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9. Exegetical Commentary on 1 John 2:18-27


Many interpreters see a new section beginning at 2:18, although there are differences of opinion as to whether this is merely a new section (which continues on the theme of the world “passing away” in 2:17 by announcing its immediate end in 2:18) or whether this marks a new major part of the letter.251 This section contains a theme statement, just as 1:5 contained a theme statement for all of 1:5-3:10 (the first half of the letter). The theme statement, as in 1:5, is found in the first verse of the section, 2:18. It consists of the first clause of that verse, “Children, it is the last hour….”

The author initially addresses the readers as “children” (paidiva, paidia), which is paralleled in 2:12 (tekniva, teknia [“little children”]) and 2:28 (tekniva, teknia [“little children”]), suggesting that 2:18-27 should be viewed as a discrete unit. There is disagreement among scholars over where the section should end, but this is because 2:27-28 are “hinge verses” and it is difficult to be sure whether they go with the preceding or following material. Making 2:28 the start of another section, however, allows the address with which it begins to stand in parallel to 2:12 and 2:18, and this seems the most logical way to divide the material.

As far as the further division of material in the section is concerned, there are three points at which the author directly addresses his readers with the use of the emphatic pronoun uJmei' (Jumeis, “you” [plural]): 2:20, 2:24, and 2:27. Following this division there are four subsections within 2:18-27.252 In the first of these (2:18-19) the author mentions the coming of Antichrist and connects it with the departure of the opponents. In the second (2:20-23) he contrasts his readers – who have received an “anointing” of the Spirit – with the Liar, the Antichrist, and the opponents. In the third section (2:24-26), he exhorts the readers to hold fast to the apostolic teaching they have heard “from the beginning” and to resist the opponents who are trying to deceive them. In the fourth (2:27) the author concludes the section 2:18-27 with a final appeal to the readers to continue in the apostolic teaching they have heard from the beginning and not to be persuaded by the opponents. Thus in this section there is a lot of stress on the concept of “residing” (“remaining”), with the key verb mevnw (menw) used no less than seven times (2:19, 24 [3 times], 27 [twice], 28). This is also the section which spells out explicitly the departure of the opponents (2:18-19), an event which is central to much that is discussed in the letter.

    2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that Antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. We know from this that it is the last hour.


The arrival of the last hour is signaled by the appearance of the secessionist opponents whom the author describes as many antichrists. To understand the author’s use of the term Antichrist we must note that this is more than just someone who opposes Christ, but one who seeks to replace Christ, that is, a counterfeit Christ. This is precisely the idea in Mark 13:22 where Jesus warns his followers about “false Christs and false prophets” who will arise before his return, working signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, the elect. It is in this category that the author of 1 John sees the opponents with their innovative but false christology. This is clear in 2 John 7 where the author explicitly labels the opponents as “the deceiver and the antichrist” and in 1 John 2:26 where the author says, “these things I have written to you about those who are trying to deceive you.”

    Exegetical Details

The meaning of the reference to the last hour (ejscavth w{ra, escath Jwra) in 2:18. R. Brown rejected the explanation of this phrase which holds that the entirety of the Christian era may be referred to as “the last days.”253 Instead, Brown stated:

    …the epistolary author would scarcely need to make an urgent announcement of such a general truth. Since he has just said that the world is passing away, since the presence of the Antichrists is cited as a sign of the end, and since the coming of Christ is mentioned in 2:28, there can be little doubt that the author thought the end was coming soon. In his time he was not alone in that view…but like every other Christian who stated it then or since, he was wrong.254

However, S. Smalley argued for more flexibility in the interpretation of Johannine eschatology.255 He acknowledged that some New Testament writers speak of an extended period of time from Jesus’ resurrection to his final parousia as “the last days” (Acts 2:17, cf. Heb 1:2). The final conclusion of these ‘last days’, the final act of history, is the “day” of the Lord, which is alluded to even within John (5:24-28, 6:39-40, 11:24 according to Smalley). The parousia is still future (John 14:3) according to Smalley’s interpretation of the Fourth Gospel.256 Other references within the Gospel of John emphasize the believer’s experience of eternal life in the present (John 5:24, 6:47, 10:10). Therefore within the Gospel of John there is a tension between what has already been realized and what is still to come, between the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet.’257

If we assume that a similar outlook exists in 1 John,258 then the statement in 2:18 that the “last hour” has arrived is a proclamation that the final stage of history has been reached in the interval between the first and second advent of Christ. It is clear from the usage of w{ra (Jwra, literally, “hour”; translated as “time” in the NET Bible) in the Gospel of John that it can refer to a period of time rather than a moment of time, because it is frequently used by Jesus to refer to the entire period from just prior to his crucifixion until his return to the Father (John 2:4, 7:30, 8:20, 12:23, 12:27, 13:1, 17:1).259 Such flexibility is probably present here in 1 John as well: the author sees in the departure of the adversaries and in the promulgation of their false christology the foreshadowing of the ultimate end of history marked by the coming of the Antichrist. The end-time has already begun, and will continue until Christ returns. In this case the author was not mistaken about the arrival of “the end,” as Brown asserted.260

The referents of ajntivcristo (anticristos, “Antichrist”) in 2:18 and the ajntivcristoi (anticristoi, “antichrists”) mentioned later in the same verse. The Letters of John contain the only New Testament usage of this term, 3 times in 1 John (2:18 [2x], 2:22, and 4:3) and once in 2 John 7.261 But although the word itself is unique to 1 and 2 John, the concept behind it and the figure to whom it refers are not. Paul described this individual in 2 Thess 2:3 as “the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction,” and Jesus himself referred to “the abomination of desolation” in Mark 13:14 (Matt 24:15). This individual is also referred to as “the Beast” in Rev. 13:1 ff. Smalley thinks that the lack of the Greek article with the term here in 1 John 2:18 indicates that it had by this time not only become personalized but had passed into current use as a proper name.262 Against this, however, is the fact that the two later uses in 1 John (2:22; 4:3) and the use in 2 John 7 are accompanied by the article.263

The formation of the Greek term itself causes some difficulty. The basic meaning of the Greek preposition ajntiv (anti) which is prefixed to the word cristo (cristos) may be either “against” or “in place of.” Thus this individual can either be one who opposes Christ (in the sense of “against”) or one who seeks to replace Christ, that is, a counterfeit Christ (in the sense “in place of”).264 The latter meaning is precisely the idea in Mark 13:22 (parallel Matt 24:24) where (following the reference to the “abomination of desolation” in 13:14) Jesus goes on to warn his followers that “false Christs and false prophets” (yeudovcristoi kaiV yeudoprofh'tai, yeudocristoi kai yeudoprofhtai) will arise before he returns, and they will work signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, even the elect. It is probably in this category that the author of the Johannine letters sees the opponents with their false christology. While it is possible that the author merely has in mind the secessionist opponents as “opposing” Christ (the first basic meaning for the preposition ajntiv (anti), the introduction of themes relating to “deceit” and “deceiving” suggest strongly that the second meaning of ajntiv (anti) is in view here. This is clear in 2 John 7 where the author explicitly labels these individuals as “the deceiver and the Antichrist” (oJ plavno kaiV oJ ajntivcristo, Jo planos kai Jo anticristos) and in 1 John 2:26 where the author says, “these things I have written to you concerning the ones who are attempting to deceive you” (periV planwvntwn uJma', peri planwntwn Jumas). The author’s reasoning is not difficult to follow: the opponents, who are trying to deceive the believers of the community to which the author is writing, are deceivers, and deceit is linked to the coming of the Antichrist, so the opponents themselves may be labeled “deceivers” and “antichrists” since they foreshadow the Antichrist who is to come (and also follow the same modus operandi of deception and deceit).

