First John: 1 John 2:14a-John Affirms the Recipients of the Epistle Knew the Father Experientially
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. 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. (ESV)
“Children” is the noun paidion (παιδίον), which pertains to a person of any age for whom there is a special relationship of endearment and association.
John employs this word to address the entire Christian community in the Roman province of Asia who had remained faithful to his apostolic teaching.
He uses this term here in verse 14 as a term of endearment for his spiritual children in this Christian community just as he did when he used teknion to address them in verse 12.
The word paidion is a vocative or nominative of address, which is expressing the fact that John is making a solemn statement which expresses his strong conviction regarding the Christian community as a corporate unit who are the recipients of this letter.
“I write to you” is composed of the following: (1) first person singular aorist active indicative form of the verb graphō (γράφω), “I write” (2) dative second person plural form of the personal pronoun su (σύ), “to you.”
The verb graphō means “to write, to communicate in writing” and refers to the act of John communicating in writing to the recipients of this epistle.
This time however, the verb is in the aorist tense and is an epistolary aorist which is a use of the aorist indicative in which the author self-consciously describes his letter from the time frame of the audience.
Here it is of course from the standpoint of the recipients of First John who were members of the Christian community in the Roman province of Asia.
Here it expresses the idea that John was “presently” composing this declaration that the Christian community as a corporate unit knew the Father experientially.
John then employs the dative second person plural form of the personal pronoun su, which means “each of you” since the word refers to the Christian community in the Roman province of Asia as a corporate unit and is used in a distributive sense emphasizing no exceptions.
“Because” is the conjunction hoti (ὅτι), which is employed with the indicative mood of the verb ginōskō in order to form a direct object clause which means that it is the direct object of the verb graphō.
This would then indicate that John is affirming with the recipients of this epistle that they knew the Father experientially.
“You know the Father” is composed of the following: (1) second person plural perfect active indicative form of the verb ginōskō (γινώσκω), “you know” (2) articular accusative masculine singular form of the noun pater (πατήρ), “the Father.”
The verb ginōskō is in the perfect tense and means, “to know experientially” in the sense of personally encountering, observing or undergoing something through a process.
It also means “to know experientially in the sense of having knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered or undergone” and implies being affected by what one meets.
The second person plural form of the verb ginōskō refers to the entire Christian community in the Roman province of Asia as a corporate unit who had remained faithful to John’s apostolic teaching.
The perfect tense of the verb ginōskō is an intensive perfect, which is used to emphasize the results or present state produced by a past action.
The present state is the entire in the Christian community in the Roman province of Asia knowing the Father experientially.
The past action is that they were obeying John’s apostolic teaching which communicated Jesus Christ’s Spirit inspired commands and prohibitions, which revealed the Father’s character and nature and will for their lives.
The noun patēr means “Father” referring to the first member of the Trinity and emphasizing the church age believer’s familial relationship to God through regeneration.
It also emphasizes the familial relationship between the Word which is eternal life incarnate and God.
I am presently writing to each one of you children that each of you know the Father experientially. I am presently writing to each one of you fathers that each of you know experientially the One from eternity past. I am presently writing to each one of you young men that each of you are strong. Specifically, the Word originating from God is resident in each one of you. Consequently, each of you are victorious over the evil one. (My translation)
completes a section of the epistle which began in .
In these verses John affirms that the recipients of this epistle had remained faithful to his apostolic teaching and had not been deceived by the false teachers.
The recipients of this epistle if you recall were located in the Roman province of Asia.
The false teachers communicated an incipient form of Gnosticism which denied the human nature of Jesus Christ.
Their teaching also promoted immoral behavior.
Therefore, not only affirms that the recipients of this epistle were at the time of writing, faithful and obedient to John’s apostolic teaching but it also commends them for their faithfulness and for rejecting false doctrine.
contains five affirmations which commend the Christian community in the Roman province of Asia.
The first affirmation is addressed to the entire Christian community as a corporate unit.
The second is addressed exclusively to the men in the Christian community who were forty years of age or older.
The third is addressed to the young men in this community or had not yet reached the age of forty.
The fourth, fifth and sixth affirmations are also addressed to these young men.
The fifth explains the fourth and the sixth present the result of the fourth and fifth affirmations.
As we noted in our study of , some translations, such as the NET, LEB, TNIV, NIV, NRSV and HCSB, the statement egrapsa hymin, paidia, hoti egnōkate ton patera (ἔγραψα ὑμῖν, παιδία, ὅτι ἐγνώκατε τὸν πατέρα), “I write to you, children, because you know the Father” does not appear at the end of but rather they place it as the first declaration in .
On the other hand, the NASB95, ESV, RSV and NKJV place it as the last statement in .
I will be following the versification of of the NA28 and UBS5 editions of the Greek text which places it as the first statement in verse 14.
The same material has been translated in each case with the only difference being the versification of that material.
In fact, whether it belongs in or in is technically irrelevant since the original Hebrew and Greek texts did not have chapter divisions and the marking of verses.
The chapter divisions and the marking of verses in our modern English Bibles was not inspired by God but were just a handy way of referring to the text.
The first affirmation in asserts that the entire Christian community in the Roman province of Asia knew the Father experientially.
This is the second time John has addressed this community as a corporate unit.
The first is found in .
In this verse, John affirms that they were experiencing the forgiveness of their sins as a result of confessing these sins to the Father which implies that they were experiencing fellowship with God which is severed when the believer sins but restored when they confess their sins.
The first assertion in affirms that the Christian community knew the Father experientially which means that they were experiencing fellowship with the Father.
They knew the Father experientially in the sense that they were personally encountering Him through the process of experiential sanctification (i.e. fellowship) as He is revealed in the pages of Scripture and in prayer by God the Holy Spirit.
It also means that they were being affected by this encounter with the Father resulting in the gaining of practical spiritual wisdom and more of the character of Christ.
By asserting that the congregation knew the Father experientially, John is affirming that they were walking in the light or living their lives in accordance with God’s holy standards which are reflected in His Word.