2-11-2018 Last Call for Anointing 1 John 2:18-23
"A seventeen-year-old high school student, in order to graduate, had to write an essay on a religious subject. He chose the subject of the union of believers with Christ, according to the Gospel of John.
Let me share with you just one sentence of that essay: "Our heart, reason, history, and the work of Christ convince us that without Him we are doomed by God, and only Christ can save us."
These thoughts from a seventeen-year-old reveal a boy with spiritual wisdom way beyond his age. They are words from a child that had been baptized at age of six into the Lutheran Church, and confirmed at age 16.
I think that you might know something about this boy. One might expect this to be the words and thoughts of a famous preacher— and his name is indeed well known, but for another reason: he is Karl Marx. Just nine years after writing those words, he abandoned any Christian commitment he may have had at one time. He would go on to become one of the most influential fools of history. His ideas and his atheism would spawn through the Soviet Union and the Communist movement, one of the greatest epic times of human misery and death in recent history." A product of a cunning false teacher.
This shouldn’t be too surprising considering what scripture says, this has been predicted a couple thousand years ago:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
And it is very possible that John had this exact verse in mind when he penned our passage this morning in chapter 2 of his first epistle starting in verse 18:
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
I. Time is Running Out (vv. 18-19)
I. Time is Running Out (vv. 18-19)
v.18 He tells them, nearly two thousand years ago, that they are in “the last hour.” Though “hour” occurs throughout the Gospel of John, this is the only place “last hour” is used in the New Testament. This is clearly a term to be understood as urgent. The idea of hour is not as much a quantitative term as it is a qualitative term. How can we be sure of that? Well, becaue Jesus talked about His “hour” coming with respect to His passion week (John 2:4; 12:23, 27; 17:1) as did our author John (John 7:30; 8:20; 13:1). By that He meant the period of His incarnation that included suffering and death, the culmination of His purpose and even resurrection. For John, the presence of false teachers within the Christian community who deny various truths about Jesus serves as evidence that we live in the last days—or more clearly, that the last days are imminent, scheduled to come at any moment. This “hour” is an eschatological figure of speech indicating the immanence of the Day of the Lord and the end of history without promising its immediateness--It is the “pause before the storm” of God’s judgment on wicked mankind before Jesus returns. It is to be followed by the new age of Messiah’s kingdom. Ultimately it refers to the period of time from Jesus’ ascension to the rapture of the church. John is not saying that he thinks there is only a short period of time left to humanity. Even as John the Baptist, and then Jesus, announced to Israel the message, “Repent, for the kingdom is at hand” (Matt 3:1; 4:17), here the idea of nearness is that of immanence rather than immediateness. Though John the Baptist may have thought the kingdom’s arrival was chronologically immanent, Jesus knew the kingdom was not coming any time soon when He preached concerning its coming and commanded His disciples to go throughout the nation announcing “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 10:7).
Even after His resurrection, as Jesus prepared to depart this earth for the last time, the disciples asked about the immanence of the kingdom, hoping the time was chronologically short (Acts 1:6). Jesus’ response (Acts 1:7–8), though ambiguous, indicated otherwise.
2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not from us.” These words have been interpreted with a bit of variety.
For a second time John begins and ends his sentence with the same phrase, in this case employing ἐξ ἡμῶν to emphasize the separation. The quadruple repetition of ἐξ ἡμῶν serves as a powerfully strong emphasis. There is not to be any doubt about the departure, who left, and who did not. Further, using a second class conditional sentence in its center, he describes clearly the fact that these false teachers were never really a part of the apostolic circle, although they may have been identified with it at one point, whether being from Jerusalem or claiming to be their disciples. John’s point will be that the antichrists are revealed by their departure.
Verses 18 and 19 contain six uses of the first person plural pronoun: we, us. Who are “we”? Who is the “us”?
John and his readers or
John and the other apostles
If "us/we” refers to John and his readers, then these verses might indicate problems within this church where some split—namely, the false teachers— they departed and likely deceived and took some of the congregation with them. However, nothing else in the text indicates that their departure was organized or that they formed a sect or separate congregation. If they had, this would then make John’s warnings in this passage a bit unexpected. “If the false teachers have emerged from the church, in what sense were they still a part of it? Furthermore, how could they still constitute a present danger to the congregation? The urgency of John’s words seem to suggest that this danger is not over yet, but still current or imminent.”
If "us/we” refers to the apostolic in-group then this continues establishing John’s authority in the subject and is supported by the first person plural pronouns in the start of this letter. In our passage this morning, there is a clear contrast between “we” (including John) and “you” (the readers). Thus, these pronouns likely do not include John's readers, but must be an authorial “we” represent John and the apostles, as in the prologue. Therefore, it seems most reasonable to see the false teachers departing from the apostolic community.
II. Time is Just Starting (vv. 20-21)
II. Time is Just Starting (vv. 20-21)
For those who are anointed by God, Himself, life begins at the point of salvation! Eternity has just started for many of us here today! John now moves from discussing the antichrists to reassuring his readers of their standing with YHWH, again!
20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
He is affirming two things that are true about his readers and us believers: those to whom John writes know the truth, and this is because of their anointing/χρῖσμα “from the holy” (ἀπὸ τοῦ ἁγίου).
Two questions emerge here:
Anointed how? physically? spiritually? and then
The holy what??? Jesus? Holy Spirit? or Holy Scriptures?