Some interpreters have argued that since the author identifies the Antichrist with the present “antichrists” (the secessionist opponents), he no longer expects the appearance of a future Antichrist at the end of the age.265 Dodd maintained that for John the antichrist had become an idea (even if embodied in the opponents) rather than a specific human or supernatural individual.266 The author of 1 John does indeed refer to the “spirit of the Antichrist” in 4:3 as the controlling force behind the secessionist opponents, and it is true that this could be understood in an abstract or impersonal sense, but as Smalley observes this could equally well imply that John saw the current situation with the opponents as foreshadowing the future coming of the Antichrist himself, while nevertheless sharing in the general character of that future event.267 This seems a more plausible explanation in that it fits with the “already/not yet” emphasis which we see as consistent with the remainder of the New Testament.

    2:19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us, because if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But they went out from us to demonstrate that all of them do not belong to us.


Here the author describes for the first time in the letter the departure of the opponents. They went out from the congregation or Christian community he is now writing to. Their departure shows that all of them never really belonged in the first place.

    Exegetical Details

The second occurrence of the phrase “they went out from us” in this verse is not found in the Greek text but has been supplied in the translation in order to clarify the understood repetition of the phrase ejx hJmw'n ejxh'lqan (ex Jhmwn exhlqan, “they went out from us”) at the beginning of 2:19. For further explanation of the ellipsis, see below on the syntactical function of the i{na (Jina) in this verse.

The significance of the statement ejx hJmw'n ejxh'lqan (ex Jhmwn exhlqan, “they went out from us”) in 2:19 in relation to the situation within the Christian community the author of 1 John is addressing. How one understands the significance of this statement is very important in understanding the background and setting of the dispute with the opponents reflected in 1 and 2 John. It seems clear from the statement that there was once a time (before the present dispute arose) when the opponents considered themselves members of the Christian community to which 1 John is being written (and of which the author considers himself a part).268 Now the opponents have withdrawn from the community in a dispute over christological doctrine, a dispute which has every indication of being a bitter split. As Schnackenburg observed, these opponents were secessionists – they left of their own free will; there is no indication in the text that the author’s community took the initiative in expelling them.269 Houlden noted that this division appears to be a new development within the New Testament.270 Although there are plenty of examples of doctrinal disagreements within Paul’s congregations (e.g., 1 Cor 15:12) there does not seem to be much indication of complete separation from fellowship on the part of a group (1 Cor 5:1-5 appears to deal with a specific individual case rather than a group).

In what is probably more than coincidence, the same verb used to describe the departure of the opponents here (ejxh'lqan, exhlqan) was used in John 13:30 of the departure of Judas Iscariot from the upper room. The implication is clear – just as Judas betrayed Jesus, so the secessionists have betrayed their fellow members of the community (and indeed, the author himself) and have gone out into the darkness (as Judas went out into the night).

The phrase oujk h\san ejx hJmw'n (ouk hsan ex Jhmwn, literally “they were not of us”; translated by the NET Bible as “they did not really belong to us”) in 2:19a in relation to the spiritual condition of the opponents prior to their withdrawal.271 The author goes on to make it clear that the opponents, although previously associated with the Christian community he is addressing, never truly belonged to it. They professed to be genuine believers and members of the community, but they really were not, and their act of secession has demonstrated this conclusively (note the Jina-clause that follows in 2:19 which makes this clear).272 Although many interpreters have viewed the opponents as genuine Christians who by their apostasy from the author’s community forfeited their salvation, the statement by the author here seems rather to suggest that the opponents, in the author’s opinion at least, were never really genuine Christians to begin with.273

They would have remained with us (2:19). Here the characteristically Johannine verb mevnw (menw) is used to express the close ongoing personal relationship between genuine members of the Christian community. See the survey of this term’s usage in the Johannine literature at its first occurrence in the letters in 1 John 2:6.

The syntactical relationship of the i{na (Jina) in 2:19. The combination of ajllav (alla) + i{na (Jina) is an expression found in the Fourth Gospel at 1:8, 1:31, 9:3, 14:31, and 15:25. Outside the Johannine literature of the New Testament it occurs only in Mark 14:49.274 As Blass-Debrunner’s standard reference grammar points out, it is a case of ellipsis where “this happened” (or a similar verb) must be supplied for the i{na to modify, with the resultant meaning “…[on the contrary] but [this happened] in order that….”275 In context “this happened” refers to the departure of the opponents: “They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but [this happened, i.e., they went out from us] in order that it might be shown that all of them are not of us.” The translation in the NET Bible reflects this understanding: “But they went out from us to demonstrate that all of them do not belong to us.”276

The force of the o{ti (Joti, “that”) in 2:19. The o{ti (Joti) in 2:19 may be described as either epexegetical (i.e., explanatory) or content. Regardless of which descriptive term is preferred, in either case the clause introduced by o{ti (Joti) gives in effect the content of what is manifested or shown by the opponents’ act of withdrawal: it was shown “that all of them are not of us,” i.e., that they did not belong to the believing community of which the readers of the present letter are still a part. This echoes the situation described in John 3:21: “But the person who does the truth comes to the light, in order that his deeds might be shown that (i{na fanerwqh'/ aujtou' taV e[rga o{ti…, Jina fanerwqh autou ta erga Joti) they are done in God.” In withdrawing from the believing community, the opponents have revealed their true allegience: they showed by their withdrawal from the light that they did not belong there, nor had they ever belonged there. As mentioned previously, a number of interpreters have understood the departure of the opponents in terms of genuine believers who have committed apostasy, but it seems more likely in light of the author’s statement “all of them are not of us” (i.e., “all of them do not belong to us”) that the author views the secessionist opponents as never having really belonged to the Christian community in the first place. This is what their withdrawal from fellowship and departure prove.

The syntactical relationship of the negative particle oujk (ouk, “not”) in 2:19b. In the Joti-clause at the end of 2:19 the negative particle oujk (ouk) may modify either pavnte (pantes, “all”) or the verb eijsivn (eisin, “are”). If pavnte (pantes, “all”) is negated, it would mean “not all belong to us,” that is, “not all who claim to be genuine members of our community really are.” This is reflected in the NEB translation: “not all in our company truly belong to it.” One of the implications of such a rendering is that not all the opponents had left the author’s community at the time of writing 1 John; the author’s community is still “mixed,” made up of both his genuine followers plus some of the opponents. However, such a grammatical understanding involves an unexpected shift of subject from v. 18 and the earlier part of v. 19, where “they” clearly refers to the secessionists themselves, and here, where “all” would have to refer to “members of the community.” The word order also strongly argues against this rendering. It is important to note that the negative particle oujk (ouk) precedes the verb eijsivn (eisin), not pavnte (pantes). Taking the negative particle with the verb, as its location in the text suggests, results in the meaning “all are not,” which is the equivalent of “none is,” where “all” refers collectively to the secessionist opponents whom the author has been discussing. This same type of negation occurs fairly frequently elsewhere in the letter: 1 John 2:21, “every lie is not from the truth” = “no lie is from the truth;” 2:23, “everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father” = “no one who denies the Son has the Father;” 3:15, “every murderer does not have eternal life abiding in him” = “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him;” and 5:18, “everyone who is fathered by God does not commit sin” = “no one who is fathered by God commits sin.” In a letter as short as 1 John these are probably enough occurrences to warrant labeling the construction as characteristic of Johannine style.277 This understanding is reflected in the NET Bible translation “all of them do not belong to us.”278

Thus the point here is that the withdrawal of the opponents took place in order to show that none of them genuinely belonged to the community they withdrew from, the community to which the author is writing. The implication is that the opponents’ departure was part of God’s sovereign purpose, and the author probably intends this as reassurance to his readers in the face of the emotional and psychological turmoil that may have followed the schism. None of those who left were truly believers to begin with, and their secession from the community of true believers proved it (just as, for the author, their continuing to walk in darkness proved the same thing in 1:6).

