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"Unction" refers to the application of an oil or ointment in a ritual denoting adoration or a special or sacred nature or purpose of or for the person to whom it is applied (for example, as was done to the Old Testament kings of Israel when they assumed the throne -- such as with Samuel's anointing of David in 1 Samuel 16:12-13 -- or with the application of oil to the feet of Jesus by Mary of Bethany, as described in John 12:1-8). One of the sacraments of Roman Catholicism is "extreme unction", which refers to such an application administered to a dying person to confer God's blessing to individuals as their life on earth comes to a close, and their existence in eternity begins. In the case of the passage from 1 John 2:18-23 to which the question pertains, John is contrasting individuals who had abandoned their Christian faith with those who had not. The ones who had remained faithful had received a symbolic spiritual anointing from God through giving them knowledge of the truth of the gospel message, to which John was exhorting them to remain faithful.
All Christians have been anointed by the Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21). The Holy Spirit gives us the special spiritual discernment that we need to serve God acceptably (1 John 2:20, 27)....The Spirit is our Teacher; it is He Who enables us to detect truth and error and to remain (“abide”) in Christ. He is our protection against ignorance, deception, and untruth. (See Wiersbe in The Bible Exposition Commentary) O to be like Thee! Lord, I am coming Now to receive the anointing divine; All that I am and have I am bringing -- Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine. -- Chisholm Ryrie says this about “ye have an unction from the Holy One” in 1 Jn 2:20—"You have been anointed by the Holy Spirit and thus can discern between truth and error." I would add that the Spirit gives a special gift of discernment for this purpose, too. My wife has this gift. John, writing about the Holy Spirit in 1 John 2:20-21, 27, says that He teaches and anoints believers (1 Jn 2:27) and He indwells believers (1 Jn 2:20-21). HW
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