What is Anointing?
If you have been around Christian circles for any length of time, you have probably heard someone talking about anointing. And if you are like me, you probably had a vague idea of what that might mean, something along the lines of power being felt or demonstrated in some way. I would like to clear up some of the misconceptions about anointing and give you a simple way to understand the term. I trust at the end of this article you will be able to explain with certainty what is being described.
Acts 10:38 is a great summary verse to begin with:
Acts 10:38 APNT concerning Jesus, who was from Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. And this is he who traveled around and healed those who were oppressed by the Evil [one], because God was with him.
We can see several things right away without knowing anything about the word anointed. God anointed Jesus with 1) Holy Spirit and 2) power. And the result was healing and deliverance from the oppression of the Evil one. Then it says, “because God was with him.” Let’s keep these things in mind while we are looking at the meaning of anointing.
In both Hebrew and Aramaic, the verb “to anoint” means to rub on, pour on, smear, or saturate.
Psalm 133 is the shortest Psalm and it describes how when Aaron was anointed as the high priest for Israel when the tabernacle was first started, it saturated him.
Psalm 133:2 ESV It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
When Aaron was anointed, as well as other prophets, kings and priests in the Old Testament, it was not just a few drops sprinkled on his head. It poured down all the way past his beard to his robes. He was saturated!
The verb anoint is spelled mashach in Hebrew and meshakh in Aramaic. It is a three-letter root: mem—sheen—kheth. I call this a “water word” because the first letter of the word is mem and the word picture of mem means water. Mem even looks like water. Water stands for the life that is given by means of the water, and can be understood as what the water produces.
The word Christ means “anointed one”. In Hebrew it is pronounced Mashiach and in Aramaic Meshikha. Jesus was anointed with the Spirit as we already saw and it saturated him. It also set him apart to be able to provide spiritual water and do things with that Spirit. Jesus summarized some of these effects of the Spirit in Luke 4 at the opening of his ministry.
Luke 4:18 ESV The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed [saturated] me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
Men and women in the Old Testament were given the Spirit as a gift to them, but there were different amounts for different people. Jesus the Anointed One had the fullest amount of Spirit ever given to anyone before.
John 3:34 ESV For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.
Now we come to see a word which will tie all the understanding together. That is the word “measure.” The verb in in Aramaic meshakh is a homonym. That means it has two meanings depending on the context of the use. It is similar to our English word “bank.” Depending on the context, we understand bank to be a place where money is or the edge of a river. The first meaning of the verb is to saturate, pour, but the second meaning is to measure. Since all the nouns formed from this root are related to the verb, some nouns also mean measure. The noun measure in Aramaic is pronounced meshukhtha. See how close it is to Meshikha, or Christ? The anointing is the full measure of the Spirit that was in Jesus, the Anointed One. This becomes clear in Ephesians.
Ephesians 4:7 APNT Now to each one of us is given grace according to the measure [meshukhtha] of the gift of Christ [meshikha].
Ephesians 4:13 APNT until we all become one in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and one mature man, in the measure [meshukhtha] of the standing of the fullness of Christ [meshikha].
God not only anointed Jesus with the full amount of Spirit, but then he gave it to us as a gift. We have the full measure of the anointing that was on Jesus!
2 Corinthians 1:21, 22 ESV And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
And not only that, we never lose this anointing. It abides in us, as it did in Jesus.
1 John 2:27 APNT And you also, if the anointing that you have received from him remains with you, will not need anyone to teach you. But as the anointing is from God, it teaches you about everything and it is the truth and there is no falsehood in it. And as he has taught you, remain in him.
What is the purpose of the anointing? To do the same works that Jesus did with power and authority!! Heal the sick, raise the dead, and proclaim liberty to the captives! The same power that God anointed – saturated – Jesus with is OURS. Now we know what it is to have “Christ in us, the hope of glory” – it is the full measure of the Spirit of God in Jesus. Let us walk according to that full measure and never doubt we can provide that life-giving water to anyone in need!