Holy Spirit: Anointed

The realtor says, “location, location, location!” The Bible student should say, “context, context, context!” Many give too little consideration to the miraculous setting, of the first century, when studying passages about the Holy Spirit. This certainly is the case in passages which speak of those anointed with the Spirit.


Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (cf. Isaiah 61:1-2).

Prophets (e.g. 1 Kings 19:16). Priests (e.g. Exodus 28:41; 30:30), and Kings (e.g. 1 Samuel 9:16; 16:1-2, 12-13; 2 Samuel 2:7; 1 Kings 1:34) were anointed with oil. This was a ceremonial act which set them apart for a work.

Jesus was anointed, not with oil, but with the Spirit. The Spirit came upon Him at His baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:9-10; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-33). It’s by the power of the Spirit that Jesus works miracles (see: Matthew 12:28; Acts 10:38). Jesus was inspired by the Spirit (see: Luke 4:18-19; Matthew 12:26-28; Acts 10:38; Acts 1:1-2).

Acts 10:38, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing those who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

Again, the context is miraculous. The word “power” is many times associated with the super-natural (e.g. Matthew 10:1; Luke 24:49 cf. Acts 1:8; Acts 2:4; Romans 15:19; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:5).


2 Corinthians 1:21, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.”

Watch the pronouns. “Us” refers to Paul and his co-workers (2 Corinthians 1:1, 6, 8, 19, 21). “You” refers to the saints at Corinth and Achaia (2 Corinthians 1:1).

God established Paul and His co-workers to the Corinthians. The word “establishes” could be rendered “confirms.” The reference is to miraculous confirmation (cf. Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3).

This is the context of the word “anointed.” As we already seen the word can refer to a miraculous anointing (cf. Luke 4:18-19; Acts 10:38).

1 John

1 John 2:20, 27 – “But you have an anointed from the Holy One, and you know all things… the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you…”

The context concerns false teachers (1 John 2:18, 26). They would be able to deal with this because they had received an anointing (1 John 2:20, 27).

Remember that the early church had received miraculous gifts (1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4). There were prophets. There were also those who had the gifts of discerning spirits (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:10). Bill Lockwood commented, “It is most likely the case that the inspired author directed his remarks in verse 27 specifically to those who had the gift of discerning spirits” (Lockwood, The Holy Spirit in 1 John, Hammer and Tongs, March – April 1999). Guy N. Woods commented, “We conclude, therefore, that the ‘anointing’ which these to whom John wrote had received a miraculous measure of the Spirit… this measure enabled them to recognize and refute the false teachers…” (Woods, Peter, John and Jude, p. 246).

Question: If they needed no one to teach them, why did John write unto them? John may be encouraging them to stand up and use their gifts. Having a gift is not the same as using a gift (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Corinthians 14:32). This certainly is not saying that Christians do not ever need to be taught (1 Corinthians 4:17; 14:19; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Hebrews 5:12). The E.S.V. Study Bible provided another possible answer saying “by writing this letter, John is obviously teaching them. He means, rather, that they have no need for any instructions that diverges from the gospel message.”

1 John 3:24; 4:13-14 – “And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us… By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son as Savior of the world.”

Notice two things: (1) The word “know” is used in connection with the Spirit. We have seen this before with the anointing (1 John 2:20). (2) Those bearing witness of Jesus had been given the Spirit. The apostles were to receive the Spirit and bear witness (cf. John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:4, 32).

The context seems miraculous. Franklin Camp commented, “John insisted that the apostles know that God abided in them because of the miraculous manifestation given them by the Spirit… This statement is in defense of the apostles and the message they preached… 1 John 4:13 and 14 is the double testimony of the apostles and the Holy Spirit to the Sonship of Christ” (Camp, The Work of the Holy Spirit in Redemption, p. 171). Marion Fox commented, “The Holy Spirit had endowed the apostles and New Testament prophets with gifts which gave them knowledge … that God was with them” (Fox, The Work of The Holy Spirit, Vol. 1, pp. 427-428). Bill Lockwood commented, “In the first century revelation did not come through an inspired book, but through inspired men. The assurances therefore came directly through the Spirit. Today, the same assurance of being a Christian comes through accepting what the Spirit said.” (Lockwood, The Holy Spirit in 1 John, Hammer and Tongs, March – April 1999).

Feelings are not our guide (Proverbs 16:2, 25). Let us be as the Bereans and search the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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