eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 2.12-17

This coming Sunday (Dec. 28) at 9:00 a.m., some of our adult classes at MoSt Church will continue in a study entitled Eluding Our Idols. This study focuses our attention on the letters of John (1, 2 & 3 John). To help you prepare for this encounter with God’s word and our discussion of it, you’ll find the below: (a) the text of 1 John 2.12-17 and (b) twenty questions and exercises. Dig in!

receiving the word

Little children, I’m writing to you because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus’ name.  Parents, I’m writing to you because you have known the one who has existed from the beginning. Young people, I’m writing to you because you have conquered the evil one.

Little children, I write to you because you know the Father. Parents, I write to you because you have known the one who has existed from the beginning. Young people, I write to you because you are strong, the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

Don’t love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see, and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world and its cravings are passing away, but the person who does the will of God remains forever.

wrestling with this word

1. What three metaphors are used in vs. 12-14 to describe a spiritual household with varying levels of spiritual maturity?

2. Note the past tense: “your sins have been forgiven.” (2.12). How real/final is that to you?

3. What does the phrase “through Jesus’ name” mean (vs. 12b)?

4. Spiritually speaking, what do “parents” do for “young people” and little children?”

5. How do “young people” and “little children” relate to, and what do they do for, “parents?”

6. Elsewhere in 1 John the phrase “little children” refers to all of this letters recipients, no matter their spiritual maturity (cf. 2.1,28; 3.7,18; 4.4; 5.21). To whom is the phrase referring in 2.14a? Why? What difference does it make to understanding 2.12-14 (or all of 1 John)?

7. Compare what’s said of parents (2.13a,14b) with what’s said of the letter’s author (1.1-4).

8. Notice the three phrases spoken to the “young people” (2.13b,14c). Why emphasize such?

9. If 2.14 is this letter’s thesis statement, what is the letter’s main point to the original readers?

10. Read Jeremiah 31.31-34. What portions of that text do you see correlate with 1 Jn. 2.12-14?

11. Again: what does John mean here (vs. 15-17) when he says “the world?” Hint: vs. 16.

12. The word used for “love” in vs. 15 is agape. What sort of love is this? How does it act?

13. What exactly is “the love of the Father?” (1.15b)?

14. “The world” is a trinity of evil. (2.16). Is this meant to be comprehensive list? Explain.

15. Compare 2.16’s rendering in paraphrased versions (e.g. – J.B. Phillips, The Message, etc.).

16. Compare this three-fold definition of “the world” (2.16) with the three temptations of Jesus. (Matthew 4.1-11). Do you see any correlation? Explain.

17. Try to rank the three aspects of “the world” (2.16) as to commonality and deadliness.

18. “… the world and its cravings are passing away …” (2.17a) How so? Do you believe this?

19. To do “the will of God” (2.17b) is to do the exact opposite of 2.16. What would that be?

20. The one “who does the will … remains forever.” (2.17b) How does “forever” appeal to you?