Hello everyone, and welcome back! Glad to have you here.
This will be our fifth post as we go through 1 John together! (Already?? can you believe it?!!). If you’re new here, don’t fret. This is basically a short series of blog posts where, if you could not tell by now, we go through 1 John together, see what we can learn from it, while taking some notes on any interesting things along the way. If you’re interested in seeing what kind of things we’ve discussed so far, feel free to check out some of the previous posts linked at the bottom.
Today we’ll be going through 1 John 2:18-29. As always, be sure to read the text beforehand or follow along as we go through it! Whatever observations I make or conclusions I come to, not only does the text say it better, but you can make the same observations and conclusions as well! Most of the time, even the seemingly difficult parts are only a google search away!
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
This week’s passage has quite a few interesting things that I want to take a look at:
- The use of the word “antichrist” (v. 18-22)
- The connection with the Father and Son (v. 22-25)
- The “anointing” that is mentioned (v. 27)
What’s particularly interesting to me is how I’ve heard the title of “antichrist” being used in the past, in contrast with how the Bible actually uses the word. I don’t know about you but when I hear the title of “antichrist,” what pops into my mind is Satan––the accuser, the adversary, or simply, “the devil.’” The image that pops up, at least for me, is that “end of the world” scenario, with the beast and the false prophet (shoutout to Revelation).
Or maybe another idea that pops up is the “man of lawlessness” described in 2 Thessalonians. But John doesn’t use the title of antichrist in that way at all; he simply uses it as a term for someone who has turned away and denied the faith. Let’s look at verses 18-19:
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us (1 John 2:18-19).
And yes, I know some people will use this verse as an argument for predestination and Calvinism and all that jazz, but we are not having that conversation here! We are simply looking at the use of the word antichrist. The second instance of the word appears in verse 22:
Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22).
So what is an antichrist? It’s simply someone who denies the Father and the Son. Someone who has turned from and denied the faith.
The next thing I wanted to take a look at is regarding the connection between the Father and Son, which John emphasises. It actually draws us back what we took a look at in the last post. I’ll just copy the relevant text here:
22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life. (1 John 2:22-25)
There are two important observations to make:
- Whoever denies Jesus as the Christ denies both the Father and the Son (v. 22 and 23)
- Whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also (v. 24)
Sound familiar from the last post?
Quick review: last post we took a look at the short interruption that takes place in 1 John:12-14. We took note of the repetition between each addressed group of John’s “reason for writing.” The only thing that seemed kind of off was that two different reasons were given for writing to the first group (the dear children). Except, if every reason for writing was supposed to be a repetition, maybe it was John equating the first reason to the second one.
To simplify, we asked the question: Does John equate “sins being forgiven on account of his name” with “knowing the Father?” And looking at the text from today, it does look like it! John makes a pretty big deal about acknowledging the Son in order to know the Father. He makes the point that if you deny Jesus as Christ, you deny the Father as well (v. 22)! But, if you acknowledge the Son, then you also know the Father as well! That seems to be the same reasoning that follows, being that if you are forgiven in his (Jesus’) name, as in, you know Jesus, then you would also know the Father.
I almost forgot to mention this, but you may have been wondering why I slotted in v. 25 if it’s not really related to the Father/Son discussion. But, it’s another quick review lesson from the very first post! In it, we talked about what John talks about when he talks about eternal life. (Hint: it’s not about life after death).
Moving on, the one last thing I wanted to go over was the “anointing” that is mentioned in verse 27.
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him (1 John 2:27).
Now, two questions pop up while reading this. I’ll go through each of them:
- What is the anointing that John is talking about?
- What is this anointing that the audience no longer needs anyone to teach them?
The first question is “What is the anointing that John is talking about?” Or even better, let’s talk about what anointing actually is. Anointing was a sort of ritual or ceremony that was often done in the Old Testament where oil was poured onto someone––it was done usually for the Judean kings or priests, and was a symbol of being consecrated or “set apart.”
(Another interesting side note is the connection with believers being anointed, priests being anointed, and the idea of believers being a “royal priesthood” in 1 Peter 2:9.) The anointing that John talks about, though, is special. it’s an anointing that is done not through oil but by the Spirit of God, and it is done by God himself:
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth (1 John 2:20)
It’s an anointing that “remains in us” and “teaches [us] about all things” (v. 27). One verse that helps us understand this connection between the anointing and the Holy Spirit shows up in Acts, where we find out Jesus had a similar anointing:
You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him (Acts 10:38).
Now that we’ve solved the “anointing,” that it refers to the giving of the Holy Spirit, what does John mean when he says that now there is no longer a need to be taught? Could he mean that they literally no longer need any more teaching? Well, that wouldn’t make much sense, as he is currently writing that teaching in the middle of a letter full of teachings(so much irony!). What could he mean instead? Well, one thing we could do is to look at the context of where this teaching is located. If we take a look at the surrounding verses from 18-29, we realize that the focus of this section is on false teachers. John is warning the recipients to not fall prey to false teachings. He mentions this explicitly in v. 26:
I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray (1 John 2:26)
This is important because it helps us understand that John is not telling them to never listen to any teachings again, but that the Holy Spirit that they’ve been anointed with will give them the ability to discern what is true. And that they, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can know what is real. And how does John conclude this thought on false teachers and anointing? By reminding them to remain in Jesus and to continue in Jesus, so that they may be confident at Jesus’ second coming. This whole section is a reminder not to fall prey to false teachers, but rather to stand firm in the faith. Let us not focus on these finer details and forget the bigger lesson that John is trying to teach us.
So as we read this, and take note of all the details and observations along the way, let’s also keep in mind John’s lesson to be wary of false teachers. To watch out for those who teach, yet deny Christ. Those who claim to know the Father but not the Son. But at the same time, let us be encouraged that those false teachers do not hold power over us. Why? Because we have been anointed with the Holy Spirit who gives us discernment about those who teach such things.
Thanks for tuning in today! Stay tuned for next time as we go through 1 John 3:1-10.