WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER TWO (Lesson LXIX) 06/28/21

2:27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives within you, in your hearts, so that you don’t need anyone to teach you what is right. For He teaches you all things, and He tells you the Truth. He is not a liar. So, just as He has said, you must live in the Anointed One, never to depart from Him.

James Arminius speaks of the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. He says that the sufficiency of the Spirit proceeds from the abundance of His knowledge of God’s secrets and the very efficient way He reveals them. We cannot praise the competence of the Spirit more than by declaring, “The full-grown Christian understands all things, and yet he is not understood. For who has the thoughts of the Lord? Who can tell Him what to do? But we have the thoughts of Christ.”[1] The Apostle John is the most illustrious herald with the same capability, as we read here in verse twenty-seven.[2]

Matthew Poole (1624-1679) writes about the meaning of anointing. He says that it is evident that the anointing of persons to some high office was not an empty rite of ordination or authorization, but also a symbol of their qualification by another anointing coming upon them. Thus, our Lord Jesus carried the high distinction of being the Anointed One. It not only signified His appointment to the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King by receiving the unction of the Holy Spirit as the only One qualified to hold those positions. Therefore, to everyone He sends out as prophets and priests, He imparts the same Spirit.[3] They, too, then become one of the anointed. That is the point the Apostle John is making here in verse twenty-seven.[4]

John Flavel (1627-1691) points out that many people have raised objections against what John says in verse twenty-seven. One complaint is this: We cannot require people to have Light and Knowledge as prerequisites to receiving the Anointed One. Yet, some may say, as an unregenerate sinner, I am in the dark and ignorant. Therefore, I need to know more than I do now to be better qualified to discuss the mysteries of religion.

Flavel answers this objection by saying that you should be able to distinguish between information and knowledge. That way, you can see that ignorance of religious faith does not block your interest in the Anointed One. In fact, there is natural knowledge even of spiritual objects, a spark of nature resulting from education. Then there is spiritual knowledge of divine things. It also comes from enlightenment, but through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. These insights are the effect and fruit of the Spirit’s sanctifying work upon our reborn spirit. The results are that a person’s own heart informs and brings them understanding. The work of God’s grace in our soul helps us understand its nature – this is spiritual knowledge.[5]

Flavel goes on to tell us that one of the evils of sin cured by the Anointed One is His dominion over the souls of sinners. When sin holds power over the soul, that signifies a deplorable condition. It darkens understanding, corrupts the conscience, stiffens the will, hardens the heart, misplaces, and throws all affections into disarray. As a result, the dominion of sin over the soul infects every part of the body. How difficult is the cure of this disease, asks Flavel? It exceeds the skill of angels and humans, but the Anointed One treats it through the Holy Spirit with His perfect cure. The remedy for guilt is His blood; He relieves the dominion of sin with sanctification. Even when the presence of sin darkens the understanding,[6] the Spirit of holiness sheds light to eliminate the blindness and restores sight.[7] That is John’s message here in verse twenty-seven.[8]

English Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Challoner (1691-1781), commenting on verse twenty-seven (in the margin) he writes, “You want to avoid being taught by any of these men, who, under the pretense of imparting more knowledge to you, seek to seduce you (verse 26), since you are sufficiently taught already, and have all knowledge and grace in the church, with the unction of the Holy Spirit; which these new teachers have no share in.”[9] Given the relationship between the Protestant and Catholic Church in those days, there is no doubt that Challoner has people like Flavel in mind.

John Gill (1697-1771) tells us that a person must faithfully and virtuously perform as Mediator. Only a very upright person can plead for guilty persons, which they could not do if they were suspected of. As Pontius Pilate said of Jesus, “I find no fault in Him.” It would be hard to doubt such a sinless individual. Thus, you can trust that they would act faithfully on your behalf. It is their flawless character that benefits the defendant in various ways. Such characteristics for a mediator fit the Anointed One perfectly. In fact, the Jews adopted the word “mediator” in their language[10]  but applied it to various purposes involving charity, repentance, and good works.[11]

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) shares that we cannot compare a worldly person’s enjoyment in spiritual things, and their divine truth and excellency, with those of a true believer in the Anointed One. Worldly people do not know divine things because they have nothing of the Spirit of God dwelling in them, for we learn it is the Spirit who teaches these things. Ungodly people have no such degree of devotion; they have only nature and nothing of the Spirit. Even a tiny spark of the Spirit would help them understand heavenly things.[12]

