1 John 2:20

But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things But the anointing which ye have received, etc.

I. THE NATURE OF THIS BLESSING. "Ye have an anointing from the Holy One." The "unction," or "anointing," does not signify the act of anointing, but the material which is used in the anointing - the oil, or ointment, or unguent. Here it denotes the Holy Spirit, whom the Christians to whom St. John was writing had received. Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed, and Christians are spoken of in the New Testament as "kings and priests" (Revelation 1:6); but we cannot see in our text any reference to either of these aspects of Christian character and life. The apostle is rather contrasting his readers, who had received the anointing from the Holy One, with the antichrists, who were opposed to the Anointed. As Alford expresses it, "The apostle sets his readers, as χριστούς, anointed of God, over against the ἀντίχριστοι." They possessed the Holy Spirit. He was within them as their Teacher, Comforter, Sanctifier. This blessing is of unspeakable and inestimable worth.

II. THE SOURCE OF THIS BLESSING. "Ye have an anointing from the Holy One;" i.e., Jesus Christ. In verse 1 St. John speaks of him as "the Righteous." In 1 John 3:3 he says that "he is pure." St. Peter said to him, "We know that thou art the Holy One of God" (John 6:69). And he afterwards spake of him as "the Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14). And he spake of himself to "his servant John" as "he that is holy, he that is true" (Revelation 3:7). He baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). He sends the Holy Spirit (John 15:26). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost is ascribed to him (Acts 2:33). Therefore we conclude that he, our Lord and Saviour, is the Holy One from whom Christians receive the anointing; i.e., the Holy Spirit.

III. THE EFFECT OF THIS BLESSING. "Ye know all things And ye need not that any one teach you." The "all things" calmer, of course, mean all things in science and art, in history and philosophy. An examination of the context will lead us to the true meaning. In verse 20 St. John says, "Ye know all things;" in verse 21 and the next sentence he says, "Ye know the truth;" and in the following verse and the next sentence he shows what the truth of which he had spoken is, viz. "that Jesus is the Christ." By the "all things," then, the apostle means "the truth... that Jesus is the Christ." All things in the Christian system are comprised in that one great fact. "He who knows this one thing," says Ebrard, "that Jesus is the Christ, knows already in that one thing all; there is no most distant height or depth of truth which is not contained or involved in that simple proposition." This interpretation includes other interpretations which are not so clearly drawn from the context; e.g., Alford, "All things needful for right action in the matter under consideration;" Barnes, "All things which it is essential that you should know on the subject of religion;" and others, "All things necessary to salvation." These and others are comprised in the knowledge "that Jesus is the Christ." This knowledge they attained by means of "an unction from the Holy One." We do not understand that the Holy Spirit had communicated unto them new truths, or directly revealed any truth to them. But by reason of his influence they saw the truths which they had received, more clearly, and grasped them more firmly. This is well illustrated by Dr. Chalmers: The Spirit "does not tell us anything that is out of the record; but all that is within it he sends home with clearness and effect upon the mind. When a telescope is directed to some distant landscape, it enables us to see what we could not otherwise have seen; but it does not enable us to see anything which has not a real existence in the prospect before us. The natural eye saw nothing but blue land stretching along the distant horizon. By the aid of the glass there bursts upon it a charming variety of fields, and woods, and spires, and villages. Yet who would say that the glass added one feature to this assemblage? And so of the Spirit. He does not add a single truth or a single character to the book of revelation. He enables the spiritual man to see what the natural man cannot see; but the spectacle which he lays open is uniform and immutable. It is the Word of God which is ever the same." So the Holy Spirit had brought into clear and impressive light the things which they to whom this letter is addressed had learned from the sacred Scriptures and from St. John and other Christian teachers, and had enabled them to realize their importance and power. And as a matter of fact, in our own day we see persons whose educational advantages have been of the slightest, whose powers and opportunities for study have been must limited, who yet have a clear and comprehensive acquaintance with the essential truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the reason of this is, they "have an anointing from the Holy One," they are enlightened by the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:26; John 16:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 2:13-16). But St. John writes further, "Ye need not that any one teach you" - a statement on which Alford remarks, "His assertions here are so many delicate exhortations, veiled under the declaration of their true ideal state of unction with the Holy Spirit who guides into all truth. If that unction were abiding in them in all its fullness, they would have no need for his or any other teaching." The reference is to their knowledge of the great comprehensive truth "that Jesus is the Christ." They were not dependent upon any one for teaching concerning this vital and fundamental fact. But generally speaking, "the Divine unction does not supersede ministerial teaching, but surmounts it."