    2:20 Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.


The anointing from the Holy One refers to the Holy Spirit who indwells believers. The Holy One refers to Jesus Christ himself. In contrast to the opponents, all of whom do not belong, John tells his readers you all know. What they know, in contrast to the opponents, is the truth about who Jesus is, as the following verse makes clear.

    Exegetical Details

When compared with the secessionist opponents (discussed in the previous verse) the readers/recipients of the letter, who are genuine believers and have remained loyal to the Christian community and the apostolic teaching, can be assured that they possess a cri'sma (crisma, “anointing”) from the “Holy One” which enables them to know the real truth. In vv. 20-23 the author discusses the indicators of a genuine believer. Once again the author’s antithetical (or polarized) viewpoint reflects a sharp distinction not only between the positions of the secessionist opponents on the one hand and his followers who have held to the apostolic testimony on the other, but also between the basic concepts of falsehood and truth that characterize their respective positions (vv. 21-22; also 4:1-6).

The meaning of cri'sma in 2:20. The meaning of this word is disputed: the noun form may mean either (1) “the means of anointing” (i.e., the oil or ointment itself that is placed on someone) or (2) “the results of receiving an anointing.”279 The Old Testament background of the term includes the general use of “anointing oil” for purposes of consecration (Exod 29:7; 30:25; 35:15), but there was also a figurative significance to anointing, as 1 Sam 16:13 shows: Samuel anointed David, and the Spirit of Yahweh came upon him with power. Likewise, in Isa 61:1 the Servant of Yahweh was “anointed” by the Spirit to proclaim the good news. This figurative usage for anointing with/by the Spirit is picked up in the New Testament in the use of the related verb crivw (criw), e.g., Acts 10:38, where Peter says that God “anointed” Jesus with the Holy Spirit. There are three other references to the anointing of Jesus in the New Testament (Acts 4:27, Luke 4:18, Heb 1:9), and the last two occur in Old Testament quotations.280 On the basis of these analogies, it seems highly probable that the related noun form cri'sma (crisma), which appears in the New Testament only three times (once here and twice in 1 John 2:27), refers not to the means of anointing (that is, the substance itself, the anointing oil) but to the results of receiving the anointing.281

However, we must still decide whether the referent of cri'sma (crisma, “anointing”) here is (1) the Holy Spirit or (2) the word of God. In favor of the word of God is the structure of the passage: we have already mentioned that there are three statements in which the readers are addressed as “you” (2:20, 2:24, 2:27). In the first and last of these the readers are said to receive an “anointing” from the Holy One (or from “him”). The middle statement, however, speaks of “what you have heard from the beginning” and this seems clearly a reference to the apostolic testimony about the significance of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ.282 An additional point is that if the cri'sma (crisma) here refers to the word of God which the readers have received, the author is appealing to an objective standard of truth against which the truth or falsity of the opponents’ claims may be tested. Objective standards like one’s love for fellow Christians play a significant role elsewhere in 1 John.

In spite of this, Johannine usage seems to point to the Holy Spirit as the referent here. In 1 John 2:27 believers are told that they “received” the cri'sma (crisma), while in John 14:17 Jesus contrasts his disciples with the “world” who cannot “receive” the Paraclete. In 1 John 2:27 the cri'sma (crisma) is said to “remain in” believers, while in John 14:17 Jesus tells the disciples that the Paraclete “remains with you and will be in you.” 1 John 2:27 says that the cri'sma (crisma) “teaches you [believers] about all things,” while in John 14:26 Jesus says, “the Paraclete will teach you everything.” Finally, in 1 John 2:20 knowledge (“and you know all things”) is the result of having the cri'sma (crisma), while in John 14:17 knowledge is given by the Paraclete. These conceptual links seem to point to the Holy Spirit as the cri'sma (crisma) mentioned in 1 John 2:20 and 2:27.

It may be, in fact, that the author has both the Holy Spirit and the word of God in mind when he refers to the cri'sma (crisma) received by believers in 1 John 2:20 and 2:27. S. Smalley suggested: “The faithful…are those who have (inwardly) received the gospel of truth, and made it their own through the activity of the Spirit (cf. 1 Thess 1:5-6); thereby they possess the antidote to heresy….”283

If so, however, it still appears (based on the parallels discussed above between the Paraclete in the Gospel of John and the cri'sma [crisma] mentioned here) that the primary referent in 1 John 2:20 is the Holy Spirit, who is given by Jesus to believers. It is likely that the secessionist opponents had appealed to the teaching about the Spirit/Paraclete found in the Fourth Gospel to support their own claims to have the correct understanding of who Jesus was, and what the significance of his earthly life and ministry was. If the author of 1 John indeed has both the word of God and the Holy Spirit in mind here when he speaks of the “anointing,” he would be asserting that the word of God (as an external objective reality) cannot be detached from the (interior and subjective) witness of the Spirit/Paraclete present in the believer.

In what sense may the readers be said to have (e[cete, ecete) this cri'sma (crisma) in 2:20? Since we have already decided in the discussion above that the cri'sma (crisma) in 1 John 2:20 and 2:27 refers primarily to the Holy Spirit (although it may refer to both the Holy Spirit and the word of God), the readers may be said to “have” it in a figurative sense which refers to the “possession” of the Spirit through the Spirit’s indwelling in the lives of believers. While some have understood the “anointing” (cri'sma, crisma) to be a literal practice of anointing people in the Johannine community, perhaps carried out at the baptism of converts, there is little external evidence for such a practice, and nothing in the text of the Johannine letters demands a reference to a literal practice.284 It is even possible that the terminology John employs here is that of the opponents, who may have spoken of the indwelling Spirit as an “anointing” from God. In this case, John uses terminology both his opponents and his readers would be familiar with, but shapes it to suit his own (orthodox) theology, as the comparisons with the role and functions of the Spirit/Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel illustrate.

The referent of tou' aJgivou (tou Jagiou, “the Holy One”) in 2:20. Once again the meaning of the phrase is ambiguous. There are three possibilities for the referent: (1) the Holy Spirit; (2) God the Father; or (3) Jesus Christ.

The first possibility can be eliminated because (a) this phrase itself is never a title for the Holy Spirit in the New Testament and (b) we have already concluded in the two preceding paragraphs that the anointing itself referred primarily to the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer. It is highly unlikely the author would be saying that the Holy Spirit is the source of the “anointing” which consists of himself indwelling the believer – such reasoning is a bit too circuitous even for the author of 1 John!

A reference to God has been suggested here because: (a) In the Old Testament there are well-known references to God as “the Holy One of Israel” (Isa 1:4, Ps 71:22); there is at least one clear reference in the LXX using this phrase (Hab 3:3). (b) In 1 John 3:24 and 4:13 it is God who gives the Holy Spirit to believers. (c) In the two passages from the Gospel of John which are closest to 1 John 2:20, 27 (John 14:16-17, 26) it is God the Father who sends the Holy Spirit.

