As for you, let what you have heard from the beginning remain in you. If it does, you will also remain in the Son and in the Father.
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.
If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the FatherI. "LET THAT THEREFORE WHICH YE HAVE HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING ABIDE IN YOU." The phrase "from the beginning" must here refer to the first preaching of the gospel. Let all of Christ you have ever known, seen, heard, handled, tasted, "abide in you." Let all you have learned of Christ — as being with the Father, from everlasting, in His bosom — as coming forth from the Father to reveal and reconcile — as purging your sin with blood, and bringing you to be all to the Father that He is Himself to the Father — let it all "abide in you"; always, everywhere.
II. So "YE ALSO SHALL ABIDE IN THE SON AND IN THE FATHER." First, "Ye shall abide in the Son." What the Lord elsewhere enjoins as in itself a duty, "Abide in Me" (John 15:4), the apostle describes as the consequence of another duty being rightly discharged. We abide in the Son, as we may be said to abide in anyone when his words abide in us — or when that which we have heard of him, or from him, from the beginning, abides in us; when we understand and know him by what he says and what we hear; when what we thus understand and know of him takes hold of us, carries our conviction, commands our confidence and love, fastens and rivets itself in our mind and heart, and so abides in us. Thus we abide in the Son precisely as we abide in a friend whom we know, and trust, and love. Let us turn all that we learn into the materials of that personal communing of Him with us and us with Him, which is indeed the essence of our abiding in the Son. All the rather let us do so because, secondly, this abiding in the Son is abiding in the Father; for the Father and the Son are one. Into all that the Son is to the Father, in these and other similar views of His mediatorial character and ministry as the Son, we enter when we abide in the Son. And so we come to be to the Father all that the Son is to the Father. We abide in the Father as the Son abides in the Father. So we abide in the Son and in the Father. And still all this depends on our letting "that which we have heard from the beginning abide in us." It depends on that faith which cometh by hearing, as hearing cometh by the Word of God.
III. OF ALL THIS "THE FRUIT IS UNTO HOLINESS, AND THE END EVERLASTING LIFE." For "this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life." The meaning here may be that "the promise of eternal life" is superadded to the privilege or condition of our "abiding in the Son and in the Father," that it is something over and above that held out to us in prospect; or it may be that our "abiding in the Son and in the Father" is itself the very "life eternal" that is promised. The difference is not material; the two thoughts, or rather the two modifications of the same thought, run into one.
(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)I. CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE. It is the doctrine of the Father and of the Son. Christianity, while it by no means robs the eternal Father of His honour, at the same time promulgates the Saviour's declaration, that it is the pleasure of the Father that all men should do honour to the Son even as they do honour to the Father. It is a dispensation of which Christ is the head, is the chief subject, is the principal Person, to whom all eyes are to be directed; while all honour, and glory, and majesty, and worship, and thanksgiving are poured out upon the Father in all ages, at the foot of the mediatorial throne.
II. THE DUTY AND PRIVILEGE OF THE CHURCH. What is the duty? "Let them abide in you." And what the privilege? "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father." Let it "abide in you": but it must first obtain admission. Ah! and not only so, it must take its mighty grasp of the heart. And so it does wherever it comes in truth; it enters there to have its own way, first, to resist sin, then to imprison sin, and ultimately, by the grace of God, to cast it out.
III. THE CHRISTIAN HOPE. "This is the promise, even eternal life." We are not content to live here always. No; we know there is a better land, a land of peace, of purity, and perfect bliss.
(T. Mortimer, B. D.)ins. There is a blessed union, a holy identity, an inseparable oneness between the persons and experience of real Christians and the persons and perfections of all the glorious Trinity in unity. Doctrinal godliness is union with Deity; experimental godliness is the enjoyment of Deity; practical godliness is the glorifying of Deity.