IV. THE OBLIGATION OF THIS BLESSING. More fully stated this is the obligation which is inseparable from the possession of this anointing from the Holy One. "Abide in him," i.e., in Christ, as the context clearly shows. The person spoken of in verses 27 and 28 is evidently the Lord Jesus. The exhortation to abide in him is based on the assurance that the anointing which they had received abode in them (verse 27). The "in him" must not be toned down to his doctrine, or his system, or anything of that kind. "In him" by the exercise of the faith of the heart, by the attachment of holy love, by intimate and reverent communion with him, and by participation in his life and spirit. Thus are we to abide in him (cf. John 15:4-7). From our subject we learn:

1. That the illumination of the Holy Spirit is indispensable to a clear and correct apprehension of the great truths of Christianity. "Words and syllables," says Cudworth, "which are but dead things, cannot possibly convey the living notions of heavenly truths to us. The secret mysteries of a Divine life, of a new nature, of Christ formed in our hearts, they cannot be written or spoken; language and expressions cannot reach them; neither can they be ever truly understood, except the soul itself be kindled from within, and awakened into the life of them" (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10-12).

2. That the "anointing from the Holy One" - the influence and presence of the Holy Spirit within us - is a preservative against the seductions of error. "If that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father.... but the anointing which ye received of him abideth in you," etc.

3. That the possession of this Divine preservative is not an encouragement to presumption, but a reason for perseverance. Because the anointing which they received of Christ abode in them, St. John exhorts his readers to "abide in him." - W.J.

But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things
I. THE ANOINTING — "Ye have an unction." This anointing, or being anointed with oil, you have "from the Holy One"; from Christ Jesus our Lord. There is great significancy in the unction thus viewed as coming from this Holy One. Antichrists are spoken of. These are antagonists to Christ, to Him who is anointed to be the Holy One. You, on the other hand, have anointing from Him. They are antichrists, you are joint christs; for you have an unction from Him as the Holy One, making you "holy as He is holy." The holiness here meant is consecration. It is what the Lord indicates in His farewell prayer, "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth." The anointing is with the Holy Ghost. He is the anointing oil; the oil of gladness with which God has anointed Christ above His fellows. The unction, therefore, which "you have from the Holy One" is His own unction; it is identically the same with what was His. He sheds forth upon you and in you the very same presence, power, and influence of the Holy Ghost that was shed forth upon and in Himself when He was about the business for which, as the Holy One, He was consecrated. In His case that unction was real, sensible, manifest. If we have it from Him, it must be so in ours also. In Jesus this unction was, on the one hand, His having always the Holy Spirit helping, comforting, and strengthening Him. The unction which we have from Him as the Holy One is our being in the same way upheld by the Holy Spirit in all our goings; our being enabled therefore to show "the meekness and gentleness of Christ"; our making it thus manifest that "the same mind is in us that was also in Him." Again, on the other hand, in Jesus the Holy One, this unction was His constant and abiding apprehension or realisation of the Spirit moving Him to the work for which He was sent into the world. The unction which we have from Him, that we may be consecrated to be holy ones as He is the Holy One, is our feeling and owning the inward call of the Holy Spirit, moving us in our sphere to give ourselves to the same lifework that always occupied Him; to carry out the great design of His coming into the world; to be His wholly and unreservedly, as He was always and altogether the Father's.