A reference to Jesus Christ is most probable here, however, for the following reasons: (a) Jesus is called “the Holy One of God” in Mark 1:24, Luke 4:34, and John 6:69, and “the Holy One” (exactly as here) in Acts 3:14 and Rev. 3:7. (b) John 15:26 and 16:7 portray Jesus sending the Holy Spirit, and Acts 2:33 refers to the exalted Jesus pouring out the Spirit. (c) Finally, there is conclusive contextual evidence in 1 John 2:27, which speaks of “the anointing which you received from him” (ajp= aujtou', apautou) and “his anointing” (toV aujtou' cri'sma, to autou crisma). The pronouns in both these phrases (aujtou', autou) almost certainly refer to Jesus Christ, since they both relate back to 2:25 which describes the promise to believers of eternal life given by Jesus Christ.

Thus in summary we conclude that the primary reference here is to Jesus “anointing” believers with the Holy Spirit. Since the verb translated “received” in 2:27 (ejlavbete, elabete) is past tense (aorist), this most likely refers to the gift of the Spirit to indwell believers at their conversion.

The meaning and referent of the final clause in 2:20, kaiV oi[date pavnte (kai oidate pantes, “and you all know”). There is a textual problem in the phrase: should kaiV oi[date pavnte (“you all know”) or kaiV oi[date pavnta (“you know all things”) be read here? The nominative plural pavnte (pantes, “you all know”) is read by Í B P Y 398 1838 1852 copsa Jerome Hesychius. On the other hand A C K 049 33 614 1739 Byz latt and several other versional witnesses (mostly secondary) have the accusative pavnta (panta, “you know all things”). The manuscript evidence favors the nominative reading, but it is not overwhelming. At the same time, the internal evidence supports the nominative, suggesting that it arose as a result of scribal confusion with the accusative used in John 14:26 and 16:30. The phrase in 2:27 could also be read as neuter and might suggest a neuter accusative here. Certainly pavnte (pantes) is favored on internal grounds as the somewhat more difficult reading to explain, but it fits the context well. In this context of reassurance, where the author has just reminded his readers that they possess an anointing with the Holy Spirit from Jesus himself (see previous discussion), it would seem logical for the author to tell the readers that all of them have knowledge. This would create an implicit contrast with all of the secessionist opponents, who presumably do not.

    2:21 I have not written to you that you do not know the truth, but that you do know it, and that no lie is of the truth.


These are further words of authoritative reassurance from the author to his readers. Because of the false teaching of the secessionist opponents, some of the readers may have come to doubt that they really knew the truth concerning the apostolic testimony about who Jesus is. John writes to reassure them that they do. The phrase no lie is of the truth refers to the teaching of the opponents (see the next two verses).

    Exegetical Details

Previously the author had contrasted two groups of people: those who remained true to the apostolic testimony about who Jesus is, and the secessionist opponents who had withdrawn from fellowship and abandoned the apostolic testimony about Jesus. Now the author draws the distinction, implicit throughout this passage but stated here explicitly for the first time, between truth and falsehood.

The significance of the aorist e[graya (egraya, “I have…written”) in 2:21. Once again, e[graya (egraya) in 2:21 is an epistolary aorist which refers to the entirety of the present letter.285 In the extended discussion of the significance of the switch from the present tense forms of gravfw (grafw) in 2:12-13 to the aorist e[graya (egraya) in 2:14, we concluded that the difference between the tenses was a stylistic one, and both presents and aorists referred to the entire letter of 1 John. The present tense of gravfw (grafw) is used prior to 2:14 (1:4, 2:1, 2:7, 2:8, 2:12, 2:13) while the aorist tense of the same verb, e[graya (egraya), is used in 2:14 ff. (2:14, 2:21, 2:26, 5:13) with no significant or apparent difference in meaning.286

The force of the o{ti (Joti) in each of the three instances it occurs in 2:21. There are three possibilities that have been suggested for the three Joti-clauses here: (1) All three uses should be understood as causal: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth” (so nasb, niv, neb).287 (2) The first two uses should be understood as causal, while the third is substantival of content, i.e., declarative or recitative Joti: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (so kjv, rsv, tev, nrsv).288 (3) All three uses should be understood as substantival of content (i.e., declarative or recitative Joti): “I have not written to you that you do not know the truth, but that you do know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (NET Bible).289 Each of these options can be evaluated as follows:

(1) Understanding all three of the Joti-clauses as causal leaves no direct object expressed for the verb e[graya (egraya, “I have [not] written”). If the Joti-clauses were causal we should have expected a direct object such as tau'ta (tauta, “these things”) to be expressed.290 From a logical standpoint, although a causal idea might fit for the first clause, it is difficult to see a causal idea in the second and third clauses.291 The author would be writing to the readers because they already know the truth and because no lie is from the truth, reasons for writing which seem to stretch even the Johannine tendency to circular reasoning and ambiguity.

(2) Another possibility takes the first two Joti-clauses as subordinate to the verb e[graya (egraya), but the third as subordinate to oi[date in the second Joti-clause: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and [you know] that no lie is of the truth” In this case, however, the kaiv (kai, “and”) that introduces the third Joti-clause would have to be understood as explanatory or epexegetical (and thus translated “namely”), while the simplest and most natural reading of this kaiv (kai) would be coordinative or connective (“and”).

(3) Understanding all three of the Joti-clauses as substantival of content would allow all three to be subordinate to the verb e[graya (egraya) as compound direct objects.292 In terms of the meaning, the author would be writing to reassure his readers (a) that they do indeed know the truth (Joti1, 2) and (b) that no lie is of the truth (Joti3). It is important to note, however, that such a precise distinction in the nuances of all three of the Joti-clauses may not have occurred to either the author or the readers.293

The implication of seeing the three Joti-clauses not as causal but as content is that the author is primarily writing here with pastoral concern for his readers, who in light of the disruption caused by the departure of the schismatics need to be comforted and reassured. To suggest, especially in the case of the third Joti-clause, that a causal idea was involved (“because no lie is of the truth”) would imply that the author’s concerns in writing are primarily abstract and philosophical rather than pastoral.294

The significance of the lie versus truth motif in 2:21. The contrast between truth and falsehood was introduced in 1 John 1:6, where the person who claims to have fellowship with God and yet continues to walk in darkness is characterized as “lying” and “not practicing the truth.” In 2:4 the person who says “I have come to know him” and does not keep his commandments is said to be a “liar” and “the truth is not in him.” Here in 2:21 the “lie” represents not just falsehood in general, but the teaching of the opponents, which is not the result of ignorance or self-deception, but involves an active hostility to the “truth” (“truth” as represented by the authoritative apostolic christological teaching of the author).

    2:22 Who is the liar but the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the Antichrist: the person who denies the Father and the Son.


The opponents have already been identified as antichrists (v. 18). They are now identified as liars. Their false teaching involves a denial that Jesus is the Christ. As the next verse explains, a denial of the Son, Jesus, also involves a denial of the Father.

