1 John 2:21
But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things But the anointing which ye have received, etc.

I. THE NATURE OF THIS BLESSING. "Ye have an anointing from the Holy One." The "unction," or "anointing," does not signify the act of anointing, but the material which is used in the anointing - the oil, or ointment, or unguent. Here it denotes the Holy Spirit, whom the Christians to whom St. John was writing had received. Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed, and Christians are spoken of in the New Testament as "kings and priests" (Revelation 1:6); but we cannot see in our text any reference to either of these aspects of Christian character and life. The apostle is rather contrasting his readers, who had received the anointing from the Holy One, with the antichrists, who were opposed to the Anointed. As Alford expresses it, "The apostle sets his readers, as χριστούς, anointed of God, over against the ἀντίχριστοι." They possessed the Holy Spirit. He was within them as their Teacher, Comforter, Sanctifier. This blessing is of unspeakable and inestimable worth.

II. THE SOURCE OF THIS BLESSING. "Ye have an anointing from the Holy One;" i.e., Jesus Christ. In verse 1 St. John speaks of him as "the Righteous." In 1 John 3:3 he says that "he is pure." St. Peter said to him, "We know that thou art the Holy One of God" (John 6:69). And he afterwards spake of him as "the Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14). And he spake of himself to "his servant John" as "he that is holy, he that is true" (Revelation 3:7). He baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). He sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost is ascribed to him (Acts 2:33). Therefore we conclude that he, our Lord and Saviour, is the Holy One from whom Christians receive the anointing; i.e., the Holy Spirit.

III. THE EFFECT OF THIS BLESSING. "Ye know all things And ye need not that any one teach you." The "all things" calmer, of course, mean all things in science and art, in history and philosophy. An examination of the context will lead us to the true meaning. In verse 20 St. John says, "Ye know all things;" in verse 21 and the next sentence he says, "Ye know the truth;" and in the following verse and the next sentence he shows what the truth of which he had spoken is, viz. "that Jesus is the Christ." By the "all things," then, the apostle means "the truth... that Jesus is the Christ." All things in the Christian system are comprised in that one great fact. "He who knows this one thing," says Ebrard, "that Jesus is the Christ, knows already in that one thing all; there is no most distant height or depth of truth which is not contained or involved in that simple proposition." This interpretation includes other interpretations which are not so clearly drawn from the context; e.g., Alford, "All things needful for right action in the matter under consideration;" Barnes, "All things which it is essential that you should know on the subject of religion;" and others, "All things necessary to salvation." These and others are comprised in the knowledge "that Jesus is the Christ." This knowledge they attained by means of "an unction from the Holy One." We do not understand that the Holy Spirit had communicated unto them new truths, or directly revealed any truth to them. But by reason of his influence they saw the truths which they had received, more clearly, and grasped them more firmly. This is well illustrated by Dr. Chalmers: The Spirit "does not tell us anything that is out of the record; but all that is within it he sends home with clearness and effect upon the mind. When a telescope is directed to some distant landscape, it enables us to see what we could not otherwise have seen; but it does not enable us to see anything which has not a real existence in the prospect before us. The natural eye saw nothing but blue land stretching along the distant horizon. By the aid of the glass there bursts upon it a charming variety of fields, and woods, and spires, and villages. Yet who would say that the glass added one feature to this assemblage? And so of the Spirit. He does not add a single truth or a single character to the book of revelation. He enables the spiritual man to see what the natural man cannot see; but the spectacle which he lays open is uniform and immutable. It is the Word of God which is ever the same." So the Holy Spirit had brought into clear and impressive light the things which they to whom this letter is addressed had learned from the sacred Scriptures and from St. John and other Christian teachers, and had enabled them to realize their importance and power. And as a matter of fact, in our own day we see persons whose educational advantages have been of the slightest, whose powers and opportunities for study have been must limited, who yet have a clear and comprehensive acquaintance with the essential truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the reason of this is, they "have an anointing from the Holy One," they are enlightened by the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:26; John 16:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 2:13-16). But St. John writes further, "Ye need not that any one teach you" - a statement on which Alford remarks, "His assertions here are so many delicate exhortations, veiled under the declaration of their true ideal state of unction with the Holy Spirit who guides into all truth. If that unction were abiding in them in all its fullness, they would have no need for his or any other teaching." The reference is to their knowledge of the great comprehensive truth "that Jesus is the Christ." They were not dependent upon any one for teaching concerning this vital and fundamental fact. But generally speaking, "the Divine unction does not supersede ministerial teaching, but surmounts it."

