The word anointed sounds super strange. It’s not an ordinary word that we use today. In fact, outside of church, it is hardly ever said. It kind of sounds like ointment and kind of sounds like appointed. Actually, anointed is kind of related to both of these words although they are not connected on the language level. Although the word isn’t used in everyday language, today it is important to those who are Christ followers.
Anointed is related to ointment because when someone was anointed in biblical times they were smeared with oil. This is what the word literally means. To anoint someone was to take olive oil and pour it on their head. It sounds foolish to us but anointing someone with oil was a sign of honor. This was a common practice in the ancient Near East (Ecclesiastes 9:8) and anointing a guest with oil was a standard act of hospitality. Being in the dry arid climate, oil helped to moisturize the skin and hair.
Anointed sounds like appointed and to anoint someone also meant to appoint them to a sacred or divine office. In the Bible, kings and priests were anointed with oil (Exodus 29:7, 1 Samuel 16:13, 2 Kings 9:6) This was a sign of God’s empowerment and blessing. Anointing someone was an act that declared God’s favor on them. Anointing was also tied to the presence of the Holy Spirit. When David was anointed the Holy Spirit came upon him.
Christians are basically anointed because they follow the anointed one–Christ (1 John 2:20) and are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew term for Christ is Messiah which means anointed one. Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and that’s how he performed miracles and dispensed wisdom while he was on earth (Acts 10:38). Jesus receives the highest honor as the one who died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose from the dead. He fulfilled all the expectations of a king and a priest. It’s Jesus who has special favor from God. He is the one who is chosen and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Those who are in relationship with Christ receive that same special favor and empowerment. Every Christian is anointed and they don’t even need oil they have a relationship with Christ and are set apart by the Holy Spirit.