1 John 2:20-21, “20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.”
Throughout our study of 1 John the past few weeks, the false teachers who were troubling the original audience of John’s epistle were most likely proto-Gnostics. Their teaching had much in common with the teachings of Gnostics, even though their false teaching did not flourish until the second century. Gnosticism viewed salvation as an acquisition of secret knowledge which was only available to a select few and was not something an ordinary person could acquire.
The people John addresses in this letter were able to resist these false teachers to the point they left the community (1 John 2:19). While these claims of special knowledge caused many of the faithful to doubt their redemption, John reminds them they have true saving faith. In 1 John 2:20-21, John teaches them that unlike the false teachers, John’s readers have been anointed by the Holy One and knew the truth.
As God’s people, following John’s authoritative instruction, we can be sure, we have been anointed by the Holy One and know the truth of His Word. Following the instruction, the Lord has given in His Word is not a mere intellectual assent, but a personal trust, which should transform our lives. John has already pointed this out saying, if we are in the light, we will not only know the light but walk in the light in 1 John 1:7.
The knowledge of the truth is not limited to a certain group or elite class of super Christians. 1 John 2:20 says that his readers and Christians today have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, since all of them, have received the Spirit. The false teachers influencing John’s readers claimed to possess a higher truth, but these higher truths they believed denied the incarnation, love, and personal righteousness, revealing they were not indwelled by the Holy Spirit. John’s audience, though, did not deny these truths, truths that are central to biblical orthodoxy, thus, revealing they had true saving faith.
1 John 2:20-21 highlights the connection between knowing the truth of God’s Word and being anointed by the Holy Spirit. Those who know, trust, and practice these basic Christian truths are those who belong to Christ and possess the Holy Spirit. The trials of life make it necessary for Christians to encourage one another and help them see whether or not they know the truth and are presently walking in it. And this is why, we should be in community with God’s people in the local church, under male, biblically qualified elders to help shepherd God’s people and church members to know and walk in the truth of His Word.