1 John 2:20 MEANING

1 John 2:20
Verse 20. - The thought of many antichrists suggests that of many Christs; i.e., many who have been anointed χριστοί by the Christ himself. "The false teachers have the spirit of antichrist; ye have a chrism from the Christ." The Johannine καί places the two antithetical groups side by side, while the emphatic ὑμεῖς (comp. 1 John 4:4) accentuates the contrast. And ye have an anointing from the Holy One. The unction or chrism is the Holy Spirit (John 1:33; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 2:27). As Christ was anointed with the Spirit in all fullness, so each Christian is anointed with him in his measure (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22). The twenty-first 'Catechetical Lecture' of St. Cyril, "On the Holy Chrism," should be read in illustration of this verse. "In apostolic language, each Christian is in due measure himself a Christ, empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit to announce the truth which he has learnt, to apply the atonement which he has received, to establish the kingdom which he believes to be universal" (Westcott). The ἀπό depends on ἔχετε, not on χρίσμα. The Holy One is Jesus Christ (John 6:69; Acts 3:14; Revelation 3:7; comp. John 14:26; John 16:7, 13). It is hard to decide between three readings:

(1) καὶ οἴδατε πάντα, "and ye know all things" necessary to salvation, i.e., "the truth" (verse 21; John 16:13);

(2) καὶ οἴδατε πάντες, "and ye all know" that ye have this anointing;

(3) οἴδατε πάντες," ye all know - I did not write to you because ye know not the truth." There is evidence of a fourth variation, πάντας "ye know all" the antichrists. If

(1) be right, it does not mean that the Christian is omniscient, but that he has the basis of all knowledge; he can see things in their right proportions. The apostle's own disciple, St. Polycarp, writes to the Philippians

2:18-23 Every man is an antichrist, who denies the Person, or any of the offices of Christ; and in denying the Son, he denies the Father also, and has no part in his favour while he rejects his great salvation. Let this prophecy that seducers would rise in the Christian world, keep us from being seduced. The church knows not well who are its true members, and who are not, but thus true Christians were proved, and rendered more watchful and humble. True Christians are anointed ones; their names expresses this: they are anointed with grace, with gifts and spiritual privileges, by the Holy Spirit of grace. The great and most hurtful lies that the father of lies spreads in the world, usually are falsehoods and errors relating to the person of Christ. The unction from the Holy One, alone can keep us from delusions. While we judge favourably of all who trust in Christ as the Divine Saviour, and obey his word, and seek to live in union with them, let us pity and pray for those who deny the Godhead of Christ, or his atonement, and the new-creating work of the Holy Ghost. Let us protest against such antichristian doctrine, and keep from them as much as we may.But ye have an unction from the Holy One,.... Meaning the Spirit, and his graces, with which Christ, the head, is anointed without measure, and his members in measure; from whence he is called Christ, and they Christians. These were really the Lord's anointed ones; they were true believers; were the wise virgins who had oil in their vessels with their lamps, which would never go out. The grace of the Spirit is called a chrism, or an ointment, or an anointing, in allusion to the anointing oil under the law; See Gill on Matthew 25:3; of which anointing oil the Jews say (h), that it continues all of it, "to time to come", (i.e. to the times of the Messiah,) as it is said, Exo_30:31. Now this these saints had, "from the Holy One"; or that Holy One; meaning, not the Holy Spirit of God, though it is true that this anointing, or these graces, were from him; he is the author of them, and may truly be said to anoint with them; nor the Father, who is holy in his nature, and in his works, and is the God of all grace, and is said to anoint the saints too, 2 Corinthians 1:21, but rather the Lord Jesus Christ, who is holy, both as God and man, and from whose fulness all grace is had. This oil, or ointment, was first poured on him without measure, and from him it descends to all the members of his mystical body, as the ointment poured on Aaron's head descended to his beard, and to the skirts of his garments; see 1 John 2:27;

and ye know all things; for this anointing is a teaching one; it makes persons of quick understanding; it enlightens their understandings, refreshes their memories, and strengthens all the powers and faculties of the soul; it leads into the knowledge of all spiritual things, into all the mysteries of grace, and truths of the Gospel, into all things necessary for salvation; for these words are not to be taken in the largest sense, in which they are only applicable to the omniscient God, but to be restrained to the subject matter treated of, and to those things chiefly in which the antichrists and deceivers cited; and regard not a perfect knowledge, for those that know most of these things, under the influence of this unction, know but in part. The Syriac version reads, "all men", and so refers to that discerning of spirits, of the Spirit of truth, from the spirit of error; a gift which was bestowed on many in the primitive times, by which they could distinguish hypocrites from true believers, and antichrists and deceivers from the faithful ministers of the word. One of Stephens's copies reads, "and ye all know".

(h) T. Hieros. Horayot, fol. 47. 3.

Courtesy of Open Bible