The Anointing

A. E. Long, Nutley

Part 1 of 3 of the series Aspects of the Holy Spirit's Work

The key verses covering this series of studies concerning aspects of the Holy Spirit's work are 2 Corinthians 1. 21, 22: "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts". In relation to the truth of His indwelling the Christian, the Holy Spirit is Himself at once the Anointing, the Seal and the Earnest, We propose to consider the Holy Spirit in these three aspects, mainly as relating to the believer.

Nowadays, there seems to be almost a silence in regard to the teaching of some Bible subjects and it is feared that the subject of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit has suffered in this respect. Some Bible topics tend to be avoided in ministry by reason of controversy about them. The paucity of ministry on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit may stem from a misconception of some words of the Lord Jesus concerning the Spirit, as given in the Authorised Version: "when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself", John 16. 13. As the office of the Holy Spirit is to "glorify" Christ, v. 14, it has been supposed that it is no part of His office to "speak of himself", but rather wholly to speak of the Lord. The words "of himself" do not represent the Lord's intention. On the other hand, "from himself", r.v., expresses the thought correctly. The Holy Spirit does not speak "on his own authority", n.e.b.; "whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak". His purpose is to "testify" to Christ, 15. 26, and by so doing to "glorify" Him. But this does not exclude the Holy Spirit speaking "of" Himself.

We entirely depend on the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. There is no spiritual grace or comfort that is not mediated to us through Him. When Christ was present with His disciples, they were entirely dependent upon Him; when He left them, He committed them to the charge of "another Comforter", who would abide with them for ever, 14. 16. That condition has been true of all who have subsequently believed on Christ - the Holy Spirit has stood to them, in a spiritual sense, in the same guardian relationship as that in which Christ stood to His disciples upon earth.

From such considerations stems the relevance of knowing in what capacities the Holy Spirit acts towards us. In the Anoint­ing, the Seal and the Earnest, some of these capacities are indicated.

Two Old Testament Anointings. The subject of the anointing is found in both Old and New Testaments. To understand it aright we must see it in its whole context. In the Old Testament the priests were anointed, "thou . . . shalt anoint them (i.e. Aaron and his sons) . . . that they may minister unto me in the priest's office", Exod. 28. 41. The composition of the anointing oil is described in chapter 30. 22-25, in which context three times it is said to be "holy", w. 25, 31, 32. Psalm 133. 2 refers to Aaron's anointing, "the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments". It typified "the unity of the Spirit", for the holy anointing oil is undoubtedly a type of the Spirit; compare verse 1 with Ephesians 4. 3.

The act of anointing was essential to consecration to the priesthood, "the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him", Lev. 21. 12, R.V. marg.; cf. Exod. 28. 41 and 29. 9. The priests' anointing was an unrepeated act, for it signified a once-for-all initiation into the priesthood.

Israel's kings were, likewise, anointed. Samuel anointed Saul as Israel's first king, "Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it on his head, . . . and said ... the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance", I Sam. 10. 1. But Saul was soon deposed from the kingship because of disobedience and David was anointed by Samuel in his stead. When at length David stood before Samuel, God said to him, "Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him", 1 Sam. 16. 12, 13. Significantly, with the anointing, "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward". Thus both Saul and David are styled "the Lord's anointed", cf. 1 Sam. 24. 6; 2 Sam. 19. 21. Of David, God said, "with my holy oil have I anointed him", Ps. 89. 20.

With both priest and king, the anointing was doubtless intended to symbolise the enduement of the Holy Spirit for the office, in a spiritual or temporal capacity.

The Lord Jesus as God's Anointed. Uniquely, the Lord Jesus is God's Anointed, but whereas priests and kings received a limited enduement of the Holy Spirit, the Lord received the Holy Spirit in His fulness, "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him", John 3. 34. The Lord Jesus is called "Anointed" in both Old and New Testaments. In Daniel 9. 25, 26, He is called "Messiah", i.e. "the anointed one". The Greek form of this is Messias. Andrew told Peter, "We have found the Messias, which is, being inter­preted, the Christ", John 1. 41; cf. 4. 25. Christ is God's anointed king, as Psalm 2 makes clear, "the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed . . . Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion", vv. 2, 6. The early Christians saw in the circumstances of both the cruci­fixion and their own persecution by the Sanhedrin a parallel to Psalm 2, as their prayer indicates, "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together", Acts 4. 27.

In Psalm 45, in which the Psalmist writes "of the things which I have made touching the king", v. 1, he continues "God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness", v. 7. This is quoted in Hebrews 1. 9 as being true of "the Son", v. 8. In His synagogue address at Nazareth, the Lord Jesus read Isaiah's prophecy, ch. 61. 1,2, and claimed that his words were fulfilled that day in Himself, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor", Luke 4. 18.

The association of the Spirit and the anointing is significant. Peter's testimony before Cornelius and his intimate friends underlines the same association, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power", Acts 10. 38. Uniquely, the Lord Jesus was at once both Priest and King. Under the economy of law, no man filled both offices. King Uzziah trespassed upon a priestly function in attempting to offer incense in the temple and was stricken with leprosy for his impiety, 2 Chron. 26. 16-20. In words which were doubt­less prophetic of Christ, it was said to Joshua, the high priest of the restoration, "he shall be a priest upon his throne", Zech. 6. 13. Psalm no presents Christ in this dual office of King-Priest, after "the order of Melchizedek", who was "king of Salem, priest of the most high God", Heb. 7.1.

The Christian's Anointing. The foregoing considerations form the background of the Christian's anointing. The believer is a priest unto God, anointed for this purpose by the Holy Spirit. To the sojourners of the dispersion, to whom Peter wrote, it was said that they were "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit", 1 Pet. 1. 2. Also, they had purified their "souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit", v. 22. By reason of that "anointing" they were "an holy priesthood (able) to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ", 2. 5. These words were not addressed to an exclusive priestly caste among them, but to them all. This is in contradistinction to the Old Testament, in which Aaron and his descendants formed an exclusive priestly caste. In the New Testament, all Christians are seen to have the right and privilege of direct access to God, without any mediation save that of the Lord Jesus, through whom their sacrifices are "acceptable to God". In the same passage, Peter writes of "a royal priesthood", v. 9, which suggests the combination of kingship and priest­hood, cf. Rev. 1. 6. The Christian is anointed by the Holy Spirit in a two-fold capacity; firstly to worship and serve God, "to minister unto me"; secondly to represent God before men to "show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light".

The apostle John writes of the anointing, "ye have an unction (r.v. anointing) from the Holy One, and ye know all things", 1 John 2. 20. By the "Holy One" is meant the Holy Spirit, who by definition is "Holy". In verse 27 John continues, "the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, . . . the same anointing teacheth you of all things", v. 27. This agrees with what the Lord Jesus predicted of the Holy Spirit, "he shall teach you all things", John 14. 26. The knowledge to which John refers is potential knowledge, made available by the Holy Spirit, to offset the seductive activities of those who deny that "Jesus is the Christ". What cause for praise we have for this adequate equipment through the anointing of the Holy Spirit!