I Am Not Anointed

Some Christians, disciples of Christ our Lord, like to honor effective preachers or other people doing visible spiritual work by giving them the title “anointed.” On several occasions, I have been also honored with this term. “You are anointed of the Lord!”

If you ask them what that means, they probably have a hard time explaining to you, but in the context of how it is said, we can take it to mean someone who is empowered by the Holy Spirit of God and does a good job. Few people know the real meaning of anointed. However, every minister who has received theological training knows, or ought to know the meaning of “anointed.” And from the wrong use of the term, I cannot help but conclude that they either don’t know the meaning, or choose to bask in it—when they should not.

Why not?

Because the word “anointed” means “Christ.”

I am not anointed because I am not Christ!

The Story Of The Word

The English word “anointed” is from the verb “to anoint.” It is an old word from an old practice. It is the practice of pouring or applying oil on a person. In ordinary use, it is used for people anointing themselves with oil (splashing on some fragrance, or applying some grooming oil on the head (Matthew 6:17), or anointing the sick with oil (James 5).

The Greek word for anoint is “chrio” from which we get the word “Christ,” meaning the Anointed one. This is carried over from the Hebrew word “HaMashiach” from which we get the word “Messiah” also meaning “the Anointed One.” The meaning is quite simple and without dispute:

Anointed (English) = Christ (Greek) = Messiah (Hebrew).

The special meaning of this word has its roots in the OT. Setting aside the mundane use of the word, to be anointed in the OT means to be chosen by God and set aside, to be consecrated, and to be divinely authorized to serve as prophet, priest or king. (Leviticus 8:12; 1 Kings 19:16; Psalm 133:2). The most prominent use in the OT is the anointing of kings. This means BEFORE a person becomes a king, God sends his prophets to anoint the man to indicate that he will become king. The person the prophet anoints is the appointed king even though he may not take his throne at that time or even soon after.

God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint Saul and he became the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 9:16; 10:1) When God rejected Saul, he sent Samuel to anoint David as the new king (1 Samuel 16:3, 13).

In the New Testament, the verb “anoint” (Greek: chrio) is used once to mean consecrate (2 Corinthians 1:21); but it is used with increasing restraint to refer to Jesus: (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Hebrews 1:9). The noun form, “the anointed one” refers primarily to Jesus as the anointed King over God’s kingdom. For example: “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, or whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:16, KJV) “Messiah” (NIV); “Christos” (Greek) “Anointed One” (Voice).

Jesus is the final king of God’s kingdom. He is the fulfillment of all the anointed kings of the OT and he is the eternal ruler on David’s throne. Jesus is THE Messiah. By the time of the NT, the people restricted the use of the word “the Anointed One / Messiah / Christ” to the one who would come and bring in God’s kingdom. In contrast to the true Anointed One / Messiah / Christ are the false anointed ones / messiahs / christs.

So I am quite horrified to hear people say things like, “He is an anointed preacher.” Or “He is an anointed healer.” Or “He is anointed by God.” While I understand they do not know what they are saying, it baffles me that their pastors do not tell them what it means. From the time of Christ, no Christian should wait for another Christ. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the King over God’s Kingdom. That is the primary meaning of Jesus being the fulfilment of all the prophecies that come before Jesus—that on the throne of David will come the ultimate Anointed One, the hope of Israel, the light of the world.

There is no other Christ beside Jesus. There is no other Messiah beside Jesus. There can be no Anointed One after Jesus.

To Jesus alone will I proclaim the title the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One of the Father. It does not come to my mind that I or anyone should have the temerity to say “I am anointed.” To me, that is tantamount to an attempt to share the title of Messiah that belongs to Jesus alone.

Claiming to be anointed / christ

John the Baptist is enjoying great popularity as a preacher. The religious leaders come to him asking, “Who are you?” John replied, “I am not the Messiah (John 1:20, NIV); that is the same as saying, “I am not the Anointed One” (Voice).

Words have meaning. And that meaning changes over time. When the fulfillment of something has come, and there can be no more after him, the term used for him that might be a common term used earlier, takes on an exclusivity. For example: “imperator” was the term used for a successful Roman general. Later, all military successes were to be attributed to Augustus Caesar. So the term “imperator” fell out of use for generals, and was applied to Augustus exclusively. This is the term that became “emperor” in English. A common term became an exclusive term.

In the English speaking world, children are not named “Jesus” because we want to reserve that for Jesus the Christ. I think that is a good thing, even though I have no quarrel with the Spanish speaking world that continues to use “Jesus” as a name. Generally, the name “Jesus” a common name, became an exclusive name, because we dare not get too close to the name used by Jesus our Lord.

Kings were anointed by God, especially when they were going to be a first king of a new dynasty. Saul was anointed to kingship (1 Samuel 10:1). David was anointed to kingship to replace Saul (1 Samuel 16:13). Solomon was anointed to indicate he is to be the rightful king (1 Kings 1:34).

The non-exclusive use of the verb “to anoint” remains in use in the New Testament, but it is not common. The Christians in Corinth were all called anointed who stand in Christ, that is, all believers (2 Corinthians 1:21). The Christians to whom John wrote all have an anointing from the Holy One (1 John 2:20).

When it is used in this way, “anointed” refers to all Christians being consecrated to God. There is no special group of Christians who are anointed (consecrated) as opposed to Christians who are not anointed (consecrated). Any special anointing referred only to Jesus.

Jesus warns his disciples (Matthew 24):

4 … “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ [the Anointed One] and they will lead many astray.
23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ [Anointed One] or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs [anointed ones] and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
Jesus tells us that anyone who claims to be an anointed one is to be rejected. At the very least, it should be a red flag, a sign that they are false. “Anointed / Messiah” is not a badge of honor, it is a warning of danger. Jesus has come, there is no other Anointed One / Messiah.


I am not anointed, I am only ordained.

The Christian Church usually practices “ordination.” not “anointing.” The person who is ordained is one who has committed his life to serving God in his Church. He is first examined by a group of senior ministers and upon acceptance he is consecrated (ordained) to the work of the Lord. This person takes on the title “the Reverend” and that title remains unless he is defrocked. The word “Reverend” is from the hoary past, and it means someone deserving of respect. In today’s world, “Reverend” is used less and less as people become less formal. But the term is still important because it indicates to the observer that this person has received affirmation from a recognized church body that he is a minister of God.

It is ironic that the less grandiose title of “reverend” should be losing popularity against the super grandiose title of “anointed.” Even though I don’t tout my “Reverend” title it is indicated in formal documentation so the reader knows how to place me. But you will never find me with the title “Anointed.” I am a servant of the Anointed One, I am not the anointed one.

I am not “anointed” because I am not “Christ.”

Pastor Peter Eng


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