    Exegetical Details

For the first time in the letter, the author explicitly states the christological position of the secessionist opponents (“denies that Jesus is the Christ”). The Greek text literally reads, “the one who denies that Jesus is not the Christ,” but the double negative in Greek does not cancel out the negation as it does in English. Rather it is a holdover from the form the opponents’ denial took in direct speech: they would have said, “Jesus is not the Christ.” To avoid confusion the negative particle oujk (ouk) must be left untranslated in English.295

The referent of oJ yeuvsth (Jo yeusths, “the liar”) in 2:22. Although yeuvsth (yeusths) in 1 John 2:22 has the Greek article, many interpreters understand it to mean only “the person who tells lies” in general. The second half of the verse, however, associates this person with the Antichrist296 – “this one is the Antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son.” In John 8:44 the devil (oJ diavbolo, Jo diabolos) is called a “liar” and “the father of lies.” The referent of oJ yeuvsth (Jo yeusths) here is not the devil himself, but Satan is certainly in the background of the associations surrounding the Antichrist in most of the New Testament literature, especially in the book of Revelation. Here in 1 John 2:22 oJ yeuvsth (Jo yeusths) refers collectively to the secessionist opponents themselves, who according to their false christology are said to be “denying that Jesus is the Christ.” As in 2:18, the opponents are identified with the Antichrist because they foreshadow the Antichrist who is yet to come. They are “liars” because they deny that Jesus is the Christ, and since lying is linked to the coming of the Antichrist (John 8:44), the opponents themselves may be labelled collectively “the Liar” and “the Antichrist” (cf. 2 John 7).297

The meaning of the phrase “denies that Jesus is the Christ” in v. 22. Frequently this is understood to mean that the secessionists, in making this denial, were rejecting the orthodox interpretation of the incarnation, according to which Jesus’ divine and human natures were fully united. Furthermore it is common to connect such views with the gnostic Jewish-Christian heretic Cerinthus, who is thought to have lived and taught around a.d. 100.298 What we know about the teaching of Cerinthus comes primarily from a reference in Irenaeus (Adv. haer. 1.26.1). Cerinthus apparently claimed that the divine emanation (or aeon) “Christ” came upon Jesus in the form of a dove at his baptism by John and departed from him before his crucifixion. Cerinthus apparently denied the incarnation on the grounds that the virgin birth was an impossibility, rejected the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross because Christ as “spirit” could not suffer, and distinguished between a “lower” god from whom Jesus came and a “higher” god from whom came the Christ. However, this is about all we know about his views, and it is far from certain that the false christology put forward by the secessionists in 1 John is related to the Cerinthian heresy. There are really no indications anywhere else in 1 John that such views are held by, or lie behind the views of, the secessionists.299

The relationship between “the Christ” and “the Son” in 2:22-23. The Greek term Cristov (Cristos) is used to translate the Hebrew term “Messiah”; both mean “anointed one” and refer to the deliverer of Israel promised in the Old Testament. At some point in the New Testament the term begins to appear more as a proper name and less as a title. Some have understood this to be the case in 1 John,300 although in this particular verse the parallelism between “Christ” and “Son” seems to indicate a close correspondence between the two terms as titles; it is possible to argue that they are synonymous here.301 Such a correspondence is also indicated by the parallels between “Christ” and “Son of God” in John 11:27 and 20:31.

    2:23 Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father either. The person who confesses the Son has the Father also.


To have the Father is to be in relationship with the Father through the Son. The opponents who deny that Jesus is the Christ (v. 22) have no relationship with the Father regardless of what they claim. In contrast the person who confesses Jesus has the Father also.

    Exegetical Details

The meaning of the phrase toVn patevra e[cei (ton patera ecei, “have the Father”) in 2:23. It has been suggested that this expression is synonymous with “to know God” or “to have fellowship (koinwniva [koinwnia]) with God.” The meaning of the phrase probably goes beyond this, however. There are a number of statements in the Gospel of John which portray the believer as possessing (“having”) certain things through Jesus Christ: “life” (3:16, 36; 5:24, 26; 6:40, 47, 53), “his [God’s] word” (5:38), “the love of God” (5:42), “the light of life” (8:12) or simply “the light” (12:35-36), “peace” (16:33), and “my [Jesus’] joy” (17:13). It appears that the expression “have the Father” in 1 John represents a Johannine development in terminology that grows out of the usages in the Gospel of John just listed, a development which is logical because it serves to summarize almost all of the divine realities mentioned in the Gospel of John as possessed by the believer. It is to be in relationship with the Father through the Son, even as Jesus can say in John 14:11 and 17:21 “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Thus “everyone who denies the Son” is not in relationship with the Father through the Son.302

Here again in 2:23 the author is speaking of the opponents, whom he characterizes as “denying the Son” and therefore “not having the Father” either. In contrast, “the person who confesses the Son” (i.e., acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ, cf. 2:22) “has the Father also.” It is difficult to escape the clear implication that the opponents, as far as the author is concerned, are not genuine Christians.

    2:24 As for you, what you have heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.


In this verse the second person plural (“you”) resumes from 2:20. There is something of a wordplay: the Greek verb translated remain (mevnw, menw) can also be translated reside. The phrase what you heard from the beginning refers to the apostolic eyewitness testimony about Jesus (see 1 John 1:1-3) as contrasted with the false teaching of the secessionist opponents. This teaching must remain (reside) in the readers in order for them to remain (reside) in the Son and in the Father.

    Exegetical Details

The referent of o} hjkouvsate ajp= ajrch' (Jo hkousate aparchs, “what you have heard from the beginning”) in 2:24. Once again, this refers to the apostolic eyewitness testimony concerning the significance of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus, as emphasized in the prologue (1:1-4) and mentioned again in 2:7 and (indirectly) in 2:13-14. The “beginning” referred to here is thus the beginning of Jesus’ self-revelation to his disciples who are the source for this eyewitness testimony.303

The meanings of the three uses of mevnw (menw) in 2:24 (“must remain…remains...will remain”). Here there is a play on words with the three uses of mevnw (menw) in 2:24. The first two uses in the verse refer to realities which “reside” in the believer, which in this case refers to the message the readers have heard from the beginning.304 The third use refers to the permanence of relationship between both God and Jesus with the believer. This is the only instance in the Gospel and Letters of John where the verb mevnw (menw) refers to the believer residing in both the Father and the Son together, although a similar concept (without using mevnw) is expressed in John 17:21 and 1 John 5:20.305 Implicit in the use of mevnw (menw) here is also the situation with the opponents, who did not “remain” in the apostolic teaching (1 John 2:18-19) and thus do not “reside” in the Son and in the Father.

The repetition of the phrase “If what you heard from the beginning remains in you” in v. 24. The repeated phrase takes the form of a conditional statement. Although the repetition of the phrase is apparently regarded by some interpreters as redundant (and therefore virtually omitted by some translations, apparently for stylistic reasons),306 it serves to emphasize the connection with the apostolic eyewitness testimony about Jesus which has become so important to the author’s argument in 1 John, and in addition prepares the way for the final clause of v. 24 (“you also will remain in the Son and in the Father”).307

    2:25 Now this is the promise that he himself made to us: eternal life.


Eternal life is the promise of God to those who remain in the Son and in the Father (see previous verse). It is the possession of the recipients of the letter as genuine believers. The secessionist opponents do not possess it because they did not remain, which shows they do not reside (see the previous verse for discussion of the wordplay).

