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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Holy Spirit and Us

Don Stewart :: What Is the Anointing of the Holy Spirit?

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What Is the Anointing of the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit and Us – Question 13

The Bible speaks of the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit. What does this mean? Who has been “anointed” with the Spirit? The Bible has the following things to say.

John Said All Believers Have Been Anointed with the Holy Spirit

The Apostle John told his readers that they all had been anointed with the Holy Spirit. He explained it in this way.

But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything–and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you–abide in him (1 John 2:20, 27 ESV).

Those who have believed in Jesus Christ have received this anointing.

Paul Refers to the Anointing of the Holy Spirit

The only other reference in the New Testament to the anointing of the Spirit for the believer is found in the writings of the Apostle Paul. He wrote the following to the Corinthians.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us (2 Corinthians 1:21 ESV).

Paul wrote that each believer had received the anointing of the Spirit.

Jesus Himself Was Anointed with the Holy Spirit

We also find that Jesus Himself was anointed with the Spirit. When He began His public ministry Jesus read a passage from Isaiah.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free (Luke 4:18 NRSV)

Jesus claimed that this prediction was fulfilled by Him. Luke records Him doing the following after reading this passage.

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:20, 21 TNIV).

The anointed of the Spirit was upon Jesus. Furthermore, this anointing was upon Him during His entire earthly ministry.

Later Peter would tell the people about Jesus’ anointing. He explained it in this manner.

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38 NKJV).

In this context the anointing of Jesus was for the work of the ministry.

The Meaning of the Anointing

What is the “anointing?” Some see the anointing of the Spirit as another way of saying the believer has already received the Holy Spirit while others think it is a special ministry that the Spirit of God has in the life of each believer.

Observations about the Anointing of the Holy Spirit

From these verses, we can observe the following about the anointing of the Spirit.

1. God Does the Anointing

It is God who anoints the believer with His Holy Spirit. We do not anoint ourselves. Thus, it is entirely a work of God.

2. The Anointing Remains Forever

This “anointing” of the Holy Spirit remains forever with the believer. It never leaves those who receive it.

3. The Purpose of the Anointing Is to Teach Us

The purpose of this anointing of the Holy Spirit is that the believer might be taught of God. He anoints us to teach us His truths so that we can please Him by doing the work of the ministry.

4. He Helps in Understanding the Word of God

We find that the Holy Spirit anoints the believer in spiritual discernment and the understanding of the Word of God. In fact, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be the Teacher of those who believed in Him. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus said.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (John 14:26 ESV).

The Holy Spirit was promised to teach Jesus disciples as well as bring back all of His words to their remembrance.

Jesus also said the Spirit, as their Teacher, would guide them into “all truth.” He also gave His disciples this promise.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13 NRSV).

Thus, the anointing of the Spirit teaches us the truths of God.

5. People May Be Anointed with a Special Ministry

Like in the case of Jesus, the Holy Spirit may indeed anoint certain people to do a particular ministry. In other words, they have been given certain abilities to perform God’s work in a unique way. We can thus properly speak of that person as having been “anointed” of the Spirit to perform this task. Again, this is something which God alone does. We do not “anoint” ourselves for the ministry.

In sum, the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is another provision that God gives to us so that we can better serve Him.

Summary – Question 13
What Is the Anointing of the Holy Spirit?

Scripture speaks of believers in Jesus Christ as being anointed with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself claimed that He was “anointed” by the Lord to do the work of the ministry. The Apostle Peter later confirmed the anointing of Jesus. Therefore, we find that Jesus was anointed with the Spirit and all believers are anointed with the Spirit of God. What does this mean?

Several things are clear about the anointing of the Spirit.

First, Scripture indicates that all believers have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. There are no exceptions to this.

Second we do not anoint ourselves. God is the one who anoints us. Thus, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is completely God’s work on our behalf.

In addition, this anointing never leaves us. Indeed, it remains with us forever.

So what is the anointing? From Scripture, we find that the anointing ministry of the Holy Spirit is for the purpose of teaching and imparting spiritual power to believers. It is that work of the Holy Spirit which teaches us the truths of God so that we can better understand who He is and what He wants from us. As mentioned, each and every believer receives this anointing.

There is something else to consider. While each believer has received the anointing of the Spirit it is possible that God will anoint, or equip, certain Christians with a special ministry to fulfill. Thus, we can properly say that this person has been “anointed” with the Spirit to fulfill this task.

Again, it is God who anoints the believer with the Spirit –believers do not anoint themselves. The anointing may refer to the initial reception of the Holy Spirit or some special ministry of the Spirit. Whatever the case may be, each of us who have believed in Jesus has been anointed by the Holy Spirit.

How Does the Holy Spirit "Seal" the Believer? ← Prior Section
How Does a Person Become Filled with the Holy Spirit? Next Section →
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