IV. THE OBLIGATION OF THIS BLESSING. More fully stated this is the obligation which is inseparable from the possession of this anointing from the Holy One. "Abide in him," i.e., in Christ, as the context clearly shows. The person spoken of in verses 27 and 28 is evidently the Lord Jesus. The exhortation to abide in him is based on the assurance that the anointing which they had received abode in them (verse 27). The "in him" must not be toned down to his doctrine, or his system, or anything of that kind. "In him" by the exercise of the faith of the heart, by the attachment of holy love, by intimate and reverent communion with him, and by participation in his life and spirit. Thus are we to abide in him (cf. John 15:4-7). From our subject we learn:

1. That the illumination of the Holy Spirit is indispensable to a clear and correct apprehension of the great truths of Christianity. "Words and syllables," says Cudworth, "which are but dead things, cannot possibly convey the living notions of heavenly truths to us. The secret mysteries of a Divine life, of a new nature, of Christ formed in our hearts, they cannot be written or spoken; language and expressions cannot reach them; neither can they be ever truly understood, except the soul itself be kindled from within, and awakened into the life of them" (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10-12).

2. That the "anointing from the Holy One" - the influence and presence of the Holy Spirit within us - is a preservative against the seductions of error. "If that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father.... but the anointing which ye received of him abideth in you," etc.

3. That the possession of this Divine preservative is not an encouragement to presumption, but a reason for perseverance. Because the anointing which they received of Christ abode in them, St. John exhorts his readers to "abide in him." - W.J.

I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it
I. WHY THE APOSTLE HAD WRITTEN (ver. 21). It does not follow that he would not have written to those who were either ignorant of the truth or opposed to it. To every sinner he would address the gospel of salvation, and entreat him to become a possessor of its benefits. Indeed, he did so in other writings. On the present occasion, however, he wrote to them that knew the truth. He had special reasons for writing to them particularly. No doubt one reason was the extreme jealousy of the apostle lest any of those who knew the truth should act inconsistently with it. In another epistle he discovers the spirit that animated him in this respect (2 John 4) How it must have distressed him to have found some not walking in the truth. He therefore wrote to instruct, and warn, and encourage them that they might walk worthy of their high vocation. Nor can it be supposed this was not needed. In the most enlightened there is still much ignorance. In the most determined there is still irresolution. In the most devoted there is still deficiency. But his great reason appears to have been his hope of success in writing to such. He declared the truth to them, encouraged by the belief that there would be found in them a readiness of mind to receive it. In this assumption of the apostle there is a practical lesson of great value. We are taught that the acceptance or rejection of the truth is chiefly dependent on the disposition of the heart towards it. It is the perversity of the will that often blinds the understanding. Let that be rightly disposed, and we are apt to see clearly.

II. WHAT, THEN, DID HE WRITE? The reply is in the next two verses. It is observable that, in treating of truth and error, the whole subject of the apostle is concerning Jesus Christ. He assumes that if our views of Him are correct, so will be our apprehension of the whole circle of truth. He therefore goes largely into the subject. He presents the Saviour in various views of supreme importance, in which it is vital to true godliness that we shall perceive the truth and not fall into error.

1. The first is adverted to in the opening of verse 22. "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?" No doubt the general sentiment here is the rejection of the claims of Jesus Christ to be the Messiah promised in the scriptures of the Old Testament. This was the sin of the Jewish nation. He was the light, but they could not see it, because their eyes were blinded. This view, however, does not express the full doctrine of the apostle. To receive or reject Jesus as the Christ has respect to all His offices, and consequently to all the blessings which we may obtain or forfeit by embracing or refusing Him in them.