    Exegetical Details

The referent of aujtov (autos, “he himself”) in 2:25. Once again, the third person pronoun may refer to God the Father, to Jesus Christ, or (ambiguously) to both. (1) The closest specified referent is patriv (patri, “Father”) at the end of 2:24, a reference to the God the Father. One might object that the reference to “the promise” here implies a reference to Jesus, since a promise made in the Gospel of John would have to be made by Jesus. But this is not conclusive, because Jesus gave the disciples the commandment to “love one another” in John 13:34-35, yet in 1 John the author always attributes the commandment to God (1 John 2:3, 2:4, 3:22, 3:23, 3:24, 4:21, 5:2, 5:3 [2x]; 2 John 4, 6). (2) The mention of both God the Father and Jesus the Son in the final clause of 2:24 would seem to argue for a(n ambiguous) reference to both. (3) Nevertheless, the primary referent here is probably Jesus Christ, because (a) the use of aujtov (autos) here is somewhat emphatic (“he himself…”) and (b) the author’s dispute with the opponents in 2:22-23 (the immediately preceding context) centered around the denial of the Son, so it is more likely in context that the Son would be emphasized here.

The relationship of kaiV au{th ejstin (kai Jauth estin, “now this is”) at the beginning of 2:25 to preceding and following material. As usual, it is difficult to know whether the phrase kaiV au{th ejstin (kai Jauth estin) refers to the preceding or following material, or both. The same phrase occurs at the beginning of 1 John 1:5, where it serves as a transitional link between the prologue (1:1-4) and the first major section of the letter (1:5-3:10). It is probably best to see the phrase here as transitional as well. The accusative phrase at the end of v. 25, thVn zwhVn thVn aijwvnion (thn zwhn thn aiwnion, “eternal life”), stands in apposition to the relative pronoun h}n (Jhn, “that”), whose antecedent is hJ ejpaggeliva (Jh epangelia, “the promise”).308 Thus the “promise” consists of “eternal life;” but the promise is also related to the concept of “residing/remaining” in 2:24. The person who “resides/remains in the Son and in the Father” thus has this promise of eternal life from Jesus himself. Consistent with this, 1 John 5:12 implies that the believer has this eternal life now, not just in the future, and this in turn agrees with John 5:24, which speaks of a transfer from death to life in the present rather than in the future.309

    2:26 These things I have written to you about those who are trying to deceive you.


Again, those who are trying to deceive you refers to the secessionist opponents with their false teaching. One of the author’s primary purposes in writing 1 John is to protect his faithful followers from the false christological teaching of the opponents.

    Exegetical Details

The referent of tau'ta (tauta, “these things”) at the beginning of 2:26. Once again we are faced with the difficulty of identifying the referent of the pronoun. The construction is the same as in 1 John 2:1 and 1:4. In 2:1 we concluded that tau'ta (tauta) refers to the preceding statements made in 1:8-10 about sin as viewed by the opponents and by the author. On the other hand, tau'ta (tauta) in 1:4 looks ahead to the remainder of the letter and especially to the similar statement in 5:13, and thus refers to the entire contents of the present letter. The context of 2:26, with its reference to the opponents as “those who are trying to deceive you,” suggests a reference to the entire letter here also, as in 1:4. Thus when the author refers to “these things” in 2:26, he means everything he has written concerning the opponents in the present letter.

The referent of tw'n planwvntwn (twn planwntwn, “those who are trying to deceive you”) in 2:26. The idea of “deception” has already occurred in 1 John 1:8, which we understood to be an indirect reference to the activity of the secessionist opponents, who with their innovative but false christology were trying to deceive members of the community to which the author is writing. Here, as later in 3:7, the reference to the opponents is direct: they are portrayed as attempting to carry out the deception at the present moment. The participle is best understood as a conative present310 since (as far as the author is concerned) this has been attempted but has not been carried out completely. As a matter of fact, the purpose of the author in writing the letter is to forestall such a deception of the readers by the opponents.311

    2:27 Now as for you, the anointing that you received from him resides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him.


The author now addresses his readers directly as those who possess the indwelling Holy Spirit (the anointing which you received from him). The indwelling Spirit who resides in believers provides assurance to them that they do indeed reside in him (i.e., Jesus, the Holy One who anoints believers with the Spirit, cf. 1 John 2:20).

    Exegetical Details

The author now turns to the faithful members of the congregation to which he writes, addressing them once again (cf. 1 John 2:20, 24) with the plural pronoun (uJmei', Jumeis) which adds some emphasis to the statement.

There are a number of textual problems in 1 John 2:27 which originate, no doubt, from the obscure grammar and syntax of the verse. As R. Brown has wryly observed, “The basic problem throughout these variants is not corrupt copying but the author’s propensity for writing obscure sentences.”312

The meaning of the cri'sma (crisma, “anointing”) which the readers have received in 2:27. This term is discussed at 1 John 2:20, where it previously occurred. As we concluded there, the cri'sma (crisma) is a reference to the indwelling Holy Spirit that believers have received from Jesus at their conversion.

The referent of the first aujtou' (autou, “from him”) in 2:27. This probably refers to the same person as aujtov (autos) in 1 John 2:25, which we understood there as a reference to Jesus Christ.313 This is also in agreement with our conclusions concerning the identification of tou' aJgivou (tou Jagiou, “the Holy One”) – the one who is responsible for the cri'sma (crisma, “anointing”) given to believers in 2:20 – which we also interpreted as a reference to Jesus Christ.314

The meaning of mevnei (menei, “resides”) in 2:27. This use of mevnw (menw) refers to a divine reality which ‘resides’ in the believer, which in this case is the cri'sma (crisma, “anointing”) which believers have received from Jesus Christ. The cri'sma (crisma, “anointing”) refers to the indwelling Holy Spirit which has been given to them at their conversion.315

The (understood) subject of ejdivdaxen (edidaxen, “[it] has taught”) in 2:27. This could be either “he” (referring to Jesus Christ)316 or “it” (referring to the “anointing”). It is fairly certain that the latter is the case, since the “anointing” is the subject of the verb didavskei (didaskei, “teaches”) in the preceding parallel clause (“his anointing teaches you about all things”).

It is difficult to know whether to read the second half of 2:27, beginning with ajll= (all’, “but”), as a single sentence (with Brooke, Marshall, and Smalley) or a compound sentence (with Bultmann, Haas, and Brown).317 As a single sentence v. 27b would read, “But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it [or, he] has taught you, you reside in him.” Taking the second half of 2:27 as a compound sentence seems preferable, since the parallelism thus created makes the final kaqwV (kaqws)-clause understandable rather than awkward and parenthetical. In translation this would read: “But, as his anointing teaches you about all things, [so] it is both true and is not a lie; and just as it [or, he] has taught you, you reside in him.” As Brown admits, “The weakness of this approach is that the kai, ‘and,’ beginning line 27f, must be understood as ‘so,’ introducing an apodosis.”318 Brown opts for the interpretation in spite of this, citing the “rythym” of the verse. I tend to agree, and see the emphasis at this point on the assurance believers possess as a result of the Spirit dwelling in them.

The mood of menete (menete) in the final clause of 2:27. The verb menete (menete, “[you] reside”) may be read as either indicative mood (“you reside in him,” so asv, nasb, NET Bible) or imperative mood (“reside in him,” so niv, nrsv, nlt, esv, tniv). The same verb is found in the following verse, 2:28, but the address to the readers there seems to indicate clearly an imperative. By analogy some interpreters (e.g., Bultmann, Smalley)319 have called for an imperative here, but others have seen the presence of an imperative in the following verse as suggestive of an indicative here, so that the author is not repeating himself.320 An indicative is slightly more likely on contextual grounds. Up to this point the thrust of the author has been reassurance rather than exhortation, and an indicative here (“…you reside in him”) balances the indicative in the first part of 2:27 (“the anointing which you received from him resides in you…”). However, in the following verse the author switches from reassurance (the readers at the time he is writing still ‘reside/remain’; they have not yet espoused the teaching of the opponents) to exhortation (now he is writing so that they will indeed ‘remain’ and not succumb to the deception of the opponents).

