Verse 27a: His Anointing Teaches You
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
The apostle John is trying to repel the influence of false teachers who claim access to special knowledge about Christ that other Christians did not have access to; these false teachers presumptuously stand between God and his children to deliver new revelation and insight that only they are privy to, acting like priests through which everyone else must come to “really” know God.
“The anointing you received from him remains in you”: the anointing being spoken of here is the gift of the Holy Spirit:
2nd Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV) Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Ephesians 1:13 (CSB) In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed.
Every believer is anointed with the promised Holy Spirit when they believe and obey the word of truth. There are no “enlightened elite” in the Christian faith; we all traverse the same path to God, enlightened by the same revelation of truth delivered to us by Christ through the apostles and prophets.
Therefore, the object of John’s epistle was not to communicate fresh knowledge, but to provide an active, decisive, and clear mouthpiece for the knowledge which was already possessed by all Christians through the anointing of the Holy Spirit that they received when they believed the word of Truth.
“You do not need anyone to teach you”: you do not need anyone to stand between you and God in order to reveal new hidden secrets because the Holy Spirit illuminates the word of truth for all believers. John does not mean to invalidate the God-authorized role of teachers in the Church (see Ephesians 4:11), but rather, he informs us about the role teachers play in the Church; the role of instruction in the Christian faith is to provide an active, decisive, and clear voice to what the Holy Spirit has already said, not to stand between God and man to deliver new revelation to the Church:
Colossians 1:25-26 (CSB) I have become its servant, according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.
2nd Timothy 4:1-2 (CSB) I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: 2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.
This serves as a warning to modern teachers: our job is not to bring “something new”, but to preach the word of God directly, decisively, and clearly because every believer has already received an anointing from the Holy One, who will illuminate the truth for them in their heart. This is why my aim in preaching is not to tickle your ears with “fresh insight”, but to faithfully deliver God’s timeless word directly, decisively, and clearly so that the Holy Spirit can illuminate the truth in your heart.
This also serves as a warning to Christians who are not content with simple preaching of God’s word but are always looking for something “new” and “fresh”; the Holy One’s anointing teaches us Christ from the simplicity of the living word of God. To hear the word of God explained clearly, directly, and decisively, is to hear God speak. From this the Holy Spirit teaches the inner man to walk in the ancient paths. You don’t need something new; you need something true.