You, what you heard from the beginning, let it remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning would remain in you and you in the Son, you will remain in the Father. 25 And this is the promise which he himself promised to us, eternal life. 26 I wrote these things to you concerning those trying to deceive you. 27 And you, the anointing which you received from him, it remains in you and you do not have need that anyone would teach you, but as his anointing teaches you about all things and it is truth and it is not a lie, and as it taught you, remain in him.
John begins to come full circle with his addressees. He began at the beginning and now has come back to the beginning, this time instead of stressing his role as a witness he stresses the role of the teaching which he imparted to his readers at the beginning. Now, the language of this section should draw the reader’s mind directly to John 15, as John emphasizes the “remaining” language just as it covers the Vine and the Branches discourse.
What does it mean to remain? Remaining is often thought of by Arminians as an active participation in salvation, but the language does not carry this out. Calvinists insist that remaining refers to God’s activity of keeping the believer, but that also does not fit the language. In reality, remaining means exactly what it says: DO NOT MOVE AWAY. Remaining is not active, it is passive in terms of action. However, in terms of effort, it is active instead of passive. Remaining means NOT leaving, and therefore it means actively pursuing staying in place. Thus, remaining is an active form of not moving. One must intend to remain in order to remain.
Thus, John exhorts his readers to “remain” in what they heard, meaning to actively do what they heard and to keep ahold of such teaching. In turn, if they do so, they will remain in Christ and in God. Note that the remaining in Christ and in God is conditional, this only occurs if one remains in what they were taught.
Eternal life, the only life worth having, is the end result of remaining.
John does not want them to be deceived, presumably by those who left John and claimed to be of John. John goes on to say that they should not be deceived simply because what they need to know is already in them through their “anointing.” Now some will take this anointing to be the Holy Spirit, and some will take it to be baptism, but in the end there is not enough information to know. The Holy Spirit is never mentioned in 1 John, so this oblique reference is unlikely to point to the Spirit. Baptism is rarely mentioned outside of the Gospels and Acts (Paul only mentions it in passing in 1 Corinthians and it appears briefly in 1 and 2 Peter). In the end, the anointing most likely refers to the laying on of hands done for the setting aside of new believers, and in this case it corresponds with the work of the Spirit (the Spirit will lead you into all truth).
In the end, all that matters for the believer is to stay in Christ, to actively pursue not falling away from the truth.
Are you actively pursuing your salvation?
Do you pray “lead me not into temptation” and then lead yourself there?
Do you seek God?
Do you live the life of the forgiven or the life of the forgotten?
Do you follow Christ or just claim to follow Christ?
Do you remain in Him?