The Truth About Anointing according to Scripture

27 April 2013 by Rev Dr Steven Kau-


We are living in a time when many Christians view the biblical doctrine of the anointing as if it were a highly charged exhilarating or some kind of high voltage energy source or force that flows through the atmosphere, our bodies, hands and out through ones finger tips and palms to produce healing and other types of physical and spiritual blessings in the lives of believers and those with whom they come into contact.

Hence we hear of different types of “anointing” that Christians can “feel” such as: activating anointing, anointing of the Christ, anointing of nations, apostolic anointing, breaker anointing, bringing forth anointing, catalytic anointing, corporate anointing, double-portion anointing, exponential anointing, family anointing, foundational anointing, generational anointing, new anointing, kingly anointing, weighing the anointing, even a Rambo anointing etc.



However, this kind of belief has more in common with Eastern mysticism and New Age spirituality, where the devotees engages in the art of channeling the ‘chi’ force through the atmosphere and the body’s supposed psychic centers or chakras to produce individual and national wellness.


What the Bible says about the anointing.

If we are to correctly understand what the Bible says about the anointing, we need first to understand what is the root meaning(s) of the word “anoint” as used in the Bible.

The Compact Bible Dictionary defines anoint as “A practice common in the East, anointing was of three kinds, besmearing or painting the individual or object with alive oil.” (Deut. 28:40)


a. Anointing Oil used as Perfume & Strengthening Leathers

Ordinary anointing was employed after bathing and as a mark of respect. In short, it was a means of perfuming the body. (Ruth 3:3; 2 Sam. 12:20; Ezek. 16:9; Amos 6:6; Luke 7:46) It was also used for making the leather on shields more resilient, some what like the modern practice of rubbing the dashboards of cars with protective coatings to help prevent cracking. (Isaiah 21:5)



b. Anointing used as a Sign of Consecration to the Service of God (SACRED anointing)

Sacred anointing was carried out on both people and things as a sign of their consecration to the service of God. Examples of this are the tabernacle and all its vessels (Exodus 40:9); prophets (1 Kings 19:16); priest (Exodus 28:41) and kings (1 Samuel 9:16)


c. Anointing used for its therapeutic value

Medicinal anointing was carried out on the sick and wounded for its therapeutic value. (2 Chronicles 28:15; Isaiah 1:6; Luke 10:34; James 5:14)


Let's focus on SACRED anointing

If we are to understand the Biblical doctrine of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, it is the sacred form of anointing to which we must pay attention.

The Hebrew word used for the sacred anointing with oil was “maschach.” This word was sometime also used in a non-sacred sense of anointing but when used in a sacred sense it meant that the individual or object anointed in this manner was consecrated, dedicated, sanctified or devoted to God and His service. (Lev. 16:32)

Under the Mosaic/Levitical economy, it was only after the sacred anointing with oil that the Holy Spirit would accompany the individual. (1 Sam. 16:13)

It is interesting to note that the oil used in this sacred ritual in the Mosaic/Levitical economy was not just plain olive oil as some Christians use today, when they anoint people and sometimes objects in an act of consecrating them to God’s service. 

Rather the anointing oil was actually a compound substance made up of 12 ½ lbs of myrrh, 6 ¼ lbs of sweet smelling cinnamon, 6 ¼ lbs of sweet smelling cane, 12 ½ lbs of cassia and about 4 quarts of olive oil. (Exodus 30:22-23)



The practice of anointing the priests etc with this anointing oil was an Old Testament ordinance that has not come forward into the New Testament. In the New Testament the anointing is solely the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. (1 John 2:20-27)

Jesus or Example

In the New Testament, Jesus was also anointed, i.e. consecrated, dedicated, sanctified, purified, devoted, hallowed and made holy for service to God like the kings, priests, and prophets of the Old Testament but without the use of oil. (Luke 4:14-21; Acts 4: 27; 10:38) The Greek word used to show that God anointed Jesus was “Chrio,” the equivalent of the Hebrew “mashach” cited earlier. In fact, He was the Anointed One from both. (Luke 2:10-11, 25-32)



Similarly, like Jesus, God anoints all Christian without the use of oil. (1 Corinthians 1:21, where the same Greek word “Chrio” is used.) All Christians are not only anointed (Chrio – that is consecrated, dedicated, sanctified, purified, devoted, hallowed and made holy for service to God) but we also have the anointing “Chrisma” i.e. the Holy Spirit accompanying and living in us. (1 John 2:20-27; John 14:16-26) Chrio signifies the very act of consecration (setting apart for service to God) whereas Chrisma signifies the oil used in the Old Testament sacred anointing which has been replaced by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The only difference is that whereas Jesus was the Anointed One from natural birth, Christians are anointed from the new birth. (John 3:5-8)

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[a] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[b] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[c]


Is the anointing transferable?

