I was wondering if you could help me interpret 1 John 2:26-27? I know that the author is writing to a group of Christians, perhaps eyewitnesses of Christ. However once the author addresses the anointed he tells them that they have no need for anyone to teach them. He writes, “you have no need for anyone to teach you”. I’m assuming that he’s referring to the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Now doesn’t this statement “contradict” Matthew 28:18 (the great commission) where Jesus commands us to go teach them to obey everything after they have been baptized? Thanks John!


1 John 2:26-27 is talking about the Holy Spirit who lives in those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus when he talks about our anointing. I do not believe that there would be much debate about this. Probably the great majority of people to whom the letter was address immediately were not eye-witnesses of the ministry of Jesus or of his resurrection. Most scholars place this letter fairly late–after AD 70 almost for sure and perhaps as late as AD 85 or even 95. By this time, probably 99+% of the members of the church were not eye-witnesses. Clearly John claims to be an eye-witness, as he begins the letter by describing himself as one who saw with his eyes and even to have touched Jesus. He addresses believers who were not eye-witnesses, but ones who had the same “annointing” because they had been baptized and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

I can see why one might see a contradiction between Matthew 28:18-20 and 1 John 2:26-27. However, there is definitely not a contradiction. The same John who wrote this letter was there when Jesus told the apostles that they should teach the disciples that they would make to obey all he had commanded them. But then again, John was also there when Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth (John 16:13). Jesus was not confused here. Neither was John. There is a sense in which the Holy Spirit leads us and guides us to know the truth and there is a sense in which we, nevertheless, need to be taught and to learn the truth. Does any Christian believe that he or she can learn all the truth of the Bible and of Christianity without reading the Bible? Is there any true disciple of Jesus who will claim that they do not need help from other Christians to understand and to apply the truth in their lives? On the other hand, is it not true that the Holy Spirit which dwells in all Christians will help them to understand the truth? If we did not have the indwelling Spirit, we would still, at least in a sense, be in darkness and unable to understand the truth. However, this fact does not remove our need to study the scripture or to be taught by those who know the truth more deeply than we. This is not a contradiction. It is the truth of Matthew 28:18-20 and of 1 John 2:26-27 combined which can help to explain how a Christian can come to know God, to know and to follow his truth.


I believe that when John tells his readers that they do not need anyone to teach them, he is talking about something specific. He is talking about the things that they heard from the beginning. Scholars believe that the book was written specifically to oppose an early kind of Gnosticism which had already crept into the church. These deceivers taught that Jesus had not come in the flesh. In the words of John (1 Jn 2:20-23) that some had denied that Jesus was the Messiah. It is the correct teaching about who Jesus is that John is certain they do not need anyone to teach them about. He also believes that their anointing in the Holy Spirit will help them to know other things as well, but he is quite certain that they were taught correctly about who Jesus is from the beginning.

I hope this helps.

John Oakes



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