“I write to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
Because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children,
Because you have known the Father.”
I write to you, little children
The word in Greek for “little children” here is different from the word in verse twelve. The word here means a small child. The word “little” applies to this word but not to the word in verse twelve. This word also occurs in verse 28. Matthew 2:14 translates this word “young Child.”
Mt 2:14, “When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt.”
Luke 18 also uses this term for a small child:
Lu 18:16, “But Jesus called them to Him and said, Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”
“Little children” in this verse are immature believers.
Because you have known the Father.
Note the three uses of the word “because.” After each “because,” John points out an outstanding characteristic of each group. There is an outstanding earmark of a child in the faith, a teen in the faith, and an adult in the faith.
This sentence gives us the earmark of a baby Christian. Undeveloped believers to whom John writes knew God personally and initially as their Father; they knew Him more than God.
All Christians, at the minimum, know God personally.
Some Christians stay in spiritual infancy. They catch every childhood disease that comes along. The spiritual infant mortality rate is very high in modern Christianity.
Little children spiritually play make-believe. They often think that something is spiritual when it is not. They sometimes are self-righteous, priggish, or legalistic, thinking that this is spirituality. About all they know is salvation but not much more. Quite often, they are confused about salvation itself. They know 2 + 2 = 4, but they have not moved on to algebra and trigonometry spiritually.