I. THE ANTIQUITY OF OUR RELIGION. "That which ye have heard from the beginning." What "beginning"? The beginning of the gospel? I grant that, if you wish; the beginning of the Christian dispensation. But go a little further back; the beginning of the prophetic vision — the beginning of the Mosaic economy — the beginning of the Abrahamic covenant — the beginning of the creation — go back as early as you will, and we will bear testimony that our faith is the faith of the ancients. If not, we will abandon it. Mark that beautiful account of the patriarchal faith recorded in the seventeenth of Genesis, and compare it with what is recorded by Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians, and the Epistle to the Romans and the Epistle to the Hebrews, and inquire whether they are not precisely the same faith, taught to both of them by the Holy Ghost. What was this ancient system? Our Lord tells us in plain terms, that "Abraham rejoiced to see His day, and he saw it and was glad." Well, then, Abraham's religion, Abraham's faith, "that which was from the beginning," simply consisted in seeing everything in Christ, beholding all he wanted in Christ, the Substitute, the Surety, the Daysman, the Sponsor of His whole Church. But we go further back than we have hitherto gone. "Where then?" say you? Up to the eternal councils of peace. I mean to.. say that all the religion worth having originated in heaven; it is the offspring of Deity. All that pertains to real godliness originates with God. Now here are certainties; here are securities. These are old-fashioned truths. Old-fashioned guineas, you know, are almost obsolete; but when we find them, we know they are valuable. Blessed be God, these truths are of sterling value and infinite importance; "that which we have heard from the beginning" our souls delight to dwell upon.
II. THE LIVING PARTICIPATION OF THIS OLD-FASHIONED RELIGION. "If it shall remain in you." It must be "in you" in order to "remain" there. So that here is a religion put in a man, and of such a nature, and of such value, that it remains — abides, continues. What, then, is it? It is nothing less than a communication made from the throne of God, by the Holy Ghost, to the sinner's heart. I should never be the better for what God my Father has given and God my Saviour has done, but for God the Holy Spirit's communications to my soul. Every act of quickening is from His power; every whisper of love is by His voice. It is nothing less than the indwelling, the witnessing, the comforting, the instruction, the anointing of the Holy Ghost, resting upon the soul of man, that imparts one spiritual motion. I pass on to the term "remain": "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you." "The Spirit of truth, whom ye know; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." "The Father shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever." He never gives up His charge; He never forsakes His residence; He never abandons His work. It is a "remaining" religion. Now for the words — "remain in you." Blessed be God, then there is no possibility of alteration. What is round about me, I cannot secure. But what is within me, secures me. It "remains" within: a vital principle, the life of God in the soul. It is "Christ in you, the hope of glory"; and the world and the devil must conquer Christ before they can turn Him out. Therefore He "remains" — "remains in you."
III. WHEREVER THIS "REMAINING," ABIDING, UNCONQUERABLE, UNCHANGING RELIGION DWELLS IN THE SOUL, A LASTING UNION BETWEEN JEHOVAH AND THAT SOUL IS DEMONSTRATED. "Continue in the Son and in the Father!" An inheritor of all the Son's merit and of all the Father's love; "an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ"; interested in all that Christ did and suffered, and interested in all that paternal love planned, ordained, and predestinated. The warrior may boast of his fame, the statesmen may carry their projects, the merchants may secure their fortunes, the pleasure taker may revel in his wickedness, worldlings of all sorts may have their gods; but give me mine. An interest in all that covenant love has bestowed, and all that covenant blood has bought, and all that covenant grace can impart. "But," say you, "how am I to know this?" I am to know it by something "remaining in me"; I am to know it by having a covenant gift; I am to know it by having an old-fashioned religion remaining in my soul that the devil and earth and sin cannot turn out. And, therefore, if thou hast the earnest, the pledge given by Jehovah, the Spirit's work in thy soul, thou hast all that constitutes assurance of interest "in the Son and in the Father." "If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ."
TopicsAbide, Abides, Beginning, Clear, Continue, Hearts, Kept, Received, Remains, Teaching, Union
Outline1. He comforts them against the sins of infirmity.
3. Rightly to know God is to keep his commandments;
9. to love our brothers;
15. and not to love the world.
18. We must beware of antichrists;
20. from whose deceits the godly are safe, preserved by perseverance in faith, and holiness of life.
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 John 2:24
'I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.'--1 John ii. 14. 'What am I going to be?' is the question that presses upon young people stepping out of the irresponsibilities of childhood into youth. But, unfortunately, the question is generally supposed to be answered when they have fixed upon a trade or profession. It means, rightly taken, a great deal more than that. 'What am I going to make of myself?' 'What …
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