ASIDE: ALL BELIEVERS NEED ENCOURAGEMENT AS THEY APPLY THESE TESTS OF FELLOWSHIP
Really only 2 groups being addressed here since “little children” refers to all believers. John then addresses in more detail both the more mature (fathers) and the ones in the most active growth stage (young men).
John had been exhorting and warning his readers with tests of walking in the light. The mood shifts here to one of encouragement and confidence. Reassuring his readers that he is not questioning the validity of their faith, He reminds us that the purpose of these tests of fellowship is to give us an increasing assurance of our own salvation.
I. THE FUNDAMENTAL BLESSINGS OF SALVATION SHOULD ENCOURAGE ALL BELIEVERS — little children
A. Current Emphasis: The Joy of Forgiveness of Sins
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
B. Prior Emphasis: The Privilege of Knowing the Father
“I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
II. THE PROVEN EXPERIENCE OF TRUSTING THE UNCHANGING GOD SHOULD ENCOURAGE THE MATURE BELIEVERS — fathers
A. Current Emphasis:
“I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning.”
B. Prior Emphasis:
“I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning.”
Those with the maturity should be able to offer a largeness of view; a calm, untroubled depth of conviction; a clear-eyed judgment upon life which youth cannot have.
III. SPIRITUAL VICTORY IN THE MIDST OF CONFLICT SHOULD ENCOURAGE THE YOUNGER BELIEVERS — young men
A. Current Emphais: The Victory of spiritual strength
“I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.”
B. Prior Emphsis: The Victory of spiritual strength
“I have written to you, young men”
1. The Assurance of spiritual strength
“because you are strong”
2. The Secret of spiritual strength
“and the word of God abides in you”
3. The Outcome of spiritual strength
“and you have overcome the evil one”
The Christian life is not just enjoying the forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God, but fighting the enemy. Thus while the privilege of age is knowledge, the task of youth is conflict; it is in youth that the critical life-changing decisions are made.