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Τεκνία is the plural diminutive of τέκνον (child).

diminutive adjective (14th century) 1 : indicating small size and sometimes the state or quality of being familiarly known, lovable, pitiable, or contemptible — used of affixes ... -- Merriam-Webster, I. (1996). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (10th ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

The general consensus is John isn't using the term to express little by to express loving familiarity.

τεκνίον, ου, τό (Epict. 3, 22, 78; Pal. Anth.; PFlor. 365, 15 [III AD]; POxy. 1766, 14) dim. of τέκνον; (little) child, voc. pl. τεκνία; in our lit. only in the voc. pl., used by Jesus in familiar, loving address to his disciples, or by a Christian apostle or teacher to his spiritual children τεκνία J 13:33; 1 J 2:12, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21. τεκνία μου (Test. Reub. 1:3 v.l.) Gal 4:19 v.l.; 1J 2:1. M-M.* -- Arndt, W., Gingrich, F. W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (1979). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature : a translation and adaption of the fourth revised and augmented edition of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-deutsches Worterbuch zu den Schrift en des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur (p. 808). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

What is difficult with this type of translation is it is often geographically dependent. What are better terms ro use? Maybe something like kiddos.

A problem is English doesn't seem to have a vocative endearment term with the meaning children. Spanish has "Hijitos míos," a very good fit. To further illustrate this, if you enter children in Google translate, you get niños, but if you enter my children, you get Mis hijos.

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In https://biblehub.com/1_john/2-1.htm, 20 versions translate Τεκνία as "little children"; 4 use "dear children"; 2 translate it simply as "children". I agree with the majority here. For an international readership, the best is "little children". It shows the age, authority, and respectability of John.

English Standard Version 1 John 2:12

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.

There is an assuring tone in John's voice if you could hear it.

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  • All those translations convey the meaning of Τεκνία. One question to ask is what is less confusing to the new reader. Little children seems to cause many questions during a Bible study. – Perry Webb Mar 1 at 1:02
  • In that case, "dear children" may be better. – Tony Chan Mar 1 at 17:08
  • Also remember there is a my going with it, Τεκνία μου. – Perry Webb Mar 2 at 21:42

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