2. In the same verse the apostle gives another description, and says, "He is antichrist that denies the Father and the Son." This cannot mean a denial of the existence of the Father and the Son as two distinct beings, the one dwelling in heaven, and the other upon the earth. The reference is manifestly to some union between them which some might be disposed or tempted to deny. It is that in which Christ is called God's "own Son," His "only-begotten and well-beloved Son." In this relation the Son is the equal of the Father. Let us give Him the glory that is due by hearkening to His invitation, "Look unto Me and be saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am God, and beside Me there is no Saviour."

3. The apostle gives one other view of antichrist in verse 23, "Whosoever denieth the Son," etc. There are two deeply important sentiments in these words, which can only he noticed. The one is that no one can have just views of God unless He is known as He is revealed in the Son (Matthew 11:27). The other sentiment is the result of the first. He only who knows God in His Son can have fellowship with Him.

III. This will more fully appear while we notice THE OBJECT OF THE APOSTLE IN WRITING AS HE HAD DONE. It is expressed in the 24th verse. The three terms, "abide," "remain," "continue," are the same in the original. The repetition is sufficient to show the extreme importance attached to the thought by the apostle. What, then, is it? It is suggested by a phrase which he uses again and again throughout the epistle, "The truth is not in us." In order that the truth may have its due effect, it must be in us, not as a speculation in the head, but a mighty practical principle in the heart. It must he in us as food is in the man whom it nourishes. But it is not merely the truth, as a system, that must thus dwell in us. It is as the casket that contains the jewel; and that jewel is Christ.

(James Morgan, D. D.)


1. The official designation, Christ, or Messiah, or Anointed, marks not only a certain relation to the Jewish Scriptures, but also and still more a certain relation to God, whose Christ He is.

2. As the Son He stands in a distinct and definite relation to the Father. He must be owned in that relation if He is to be owned at all; otherwise He is to all intents and purposes denied.

II. HOW IS IT THAT TO DENY THE SON IS TO DENY THE FATHER, so that "whosoever denieth the Son the same hath not the Father; but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also"?

1. In the exercise of His absolute sovereignty God is entitled to say upon what terms and in what way any of His creatures shalt have Him, that is, as theirs; have Him so as to have an interest in Him, and a bond of union with Him. He may set forth anyone He pleases, and say, If you deny Him you cannot have Me. In this case, however, He sets forth His Son, and therefore the appointment must be allowed to be in the highest degree reasonable and fair. The disowning of the Son cannot but be an offence to the Father; deeply wounding and grieving His heart.

2. "But he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." He hath the Father; how surely, how fully, may partly appear, if we consider, not only what Jesus is to us, as our anointed Saviour, but also what He is to the Father as His beloved Son. All through His humiliation, how has He the Father? The Father's love He has; His love of boundless complacency, approval, delight. He has the Father's gracious presence with Him always. So He, as the Son, had the Father when He was as you are. So he would have you, acknowledging Him, to have the Father also. He shows you what it is to have the Father in the state in which you now are; amid the trials of earth, the enmity of the world, the very pains of hell. He shows you how even here you can have the Father as, in a work and warfare infinitely harder than yours, He had the Father; how you, in all your trial and tribulation, can rest in the consciousness of the Father's favour; and rejoice in the doing of the Father's will; and resign yourself contentedly to the Father's disposal.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?
1. Those who deny His eternal existence and Godhead, and the union of the Divine and human natures in His one person.

2. Those who deny the reality of His human nature.

3. Those who deny Him as Priest, and reject as irrational His expiatory sacrifice.

4. Those who deny Him as King and Judge, who scoff at His personal advent and reign on earth (2 Peter 3), or who ridicule His solemn warnings as to the punishment of the wicked.

(J. T. Demarest, D. D.)

We have here two subjects of thought.

