Because Ye have Known Him that is From the Beginning

1 John 2:13

William Kelly

'I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.' 1 John 2:13

The 'fathers' are so designated here 'because ye have known him that is from the beginning.' Who can mistake Him? It is Christ, and none other. But He is not here called by His usual name. He was the Word and Son, before the time described as 'from the beginning.' He was Only-begotten of the Father through all eternity. The Eternal Son of the Eternal Father no human mind can fathom; and the incarnation necessarily adds to its inscrutability. But this is not the least ground for not believing what is infinitely above and beyond us; it is revealed without a doubt. And the reason why men break down upon it all is that they reason from man up to God, which is always false. You must reason down from God to man, if you are to be in the truth; for who knows the truth but God? And who can reveal the truth but God, as He has done in Christ? In his Gospel John is most careful to say that, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' It matters not how far one essays back in thought into the depths of eternity. Imagine millions of years! These are not the beginning, though of course one cannot with propriety talk of 'years' before the measures of time apply. But go back in your mind into these unmeasured depths; there He subsisted. No beginning had He who is eternal, and in His own personality also He was 'with God.'

Again, not only was He with God as a distinct person from the Father and the Spirit; but He was God. Nor is there any property of God more distinctive than His being eternal; if not eternal, not God.

But quite a different thing is referred to here. It is not knowing Him that was in the beginning with God, but knowing 'Him that is from the beginning.' It is the beginning of His taking flesh, the incarnate Word, in this world.  Such is the absolutely new fact. From the beginning is reckoned from His manifesting Himself as Emmanuel, God and Man in One person.  This was He whom the 'fathers' knew. What can you know about the Son in eternity except that He was the Only-begotten Son in the Father's bosom, the object of His everlasting delight as even Proverbs 8 tells us? Such He was when not a creature existed above or below, neither angel nor man nor lower being. There was only the blessed God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as we know now; and there were divine counsels which were afterwards to be divulged to us who now believe. What do we know more than this? But if we look at 'Him that is from the beginning' there is, one may say, almost everything to learn and know.

And where do we find this illimitable subject? In the New Testament generally; in the Gospels particularly. There we have Him on earth, there shown as man, not a mere human being, but God and man in one person, truly a divine person. There was He born of the Virgin, not only Messiah but God's Son, Elohim and Jehovah (Mt. 1:21, 23). Oh what a deal there is to learn even at His birth! For we here only touch the fact of His person when He became incarnate. If we are told a good deal about Him as a babe, we have even more about Him when He was a child twelve years old. And what significant silence is kept over all the years thence to thirty! There were no trumpets blown, no beating of drums, no pomp or ceremony, no such thing as the birthday remembered by a single soul except His real mother and His legal father, and perhaps their acquaintances; nothing of further recognition now; just as at the inn there was no room for Him at His birth. Who takes a shrewder worldly measure of a person of consequence than a waiter at an hotel? He soon appraises the person that appears; he guesses well who is good pay for the house. No; the manger will do very well enough for such folk. The stable is at hand, but 'no room for them in the inn.'

One wonder is the entire obscurity in which He moved who was the Father's delight, when simply working at the carpenter's bench with His legal father. But there and then He was doing the will of God. 'Must I not be in my Father's things?' And here He was in the temple, hearing the teachers, and asking them questions. He did not mount a chair to preach, like some of the foolish boys put forward by more foolish men and women. But there He was, in the most lowly and lovely manner, hearing them and asking them questions, with far more knowledge than all His teachers. And was it not a testimony to their consciences, to learn how this could be? For there was no pretension: become man He remained as yet simply a boy, but this boy the Lord God, the Creator of the world. Such was the One on whom the Father looked down to find what met all His mind and His affections, not merely as a divine person but peculiarly a divine person become man. Become man! The Word become flesh! What? Entered the family of man! Yet man as he is and has long been is the most wicked, the vainest, the proudest of all creatures in God's creation. Other animals stick to their habits from the time that man's sin wrought havoc even with them. But man only goes out of one wickedness into another, always getting worse and worse as time went on; and the more light they received outwardly, the more they perverted it really.

After much, when the world as a whole was at the worst point at which it had ever arrived, the Lord was born in the fullness of time. And when He entered upon His public service, what did every day disclose to Him! What lessons fell from His lips and His life! With men, women and children, He was familiarly conversant; with elders and lawyers, with Scribes and Pharisees, and with Herodians and Sadducees, with hypocrites and with the self-righteous, with wicked women and wicked men, and habitually with pious men and pious women. For the Lord had to do with every class. Never was any one brought more variously into contact, never one taking such loving pains with everybody, none showing divine grace and truth as He to everyone that came. Nothing is here said about His miracles, wonderful as they were, and signs of yet deeper things. Nor need one now enlarge on His words; though He spoke as never man did. He could say, when asked who He was, 'Absolutely (kat  archn) that which I also speak to you' (John 8:25). He was what He said. He is the truth, as no other man. And who are those that relish all this, who enjoy it, who appreciate Him thus presented and know how to apply it? The 'fathers.' 'No one hath seen God at any time: the Only‑begotten Son that is in the bosom of the Father - He declared [Him].'