II. AS THUS ANOINTED, WE "KNOW ALL THINGS." This is not, of course, omniscience, but full and complete knowledge of the mailer in hand, as opposed to knowledge that is fragmentary and partial. The anointing of Jesus, His being the Christ — what it is and what it means; His consecration as the Holy One; His oneness as the Son with the Father; all that we know. And we know it, not by catching at some one aspect of the mighty plan — the great "mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh" — that may happen to suit our convenience, or to strike our fancy, but by a calm, clear, and comprehensive insight into all that it unfolds of the highest glory of God, and all that it contemplates of highest good to man. We look at this great theme, or rather this great fact, in all its bearings; as it vindicates the righteous sovereignty of the Lord of all, while it secures full and free salvation to the worst and guiltiest of His creatures, if they will but own that sovereignty and submit to it.

III. THE UNCTION WHICH WE HAVE FROM THE HOLY ONE, AND OUR KNOWING ALL THINGS, ARE INTIMATELY CONNECTED. It is only "He who is spiritual" who "judgeth all things," who can know them so as to judge them. For He alone is in a position and has the capacity to form a fair estimate or judgment of the relations among the things of God. And it is by their mutual relations that things are really known and judged. This is a maxim true in all sciences, slid not least manifestly so in the science of divinity. If, in the science of astronomy we would know all its things, all its truths, to any satisfactory end, theoretical or practical, we must get, not the eye of a clown or vulgar stargazer, nor that of Chaldean sage or poetic dreamer, nor that of one to whom the clear, calm midnight sky is a confused galaxy of bright gems, a brilliant shower of diamonds shed in rich disorder on the dark brow of nature's sleeping beauty, but the eye of Newton's scholar and Laplace's, who has learned of them to calculate planetary magnitudes and distances and forces, and to bring the whole splendid chaos under the sway of the one simple law that reigns supreme throughout all space. So, in the region of what is spiritual and Divine, the faculty of seeing things in their true relations is not elsewhere or otherwise to be acquired than in the school and under the teaching of the Holy Ghost.

IV. THE SECURITY WHICH OUR "HAVING AN UNCTION FROM THE HOLY ONE, AND KNOWING ALL THINGS," AFFORDS, IN TRYING TIMES, must now surely be seen to be very ample and firm. Others may "go out from us"; it being thus "made manifest that they were not of us," and may become antichrists, or the prey of antichrist. But "will ye also go away?" — ye who share the very unction and the very knowledge which the Holy One Himself has? Is not this your preservative against all error and apostasy? Is it not a sufficient preservative?

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)


II. WHERE THIS ANOINTING IS. It "abideth." Other anointings do not abide. The fragrance of other unguents soon passes off. But here is an anointing which, like "the ointment of the right hand, which bewrayeth itself," abideth, "abideth in you." But you say it is not true; nothing is more plain than that ardent Christians get cold, and those who lived Christ may grow self-willed and self-assertive. How can St. John say that the unction abideth? Well, I suppose he wants to call attention to the Divine side of the case, to show us that whatever we may do, or whatever we may be, God remaineth faithful.

III. "WHAT DOTH THE ANOINTING?" He teacheth, and, saith St. John, He has every right to teach, for "He is truth and no lie." Besides, "He hath already taught you," and what you have learned of Him should give you confidence in Him for what you may have yet to learn. Read your Bibles, but read them in His light; listen to your teachers, but listen to them with continual application to a higher Teacher. It is to that higher Teacher you owe the greatest blessing you ever received in the world, the blessing which made you a Christian. Remember to trust to Him as Guide and Counsellor, to ask Him what to believe on every subject.

IV. WHAT IS THE OUTCOME OF ALL THIS? It is, "Ye shall abide in Him."

(J. B. Figgis, M. A.)

