The 18th and 19th verses of 1 John 2 addressed an earthquake in the Christian community. A cadre of non-believers had been surreptitiously co-existing in the church. This group was not anchored by the Holy Spirit and having not that most essential of protections Satan inflated seeds of false beliefs into full-blown heresy. They finally came out of the closet, left the main church grouping and went off to erect their views into a new religion. That opened a rift in the church and now they were pouring their lava back toward the church from where they started.
This type of thing is not without precedent.
- Think back to Judas who had co-existed among the disciples before leaving that Last Supper.
- What about the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares? Or,
- Remember when Jesus said his body was the bread of life? Many grumbled and abandoned Jesus proving their discipleship to be but a false start.
Verse 20 – Anointing of confidence
You have a God-given, active influence which is accompanied by the truth.
20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. (1 John 2:20–ESV)
“Sure, some have left,” John said, “but there is something different about you. See, the Holy Spirit is in you.”
John continues to use words in this letter which are used nowhere else in the scriptures. He uses the word anoint (Greek chrisma) here which has connotations of experience. An event happened in their lives where they received the Holy Spirit from God. It happened in the past, and his presence continued with them at this point1. The Holy Spirit teaches and reminds of all things. John wrote of this in his gospel (See John 14:26). He will also write of this in verse 27 of this lesson.
John says that some left proving their allegiance. It is likely that some churches would receive this letter before all of the heretics departed. Continuance does clarify who is a follower of Jesus and who is counterfeit. The better thing which gives clarity is the experience of being anointed by the Holy Spirit.
More than just experience and anointing they possess knowledge. John and the apostles taught throughout the church of things witnessed from the beginning: things heard, looked at, touched. These they proclaimed throughout the Jewish and Roman world.
Verse 20, in short, says, “You have the Holy Spirit, memories, experiences, the truth and you have continued in these.” Sure some had departed the community of believers, but others had stayed. Those departures should not be used to construe doubt, but to assemble confidence.