Anointing of the Holy Spirit

“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, but ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (I John 2:27).

Anointing Points to Regeneration

The term “anointing” (Greek christos) is used only twice with regard to Christians. In both places the reference is to regeneration. The anointing which is on the child of God is that which was received at regeneration. Every believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, having vital relationship with Him, became a Christian when baptized with the Holy Spirit. Next, the filling of the Spirit is indeed an experience far beyond anything, which the majority of Christians knows anything about. It is the purpose of God that every child of His should be filled at the moment of his or her conversion, and perpetually filled until the consummation of his sojourn upon the earth. (The Spirit of God, G. Campbell Morgan, Baker Book House, pp. 184-186.)

The usage of the word anointing, as found in I John 2:27, is a noun usage which is only to be found in I John 2:20, 27. In I John 2:20, the word “unction” is a translation of the Greek (chrisma) occurring three times in the Greek New Testament (verses 20, 27a, 27b), is more precisely rendered “anointing” which usually has reference to the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This anointing, with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, is a part of the believer’s equipment for effective service. This “anointing,” or indwelling, of the Holy Spirit is sufficient to make lucid all truth in matters of faith and practice. No additional experience of knowledge or enlightenment is needed. The apostle John is giving assurance to all believers of the intent of establishing the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit in His teaching ministry. In I John 2:27, the passage recognizes the adequacy of the Holy Spirit in teaching and in testing the truth of what is taught by human teachers. (The Criswell Study Bible, p. 1465.)

Understanding John’s Words

To properly understand the intent of the apostle John’s usage of the word anointing, one should examine the reason for John’s writing of this first epistle. The first epistle of John is a vigorous polemic against certain heretical teachers whom John calls “‘antichrists.” These “antichrists” are recognized as one or more of the many ramifications of Gnosticism. This heresy has three possibilities: 1) The denial that Jesus Christ came in the flesh; 2) That Jesus is the Son of God; 3) That Jesus came “by water only” and not “by blood also.” Gnosticism was divided into two schools of thought: 1) Dicetism described Jesus as the Christ in the sense of a phantom figure; 2) Ceninthus taught that Jesus was not born of a virgin, but was the physical son of Joseph and Mary. Whereupon His baptism by John the Baptist, the Spirit of “Christ” anointed Him for His earthly teaching ministry then left Him at His crucifixion.

In the passages found in I John 2:18-20, John represents to the believers the work of the Holy Spirit and this anointing for security against apostasy of the antichrists. John reminds all true believers of the living Witness they have in themselves– the Holy Spirit of God; who both set the seal of immediate conviction upon the Truth itself and enabled the believers unfailingly to distinguish it from all of its counterfeits. According to verse 20, the result of this “anointing” is that ye know all things. The specific office of the Spirit is to guide into all truth, to receive of mine (Christ’s) and show it unto you (John 16:13-14).

The distinctive feature of I John 2:27 is that the testimony of the Spirit is regarded as a “teaching.” The believers would recognize this teaching as the subjective, enlightening action of the Holy Spirit of truth upon the minds of all true believers in Christ. This does not assert infallibility or omniscience on the part of the Christian or indeed negate the need for Christian instruction. The general purport of the passage therefore is to remind the readers that they already possess in their fellowship a resource that is all sufficient for discerning the real character of the antichristian doctrine.

How The Anointing Empowers Believers

The “anointing” of the believers enables all to know the truth concerning the object of their Christian faith–Christ the incarnate Son of God. This indwelling of God is recognized by its appropriate sign, the gift of the Spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (I John 4:2). The Spirit’s anointing is not to be recognized as a source of independent revelation, but makes the revelation of Christ (the Word) effectual. This is done by a process that may be considered as two-fold, teaching and testimony. The Spirit is the living Divine Teacher who works in all believers a progressive understanding of the contents of the Truth embodied in Christ. He shall testify of me (John 15-26). (The Tests of Life, 3rd Edition, Reprint, Robert Law, Baker Book House, pp. 91-92, 112-115, 297-298.)

The verb form “anoint” (Greek chrio) is also used several times in the New Testament to allude to the anointing of Christ, but once it is used of Christians, who are also in a sense anointed (II Corinthians 1:21). The anointing, is the same as that with which Christ was anointed, namely Holy Spirit (II Corinthians 1:22). This, in fact, is the meaning behind the name “Christians,” for believers are “little Christs,” “little anointed ones.” When John, therefore, uses this word unction, or anointed, he simply means to say that all believers have the Holy Spirit. Since believers have the Holy Spirit, they have an “edge” on unbelievers and can “know” certain things that unbelievers cannot. So, John says in the passage of I John 2:20, Ye know all things. Do the Gnostic false teachers claim to “know?” Here is truth they cannot know, which even the simplest believer “knows” because he has the Spirit. The truth, which makes it possible to tell Christians from antichrists, is the truth that Jesus is the Christ. This is the message, which the believers have had from the beginning and note the emphasis on hearing and receiving the Word of God from the apostles.

Proving False Teachers

In I John 2:25-27, the case is that any believer can apply a test to be used on false teachers: These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. It is clear that from verse 27 that they do not need to listen to these false teachers; they have been taught the Word of God by the apostles, and they have the indwelling Holy Spirit who will give them assurance and teach them to live by that Word. (Liberty Bible Commentary, Volume II, p. 768.)

The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

Latest posts by Dr. Elmer Towns (see all)