I. The greatest BEINGS in the universe.

1. The "Father." Who is He? The cause, the means, the end of all things in the universe but sin.

2. The "Son." Who is the Son? His express Image, His Divine Equal, the one grand object of His love. Before these two Beings, all systems, all hierarchies, all potentates, kingdoms, principalities, are less than a spark to the sun, a drop to the ocean. Another subject of thought is —

II. The greatest CRIME in the universe. What is it?

1. Practical Anti-theism. "Denieth the Father." Millions confess the Father, who practically deny Him.

2. Practical anti-Christism. "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?" Practically, to deny Christ as the true Messiah, to live as if He never existed, is anti-theism in another form. This is the crime of crimes. Living as if no God the Father, no Christ the Son ever existed.CONCLUSION.

1. Antichrist is confined to no one Church.

2. Antichrist embraces all sin. Every man that does not love the Father supremely, and accept the Son lovingly and loyally, is Antichrist.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

These Words strike at the root of a prevailing error. They warn us of the peril which we run by disparaging any of the central truths of the Christian Gospel — the loss which we incur if we surrender them. Deny that Christ is the eternal Son of God, and we lose hold of God Himself as our Father. Before looking at this startling sentence a little more closely, it is worth while to consider the fact that only where the Divine Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ has been believed, have men thought of God with the joy and trust of children. We may dismiss the great pagan religions. But take the two great monotheistic religions — Judaism and Mohammedanism — and compare them with the Christian faith. Judaism, of course, knew nothing of the incarnation. There are certain elements in the Jewish faith which, as we see, prepared the life of the race for this consummate glory; but that God could ever actually become man could hardly, even in moments of clearest vision, have been made real to Jewish prophets or saints. And hence, wonderful and varied as is the religious life expressed in the Psalms and prophecies, it is not a religious life which has its roots in the belief that God is in any true and deep sense the Father of men. Take Mohammedanism; this great faith which still exerts authority over a hundred or a hundred and fifty millions of men, and which still appears to have the power to inspire that heroic courage which a thousand years ago made the Saracens masters of some of the fairest regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia — Mohammedanism denies the Incarnation, and therefore denies the eternal Sonship of Christ, and affirms the perfect simplicity of the Divine nature. As I have said, it is a great faith. It exalts the majesty of God; God is supreme; His will is irresistible; neither earth nor hell can stay His hand. The God of Mohammedanism is a God to fear; a God to obey; a God to live for; a God to die for; but He is not a Father; and the devout Mohammedan is a servant of God — a slave, not a child. And in the history of the Christian Church I find that wherever faith in the Divine Sonship of Christ declines, there soon declines with it, as a rule, the joy and exultation that come from the vision of the infinite love of God, and from the consciousness of our own kinship with Him. A flower severed from its root will retain its colour and its perfume for a time; but it must perish sooner or later. A real faith in the Divine Fatherhood may survive for a time after faith in the Divine Sonship of Christ has died; but sooner or later, whosoever denieth the San, discovers that in losing the Son he has lost the Father also. We may find fresh light on this subject if we look at the words which immediately precede the text — words which carry us back to speculations about the Lord Jesus Christ which have long vanished. Among the earliest forms of heresy was one which maintained that Jesus — Jesus, the son of Mary — was a man and nothing more; but that before His public ministry began, a great and mighty emanation from the Eternal descended upon Him. This emanation was called "The Christ." It was in the power of the Divine Christ, according to this theory, that Jesus did all His wonderful works; and it was the illumination of the Divine Christ that enabled Him to speak all His wonderful words. "The Christ" took possession of Jesus when Jesus had reached manhood; but Jesus Himself, according to this doctrine, was not Divine. "Who is the liar?" asks John, "but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?" — that is who, being asked to confess it, refuses. John meant by a liar a man whose whole conception of God, and the world, and the human race was false; whose whole theory of life therefore rested on a false foundation, was rooted in falsehood. It was not merely the man's words that were untrue to his thought, but his thought was untrue to the fact, did not correspond to the reality of things. The falsehood was a grave one. It did not touch the mere details of the order of the world, but the fundamental relations of man and of the whole world to God. The heresy which denied that Jesus was the Christ was therefore fatal to all truth. The ancient Gnostic heresy has passed away, but the false conception of God and the world, which was the root of it, still survives. The distance between the Eternal and man seems so immense that it seems impossible that the Eternal Son of God ever became man, and that He remains man. In other words, human unbelief severs the human from the Divine. But when once we recognise in Christ the Divine glory, we see that God, instead of being remote from us, is near, that the great glories of the Divine nature are not onmipotence and omniscience, but righteousness, love, pity, grace. These glories we may share with the Eternal. In our own moral freedom we discover that which corresponds to the Divine sovereignty over nature; in our moral perfection that which may be the expression of the ethical life of God. We listen to Christ, we watch Him, we discover that He is God, and yet Son of God. He was eternally with the Father; He has come to share the conditions of our earthly life. This is a new discovery concerning God Himself, and not merely concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a discovery that God has always been the Father; that the Eternal Son, sharing His life, sharing His glory, is eternally one with Him, and yet eternally separate from Him, and has eternally rejoiced in His love. This Eternal Son has shared our life that we may share His life, and might be really and truly sons of God. For this we were made, and only as this is achieved in us do we fulfil the thought and purpose of God. And now, dismissing these high discussions, and returning to the practical aspects of this subject, let me say something to those of you who, while you speak of the Divine Fatherhood, are very conscious, when you come to think of it, and to deal with yourselves fairly, that it gives you little peace, little courage, little joy, little power; that it is no great restraint on sin, no powerful support to righteousness; that it is a thing to argue about rather than to live upon. You do not exactly deny — but the Sonship of Christ, His eternal Sonship, is not real to you; the wonder and the glory of it do not possess and awe you. Is that the reason you have never entered fully into the consciousness of sonship? Try to dwell on the great fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, the eternal Son of God, became flesh. Remember that through sixty Christian generations that truth, with the correlative truths, has been the substance of the very life of Christian people; that in the power of it they have trusted God, and have done the will of God.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father