I. "THE HOLY ONE." Who is He? Christ. It had been repeatedly ascribed to Him before, not only by men, but by voices falling from another world (see Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 43:14, 15; Isaiah 49:7; Luke 7:35; Mark 10:24; Acts 3:14). And, although all ransomed spirits are called God's "holy ones," the term applies in its highest truth to Christ alone; for to which of the sons of men could you everpoint and say, "Behold the Holy One of God!" But the evangelist is not now speaking merely in a general way of Christ, but of Christ as our High Priest. A priest who could be charged with the slightest infraction of the law would have been no Saviour. In Him, for the first time on our earth, holiness shone forth in its perfect brightness, and yet in a shape which man could bear to see. In Christ, holiness is our friend; it gives our crown, guards our safety, and inspires our joy. We can give thanks, not at the remembrance of love alone, but at the remembrance of holiness, through the redemptive death of Him who is the Holy One of God.

II. "THE UNCTION FROM THE HOLY ONE." What does that expression mean? The Spirit of God is here intended; not as to His nature, but as to tits agency; not in His essential attributes, but in His emanations. Now mark three things.

1. This unction comes down from Christ to all His people. Again and again did He seek to quicken the languid attention of His followers to the fact that this influence would come to them as the very consequence of His own departure (John 16:7). Now, remember Christ is not only our Priest, He is our Head. Combine these ideas, and you catch the spirit of the metaphor. "As the body of the priest received the unction from the Head, we have received an unction from the Holy One; for we are members of His body, His flesh, and His bones." "The Spirit was given without measure to Him"; and from Him it flows to all who are identified with His life.

2. This influence from Christ makes all His members holy. A holy influence must have a holy effect, and this effect must be the true test of your character. I say not that Christians, to verify their high vocation, must all at once be perfectly holy men, but that they must be the recipients of a holy influence — an influence that will show the traces of its presence, and work effects accordant with its nature.

3. Christ, by giving this unction to all His people, shows their essential unity with Himself and with each other.

III. "YE KNOW ALL THINGS." This holy influence has an enlightening virtue. It rested upon Christ as "the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord." It made Him of "quick understanding in the fear of the Lord." Communicated by Him to us, it must have similar effects. The expression used to declare this fact startles us by its boldness.

1. Things that are holy are meant. The emphasis here on the word "holy" suggests that the knowledge spoken of must be knowledge of holy things. Without holiness you may indeed understand Hebrew as well as Caiaphas did; Latin as well as Pilate did; the Greek as well as that Athenian did who charged Paul with setting forth "strange gods"; the geography and antiquities of Palestine as perfectly as the proudest Pharisee that ever wore phylacteries; but God's book will be a sealed book to you: and, though you may have a grammatical knowledge of the words which reveal holy things, you will never know the things themselves.

2. Things that are essential are meant. Spiritual men, however mistaken they may be on marginal and subsidiary questions, know all essential things. If they are wrong in other respects they will not repair to the wrong Refuge, or plunge in the wrong Fountain, or follow the wrong Shepherd.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

I. THIS IS A COMMON CHRISTIAN ENDOWMENT. It is to a body of Christian disciples that John is writing; not to the highly gifted among them, not even to the elder Christians who have acquired a long experience and grown prudent through a life's discipline, but to all. Simple conscientiousness is of more practical value than the readiest ability. A plain unlettered man will often see the falsity which ensnares men in their long-drawn reasonings. A child's discernment of character is proverbial; the simple soul is repelled from a hidden impurity or ungraciousness that escapes the subtle observation. "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." A mind like Christ is given to you in the very consecration of yourselves to Him; and that mind "abideth in you," and "teacheth you all things." You have an inward and unfailing standard, which tests all sayings, all traditions and maxims, all the suggestions that may come to you, all the ways of the world.


1. It is the spirit of the consecration itself. This involves God's revelation to us of a Divine service, and His call to us to serve Him; God's endowment of us for the service into which He bids us enter. It involves our recognition of His purpose, our acceptance of His will, and all the influence upon our character of the acceptance of it. Decision of purpose is the secret of directness of judgment. When you resolved that you would follow Christ, and obey Him in all your future, did you not feel at once a new power to discern the evil and good of all things? You looked on old confusing motives, and pronounced them base. Doubt cleared itself from your vision; the scales of selfishness fell from your eyes; you felt that you had attained a new power of judgment. A truer spirit, a spirit clearer and more confident, was yours in your consecration. "You had an unction from the Holy One, and you knew all things."

