Children, Fathers, And Young Men

Just a few observations while involved in a Bible study of John’s first epistle…

It seems odd, at least to my way of thinking, that John addresses his readership in this order: children, fathers, then the young men (back to 1 Jn 2:12-14) rather than “chronologically” as children, young men, and then the fathers.

Is it possible that there might be a hint here concerning the idea that although the “fathers” (the elders among them, or the eldest) had known the Lord from the beginning, they don’t seem to be much more advanced in understanding, or as Holy Ghost dynamos, than the “children” who are at the beginning of their spiritual journey, while it’s the ones he calls “young men” who’ve overcome the evil one, and are strong, and with the word of God abiding in them?

Could we take this as a subtle hint that sometimes the ones who’ve known the Lord the longest might tend to rest on the laurels of the beginning understandings of faith, but need to re-awaken and come to grips with the need to develop in the Lord and get back to the mission?

The children have been brought into the faith by their “spiritual fathers”. The fathers who bring them in don’t seem to have grown beyond basic understanding or the power of the Holy Spirit. So they are not too distinguished from one another and are lumped together.

It is the young men to whom John gives the kudos.

This could be taken to heart by individuals, and seems to be the spiritual state of much of today’s church – never getting beyond “Christianity 101”.

St. Paul echoes this idea in a couple of places:

1 Corinthians 3:2 – “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”

Also Hebrews 5:12 – “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.”

Hebrews 6:1,2,3 – “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.”

“Going on unto perfection”? Wow!

Something says to me that John and Paul are speaking of the same thing, but John is less frontal than Paul, the quintessential diplomat, the iron fist in the velvet glove.

Originally published on my website:


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