Observe here, 1. The care which God has taken, not only to have his word preached, but written; I write unto you, partly to supply his ministers' absence, that their writings might be instead of vocal instructions, partly to perpetuate truth unto posterity, and to transmit divine revelations to future ages.
Observe, 2. The subject or persons whom our apostle writes to; fathers, young men, and children; where, in general the great wisdom of the apostle is to be observed and taken notice of, that he contents not himself with generals, but directs his discourse particularly to old and young; plainly intimating, that none are too young to receive instruction, none are old enough to reject it. And if St. John wrote to persons of all ages and conditions, then the sacred writings are to be read to, and read by, persons of every age and condition soever. And if the Scriptures be perverted by some, that is not a natural effect, but only an accidental consequent of reading the Scriptures. Now, as evil must not be done that good may come of it, so good must not be left undone, though evil come of it.
Observe, 3. The duty which all sorts of Christians ought to be exhorted and excited to, and that is love; love to God, accompanied with obedience; and love to all Christians, in obedience to the command of God. It belongs to all sorts of Christians, weak and strong; to all ages of men, young and old, children and fathers, to expel the poison of anger and hatred out of their bosoms, and mutually to embrace one another.
Observe, 4. The reasons of our apostle's writing to all christians in general, and to each age in particular.
Note, 1. The reason assigned for writing to children, 1Jn_2:12 Because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake: therefore ought you mutually to forgive, and cordially to love one another.
Note, 2. The reason assigned for writing to fathers; Because ye have known him that is from the beginning; that is Jesus Christ, who, in respect of his divine nature, had subsistence from the beginning; that is from all eternity. And if so, then our blessed Saviour had a being antecedent to his conception, and before he was born of the virgin Mary; he then began to be man, but he did not then begin to be; for before Abraham was he was; and he prays to his Father, Jos_17:5 to glorify him with the glory which he had with him before the world was.
Mark, It is not said, with the glory which thou preparedst for me in thy decree and purpose before the world was. As the Socinians would have it, but the glory which I had with thee. He that gave being to all things, must have a being before all things.
Note, 3. The reasons assigned for writing to young men, Because ye are strong, and have overcome the wicked one, and the word of God abideth in you.
Here we have observable, 1. The enemy described, Satan, called the wicked one: Not that he was so by creation, but by his apostacy and defection. Because the first in wickedness, because most industriously wicked, and because most obstinate and persevering in wickedness.
2. The conquest ingeminated; Ye have overcome the wicked one.
Mark, he doth not say. You have made a league with him, but overcome him; there is no way to accomodate or compound matters with Satan, no way to deal with him, but by victory; we are said to overcome him, because we are sure to overcome him; resist him, and he will flee; and because we have overcome him in God's account, and because we have begun to overcome him. Yield to him, and you will find him an imperious tyrant; resist him, and you will find him a timorous coward.
3. The combatants, young men. Youth is the warlike age; young men are fit for action, old men for advice; young ones should begin this spiritual war betimes, possibly they may never live to be old; or if so, victory will be the more difficulty, by how much the longer it is delayed; and God may deny thee that grace which now thou deniest thyself. The proverb says, "A young saint, but an old devil;" but it is very hard for a young devil to become an old saint; whereas a young Christian soldier is most amiable in God's eye, and most terrible in the devil's.
4. The aid, helps, and assistants, by which this victory is attained, ye are strong, that is, made partakers of divine strength; ye have your second in the field, the Holy Spirit, you are strong in the Lord, And the word of God abideth in you. By the strength of God, and the abiding of his word and grace in us, we overcome the wicked one, and prevail against him. God's word is the richest treasury to supply our wants, and the strongest armoury to oppose our enemies. I write unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.