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Observations for discussion and questions:

1 John 2:12-14 is puzzling. The fact that the author says almost the same thing in each stanza with a shift of verb tense in “writing” and “wrote” may be again due to his need for emphasis in bringing comfort to the remaining believers after a painful schism. Is he writing “because” or writing “that”? The Greek can go either way. If he is writing “that,” one hears more of an insistent encouragement to affirm what they have, the forgiveness of sins, knowledge of God/Jesus, and victory over the evil one. The translation of “having known him who is from the beginning” could also be translated as “having known him from the beginning.” The former would be a statement about the eternity of Jesus who was “from the beginning” (1:1) and “who was with the Father” (1:2) and the latter would a reference to their experience of God/Jesus since they received the word. The address to “children” is probably inclusive of the whole community, with “fathers” and “young men” being singled out specifically within the community. Finally, the difference between “know” and “have know” are two possible translations of the Greek perfect tense, the former emphatic, the latter expressing an initial coming to know and its continuation into the present.

12 I am writing to you, little children,
because/that your sins are forgiven for his name”s sake.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because/that you know/have known him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because/that you have overcome the evil one.
I wrote to you, children,
because/that you know/have known the Father.
14 I wrote to you, fathers,
because/that you know/have known him who is from the beginning.
I wrote to you, young men,
because/that you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Following John”s affirmation of the experience they already have, he turns to admonish them against its opposite. Love for the Father cannot coexist with love for the world. Here ”world” is specified in terms of lust and pride with regard to sensual and material things. The same word for world, kosmos, is used in John 3:16, only there it refers to the world of people, sinful people who are the object of God”s love!

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.

It should be noted that the expression “the pride of life” (2:16) has to do with arrogance over one”s “life” in terms of material possessions.

Questions:

How can one achieve confidence in one”s experience of God without it turning into spiritual pride? Is it important or necessary that one should find that confidence?

When one reads the NT, material wealth does not get high marks in relation to human nature. See Mat 6:19-24 , James 2:1-7, 5:1-6. How can one avoid the arrogance that material possessions tend to bring out in us? How can one protect oneself from sensual lust in a world that bombards the senses with sexual imagery and suggestion at every turn? Isolation and prayer? Or are there also mental and other practical defenses.

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