About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Anointing  


As I write this article in 2019, I am sixty-seven years old.  I have spent most of my adult life in Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity, where many people equate the anointing of the Spirit on one's life, often called "the anointing," with some kind of super-spiritual sounding, emotionally-laced, preaching, prayer, or prophecy.  


The basic Biblical meaning of anointing is "to pour," as in pouring anointing oil onto someone (James 5:14, Hebrews 1:9).  The word "anointing" occurs two times in both the KJV and RSV New Testament, three times in the NIV, CSB, and, five times in the NASB.  As it pertains to Christians, the word "anointing" is not often used in the New Testament.  The concept, however, of the Holy Spirit being poured into and onto people in the book of Acts is often seen.   


The apostle John wrote about the anointing in 1 John 2:20.  He said this:


"But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth."


He went on to write this in 1 John 2:27.


"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."


Some historical background helps us to understand the context in which John used the word "anointing."   The community of believers to whom John was writing had been split apart because of heretical teachings concerning the divinity of Jesus and what constituted sin.  For this reason, John reminded his readers that they had received an anointing from the Holy One that would enable them to distinguish between true teaching and false teaching.  That does not sound like super-spiritual emotionalism to me.  Rather, it sounds intellectually practical in a confusing situation that needed, what I call, Biblically literate discernment.  


John's readers would have received this anointing in the same way John, and one hundred and nineteen others received it.  In Acts 2 we read that John and his associates received the Holy Spirit into their lives by means of an anointing, or as Peter described it in Acts 2:17, by means of the Holy Spirit being "poured out" into their lives.  For John and his readers, the fundamental meaning of the anointing as it applies to Christians, is the process by which one receives the Holy Spirit into his life, making him a born-again believer.  In this sense of the word, all true Christians are anointed.  


I acknowledge that the book of Acts provides us with many examples where born-again believers were re-anointed with the Spirit so they could effectively perform certain tasks to accomplish God's will.  Nevertheless, I believe, we are in error when we suggest that some Christians are more anointed than others because of their super-spiritual sounding, emotionally-laced, preaching, prayer, or prophecy.  As is the case with all Biblical concepts, a Biblically balanced understanding of the anointing of the Spirit will produce a Biblical balanced Christian, and we sure need more of those these days.   

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