2. It is the spirit of Christ. "Ye have an unction from the Holy One"; a chrism from Christ. Here, then, is the virtue of our consecration; this our defence against all antichrists, this our power to discern all things: the spirit in sympathy with Jesus, that feels with and for Him. A personal life is a surer standard than all reasonings; sympathy is at once responsive, or is at once repelled. The habit of fellowship with Christ; the culture of our sympathies, the formation of all our judgments by His; the bringing of every maxim and of all conduct to the standard of the life of Jesus, will have its result in clear directness of thought and feeling. It will give thoroughness and practicalness to our character; will demand not only truth upon the whole, but truth in everything, truth in even minor matters, truth throughout.

3. The spirit of consecration is the spirit of devotedness to our fellows. Whatever destroys our reverence for men, whatever denies their redemption and restrains our sympathies with them; whatever leads us to distrust the power of the gospel to elevate and save from folly, and from selfishness, and from sin, any class of men, or race of men, or any individual of all mankind, must be condemned by us as owning the spirit of antichrist. Our fellowship is with Christ's love and hopefulness; a spirit devoted like His to men is given us, and by this spirit we discern all things.

(A. Mackennal, D. D.)

In some minds the love of knowledge is very strong. It is the supreme desire. As the warrior thirsts for glory, as the miser thirsts for gold, "as the hart panteth for the water brooks," so do they long to know — to possess truth. Compared with this, life itself is cheap, "It is more to be desired than gold, yea, than fine gold." He who really loves and is loyal to the truth will make any sacrifice for it. With scanty income, he is sometimes found starving the body that he may feed the soul. Even to extend our knowledge of this physical globe, what hardships will not men encounter! Knowledge is happiness; and man seeks to know. How deep the satisfaction of a Columbus when, after long tossing on the treacherous sea, and wearisome expostulations with mutinous men, he saw the new world arise from the deep! We experience something of this joy when we are brought, in the works of others, to new principles and thoughts — when we come into the possession of a great and true definition that casts a flood of light upon everything around us. Knowledge is power, and man seeks to know. The desire of power has led great kings at certain times to attempt the conquest of the world, and the founding of a universal empire. That was great ambition, but there is a greater still; even that of the man who aspires to universal knowledge. The text contains the astounding statement that true Christians know all things. We take the words "all things" in their widest comprehension, as including all existence and all events — the whole universe, material and spiritual. It is of all these we understand the assertion to be made; and it is admitted that, at first sight, such an assertion seems extravagant. For how can we know that which we have never seen; and the greater part of the universe we have not seen? How can we know that in the past of which we have never heard? How can we know the future which does not yet exist in relation to us? Here we must inquire into the nature of our knowledge — what it is to know. Our present knowledge is different in its character from God's. God comprehends all things fully and perfectly. God sees truth face to face. But while it cannot be said that the Christian knows all things as God knows them, it still remains true that He knows all things in a sense similar to that in which He can be said to know anything. To know one thing fully is to know all things fully. Take a piece of rock. To know that fully implies a knowledge of the history and formation of all rocks; and that implies a knowledge of the whole structure of the world, which again implies a knowledge of creation or the full and perfect knowledge of everything. The reason why the full knowledge of one thing implies a full knowledge of all things is that every object of knowledge is more or less directly connected with every other. Nothing in the universe stands alone, and therefore nothing can be understood alone. The statement in the text is not more astonishing or difficult to understand than another more common statement, which is accepted without qualification or hesitation, namely that the Christian knows God. God is infinitely greater than the universe, and infinitely deeper in the significance of His being; and therefore of the two statements, "Ye know all things," and "Ye know God," the latter is by far the greater and more wonderful of the two. What, then, does the Bible mean when it says the Christian knows God? It does not mean that he knows God fully or absolutely — that he has fathomed the unfathomable, or comprehended the infinite; for only God can thus know God. What the Scriptures mean by knowing God is, that we stand in a just relation to Him — that we are in a true sense related personally to Him — our mind being truly related to His mind, our heart to His heart, and our will to His will. We are in a true relation to His righteousness, justice, and mercy, and so of all the other aspects of His being. This is what is meant by knowing God in our present state, and seems to be the character of all our knowledge. As we advance in Divine truth, our knowledge will not change in this respect. It will only increase in depth and compass, in fulness and degree. Further, in order to sustain a true relation to the universe, we must sustain a true relation to God; for, since there is not a gulf between God and His works — seeing He continually sustains an intimate and living relation to them — to be justly related to Him is to sustain a similar relation to them; and to know Him is to know them. At the Fall man lost both the knowledge of God and the true meaning of the world. When the highest light went out all the lower lights were extinguished. Now Jesus Christ came to restore us to such a righteous relation to God, and to take that enmity and unbelief out of the heart which distorts for us the whole character of God. He says, "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight." This agrees with what St. Paul says, that ungodly men are "ever learning, and yet never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" — a remarkable statement, distinguishing, as it does, between learning and knowledge. To learn is to collect information merely. To know is to understand the nature and relationships of things. Men may increase in knowledge as to the letter of God's word, as the Scribes and Pharisees of old did — they may have a "form of knowledge, and of truth in the law"; but if they have not the light of life, which is the key to all learning, in their own souls, they are still walking in darkness, and know not whither they are going. All such are enlarging their information, but not extending their true understanding. They are building up pyramids of learning which may be only pyramids of falsehood. They are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." But "what God has hid from the wise and prudent He has revealed unto babes." Jesus makes this great declaration — "No man knoweth the Father but through the Son"; and hence for every true idea of God we possess, we are indebted to Christ Jesus. He said unto Philip, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." Therefore, when we know Jesus Christ, we know God, and not till then. But in order to know Christ, we must truly see Him, and to see Him we must sustain a right relation to Him. How then are we brought into a right relation to the Son of God? It is by His own anointing. "Ye have an unction from the Holy One." The Holy One from whom the unction cometh is the Lord Jesus. The unction itself — which is not the act of anointing, but the oil or ointment used in anointing — is the influence of the Holy Spirit in the heart. Let us gather out of this subject a few general principles or inferences. First, with regard to the nature of knowledge; and second, with regard to the line of duty.