There are some Christians who teach that the anointing can be transferred or imparted by the laying on of hands or even blowing or breathing on others. They cite passages of Scripture such as John 20:22 and Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-6 to justify their belief. However, a closer look at these passages of Scripture will show that they teach no such thing.



In John 20:22 Jesus’ words were simply a final pledge to His disciples of the promises of the coming Holy Spirit to indwell them. The word “receive” in the verse is in the Aorist Imperative which means a command for doing something in the future that is a simple action. It is contrasted with the Present Imperative, which is a command for a continuous or repetitive action. John 20:22 was actually fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-4)

John 20:22

22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:1-4

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.                        Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.


As for Acts 8:14-17, the word in verse 16 of this passage for “not as yet” is ‘oudepo.’ It does not signify something that “has not” happened in a normal sequence of events but rather something that should have happened but has not yet. The norm is that believers receive the Holy Spirit or the anointing at conversion. (Acts 2:37-39; Romans 8:15-17; 1 Corinthians 12:13)

Acts 8:14-17

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.


The Acts 19:1-6 passage must be understood in light of the fact that the disciples at Ephesus were not Christians but still Old Testament saints, having known only the baptism of John. Like the Samaritans, after coming under apostolic authority, they also receive the Holy Spirit.
Since all Christians already have the Holy Spirit (which is the anointing) in their lives, then no Christian can transfer or impart to another. One cannot transfer or impart God! In fact, the Bible says, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” (Romans 8:9)

Acts 19:1-6

19 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied.


“The Double Portion Anointing”

The Bible never once says or even implies that the anointing is a supernatural power given to humans by which they are able to perform miracles. The Bible never once says or implies that there is any such thing as a double or triple portion of the anointing as suggested by some Charismatic teachers.



But didn’t Elisha in 2 Kings 2 receive a double portion anointing? In 2 Kings 2:9 before Elijah was taken up to heaven, he asks Elisha what he can do for him. Then Elisha ask for and receives “a double portion of (Elijah’s) spirit.” The Hebrew words used here do not indicate that Elisha received a “double portion anointing.” Rather, the word translated “double” can also mean “to repeat, or do again” and the word translated “spirit” means a “prophetic spirit or disposition.” (Brown, Francis ‘A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, Oxford: Clarendon Press)

Elisha did not receive a double portion anointing as people like Benny Hinn states but God did repeat the prophetic spirit or disposition with which He had blessed Elijah. As Deuteronomy 21:17 shows, a double portion was the right of the first born, therefore Elisha’s request was quite possibly to be heir to Elijah’s office and gifts. Remember, the mantle of Elijah was his authority, clearly Elisha asked for more authority, the same as Elijah but double. The purpose was to affirm his ministry. Elisha performed about twice as many miracles as Elijah. Today the anointing means having more power or to have an immediate experience, this is not what is presented in Scripture.



There are no double portion today, we all share the same anointing equally as He is in us. (1 John 2:27) Nowhere in the New Testament that teach such a thing. While we all need to be continually filled with the Spirit, it is dependent on us to yield ourselves, be humble so our life has Holy Spirit control.

In the case of anointing, it is impossible to have a clear biblical understanding of what anointing means if the word “anointing” is wrongly defined as the “power of God.” Simply reading through the Bible and noting its usage throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament, demonstrates that anointing is not the “power of God” but the act of being consecrated or set apart for God.


Truth: Hallmark of the anointing

It is tragic that while many Christians are enthusiastically talking, testifying, teaching, preaching and writing books and articles about the anointing in the Christian’s life, that one of the most fundamental characteristics of the anointing is eluding them i.e. truth.

In speaking to His disciples about the person of the Holy Spirit (whom we have already shown from scripture is the anointing in the believer’s life)…

Jesus said: “And I will ask the father and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth……” (John 14:16-17 NIV)

“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about me.” (John 15:26-27 NIV)

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide into all truth.” (John 16:13 NIV)

The apostle John reiterated Jesus’ teaching about the person and work of the Holy Spirit in leading the Christian into the truth. He said: “We are from God and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:6) In short, the anointing is not recognized by those sweet, invigorating or ecstatic feelings that many Christians experience during worship services etc, but rather the anointing is recognized by one’s adherence to the truth of Christ as preached and testified to by the apostles.

Since in the New Testament era, the anointing is none other than the Spirit of truth, Christians would do well to know the biblical truth about the anointing.


Disclaimer: The views or opinions expressed by the columnists are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Christianity 


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