â€œI write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.â€ Â (1 John 2:13)
Often this widely used term refers to ancestorsâ€”both as family lineage (our fathers) or as significant contributors from the past (founding fathers, church fathers)â€”and occasionally to someone responsible for inventing or starting something important (father of modern medicine, father of our country). Sometimes it is used as a title of respect for a leader, a scholar, or a seasoned elder who has gained recognition for wisdom from long experience.
John emphasizes that latter sense in our text, referring to mature Christians who have been involved â€œfrom the beginningâ€â€”possibly referring directly to those like himself who have firsthand knowledge of the events of Christâ€™s ministry. Such men would have â€œknown himâ€ (twice emphasized, 1 John 2:13 and 2:14) and should provide valuable strength and wisdom for the â€œchildrenâ€ and â€œyoung menâ€ who need their counsel.
But this instruction goes beyond recognizing the contribution of first-generation Christians. Here, the single most significant attribute of these fathers is that they have â€œknownâ€ the One â€œthat is from the beginning,â€ emphasizing the Greek idiom that denotes the unique attribute of the Source (eternal existence) of our relationship with God.
These fathers â€œknowâ€ this attribute, not merely as an intellectual concept or theological doctrine, but as the specific word choice demands, a knowledge that is grounded on personal experience. These fathers, having walked with the Lord for the many years of their lives, have passed beyond the intellectual â€œknowledgeâ€ of the mindâ€™s eye, however clear and pure that sight may be, to confidence borne out by prayers answered, battles fought, and victories won. HMM III