I. With regard to THE NATURE OF KNOWLEDGE. Absolute knowledge is the comprehension of existence. It is the circle which embraces all things. Relative knowledge consists in sustaining the right point of view, which is to stand in the centre of the circle. God absolutely comprehends all things. Man understands all things, when he stands in the absolute centre — when he is in God and God in him. Knowledge implies the three ultimate ideas of the universe — being, existence, and thought. Being is that which lies within or beneath — the invisible ground of existence. It is the spiritual material, or uncreated substance from which thought proceeds, and out of which existence stands. Existence is that which stands out, as the etymology of the word shows. It stands out of being, which is its ground, and from which it is created or developed by thought. Being, in itself considered, is the absolute nothing: that is, being, in itself, cannot be thought. Thought is the process or energising power by which being comes forth from itself into existence. It is the method by which being, which is essentially invisible, translates itself into existence, which is essentially visible. A thing is that which can be thought. "All things," is all that can be thought. It is the believer's destiny, then, in the light of God, to think out the universe. "To know even as He is known!"

II. With regard to DUTY.

1. Notice, here, the identity of knowledge and holiness. This is set before us in other Scriptures besides the text (Proverbs 28:5; 1 Corinthians 2:15; 1 John 2:27; 1 John 3:2, 3; Matthew 5:8). Knowledge being the perfect reflection in the mind of man of the thought of God, it is evident that the mind must be as a perfectly polished mirror, or a perfectly pure lake, in order to receive and give the perfect image.

2. Notice, further, the identity of thought and sanctification. The process of sanctification is the same as that of thought. It is first negative, or a separation. It is a coming out of Egypt, and a cleansing "from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." But it is also positive, or a union — a going into the Holy Land. The drawing away from sin implies a drawing nearer to God.

