Friday, 3 April 2020
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 1 John 2:20
John has been speaking of “antichrists,” and their departure from the truth because they were not “of us.” He will again refer to them in verse 2:22. Between these verses, he now introduces this thought, saying, “But you have an anointing.” The implication is that those who departed have no such anointing. Their lives, doctrine, and conduct are not in accord with the truth of God in Christ.
The word “anointing” is the Greek word chrisma. It signifies the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit which will guide the believer into understanding God’s will. There is an inward conviction and persuasion which will take place when the believer seeks after the truth as presented to him (first by the apostles, and now by the word of God which came through those men of God).
Under the Old Covenant, oil was used to anoint priests, prophets, and kings to symbolize that they were ordained for the task they had been given. This oil is a symbol or picture of the anointing of the Holy Spirit on believers today. As Peter says in his first epistle – “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit which places us in that position, and which allows us to properly understand His word, and which makes us suitable to perform our tasks in a manner pleasing to God. This is in contrast to those who are antichrists of the previous verses.
John is forming a play on words, contrasting the antichrists antichristoi of the previous verses to those who have received the chrisma of this verse. The “anointing” that believers have is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – the third member of the Trinity. If someone denies the reality of, or the deity of, the Holy Spirit, he is doing the same thing as denying the deity of Jesus Christ. It is the Spirit of God which illuminates Scripture for the believer. It is He who comforts the believer and reminds him of the salvation he received when he accepted Jesus as Lord, meaning God.
John next says that the anointing is “from the Holy One.” Scholars debate whether this is referring to Christ or to the Holy Spirit. The answer is Christ, the Anointed One (which is what “Christ,” or “Messiah,” signifies). The anointing is the Holy Spirit. This was stated by Jesus in several ways. It is the final promise of Christ before He was taken up –
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The Holy Spirit is given to every believer who calls on Jesus through the gospel, as is stated by Paul in Ephesians 1 (and elsewhere) –
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14
John and Paul are referring to the same thing, the coming of the Holy Spirit into the believer, but they are using different terms to explain different aspects of what occurrs. Christ is the Holy One, and the Holy Spirit is the anointing by which we are anointed and sealed. Each member of the Godhead performs His own particular role in the unfolding plan of the redemption of mankind.
Finally, in this anointing, John says, “and you know all things.” Some manuscripts say, “and you know all.” This set of words should not be taken to unhealthy extremes. His words lead directly into the next verse which speaks of knowing the truth. The Holy Spirit is the One who leads us in the proper knowledge about the truth of God – the source of all things. He opens our understanding as we search out God’s truth in the Bible.
The word “know” speaks of discernment and perceiving. What John is saying cannot, obviously, mean that all believers know and have discerned everything about theology. The differences in opinion about one thousand points of doctrine are so varied that there is almost no harmony at all between scholars and denominations. Some people come to Christ and are never schooled in any doctrine at all. Some people inject their own presuppositions directly into the Bible as they read. And so on.
Because of these things, John’s words must be taken in light of Scripture, and that is to be in proper context. Believers have this resource available to them, and through it they “know all” that is necessary to hold fast to the truth of God in Christ. There is no necessary extra revelation provided to believers outside of the Bible. It alone is our source for knowing all that we need to know.
Life application: John’s words of this verse mark a sharp rebuke against false teachers. It is surely and particularly directed at those who believe they have the secret knowledge of God at their disposal, or locked up in their simple and irrational denomination, when in fact they have no true knowledge at all.
Should you find yourself attending a church where they make exclusive claims on the truth and that everyone else is false, you are probably in a place which is the opposite of what is described by John here. Claiming exclusive or secret knowledge is a sure sign that there is a manipulation or rejection of the truth, because the truth of God is openly revealed to all in the pages of Scripture. Believers can know all if they are willing to pursue God through the word He has given us.
Thank You, O God, for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, indwelling Your people and filling us with the ability to understand who You are and what Your intended purposes are for us. Thank You for this, and may we never take it for granted that Your good and Holy Spirit dwells in us when we, by faith, trusted in Christ the Lord. May You be praised by the lives we live for You. Amen.