Phrase 1 of 6:
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. (1 John 2:12–ESV)
So this passage refers to all believers: little children referencing Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one spoken of in verse 8: commandment was “true in him.” Jesus is also the one we are to abide in as verse 6 refers to. We do not really need to pick up these other two verses to draw this conclusion, though, for it is on the account of Jesus Christ that our sins are forgiven.
Phrase 2 of 6:
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. (1 John 2:13a–ESV)
In both this phrase and the second one addressing fathers the same structure is used. Who do they know? God the Father or Jesus Christ is the immediate pair to whom this may be ascribed, but how to parse them? To begin parsing this to Jesus Christ or God the Father consider how John started this letter. He used the words “from the beginning” and built up from there to Jesus Christ. He did not divulge Jesus right from the beginning but worked up to that reveal.
Consider, too, that John is writing to those who would be at odds with the separatist elements who departed from this church group. That splinter group did not deny God the Father, but rather they denied the claims of Jesus Christ as the apostles had revealed them.
By looking at the second time this phrase is used (Phrase 5 of 6; verse 2:14) that one follows the explicit reference to the Father (Phrase 4 of 6; 2:13)
This word beginning was not only used at the outset of John’s letter but also in verse 7 when it implied the start of their Christian walk. Here John writes to those who are either older and/or spiritually mature indicating that they have been connected to Jesus right from the get go.
Phrase 3 of 6:
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:13b–ESV)
Here the young or spiritually less advanced are written two as a result of their spiritual victories. Satan goes about seeking whom he may corrupt. He lays temptations and deceits before those on the way to Christ’s kingdom. These must be overcome, and those in this church have been capable of sifting the words of Satan, drawing the proper conclusions and then
Phrase 4 of 6: Repetitions and past tense begins here
I write to you, children, because you know the Father. (1 John2:13c–ESV; don’t be thrown by the NIV which makes this part of verse 14)
Here is the second time that the children phrase and thus all believers are addressed. The first time forgiveness of sins was proclaimed. This second time, however, he speaks of God the Father before whom sinners stand guilty.
Phrase 5 of 6:
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. (1 John 2:14a–ESV)
This is a repeat of what he said to the father-group in verse 13.
Phrase 6 of 6:
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. (1 John 2:14b–ESV)
Strength and overcoming were part of the first section, but “word of God” is new here. This is not referring to the man Jesus, but to the living according to the style of Jesus. They have continued to live his way.
John has composed a fine summary of the spiritual lives of his readership. “Dear church,” he says, “you have been forgiven, you know God the Father and Jesus Christ, his son. His words abide in you and through the strength of that you have overcome Satan.” The assurances he has been giving are not just technical ones. They go beyond a status report. The Love of God, the light of God, has already begun to shine and flow forth in the world. They are having a real impact.
By this point, John has reminded them and encouraged them with all that is their’s in Christ. That said, they have not attained a place of perfection in behavior. A choice for good, for excellence in life and living, must remain a daily priority especially given the attractiveness of teaching the breakaway groups have concocted. To combat these things John next turns his attention.