“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 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.” – 1 John 2:12-13 (ESV)
It seems best to view John’s division and categories to be referring to all who would hear this letter read. Each experience attributed to them is appropriate to the category named. As one of God’s “children,” we have experienced forgiveness through grace from our heavenly Father. As “fathers,” we have had an experience that connects us to eternity past, since we have known Him who is always from eternity with no beginning. (In the light of 1 John 2:3–6, this indicates we have a true relationship with God.) As “young men,” we have engaged in spiritual warfare and have overcome the evil one, Satan. Here again in verse 2:3 the word “Him” could refer to either God the Father or God the Son; the difference does not appear to be important to John. His readers as we are, know God and therefore we know both the Father and Son. Thought of in this way, the sequence “children,” “fathers,” and “young men” is meaningful. We know what it is to have sins forgiven and to have fellowship with God the Eternal One. As a result we are like vigorous young men who have defeated satanic assaults through Christ Jesus.