John was into his nineties when writing his three epistles that we now call first, second and third John. He's so well known and loved, he neither gives his name nor sends it to a specific person or group, and yet all who received it and heard it read, knew from whom it came. John was more than likely the sole survivor of the original Apostles and revered by all the believers in the Asia Minor area. He was more than likely now living in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor.
John's love was evident as he writes to those to whom he's ministered and watched grow up spiritually for many, many years. He was well known for already having written the gospel called by his name as well as the book of Revelation while banished to the Island of Patmos a few years earlier.
As he's writing the first of eventually three letters, in 1 John 2:12-13, three groups seem to come to his mind, though his first mention of children in v12 was probably a reference to all of the people intended to read the epistle. But he winds up, nonetheless, with three groups mentioned as he's writing, declaring to each group something that is true of them that makes them dear to him and that makes for a special group of people he's known and loved.
One group is identified as children, who he reminds of the fact that they have received the wonderful gift of the forgiveness of sins. A second group he mentions is young men, though a sequence is probably not of any concern or intent in John's mind, mentioning the group called fathers as people who have known from the beginning that God has always been there, before he mentions young men as a group.
When he does finally mention young people, he reminds them they have done a good job of overcoming the evil one. But it's clear to us that three groups are addressed, while not in sequence, and it is their spiritual growth that is being referred to and nothing biological is intended.
Bur for me, those three groups have some tremendous significance when thought of in a particular sequence. While maybe not John's intent at all, I believe the Holy Spirit has nonetheless revealed in his writing a very interesting thing. The nature of spiritual growth.
Any student of human nature would testify to the fact that children, young people and fathers picture three stags of physical growth. But the amazing thing is they may give us a great picture of spiritual growth as well. But to make sense of this, it would be helpful and maybe even necessary to dispel some wrong assumptions about what spiritual grow is.
Those wrong assumptions actually tell us what spiritual growth IS NOT. So, next time I'm going to mention four of them, out of many, that are often mistakenly thought of as evidence of spiritual growth. By doing this, I will lay the foundation for eventually showing what, at least in my opinion, real spiritual growth is in Kingdom living. We'll pick up here next time.