1 John 2:20
But you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things.
I. "THE HOLY ONE." Who is He? Christ. It had been repeatedly ascribed to Him before, not only by men, but by voices falling from another world (see Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 43:14, 15; Isaiah 49:7; Luke 7:35; Mark 10:24; Acts 3:14). And, although all ransomed spirits are called God's "holy ones," the term applies in its highest truth to Christ alone; for to which of the sons of men could you everpoint and say, "Behold the Holy One of God!" But the evangelist is not now speaking merely in a general way of Christ, but of Christ as our High Priest. A priest who could be charged with the slightest infraction of the law would have been no Saviour. In Him, for the first time on our earth, holiness shone forth in its perfect brightness, and yet in a shape which man could bear to see. In Christ, holiness is our friend; it gives our crown, guards our safety, and inspires our joy. We can give thanks, not at the remembrance of love alone, but at the remembrance of holiness, through the redemptive death of Him who is the Holy One of God.
II. "THE UNCTION FROM THE HOLY ONE." What does that expression mean? The Spirit of God is here intended; not as to His nature, but as to tits agency; not in His essential attributes, but in His emanations. Now mark three things.
1. This unction comes down from Christ to all His people. Again and again did He seek to quicken the languid attention of His followers to the fact that this influence would come to them as the very consequence of His own departure (John 16:7). Now, remember Christ is not only our Priest, He is our Head. Combine these ideas, and you catch the spirit of the metaphor. "As the body of the priest received the unction from the Head, we have received an unction from the Holy One; for we are members of His body, His flesh, and His bones." "The Spirit was given without measure to Him"; and from Him it flows to all who are identified with His life.
2. This influence from Christ makes all His members holy. A holy influence must have a holy effect, and this effect must be the true test of your character. I say not that Christians, to verify their high vocation, must all at once be perfectly holy men, but that they must be the recipients of a holy influence — an influence that will show the traces of its presence, and work effects accordant with its nature.
3. Christ, by giving this unction to all His people, shows their essential unity with Himself and with each other.
III. "YE KNOW ALL THINGS." This holy influence has an enlightening virtue. It rested upon Christ as "the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord." It made Him of "quick understanding in the fear of the Lord." Communicated by Him to us, it must have similar effects. The expression used to declare this fact startles us by its boldness.
1. Things that are holy are meant. The emphasis here on the word "holy" suggests that the knowledge spoken of must be knowledge of holy things. Without holiness you may indeed understand Hebrew as well as Caiaphas did; Latin as well as Pilate did; the Greek as well as that Athenian did who charged Paul with setting forth "strange gods"; the geography and antiquities of Palestine as perfectly as the proudest Pharisee that ever wore phylacteries; but God's book will be a sealed book to you: and, though you may have a grammatical knowledge of the words which reveal holy things, you will never know the things themselves.
2. Things that are essential are meant. Spiritual men, however mistaken they may be on marginal and subsidiary questions, know all essential things. If they are wrong in other respects they will not repair to the wrong Refuge, or plunge in the wrong Fountain, or follow the wrong Shepherd.
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.