1. It were a ludicrous absurdity to say that a wrong faith can save a man. Either, then, a right faith is necessary, or no faith at all is (John 3:15, 16; John 6:40; John 11:25, etc.; Acts 20:21; Romans 1:17; Romans 3:30; Galatians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 11:6).

2. A wrong faith must necessarily produce a wrong practice. We may see this in the affairs of this world.

3. Tendencies do not always produce their full results. A wrong faith on some points has been in some degree compensated for by a right faith on others.

4. It is a matter of importance to believe the truth. All the misery and distress in the world is due to wrong beliefs.

5. How is a right faith to be attained? In answer to this we must

(a)dismiss the idea that any man, while in the flesh, can possibly attain to infallible certainty on all points whatsoever. For

(b)our condition here is progressive.


1. Revelation is necessary. For otherwise we do not know

(1)whether there be a God,

(2)whether man is immortal or not,

(3)in what the foundation of morals consists.

2. The only revelation is that made by Jesus Christ.

3. The essential feature of revelation is that it was made by one Anointed, i.e., commissioned to declare God's will. Thus we are forbidden, on any point on which God's will is clearly declared, to question it.

4. How, then, do unbelievers in Christ lead moral and admirable lives? They can do so only so far as they believe what Christ tells them.

5. Continuance in the Son and in the Father the only possible means of salvation. The denial of this truth leads directly to the destruction of all moral principle whatever. The moral lives of unbelievers are due to their acceptance of the moral principles of their age. These moral principles are Christian principles. But Christian moral law without its Lawgiver is a superstructure without a foundation. Thus continuance in the Son and in the Father is the only means whereby(1) error, the source of all evil, can be gradually dispelled, and(2) truth, the source of all holiness and goodness, enabled to take full possession of the heart.

(J. J. Lias, M. A.)

I have seen a perfect stranger heartily welcomed in an English home and treated with a deference, a tenderness, and a generous hospitality that did one good to witness, and I understood it all when informed that that stranger, though never seen before, had at one time shown kindness to a wandering, long-absent son in a certain town in the distant Australias. The parents governed their estimate of the stranger by this kindly treatment of their boy. And does not our Heavenly Father to some extent deal similarly with us? He views and estimates us according to our treatment of His beloved Son. If our estimate of Jesus is vague, or erroneous, or wilfully depreciatory, we suffer to that extent in the Divine estimation.

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