251 Among those who see the break as marking a new major part of the letter are Marshall (The Epistles of John, 147) and Schnackenburg, who saw the transition as one from didactic and parenetic to a focus on the “last hour” (The Johannine Epistles, 129).

252 Malatesta suggests a somewhat more complicated arrangement of seven strophes: 2:18, 2:19; 2:20-21; 2:22-23; 2:24; 2:25; 2:27. Three of these he divides further into three distichs each: 2:19; 2:20-21; 2:22-23 (Interiority and Covenant, 193-95).

253 This explanation of the phrase goes back to Augustine in the fourth century a.d.

254 Brown, The Epistles of John, 330.

255 Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 95-97.

256 Although (against Smalley) it is certainly possible (and indeed may be preferable) to read John 14:3 as a reference not to the parousia (second coming), but to the post-resurrection return of Jesus to the disciples and/or the post-exaltation coming of the Spirit/Paraclete. The phrase th'/ oijkiva/ tou' patrov mou (th oikia tou patros mou, “my Father’s house”) in John 14:3 was used previously in John 2:16 to refer to the temple in Jerusalem. The evangelist in 2:19-22 then reinterpreted the temple to refer to Jesus’ body, which was to be destroyed in death and then rebuilt in resurrection after three days. Even more suggestive is the statement by Jesus in 8:35, “Now the slave does not remain (mevnei, menei) in the household (th'/ oijkiva/, th oikia) forever, but the son remains (mevnei, menei) forever.” If in the imagery of the Fourth Gospel “my Father’s house” is ultimately a reference to Jesus’ body, the relationship of monhv (monh) to mevnw (menw) in 14:3 suggests the permanent relationship of the believer to Jesus and the Father as an adopted son who remains in the household forever. In this case the “dwelling place” is “in” Jesus himself, where he is, whether in heaven or on earth. The statement in v. 3, “I will come again and receive you to myself” then refers not primarily to the parousia, but to Jesus’ post-resurrection return to the disciples in his glorified state, when by virtue of his death on their behalf they may enter into union with him and with the Father as adopted sons. Needless to say, this bears numerous similarities to Pauline theology, especially the prominent concepts of adoption as sons (uiJoqesiva, Juioqesia) and being “in Christ” (ejn Cristw'/, ejn Cristw). It is also important to note the emphasis in the Fourth Gospel itself on the present reality of eternal life (5:24, 7:38-39, etc.) and the possibility of worshipping the Father “in the Spirit and in truth” (4:21-24) in the present age. Thus there is a sense in which it is possible to say that the future reality is present now. See further R. H. Gundry, “‘In my Father’s House are many Monai’ (John 14,2),” ZNW 58 (1967): 68-72; J. McCaffrey, The House With Many Rooms: The Temple Theme of Jn. 14, 2-3 (AnBib 114; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1988).

257 For yet another perspective on the meaning of “the last hour” see Schnackenburg, who stated, “With the warning signal ‘antichrists have come,’ all he means to say is that his own time has an eschatological importance. He wishes to alert his leaders [sic] in the face of impending danger. …He has the same eschatological sense of time that all of the other New Testament authors have” (The Johannine Epistles, 133).

258 Such an assumption is reasonable in light of the close connections between the Fourth Gospel and 1 John, including the probability of common authorship. See the sections in the introduction entitled “Authorship of 1 John” and “Structure and Purpose of 1 John.”

259 On the usage of w{ra (Jwra) in John see C. Haas, M. de Jonge, and J. L. Swellengrebel, A Translator’s Handbook on the Letters of John (UBS Helps for Translators 13; London: United Bible Societies, 1972), 62.

260 See also Dodd (The Johannine Epistles, 51), who felt that due to the dire situation he was addressing the author had in mind the imminence of the end, and so was not necessarily mistaken in his anticipation of it.

261 The term is also used only very infrequently in the early church: it occurs only in Polycarp (To the Philippians 7:1) quoting 1 John 4:2-3 and 2 John 7.

262 Smalley does acknowledge the textual problem associated with the omission of the article, however, in which some mostly later manuscripts add the article before ajntivcristo (1, 2, 3 John, 91 n. a, 98). In his suggestion about the use of the term as a proper name Smalley is following Westcott (The Epistles of St. John, 70).

263 Like the occurrence here, the usage in 2 John 7 involves a textual problem in which some manuscripts omit the article, but the articular reading is more likely original.

264 The first meaning is illustrated by the usage of terms like “antigeneral” for the enemy general, many instances of which occur in accounts of the Roman civil wars. Caesar, for example, wrote two works “Anticato” (“against Cato”). See W. Grundmann, TDNT 9:571, n. 500. Thus the use of the term in relation to Christ can denote the one who is “against Christ,” but could also be use of a “replacement” or “counterfeit” Christ.

265 So Bultmann, The Johannine Epistles, 36.

266 Dodd, The Johannine Epistles, 49-50.

267 Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 100.

268 Note the author’s use of the first person plural pronoun hJmw'n (Jhmwn, “us”), which suggests he viewed himself as part of this Christian community. Some have understood the first person plural pronoun to refer to Christianity at large, however, and others have viewed it merely as a literary device employed by the author to gain sympathy from his readers or to make it easier for them to identify with them.

269 Schnackenburg, The Johannine Epistles, 140 (although somewhat inconsistently on the previous page [139] Schnackenburg refers to “heretical teachers who have been expelled from the community”).

270 Houlden, A Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, 78.

271 See the previous paragraph as well for background.

272 See Westcott, The Epistles of St. John, 71, and Brooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, 53.

273 At least that is the way they would have been viewed by the faithful members of the congregation who remained behind when they left. See J. N. S. Alexander, The Epistles of John (Torch Biblical Commentaries; London: SCM, 1962), 67.

274 Brown refers to the expression as “characteristically Johannine in the NT” (The Epistles of John, 340).

275 BDF §448(7).

276 Greek purpose clauses are frequently translated by the English infinitive.

277 The same construction also occurs in other NT literature as well, e.g., 2 Peter 1:20, “every prophecy of scripture is not a matter of one’s own interpretation” = “no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.”

278 Cf. other modern translations: nab “Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number”; nasb “it might be shown that they all are not of us”; niv “their going showed that none of them belonged to us”; nkjv “that none of them were of us”; nrsv “by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.”

279 Theoretically it could also refer to “the act of anointing,” but in this context it is hard to see how the readers of the letter could possess an “act of anointing.” See Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 105.

280 For a thorough discussion of the uses of the term cri'sma (crisma) in the LXX, Jewish intertestamental literature, Josephus, classical Greek literature, and the early church fathers see the excursus in Strecker, The Johannine Letters, 65-66.

281 Westcott (The Epistles of St. John, 73) and Marshall (The Epistles of John, 153) argued for a reference to the means of anointing (an object, the anointing oil itself). More likely, however, the result of being anointed is what is in view here; cf. the rendering of the rsv and nrsv “you have been anointed by the Holy One”; so also Haas, et al., A Translator’s Handbook, 65.

