Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The “Anointing” in 1 John

     The noun χρίσμα (“anointing”) in the NT appears only in 1 John 2:20, 27, a term originally referring to oil or ointment used for anointing, and then later for the anointing itself. The corresponding verb form χρίω is employed in the NT mainly with reference to Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb. 1:9) and once in reference to Paul and fellow evangelists (2 Cor. 1:21, to be discussed in the next post).1 In the LXX (Greek OT) the word is applied to priests, kings, and prophets,2 symbolizing the diffusion of God’s Spirit, blessings and approval, thus identifying one who is divinely appointed and authorized. Note Jesus is Χριστός (“the Christ,” lit. “the Anointed One”).
     In the context of 1 John chap. 2, the apostle seems to be making a play on words that is not apparent in English translation. Those who are ἀντί (“against”) the Χριστός (the “Christ” or the “Anointed One”) are ἀντίχριστοι = “antichrists” (vv. 18-19, 22), whereas the faithful ones to whom John is writing are in essence χριστοι or “anointed ones” (v. 20). Accordingly, the “antichrists” are also against those who “have [the] anointing.” This anointing is from “the Holy [ἅγιος] One” (i.e. the Christ),3 and all who have it are “holy” (ἅγιος = sanctified or set apart) and thus “saints” (ἅγιοι = sanctified or holy ones).4
     John’s readers already know the truth (2:20-21) and do not need to be taught something new by those trying to deceive them (vv. 26-27). Notice John says that the anointing “abides in you” and “teaches you” (v. 27). Allowing the apostle to interpret his own words, he says in this very context that “the word of God abides in you” (v. 14) and “what you have heard from [the] beginning abides in you” (v. 24), i.e., “the word” (v. 7). The anointing has taught that “you will abide in him” (v. 27), and we know that we are in him if we keep his word (v. 5). Observe also John’s emphasis on what is written (vv. 1, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 21, 26).
     It is interesting to note, contrary to what many interpreters read into the passage, that the Holy Spirit is not even mentioned in this context, much less a direct operation of the Spirit. But it is still important to consider this idea. Jesus was anointed “with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38). The apostles and prophets were guided by the Spirit to record God’s complete revelation (John 16:12-13; Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). The word of God is now “the sword of the Spirit” which abides in and teaches those who receive it (Eph. 6:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12). We are “sanctified” (ἁγιάζω) or “set apart” or “made holy” by God’s Spirit, yet this is accomplished only in conjunction with our obedience to the Spirit’s truth (John 17:17, 19; 2 Thess. 2:13-14). The Spirit and the God-breathed message are inseparable.
     The “anointing” [χρίσμα] to which John refers appears to be a metaphoric reference to the influence of the truth of God’s inspired word which was abiding in and teaching and setting apart the recipients of John’s letter, in contrast to the false and deceptive message of the ἀντίχριστοι (“antichrists”).
--Kevin L. Moore

     1 The verb ἀλείφω is always employed in the NT with reference to the literal act of anointing someone (Matt. 6:17; Mark 6:13; 16:1; Luke 7:38, 46; John 11:2; 12:3; Jas. 5:14).
     2 Ex. 28:41; Lev. 8:12; 1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13; 2 Sam. 2:4; 5:3; 1 Kgs. 19:16; Psa. 133:2.
     3 Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; John 6:69 [NA28]; Acts 3:14; cf. Luke 1:35; Acts 4:27, 30.
     4 In addition to Paul’s prolific use of this designation, see Acts 9:13, 32, 41; 26:10; Heb. 6:10; 13:24; Jude 3; Rev. 5:8; 8:3, 4; 11:18; 13:7, 10; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6; 18:20, 24; 19:8; 20:9; 22:21 [Maj. Text]; cf. Heb. 3:1.

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