3. Notice, again, the identity of ignorance and sin. They are one in being confusion. Ignorance is blindness to the distinctions of things, or the confounding of what ought to be clearly separated in thought. Sin is the same in act or life. It is the confounding of what ought to be kept apart. It thus produces at once a false separation, and a false union. Now, the Word of God, which is the key to the whole universe, and the basis of all science, has been given to affect at once the thought and life of man — to make him at once think correctly and live purely. These cannot be separated. A man thinks correctly just to the extent of his being holy.

(F. Ferguson, D. D.)

I. JESUS CHRIST IS THE HOLY ONE FROM WHOM THE UNCTION COMES. It is very remarkable that on several occasions, in His life as spent among men, He seemed to be the sinful one. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, but it was in the likeness only.

1. This truth appears, first, when He was circumcised.

2. When He was presented in the temple, the Virgin Mary brought Him in her arms, and Joseph attended with the two turtle doves. This ceremony was for the sinful, who had need of cleansing, and was according to the law the means of their purification.

3. When He came to be baptized of John in the Jordan, John said, "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?" Jesus said, "Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."

4. He appeared in this likeness, when He was about to be crucified; when Barabbas, a man who had committed murder, and was guilty of insurrection in the city, was chosen to be set at liberty, in preference to Christ. Christ is the Holy One. See what testimony was borne to Him. The devils said, "We know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God." The centurion said, "Truly this was the Son of God." Christ was carried to the grave as the Holy One. And because He was the Holy One He saw no corruption. As the Holy One He rose from the dead, and was declared to be the Son of God with power.

II. THE UNCTION IN THE HOLY GHOST. I suppose the reference to be to the sacred oil of anointing which was prepared in a special manner by God's appointment. In connection with this oil there was another special and peculiar perfume for the altar of incense. Here, we suppose, is a new type of Christ and His mediation. That pure incense, burnt before God, represented Christ's intercession for His Church, and the complacency with which it is regarded by the Father. Before the Holy One gives the Holy Ghost in this particular form other works are elected by Him. There must be something preparatory to His communications. You must be washed. Then you must be sprinkled with blood: "without shedding of blood there is no remission." By water and blood we are first cleansed; then comes the unction.

1. It marks out and defines the objects of Divine choice. The Church is a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people; so every member is elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. As surely as you receive the unction, and are touched by the Divine power, you are a child of God, marked out for His own in Christ Jesus. You belong to the society and fellowship of the anointed ones.

2. The unction denotes separation from the common mass and multitude. So Aaron and his sons were separated from all the people of Israel. And through this unction we are separated — sanctified by Christ — called out of the world.

3. The third thing denoted by this unction is qualification for office. We are revived and illumined by the unction. The unction qualifies for holy exploits and for elevated duty.

4. The comparison denotes the consummation of heavenly joy. Every morning, as you have need, you are to seek fresh oil; fresh, like the virgin beams of the morning light; fresh oil, like the flowers of the early spring; fresh oil, like the blood of the sacrifice newly spilt, and presented before God upon the altar. Fresh influence, help, and succour, is to be sought to the last hour of our life from the Holy One of God.

5. We receive the Holy Ghost to establish and to preserve us. Of some the Apostle John affirms, "They went out from us, but they were not of us." In contrast to this, where the unction comes, it is abiding.

6. Finally, the unction comes to make you useful. It will be like an odour that is not to be hidden: it fills all the room. You will be a prophet to teach, shedding light by your example. You will be a priest, to offer the sacrifice of praise. You will be a king, having rule over your own spirit.

III. AS WE HAVE THE UNCTION FROM THE HOLY ONE, WE KNOW ALL THINGS. There is a self-evidencing power in truth by which we know all these blessed subjects of Divine revelation. We know that we are of God by His Spirit which is in us. If I feel in my mind the influence of Christ, producing penitence and love, and desires after holiness and heaven, I may say, It is by the Holy Ghost.

(James Stratten.)

1. First, it is observable that the text contains an affirmation represented to be peculiarly descriptive of genuine believers.

2. It is more important, however, to observe that the text accounts for this peculiarity of genuine believers, and teaches us both what it is and whence it arises. "But ye have an unction from the Holy One."

