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By Charles H. Welch

ANOINTING, Greek chrisma. This word is derived from chrio, and allied with the word Christ ‘the Anointed’, ‘the Messiah’. The word Messiah is from the Hebrew (Dan. 9:25,26), the word mashiach means ‘anointed’ (Lev. 4:3). The title of our Lord ‘Christ’ is not exclusive to any one dispensation. He is Lord and Saviour of all men and of all callings, but the use of the word ‘anointing’ when it is applied to the believer is of more restricted use, and its presence or absence indicates the character of the dispensation that is in view and it is this aspect of the subject that must claim our attention.

First of all we give a concordance of the two Greek words.



Luke 4:18.

He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel.

Acts 4:27.

Thy holy child Jesus, Whom Thou hast anointed.

Acts 10:38.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost.

2 Cor. 1:21.

And hath anointed us, is God.

Heb. 1:9.

Hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness.

1 John 2:20.

Ye have an unction from the Holy One.

1 John 2:27.

The anointing which ye have received.

1 John 2:27.

As the same anointing teacheth you.

It will be seen that four references speak of the anointing of the Saviour and four of the anointing of the believer. Let us take the three references in 1 John 2. In the first place, is it universally true that every believer at all times has this ‘anointing’? Does it refer to the experience of every believer, or is there something special about it? One of the ways to arrive at an answer is to consider the consequence of this anointing. Among other things it rendered the possessor independent of ‘teaching’ for he ‘knew all things’. Another way of arriving at the truth of any passage is to discover its place in the book as a whole, in other words to note the structure, and so discern the scope (See STRUCTURE). The simplified analysis is as follows:


A 1:1 to 2:17. ‘That eternal life’. - A Person. The Son.

B 2:18-29. ‘Many Antichrists’. ‘Ye have an unction’.

C 3:1-24. ‘What manner of love’.

B 4:1-6. ‘Spirit of Antichrist’. ‘Try the spirits’.

C 4:7-21. ‘Herein is Love’.

A 5:1-21. ‘The true God and eternal life’. A Person. The Son.

The value of this analysis is immediately evident. We are dealing with a particular experience, not one that is general and universally true of all believers. The spirit and the teaching of Antichrist was to be met by the supernatural gift bestowed upon the Church during the Acts period, as indicated in 1 Corinthians.

‘ For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;
To another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit;
To another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles;
To another prophecy;
To another discerning of spirits;
To another divers kinds of tongues;
To another the interpretation of tongues’
(1 Cor. 12:8-10).

These are all ‘spiritual gifts’ (1 Cor. 12:1) and peculiar to the dispensation inaugurated at Pentecost. This fulfils the promise of Mark 16:17-20, a promise abundantly fulfilled during the period of the Acts and the ‘unction’ especially referred to by John is that gift of ‘the discerning of spirits’.

1 John 2:20 is the outcome of the warning given in the previous verses ‘it is the last time’, ‘Antichrist shall come’, ‘they were not all of us’, ‘but ye have an unction ... ye know’. Again as a preface to the next reference to this anointing John says: ‘These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received ... ye need not that any man teach you’. In the sequel, namely in 1 John 4:1-6, instead of speaking of the anointing, John speaks of its practical outworking:

‘Try the spirits ... this is that spirit of Antichrist’.

We pass from the epistle of John to the one occurrence of the word ‘anointing’ that is found in Paul’s epistles, and here again the larger context must be considered first. 1 Corinthians 12, the all-covering words, ‘concerning spiritual gifts’, would be as true in 2 Corinthians as they are in the first epistle. The same Church, people and dispensation belong to both. In 1 Corinthians 1:6-8 we read:

‘Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift ... who shall also confirm you unto the end’.

This ‘confirmation’ is particularly associated with ‘gifts’, ‘signs and wonders’ (Heb. 2:3,4) and the same word that is used in 1 Corinthians 1:6 and 8, namely, bebaioo, is used in 2 Corinthians 1:21 where it is translated ‘stablisheth’:

‘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’ (2 Cor. 1:21,22).

In Ephesians 1:13,14 we have ‘the seal’ and ‘the earnest’ but the external confirmation and anointing is omitted. During the Acts period confirmation of truth was miraculous, but with the passing of Israel and the opening of the dispensation of the Mystery miraculous gifts, signs, wonders, tongues and all the other ‘manifestation of the Spirit’ ceased. The presence or absence of ‘anointing’ in the epistles is a dispensational index. (See BAPTISM, EPHESIANS , MYSTERY and PENTECOST).