then they are able bodied and in good health. But probably spiritual strength, endowed to them by God (truly both are from God).
Word of God abides in you – God revelation of Himself is possessed in their hearts and minds.
You have overcome the evil one – same as above (v.13).
In interpreting this section of Scripture, Guy N. Woods offers: Children means recent converts; Young men means those who have reached maturity and possess great spiritual strength in the Lord; Father means those who have been in Christ the longest and attained greatest spiritual growth.
The Pulpit Commentary breaks it down as follows:
“I write this epistle”: To all of you – you have been forgiven; To the old among you – you have knowledge of the Word; To the young among you – you have conquered the evil one.
“I wrote my Gospel”: To all of you (new Christians) – you have knowledge of the Father; To the old among you – you have knowledge of the Word; To the young among you – you have strength, have God’s revelation in your hearts, have conquered evil one.