3. We now proceed to that which is most prominent in the text, the result of the "unction of the Holy One" in the experience and life of the believer — "Ye know all things." It is with great appropriateness this effect of the indwelling of the Spirit is introduced here. It is as the best and only safeguard against error and those who seek to promote it. The believer is so under the influence of the Spirit, that error does not find ready entrance to his mind. We are all acquainted with the use and exercise of instinct in the lower creation. They are placed in a luxuriant herbage, part of which would be to them poison and death, and other portions nutritious and necessary food. They are not much in danger of mistaking the one for the other. However closely they may resemble one another, they can tell which they are to use and which they are to shun. Men, with all their sagacity, may err, but the untaught quadruped seldom hesitates or goes astray. His Creator has taught him, and in this department of His works he knows all things that he needs to know. If we go to the winged creation, they are instructed, not merely with what they are to regale themselves, but they know to perfection how to protect themselves and their offspring from the inclement season. Of all these creatures there is a sense in which it may be truly said, "they know all things." There is, however, another and a higher illustration to be found among men themselves. As there is instinct in the inferior creation, there is what may be called taste in the intellectual world. It is very diversified in different persons. Some have a powerful propensity for certain objects or engagements which are just as much disrelished by others. Take, for example, the fine arts, or any of the sciences. One is enamoured with them from his youth, and another is indifferent to them, while neither can tell why it is so. But mark the readiness with which the former becomes a proficient in that which pleases him, and compare it with the difficulty which the latter finds it impossible to overcome. The one readily knows all things appertaining to his favourite study, and the other is only confounded and disheartened by all his attempts. Thus there is a sense in which it may be said of the natural taste with which God is pleased to endow us, it readily knows all things appertaining to the object of its interest and delight. There is still another illustration of the same propensity of the human mind. Observe the effect of experience. In the various forms of handicraft or other engagements, whether mental or manual, the power of habit is remarkable. Whatever relates to the accustomed exercise is perceived and understood at once. Practice, it is said, makes perfect. Now let these illustrations be applied to the subject under consideration. The Holy Spirit visits the soul with His "unction." By His influence the mind is enlightened to apprehend the truth, the heart is sanctified through the belief of it, and the life is spent under the power of it. What is the consequence? The soul participates in the benefits of its own decided tastes and cherished habits. A sanctified instinct may be said to be formed in it by which it chooses what is good and refuses the evil. It does not need in every case to pause, and reason, and consider. Without any such process, it feels instinctively what is the course to be either pursued or shunned. This heavenly taste is usually the best casuist. It is the product of an enlightened conscience. And the expression is not too strong when it is said of those who yield themselves to its habitual influence, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things."

(James Morgan, D. D.)


II. THAT UNCTION IS PROMISED TO EVERY BELIEVER (John 3:5, 6; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:15; Acts 19:2; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13, 14; Ephesians 4:30; also Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:2, 3, etc.).


1. Baptism is a channel whereby the "unction" is conveyed (John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Titus 3:5, 6).

2. Confirmation is a means of fresh and fuller unction (Acts 8:17, 18; Acts 19:6, by comparison with 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).

3. The holy communion renews this unction.

4. The ministry of the Word imparts this unction (Galatians 3:2; Acts 10:44; 1 Corinthians 2:4, 13; 1 Corinthians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 3:3, 6, 8, 9).

5. None of these means are efficacious apart from prayer (Acts 2:42; Acts 4:29; Acts 6:4; Acts 9:15; 1 Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 6:18, 19; Colossians 4:3, 4; 2 Thessalonians 3:1).


1. It is not outward.

2. The outward is not altogether excluded.

3. The decision comes from within. The ultimate court of appeal for each one of us is his own conscience.


1. Prophets.

2. Priests.

3. Kings (Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6; Revelation 22:5).


1. With the fragrance of sacrifice to God (2 Corinthians 2:15, 16; Philippians 4:18).

2. With the fragrance of a holy life.

(J. J. Lias, M. A.)

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