1 John 2:20

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New International Version (©1984)
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.

New Living Translation (©2007)
But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth.

English Standard Version (©2001)
But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

International Standard Version (©2008)
You have an anointing from the Holy One and know all things.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
And you have an anointing from The Holy One, and you discern every person.

GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
The Holy One has anointed you, so all of you have knowledge.

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

American King James Version
But you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things.

American Standard Version
And ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all the things.


Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

But ye have an unction – The word χρισμα signifies not an unction, but an ointment, the very thing itself by which anointing is effected; and so it was properly rendered in our former translations. Probably this is an allusion to the holy anointing oil of the law, and to Psalm 14:7 : God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness – he hath given thee the plenitude of the Spirit, which none of thy fellows – none of the prophets, ever received in such abundance. By this it is evident that not only the gifts of the Spirit, but the Holy Spirit himself, is intended. This Spirit dwelt at that time in a peculiar manner in the Church, to teach apostles, teachers, and all the primitive believers, every thing requisite for their salvation; and to make them the instruments of handing down to posterity that glorious system of truth which is contained in the New Testament. As oil was used among the Asiatics for the inauguration of persons into important offices, and this oil was acknowledged to be an emblem of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, without which the duties of those offices could not be discharged; so it is put here for the Spirit himself, who presided in the Church, and from which all gifts and graces flowed. The χρισμα, chrism or ointment here mentioned is also an allusion to the holy anointing ointment prescribed by God himself, Exodus 30:23-25, which was composed of fine myrrh, sweet cinnamon, sweet calamus, cassia lignea, and olive oil. This was an emblem of the gifts and graces of the Divine Spirit. See the notes on Exodus 30:23-25 (note). And for the reason of this anointing see the note on Exodus 29:7.

Ye know all things – Every truth Of God necessary to your salvation and the salvation of man in general, and have no need of that knowledge of which the Gnostics boast.

But although the above is the sense in which this verse is generally understood, yet there is reason to doubt its accuracy. The adjective παντα, which we translate all things, is most probably in the accusative case singular, having ανθρωπον, man, or some such substantive, understood. The verse therefore should be translated: Ye have an ointment from the Holy One, and ye know or discern Every Man. This interpretation appears to be confirmed by των πλανωντων in 1 John 2:26, those who are deceiving or misleading you; and in the same sense should παντων, 1 John 2:27, be understood: But as the same anointing teacheth you παντων, not of all things, but of All Men. It is plain, from the whole tenor of the epistle, that St. John is guarding the Christians against seducers and deceivers, who were even then disturbing and striving to corrupt the Church. In consequence of this he desires them to try the spirits whether they were of God, 1 John 4:1. But how were they to try them? Principally by that anointing – that spiritual light and discernment which they had received from God; and also by comparing the doctrine of these men with what they had heard from the beginning. The anointing here mentioned seems to mean the spirit of illumination, or great knowledge and discernment in spiritual things. By this they could readily distinguish the false apostles from the true.

Wesley’s Notes

2:20 But ye have an anointing – A chrism; perhaps so termed in opposition to the name of antichrist; an inward teaching from the Holy Ghost, whereby ye know all things – Necessary for your preservation from these seducers, and for your eternal salvation. St. John here but just touches upon the Holy Ghost, of whom he speaks more largely, 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:13; 1 John 5:6.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

2:18-23 Every man is an antichrist, who denies the Person, or any of the offices of Christ; and in denying the Son, he denies the Father also, and has no part in his favour while he rejects his great salvation. Let this prophecy that seducers would rise in the Christian world, keep us from being seduced. The church knows not well who are its true members, and who are not, but thus true Christians were proved, and rendered more watchful and humble. True Christians are anointed ones; their names expresses this: they are anointed with grace, with gifts and spiritual privileges, by the Holy Spirit of grace. The great and most hurtful lies that the father of lies spreads in the world, usually are falsehoods and errors relating to the person of Christ. The unction from the Holy One, alone can keep us from delusions. While we judge favourably of all who trust in Christ as the Divine Saviour, and obey his word, and seek to live in union with them, let us pity and pray for those who deny the Godhead of Christ, or his atonement, and the new-creating work of the Holy Ghost. Let us protest against such antichristian doctrine, and keep from them as much as we may.

On this day...

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  1. Ye have an ointment from the Holy One, and ye know or discern Every Man.

  2. The anointing here mentioned seems to mean the spirit of illumination, or great knowledge and discernment in spiritual things. By this they could readily distinguish the false apostles from the true.

  3. Every man is an antichrist, who denies the Person, or any of the offices of Christ; and in denying the Son, he denies the Father also, and has no part in his favour while he rejects his great salvation.

  4. The unction from the Holy One, alone can keep us from delusions.

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