Post image for The Epistles of John (Part 19): 1 John 2:21

The Epistles of John (Part 19): 1 John 2:21

by Stephen Hebert on Tuesday - 10 July 2007

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

This is the 19th part in an ongoing series on the Epistles of John.

English Standard Version Nestle-Aland 27
I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. οὐκ ἔγραψα ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐκ οἴδατε τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἀλλ’ ὅτι οἴδατε αὐτὴν καὶ ὅτι πᾶν ψεῦδος ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἔστιν.

We’ve had several opportunities throughout these opening chapters of 1 John to see John define his audience. This time, John reassures his audience of who they are.

It is always interesting to see what can be learned from negative statements. Often we try to define things not as they are, but as they are not. Likewise, John writes not to instruct the uninitiate. Rather, he is reassuring his readers that they indeed are amongst those who “know.”

Again, we are faced with the issue of what it means to know (a similar issue arises in the previous verse, v. 20). What exactly is John talking about? What is it that these people know?

I would argue that John’s continual use of “children” as a vocative (see v. 18, for example), and his claiming that the readers have been “anointed” (v. 20) has some interesting things to say about what these people know:

  1. These people in the know are in a child-like state. Perhaps they are in training, or perhaps they just don’t know everything.
  2. Their knowledge is directly linked to their having been “anointed by the Holy One.”

First, I can’t help but to think etymologically about the word that starts off this whole section: παιδία. This particular work conjures up notions of “training”—a progression from a lump of potential to a product. Certainly, these people are “in the know,” but they are still in some sort of progression.

That’s how I like to think about myself. I am in-the-know about many things. However, I am still training and learning and putting into practice the things that I only know about.

Second, I believe that for John, this knowledge that his audience knows is directly linked to the Holy One and this idea of anointing. I don’t know if “anoint” should be taken in a ritualistic sense—were these people actually anointed as some rite? I don’t know. However, it seems to me that the Holy One has revealed this knowledge. Remember that earlier in 1 John, there was particular stress given to the idea of “knowing” Jesus (see 1 John 2:3).

Again, I like to think that this describes me in some sense. I certainly believe that God has granted me certain knowledge that I would not possess otherwise.

A Personal Note

In the past, I would have read this part of 1 John only wanting to know exactly what it has to tell me about the author, the audience, and the context or their situation. However, as you may note from the personal touches on this particular thread, I do firmly believe that the Bible is a document that speaks to me.

I have mentioned in other posts (e.g., see Gettin’ Evangelical with 1 Samuel) that a belief in the application of the Bible to modern life is really a central facet of an evangelical hermeneutic (yeah, I just said “hermeneutic” in a post…). In my deepest core, this is my angle; this is where I’m coming from.

I just thought I’d bring that to light, yet again.

Article Series - The Epistles of John

  1. The Epistles of John (Part 1): 1 John 1:1–4
  2. The Epistles of John (Part 2): 1 John 1:5
  3. The Epistles of John (Part 3): 1 John 1:6–7
  4. The Epistles of John (Part 4): 1 John 1:8–10
  5. The Epistles of John (Part 5): 1 John 2:1
  6. The Epistles of John (Part 6): 1 John 2:2
  7. The Epistles of John (Part 7): 1 John 2:3–6
  8. The Epistles of John (Part 8): 1 John 2:7–8
  9. The Epistles of John (Part 9): 1 John 2:9–11
  10. The Epistles of John (Part 10): 1 John 2:12
  11. The Epistles of John (Part 11): 1 John 2:13
  12. The Epistles of John (Part 12): 1 John 2:14
  13. The Epistles of John (Part 13): 1 John 2:15
  14. The Epistles of John (Part 14): 1 John 2:16
  15. The Epistles of John (Part 15): 1 John 2:17
  16. The Epistles of John (Part 16): 1 John 2:18
  17. The Epistles of John (Part 17): 1 John 2:19
  18. The Epistles of John (Part 18): 1 John 2:20
  19. The Epistles of John (Part 19): 1 John 2:21
  20. The Epistles of John (Part 20): 1 John 2:22
  21. The Epistles of John (Part 21): 1 John 2:23–25
  22. The Epistles of John (Part 22): 1 John 2:26–27
  23. The Epistles of John (Part 23): 1 John 2:28
  24. The Epistles of John (Part 24): 1 John 2:29
  25. The Epistles of John (Part 25): 1 John 3:1–3
  26. The Epistles of John (Part 26): 1 John 3:4–6
  27. The Epistles of John (Part 27): 1 John 3:7–10
  28. The Epistles of John (Part 28): 1 John 3:11–12
  29. The Epistles of John (Part 29): 1 John 3:13
  30. The Epistles of John (Part 30): 1 John 3:14-18
  31. The Epistles of John (Part 31): 1 John 3:19–22
  32. The Epistles of John (Part 32): 1 John 3:23–24
  33. The Epistles of John (Part 33): 1 John 4:1–3
  34. The Epistles of John (Part 34): 1 John 4:4–6
  35. The Epistles of John (Part 35): 1 John 4:7-8
  36. The Epistles of John (Part 36): 1 John 4:9
  37. The Epistles of John (Part 37): 1 John 4:10
  38. The Epistles of John (Part 38): 1 John 4:11-12
  39. The Epistles of John (Part 39): 1 John 4:13–14
  40. The Epistles of John (Part 40): 1 John 4:15
  41. The Epistles of John (Part 41): 1 John 4:16–17
  42. The Epistles of John (Part 42): 1 John 4:18–19
  43. The Epistles of John (Part 43): 1 John 4:20–21
  44. The Epistles of John (Part 44): 1 John 5:1
  45. The Epistles of John (Part 45): 1 John 5:2-3

Previous post:

Next post: