THE UNCTION AND THE ANOINTING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
1 John 2:20, 27 “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things . . . But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
A lot will be left unsaid about this subject because of the nature of the meditations. I would like to look at these statements contextually, expositorily, and then make a brief application.
FIRST LET’S LOOK AT THESE WORDS CONTEXTUALLY
John is combating error as he writes to believers (2:12-14; 5:13). The particular error that John was dealing with in this epistle was Gnosticism. Without going into it historically we know they denied that Jesus literally came in the flesh. They did not believe in the virgin birth, i.e., that Jesus is literally God manifest in the flesh (2 Cor. 5:19). John was concerned that these believers not be carried off with this error. In fact, he teaches that those who bought in to this lie, were never true disciples to begin with. This is what he is teaching in chapter 2 verse 19: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” This is a strong statement. But it is exactly what the Holy Spirit taught John to write for our benefit.
What this is not teaching. This verse is not teaching that a person is unsaved when they disagree with a pastor over some issue that has nothing to do with the gospel, and leave and join another church where the gospel is also being preached. I am not indorsing a person leaving a church, where God has placed them, over minor issues. That should not happen.
What then is this verse teaching? It is teaching that when a person is truly saved it is because he has believed the true gospel. The true gospel is faith in who the Bible says Jesus is which includes His virgin birth, i.e., the incarnation. It is faith in His substitutionary atonement, i.e., that God accepted His death in our place and counts it as our payment of the penalty of sin. It is faith in His literal resurrection and ascension into heaven. The Gnostics denied this. When those of whom John speaks followed these Gnostics who were denying the very sum and substance of the gospel they claimed to believe, John said, “They went out from us, but they were not of us.” John says they were never saved to start with.
How would this apply today? It applies when a cult that does not believe that Jesus is God incarnate in the flesh, died a substitutionary death for us, was raise gloriously from the dead and is now the One Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5), solicits a person who CLAIMS TO BELIEVE the true gospel, and he withdraws from an assembly that preaches that truth, to follow the cult that denies that truth. John says if you are saved, you will not do that, that it would be an indication that you were never saved to begin with.
LET’S LOOK AT THE WORDS EXPOSITORILY
John says, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” The word “But” is a conjunction connecting his statement with those remaining with the assembly that believed that “Jesus is come in the flesh.” (2:22-23; 4:2-3). The words “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things” is given as a reason that the ones remaining did not follow the Gnostics and their teachings. The word “ye” is in the Greek text and emphasizes the plural “you.” Normally the personal pronouns are attached to the verb as endings as it is in this case. But when a special emphasis is being made on the personal pronoun, it is added. It is added here and has the effect of showing the difference between those remaining and those who left. The verb “have” translates “echo” and means, “to have, i.e. to hold, to have (hold) in the hand, in the sense of wearing.” It is present tense and means that they continually have in the present “an unction.” The word “unction” translates “chrisma” and means, “anything smeared on, unguent, ointment, usually prepared by the Hebrews from oil and aromatic herbs. Anointing was the inaugural ceremony for priests.” This unction is clearly meant to mean that all believers have it and that it is received from the “Holy One.” This could apply to any one of the trinity. The result of receiving the anointing from the Holy One is stated in the words, “and ye know all things.” “Ye know” translates “eido” and mean, “to see, to perceive with the eyes, to perceive by any of the senses.” It is a perfect active indicative verb. The perfect tense is completed action in the past that completed action having present results. This means John is saying that the KNOWING of which he speaks has been learned by them in the past and they continue to know it in the present. The words “all things” have to be limited to the immediate truths and the related truths of which he speaks. He is not saying that one does not need to be taught by God called and ordained preachers and teachers of the Word or else he would not be writing the present epistle at the time.
