“Anointing” in ancient Near Eastern culture was the act of putting oil or perfume on someone, usually on their head. This indicated a special choosing or commissioning, as when Samuel anointed David to be the next king of Israel (1 Sam. 16:1–13). Anointing someone with oil could also signify high respect or honor, as when Mary anointed Jesus before His crucifixion (John 12:1–8).
So, what did John mean in today’s reading by the phrase “the anointing you received” (vv. 26–27)? This anointing is a picture of salvation. God chose us, gave us new life, and is transforming us into the image of His Son! Because of this anointing, the believers at that time could resist the “antichrists” and Gnostic teachers trying to lead them astray.
This anointing is God’s choice, not ours. But remaining or abiding in Him is our choice (vv. 24–25). These choices are not equal. Our choice is made in response to His and could only be made because of His. Because of this anointing, we bear a responsibility to obey His commands, an effort that is guaranteed to succeed because of His help (2 Cor. 1:21–22). To stay faithful to the truth of the gospel is to abide with God and to walk in the light.
Because of this—and despite what the Gnostic teachers were saying—we can stand “confident and unashamed” before God when Christ returns (vv. 28–29). In front of the divine judgment seat, we have nothing to fear but can look forward to this day with assurance of our salvation. Having been made righteous, following Him who is perfectly righteous, and doing what is right is incontrovertible evidence that we have been truly “born of him.” This confidence is not in ourselves, then, but in God. His anointing cannot fail!
>> The apostle also wrote about abiding in Christ in John 15:1–17. Why not set aside some time soon to study this important passage as well?
Many believers get excited about Your return. But some of us still doubt our salvation; we aren’t even sure we love You the way we’re supposed to. Lord, we crave intimacy with You. Please, draw us closer!