John Wesley (1703-1791) continues writing in his pamphlet to the leaders of English religion, focusing on the Holy Spirit’s ministry to sanctify. He says that every believer should be inspired to learn more about the undisclosed and mighty workings of God’s Holy Spirit within us. The Spirit quickens the mind and stirs up godly emotions in their hearts. However, the Spirit does not do the work of the new birth inwardly unless He moves in and lives in us to continue His work. Did not the Apostle tell us, “Do you not know that you are a house of God and that the Holy Spirit lives in you?”[13] Paul also tells us, “Your sinful nature does not control you. The Spirit of God guides you if you have Him living in you.”[14] Having the Spirit in us as a teacher is precisely what the Apostle John says here in verse twenty-seven.[15]

In another writing, Wesley mentions that God will equally hold every generation and nation responsible for how they accepted His message in Torah, Prophets, Gospel, Apostles. If they refuse to believe in those things, how would they ever trust in the resurrection of the Anointed One from the dead?  Although it should please God to continue all the wonders He performed on earth, still, these people, however wise and intelligent they may be in things relating to the present world, would fight against God and all His messengers despite these miracles. Did they not do the same in Jesus’ day?

Meanwhile, says Wesley, God will reveal his truth unto babes, unto those who are meek and lowly, whose desires are in heaven, who want to “know nothing save Jesus the Anointed One and Him crucified.”[16] They need no signs or miracles to show them His will. They abide by one basic rule: “We have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives in us, so we don’t need anyone to teach us what is truth.” It enables them to examine all doctrines according to the Law and the Testimony. And, whatever their reborn spirit agrees with, they receive without waiting to see it attested by miracles. But, on the other hand, whatever is contrary to this, they reject, nor can any wonder move them to receive it.[17]

James Macknight (1721-1800) helps us see that we can misinterpret verse twenty-seven without verse twenty-six. In other words, since John is writing all this to his constituents, he tells them they do not need to go and consult anyone else to verify what he has written. After all, they have the unction of the Holy Spirit upon them, and so they can test if what John is saying is true. Macknight then points to some groups even in his day were active, and he saw them as not having the unction on them or their teachings. Such a group was the “Quakers.”[18] What disturbed Macknight the most were those who claimed to have had new revelations not contained in the Scriptures.[19]


[1] 1 Corinthians 2:15-16

[2] Orations of James Arminius: Oration 4, The Certainty of Sacred Theology, p. 119

[3] Romans 8:9

[4] Poole, Matthew: Commentary on the Holy Bible, op. cit., Kindle Location 630

[5] Flavel, John: The Method of Grace, Ch. 7, p. 122

[6] 1 Corinthians 2:14

[7] Ephesians 5:8

[8] John Flavel: The Method of Grace, op. cit., Ch. 10, pp. 192, 199

[9] Challoner, Richard. Douay-Rheims Version of the Holy Bible, 1749, Commentary, loc. cit.

[10] Kabbala Denudata – Kabbalah Unveiled by S. L. MacGregor Mathers, The Theosophical Publishing Company, New York, 1912

[11] Gill, John: Exposition of the Entire Bible (Kindle Location 340145)

[12] Edwards, Jonathan, The Works of, Vol. 6, Ch. 4, pp. 349-350

[13] 1 Corinthians 3:16; cf. 6:15

[14] Romans 8:9

[15] Wesley, John, The Works of: Vol. 8, op. cit., p, 114

[16] 1 Corinthians 2:2

[17] Wesley, John: A Letter to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Gloucester, p. 175

[18] The term “Quakers” referred to the Religious Society of Friends, also referred to as the Quaker Movement, was founded in England in the 17th century by George Fox. He and other early Quakers, or Friends, were persecuted for their beliefs, which included the idea that the presence of God exists in every person. Quakers rejected elaborate religious ceremonies, didn’t have official clergy and believed in spiritual equality for men and women. Quaker missionaries first arrived in America in the mid-1650s. Quakers, who practice pacifism, played a key role in both the abolitionist and women’s rights movements. Meanwhile, “Quaker” emerged as a derisive nickname for Fox and others who shared his belief in the biblical passage that people should “tremble at the Word of the Lord.” (See Isaiah 66:5)

[19] Macknight, James: The Apostolic Epistles, Vol. 6, p. 57

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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