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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Identity of the Holy Spirit

Don Stewart :: Why Is the Holy Spirit Associated with Anointing with Oil?

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Why Is the Holy Spirit Associated with Anointing with Oil?

The Identity of the Holy Spirit – Question 29

The Holy Spirit is associated with the anointing of oil. What does this mean? Why the connection between anointing with oil and the work of the Holy Spirit?

The Anointing with Oil Represents the Coming of the Spirit

In the Old Testament, we find that the anointing with oil was representative of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon a person. For instance, the prophet Samuel used oil to anoint David as king of Israel. We are told the following.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah (1 Samuel 16:13 NKJV).

When David was anointed with oil the Bible says that the Holy Spirit came upon him. Therefore, we find oil symbolizing the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Anointing Signifies Different Things

The anointing with oil is used in Scripture to signify a number of important things. They include the following.

1. The Messiah Is the Anointed One

The Hebrew term translated, “Messiah” as well as the Greek term, “Christ,” means, “The anointed one.” The fact that the Holy Spirit is compared to anointing with oil associates Him with the Messiah. The Bible says that Jesus, the Messiah, was anointed with the Holy Spirit.

The Book of Acts records Peter saying.

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

According to Simon Peter, it was God Himself who anointed Jesus Christ for the work which He did.

2. It Refers to Power for the Work of the Ministry

Power for ministry is also associated with the anointing with oil. Isaiah the prophet wrote about this when he predicted the coming of the Messiah. He put it this way.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners (Isaiah 61:1 TNIV).

Here the prophet says that the Spirit of God has anointed this person for the work of the ministry.

In this instance the prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Indeed, after Jesus read this passage in a synagogue in Nazareth, Luke records the following took place.

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)

According to Jesus, His coming to the earth fulfilled the prediction of the Lord anointing His servant to proclaim the good news. Though Jesus fulfilled this prophecy at His First Coming, it did not consist of literal anointing with oil. Thus, the oil spoke of the power to do the work of the ministry.

3. Oil and Healing Are Associated Together

Healing of the body is often associated with anointing with oil. We read in Isaiah.

From your head to your toes there isn’t a healthy spot. Bruises, cuts, and open sores go without care or oil to ease the pain (Isaiah 1:6 CEV).

In this context, oil is seen as a healing agent.

James also wrote about the use of oil in a healing context.

Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14 HCSB).

The anointing is literal in these instances. Actual oil was put upon the person for healing. However, there is some question as to whether the oil itself was supposed to heal or whether it was symbolic of God’s healing touch.

4. The Anointing Helps Believers Understand God’s Truth

Finally, we are told that believers in Christ have an anointing from the spirit to understand God’s truth. John wrote.

Christ, the Holy One, has blessed you, and now all of you understand (1 John 2:20 CEV)

We can understand the truth of God because the Holy Spirit has anointed our hearts and minds to His truth. In other words, He has opened up our hearts to the truth.

John also emphasized how the Holy Spirit always teaches the truth. He is the only infallible source for truth about Jesus Christ. We read.

But Christ has blessed you with the Holy Spirit. Now the Spirit stays in you, and you don’t need any teachers. The Spirit is truthful and teaches you everything. So stay one in your heart with Christ, just as the Spirit has taught you to do (1 John 2:27 CEV).

It is important that the Holy Spirit teaches the believers truth for He is the only One who can assure us that we do indeed have the truth.

In sum, anointing with oil has a number of important lessons for us when it is associated with the work of the Holy Spirit. This being the case, we should pay close attention to these passages which use this analogy.

Summary – Question 29
Why Is the Holy Spirit Associated with Anointing with Oil?

The Holy Spirit is compared to anointing someone with oil. This has a number of meanings.

For one thing, the kings of Israel were anointed with oil. This represented the initial coming of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The idea is that they were to rule the nation through the power of God’s Spirit rather than with their own power.

Elsewhere we find the anointing is associated in Scripture with power to do the ministry. Jesus Christ, as the promised Messiah, was anointed with the Holy Spirit to do God’s special work. In fact, Jesus read a passage which spoke of the anointing of the Messiah and said that this particular passage spoke of Him! He was the “Anointed One.”

In some places, we find that physical healing is associated with the anointing of oil. Oil was put on the person for healing purposes. At times, the oil itself was seen as the healing agent while at other times it was representative of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Anointing of oil also speaks of the understanding the truth of God. The Apostle John wrote about the anointing which all believers have to know God’s truth. This is through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Oil, is therefore, an appropriate symbol for God’s Spirit since it is the Holy Spirit who performs the work of the ministry through believers. He also heals those who are sick, and gives understanding to God’s truth to those who wish to hear it.

Why Is the Holy Spirit Compared to a Pledge or a Guarantee? ← Prior Section
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