282 Note the stress on this in the prologue. Dodd saw here a reference to the word of God which indwelt the believer in order to teach and to witness to the truth, arguing for a Greek background rather than a Jewish one (The Johannine Epistles, 58-64; cf. also Malatesta, Interiority and Covenant, 204). Dodd concluded that the cri'sma (crisma) in vv. 20 and 27 “is the Word of God, that is, the Gospel, or the revelation of God in Christ, as communicated in the rule of faith to catechumens, and confessed in Baptism” (63). One of the reasons Dodd argued for this is that a reference to God’s Word here constitutes an appeal by the author of 1 John to an objective standard of truth against which orthodoxy and faith may be tested, while an appeal to the Spirit, whose “anointing” enabled the individual Christian to be the arbiter of truth, left the door open to the dangers of subjectivism (63-64). In light of the controversy with the secessionists and their false christology, it might be attractive to appeal to such a solution, since the author of 1 John is obviously seeking to counter the opponents’ claims to have received new and innovative revelation about who Christ is, presumably as a result of the teaching ministry of the Spirit/Paraclete. However, against the attractiveness of this proposition must be weighed the usage elsewhere in both the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Letters (outlined in the text above), which seems to point strongly to a reference to the Holy Spirit as the referent of the anointing here.

283 Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 107.

284 Ritual anointing did become part of the Christian baptismal liturgy later on (cf. Tertullian, de Baptismo 7). W. Nauck argued for the practice in 1 John in Die Tradition und der Charakter des ersten Johannesbriefes: Zugleich ein Beitrag zur Taufe im Urchristentum und in der alten Kirche (WUNT 3; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1957), 94-95; 147-82. However, there is no evidence such a practice was current either in heretical or orthodox circles during the first century (see Marshall, The Epistles of John, 153-54).

285 So Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 109.

286 For a more complete discussion of the alternation in tenses see the discussion at 2:12.

287 So Brooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, 57.

288 So Dodd, The Johannine Epistles, 47, 55, and Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 109.

289 So Bultmann, The Johannine Epistles, 38 n. 13; Haas, et al., A Translator’s Handbook, 66-67; Marshall, The Epistles of John, 156 n. 30, and Brown, The Epistles of John, 350.

290 I.e., “I have not written [these things] to you.” Although it is true that in Koiné Greek direct objects were frequently omitted when clear from context, the more natural way to read the phrase here without a direct object would be as a declarative or recitative Joti, so here the direct object would be virtually required in order to indicate clearly a causal nuance.

291 Marshall notes the logical difficulty with the causal force here: “The writer is not giving instruction to his readers because of their ignorance (after all they have the anointing!) but because he can build on the fact of their knowledge of the truth” (The Epistles of John, 156 n. 28).

292 Brown states, “Grammatically this is the easiest and makes good sense” (The Epistles of John, 350). Marshall prefers this option as well, although he characterizes the resulting construction as “elliptical and harsh, but not impossible” (The Epistles of John, 156 n. 30).

293 For a similar discussion of parallel Joti-clauses, see the previous discussion at 2:12.

294 As noted by Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 109.

295 BDF §429.

296 See the previous discussion of “Antichrist” at 2:18.

297 I consider a collective reference to the secessionist opponents here as “the Liar” to be more likely than Brown’s notion that the community to which the author is writing had an expectation of an apocalyptic figure known as “the Liar” which was then fulfilled by the opponents at the time of writing (The Epistles of John, 351). See also the discussion of the views of the opponents in paragraph 9 of the introductory section, “The Opponents and Their Teaching in 1 John” for the significance of their denial that “Jesus is the Christ.”

298 In one way or another Westcott (The Epistles of St. John, 75), Stott (The Epistles of John, 111), and Marshall (The Epistles of John, 157-58) all connect Cerinthus with the teaching of the secessionist opponents in 1 John.

299 Although one can argue, as Brown does, that the docetic christology of Cerinthus originally derived from a misinterpretation of the evangelist’s teaching about Jesus in the Gospel of John (The Community of the Beloved Disciple, 150-54), it is not necessary to do so in order to argue that the teaching of the secessionist opponents in 1 John did indeed derive in part from mishandling the Fourth Gospel.

300 So Smalley (1, 2, 3 John, 113), who argues that the usage of Cristov (Cristos) in 1 John 5:1 and 2 John 9 support the term’s use as a proper name. However, this certainly does not appear to be the case in 1 John 5:1, and does not necessarily have to be the case in 2 John 9 either.

301 See Haas, et al., A Translator’s Handbook, 67-68; also M. de Jonge, “The Use of the Word Christos in the Johannine Epistles,” in Studies in John (NovTSup 24; Leiden: Brill, 1970), 66-74).

302 See further on the expression “have the Father” H. Hanse, TDNT 2:823-24; J. Eichler, NIDNTT 1:637-38; Malatesta, Interiority and Covenant, 204-209. Although Bultmann (The Johannine Epistles, 38 n. 22) suggested the expression “to have God” originated with gnosticism (and thus represents an anti-gnostic polemic here) such a connection is difficult to prove.

303 See the further discussion of the phrase ajp= ajrch' in 1:1, 2:7, and 2:13. Here in 2:24 it is possible to see the “beginning” as the beginning of the readers’ Christian experience (so Brooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, 60; Marshall, The Epistles of John, 160) but it is much more likely that the term is to be understood in terms of previous references in 1 John 1:1, 2:7, and 2:13-14 (so Smalley, 1, 2, 3, John, 118).

304 See the discussion of the phrase “from the beginning” in the previous paragraph.

305 See the survey of the different uses of mevnw (menw) in 1 John at 2:6.

306 E.g., niv “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” Cf. also nlt, tniv.

307 See Haas, et al., A Translator’s Handbook, 70.

308 See BDF §295.

309 On the concept of “eternal life” see further E. Hoffmann, NIDNTT 3:70-74; Malatesta, Interiority and Covenant, 216-18.

310 See BDF §319. Wallace states regarding the “true conative” that “an attempt is being made in the present time” (Exegetical Syntax, 534 [italics his]).

311 For further discussion of the significance of the verb planavw (planaw, “I deceive”) see the discussion at 1:8.

312 Brown, The Epistles of John, 360.

313 See the discussion of the referent of aujtov (autos) in 1 John 2:25 above.

314 See the discussion of the phrase tou' aJgivou (tou Jagiou, “the Holy One”) in 1 John 2:20.

315 For a survey of the different uses of mevnw (menw, “I reside/remain”) in 1 John, see the first occurrence of the term in the letter in 1 John 2:6.

316 So Houlden, A Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, 75; also Brown, The Epistles of John, 361.

317 In favor of a single sentence are Brooke (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, 63), Marshall (The Epistles of John, 163 n. 57), and Smalley (1, 2, 3 John, 125-26). In favor of two sentences are Haas, et al. (A Translator’s Handbook, 72) and Brown (The Epistles of John, 360-61).

318 Brown, The Epistles of John, 361. Such an understanding is possible grammatically (BDF §442.7 is mentioned in this regard by both Brown and Marshall), and Marshall lists the suggested parallels (1 John 2:18; John 15:9; 17:18; 20:21 along with Rom 1:13 and Matt 18:33), but discounts them as inexact (The Epistles of John, 163 n. 57).

319 Bultmann, The Johannine Epistles, 38; Marshall, The Epistles of John, 163 n. 56; Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 127.

320 So Westcott (The Epistles of St. John, 81), Brooke (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, 63-64), and Brown (The Epistles of John, 361), who notes, “In any case there is little difference of meaning, for even the indicative would stress the necessity of continuing to abide in him.”

Related Topics: Eschatology (Things to Come), False Teachers

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