Then verse 27 says, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
The word “anointing” translates “chrisma” the same word with the same definition as the word “unction” in verse 20. The pronoun “ye” is emphasized making a difference between the true believers in the Bible Jesus and ones, who do not allow for Jesus being God incarnate in the flesh. The words “have received” translates “lambano” meaning, “to take with the hand, lay hold of.” It is an aorist active indicative verb and refers to a once-for-all act at a point of time in the past, i.e., when they were saved. The words “of him” identify the source from which the anointing came. The word “abideth” translates “meno” and means, “to remain, to abide.” The same word is translated “remaining” in John 1:33: “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and REMAINING on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” (Caps mine for emphasis). The anointing is the Holy Spirit that indwells every believer (Rom. 8:9; Eph. 4:30) and will until the day of redemption, i.e, the rapture or resurrection.
The words “and ye need not that any man teach you” is to be applied to the immediate context or else there would be no need for the Bible and those God-called men and women who teach it. What he is saying is that the reason that the true believers in that assembly have not fallen for the false teachings of the Gnostics is because the anointing that abides in them has caused them to see the heresy of the teaching and has convicted them not to receive it. They had the truth that they had received when they saved, and the Holy Spirit that he sealed their salvation, to compare to the heresy of the Gnostics. The Anointing helped them make a right analysis of the heresy in the light of what they had believed to be saved.
He goes on to say that the “anointing” continues to teach you “all things” with reference to Jesus, who He is, and what He came to do. This Anointing “is truth” and therefore what He teaches is truth. God the Holy Spirit is not capable of lying. John is simply helping them to understand what the Holy Spirit is doing in them in revealing heresy when it is being taught. The words “ye shall abide in him” is an exhortation to stay with the truth that they had been taught and continue to be taught as the “anointing” confirms the truth of Jesus, that He did come in the flesh, that He did die and was raised again, and is our one and only Advocate (2:1) with the Father.
THE APPLICATION TO US
Every true believer (because there are those who claim to believe but deny the very truth of the gospel), has the SAME anointing of which John speaks. It is received when we are saved (Eph. 1:13-14). The “Anointing” will teach us not to follow those of our day who explain away the virgin birth, the sinless life, the substitutionary atonement, the literal resurrection, and His present session. We must recognize that these “are not of us.” They never have been. They are not true believers gone wrong. They depart from the “faith” which was “once (once-for-all) delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) because they have never believed the true gospel of Christ.
We need to do what Paul says to the Church at Corinth in 2 Cor. 13:5: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” The words “Jesus Christ is in you” are the same as the “Unction” and the “Anointing” of our text. See Rom. 8:9. What if one does not have the “Unction,” the “Anointing,” “Christ in you?” Paul says he is a “reprobate.” The word “reprobate” translates “adokimos” and means, “not standing the test, not approved.” Paul is saying that Christ in you is the test of true salvation. If you want to know if you are saved, “Examine yourselves.” What are you looking for in this examination? You look within for Christ. If He is there, you are saved. If He is not, you are not saved, i.e., reprobates not standing the test, and the test is Christ within. You say, “Preacher, if I look within, how do I recognize Him? How will I know that it is really Jesus?” You’ll know (Rom. 8:16).
These two verses of our text are especially helpful in this day of apostasy when those who once supported churches that believe the gospel are departing and going into cults that do not believe in the BIBLE JESUS. I mean, if the Jesus you believe in was not virgin born, you do not believe in the BIBLE JESUS. I mean, if the Jesus you believe in IS NOT GOD MANIFESTED IN THE FLESH, you do not believe in the BIBLE JESUS. You can say you believe in Jesus all you want to, but if you do not accept what the BIBLE says about Him, you have created another Jesus to believe in. It is not the BIBLE JESUS. The BIBLE JESUS was raised on the third day literally, and proved it by showing the scars of the nails in his hands and the scar in His side (Read John 20:24-29). If the Jesus you believe in did not have a literal resurrection, you have created a Jesus to believe in that is very different than the One presented in Scripture, and your Jesus can’t save. The BIBLE JESUS is the ONE AND ONLY SAVIOUR, THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.