The challenge this verse presents us is to discern what John means by χρῖσμα/anoint (not to be confused with the popular χάρισμα - gifts). This is a word used only by John and used only in this epistle.
We can safely rule out physically anoint since there is no hint of the ceremonies or rituals discussed by John anywhere here.
So Spiritually! (1) It could refer to the Holy Spirit, Himself. The Holy Spirit’s descending on Jesus at His baptism uses language similar to this (John 1:32–34). Paul uses a similar word to refer to the Holy Spirit in 2 Cor 1:21–22. The anointing’s “abiding” and “teaching” is similar to what is said of the Spirit in John 14:17, 26
even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Thus the Spirit who anoints believers is symbolized by the oil used in anointing in the OT. Christians are therefore only those who are thus anointed by the Holy Spirit who is the anointing oil as well, being both the agent and the substance. Notice also the anointing’s teaching connection in our passage, one might argue that, based on Jesus’ promise to the apostles in the Upper Room that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (John 16:13),
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
this promise is now being applied to all believers
This would be drawing from the OT passages where men were anointed for service and now applied to John’s readers and make sense
(2) A second possible meaning is that the anointing refers to Scripture and its teaching function. This would be then explain the cause (the anointing) is used for the effect (having the truth). This anointing is described as “true” and “not a lie,” thereby fitting better with something communicated to them rather than the Holy Spirit indwelling them. Further, this anointing protects believers against false teachers, which is something not said directly as a function of the Holy Spirit (although certainly can be implied by His explicit functions). Additionally, “the anointing remains in his readers in the same way that he speaks about the Word of God or the truth remaining in them.”
This meaning--the anointing referring to Scripture and its teaching function--is rejected by some because Scripture is never described as type of anointing. This view would then see John creating a new image from the Old Testament concept of anointing—however, is entirely possible and it would make better sense in light of the next three words!
(3) A third approach is to combine the two views and see it as the teachings of the apostles (Scripture) as “administered and confirmed by the work of the Spirit”.
No matter which view you take for what anointing here means, we need to answer: who is the “Holy” (One)? If the Holy One is the Holy Spirit then the anointing is likely not also the Holy Spirit
What is sure though is that The Holy One must be a member of the Trinity: Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.
(1) Supporting the Father as its referent is its common occurrence as a title taken by YHWH in the Old Testament.
Further, it is used of God in the LXX. Also, in Rev 4:8 and 6:10 God the Father is called holy by angels and martyrs. However, one objection is that Jesus is referred to as “the Holy One of God”
(2) So then, It could refer to the Son as well. It is used to describe Jesus in John 6:69; Acts 3:14; and later in Rev 3:7. Jesus’ promise that He would teach the apostles “all things” (John 16:26) strengthens this option for those who do not see the anointing as the teaching itself.
(3) The final, and least likely, possibility is that it refers to the Holy Spirit. By His very name, the Holy Spirit may be thought of as “the Holy One.” If the “anointing” is interpreted to be a reference to the Holy Spirit, then this “Holy One” cannot be Him, but must be either the Father or the Son. Either person of the Trinity would be possible since John has affirmed that both the Father (John 14:16, 26) and the Son (John 15:26; 16:7) have sent the Holy Spirit.
However, since the anointing is probably better seen as the teaching (Scripture), the Holy Spirit has to be the referent.
III. The Time is Now (vv. 22-23)
III. The Time is Now (vv. 22-23)
The time is up for the unbeliever—the antichrists—however, the time is now to confess and believe!
22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
Through repetition, he emphasizes the point being made: confession or denial is directly related to one’s relationship with God. To have the Father is to be a believer. Moreover, having the Father is contingent on confessing the Son.
“the one confessing the Son also has the Father.” “Confession” as John uses it here is not just a public proclamation but the expression of personal belief. This is opposite to the earlier denial that Jesus is the Christ. So those who deny do not confess. Those who acknowledge do so by confession. Consequently, this reveals who is a believer and who is not. Moreover, as a test, this is to be applied to the false teachers, not John’s readers, though John speaks in terms of a principle
“has the Father.” What does it mean to have the Father? This is the first instance where John uses “to have/has” ἔχω with God the Father as its direct object
This “having” according to John’s gospel and even this very letter equates to certain benefits of a relationship with God, including as we have already seen weeks prior
fellowship (1 John 1:3, 6, 7),
Jesus as our advocate (2:1),
His anointing (2:20) in today’s passage,
assurance (2:28; 3:21; 4:17; 5:14),
God’s love (4:16),
eternal life (5:12–13),
and answered prayer (5:15)
John also includes as benefits God’s command to love (2:7; 4:21) and God’s testimony about Himself (5:10). These are blessings and privileges forfeited by those who deny Jesus’ messiahship.
The time is now to accept this relationship with our Savior! it is all too easy to get caught up in a cunning deceiver’s false teaching. Whether it be Karl Marx, or someone here at Grace, we may be fresh prey to satan’s lies. So it is imperative that we have the Holy Spirit inside of us that can resist this deception through the anointing of God’s Truth.
Finally, this passage clarifies that one cannot claim to believe in YHWH while rejecting Jesus because John clearly links confession of One with confession of the Other. This same theme, developed by John in his Gospel (John 5:23; 10:30; 14:6, 7; 15:23), is now made crystal clear here in his epistle. Who will you confess?