Saturday, 30 November 2013

Questions About the Holy Spirit (Part 2 of 2)

Q: What is meant by the “anointing”? (1 John 2:20, 27)   
     The Greek word chrisma is a term originally referring to oil or ointment used for anointing, and then later for the anointing itself. The corresponding verb form is chrio, used with reference to Jesus (Acts 4:27) and his followers (2 Cor. 1:21). The LXX (Greek translation of the OT) applies this word to priests (Ex. 28:41), kings (1 Sam. 10:1), and prophets (1 Kgs. 19:16). Jesus is called ho christos (“the Christ”), literally “the Anointed One.” In the context of 1 John chapter 2, the apostle seems to be making a play on words which is not apparent in the English translation. Those who are against (anti) the Anointed One (christos) are antichristoi or “antichrists” (vv. 18-19, 22), whereas the faithful ones to whom John is writing are in essence christoi or “anointed ones” (v. 20). The anointing is from “the Holy One,” thus all who have it are holy (hagios = sanctified or set apart).
     In verse 20 John is either saying “you all know” (NASB) or “you know all things” (NKJV). Grammatically it could be translated either way. He may be saying that you know “all things” in the context of the subject matter under discussion, but more likely he means that you all know the truth (v. 21). The recipients of John’s epistle did not need to be taught something new by those trying to deceive them (vv. 26-27), because they already knew the truth (v. 21). Notice John says that the anointing “abides in you” and “teaches you” (v. 27). If we allow John to interpret his own words, he says in this very context that “the word of God abides in you” (v. 14) and “what you heard from the beginning abides in you” (v. 24). That which they had heard from the beginning was “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” (hagiazô) or “set apart” or “made holy” by God’s Spirit, yet this is accomplished only by our obedience to the Spirit’s truth (John 17:17, 19; 2 Thess. 2:13-14). The Spirit and the word are inseparable. It is highly unlikely that the “anointing” refers to a direct operation of the Spirit since the Bible makes a distinction between being anointed and “also” (kai) being sealed with the Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21-22). The “anointing” to which John refers appears to be a metaphoric reference to the influence of God’s inspired word which was abiding in and teaching the recipients of John’s letter, in contrast to the false and deceptive message of the antichristoi.
Q: What did Paul mean when he wrote, “. . . and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you” (Philippians 3:15)?
     The first consideration is, to whom is Paul speaking? He is writing in the early 60s to a congregation he was instrumental in establishing about twelve years earlier, namely “the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi . . .” (1:1). The next question is, what is he writing about? In the immediate context, the apostle warns these brethren of the dangers of Judaizing teachers, and he then encourages them to realize that past accomplishments do not invalidate the need for future growth. If anyone among them had different ideas, namely that a state of perfection was already attained, Paul said that “God will reveal even this to you.” But how? There are several possibilities: (1) by prophets who conveyed God’s revelations in the first-century church (cf. Acts 11:27; 13:1); (2) through this inspired letter which Paul was sending to them (v. 1); (3) by the examples of others (v. 17); (4) by way of humbling life experiences (v. 8; 2:30); or (5) in the last day when all will be laid bare (vv. 20-21; cf. 1 Pet. 1:5; Rev. 20:12). Less than forty years after these words were penned, God’s written revelation was complete (Rev. 22:18-19).
-- Kevin L. Moore

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