In order to fully understand the Old Testament, we must also use the New Testament. The New Testament scriptures are like a “lens” that often helps give focus and clarity to the Old Covenant (“Testament”) scriptures.

The New Testament explains that the Old Testament (the Old Covenant or Old Agreement) of the Law is the Word of God (Matt 5:17,18; 2Pet 1:20,21). However, we now live under the New Covenant (“testament” or “agreement”) of grace and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. We no longer live under the Old Covenant of Law and we cannot attain salvation through our own works (Gal 3:21-25).

The New Covenant has superseded the Old Covenant (see Hebrews Chapters 7-8). This New Covenant fulfills the Old Covenant (Matt 5:17,18; Luke 24:25-27) and establishes a “new and living way” (Heb 10:20) as a basis for man’s relationship to God.

However, the Old Testament scriptures are still part of God’s eternal Word (Isa 40:8). As we study the Old Covenant, we can still learn many important principles that can apply to our lives under the New Covenant.

Paul, in writing to the Corinthians (1Cor 10:1-13), explains that the history, events and lessons recorded in the Old Testament should be studied, understood and applied to our lives as New Testament believers. “Now these things became our examples…” (1Cor 10:6).

Thus, we can gain valuable insights about the anointing of the Holy Spirit that is now available to New Testament believers by studying the pictures or “types” of anointing foreshadowed in the Old Testament.


The Hebrew word for anoint in the Old Testament is masah, and is used 69 times. This word means to apply oil by pouring, spreading or smearing it upon the object or person being anointed.

The practice of anointing was common among many cultures and people of the ancient Middle East. This practice had both an ordinary and a sacred use. For instance, anointing guests as an act of hospitality was done even in Jesus’ day (Ps 23:5; Luke 7:46; John 12:3).

But the practice of anointing had a far more profound use in the Old Testament for the people of Israel. We encounter anointing for the first time when Jacob memorialized his first meeting with God. Jacob anointed the stone on which he had laid his head while he dreamed (Gen 28:10-18).

Later, oil was used to anoint the altar and other objects used in the worship of God in the Tabernacle (Ex 30:26-29; Lev 8:10,11). The Priests were also anointed with oil (Ex 28:41; 30:30; Lev 8:12). (There was also a ram’s blood anointing for priests, which we will examine later in this article when studying Old Testament foretypes of anointing.)

The practice of anointing was also extended to kings (1Sam 9:16; 15:1; 16:3,12) and occasionally to prophets (1Kings 19:16).

Anointing was used for three important purposes in the Old Testament. First, it was used to consecrate: to set aside for a holy use, as in certain physical objects. This included authorizing the object for service to God (i.e., the implements used in the Tabernacle for worship, Ex 30:26-29).

Second, the act of anointing, though done by a human agent, was considered to be from God. A clear example of this is when Samuel anointed both Saul and David to serve as kings over Israel (1Sam 10:1; 16:12,13; 2Sam 12:7). This anointing represented God’s choosing and calling of an individual to be His appointed servant.

Third, this anointing was, in some cases, accompanied by a divine enablement. This was from God and was directly associated with accomplishing the task that God had assigned to the person being anointed (see 1Samuel 16:1-13; 2Kings 2:9-15).


Taken from the root word masah of the Hebrew word masiah, this has been translated as messiah, and means “anointed one”. It is used 39 times in the Old Testament to identify a wide range of individuals. The most obvious use is for the Messiah – Jesus, the Son of God (Isa 9:7; 11:1-5; Isaiah Chapter 53). But this word is also used to designate Israel’s kings in 1 and 2 Samuel and the Psalms. It is used primarily to indicate the royal lineage of David (Ps 2:2; 18:50; 84:9; etc).


Three different words are used in the New Testament for “anoint”. Each of these words reveals a different aspect of anointing.

  1. Aleipho (used 8 times): actual, physical rubbing on of oil or ointment (see Mark 6:13; Luke 7:38,46; James 5:14). In James 5:14, the anointing did not have a medical purpose. Rather, this anointing was symbolic of both the presence of the Holy Spirit and the sick person’s consecration to ask in faith for God’s healing.

It should be noted that it is not wrong to receive medical help. God created the elements from which medicines are made and the wisdom for doctors to use them properly. However, Christians should live by faith in all of life’s decisions. We should not look to prayer as the last option when nothing else works. When there is sickness or injury, seek God first for healing. If God miraculously heals, then praise His Name! If God chooses to use medicine and doctors to heal, then praise His Name! If there is no healing, then still praise His Name – for, our ultimate healing and final home is in His presence when we will see Him face to face (1Thess 4:16-18). Our God is always trustworthy and faithful!

  1. Chrio (used 5 times): indicates a special appointment or commission by God that sets the person(s) apart to fulfill a given assignment (see Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; 2 Corinthians 1:21; Hebrews 1:9).
  2. Chrisma (used 3 times): an empowerment by the Holy Spirit to know what is true and right; the power of the Holy Spirit working in tandem with the Word of God in the heart of the believer.

Both 1 John 2:20 and 2:27 refer to the ministry of the Holy Spirit revealing truth to the heart of the Christ follower (see also John 14:16,17,26; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16; Ephesians 1:17,18).

The Apostle John was writing this letter (1 John) to counter the heresy of a group of people who claimed to have a special knowledge of God. These false teachers denied that God the Son had come in the flesh [incarnation] (1John 2:18-23). They claimed that only they had a true knowledge of God and that all must follow them.

But John reassured the Christians that these others were operating under the demonic influence of the spirit of Antichrist (v.18). John counters these false teachings by reminding the believers that they already have the Holy Spirit and know what is true (v.20). He also points out that it is the Holy Spirit who “teaches you concerning all things” (v.27).

John is not lessening or disqualifying the ministry of teaching (see Romans 12:7 and Ephesians 4:11); rather, John highlights the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who guides us into understanding the Truth in God’s Word (John 16:13).


We have learned that messiah means “anointed one”. The Gospels of the New Testament leave no doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was (and is) THE Messiah, THE Anointed One! Jesus was (and is) anointed for a particular mission or purpose.

In the original Greek language of the New Testament, Jesus is called “the Christ” or “Jesus Christ”. “Jesus” is a name. But the term “Christ” is a title that means “the anointed”. The entire New Testament clearly reveals Jesus to be the Anointed One (John 1:41; 4:25,26).

The Jews were looking for a messiah (Hebrew for “anointed one”), a king in the royal line of David, who would restore national Israel to its former glory as in the days of Solomon. Because of this, many Jews rejected Jesus. He did not fit their faulty and incorrect preconceptions of the promised Messiah (Matt 11:1-19; John 6:26-29).

The Jews did not see that God had a much larger plan that extended beyond them (Isa 42:5-9; 49:5,6; Acts 4:8-12; 13:44-49). God gave them (and us) something far more than a temporary earthly king. He gave to the world the King of kings, a true Savior for all, for all eternity – Jesus, the Messiah, all glory to His name!


Anointing in the Old Testament was a ritual of great significance. The anointing of physical objects, priests, prophets and kings consecrated them to God’s purposes. However, we must note that this anointing was only a type or foreshadowing of what God would fulfill under the New Covenant.

Under the New Covenant, there was to be a new and living way for relationship between God and man. This was first signaled by the sending of Jesus (John 7:28,29), the Son of God, the Anointed One, to carry out God’s purpose and assignment (John 3:14-17). Jesus fulfilled this by dying on the Cross for our sins, thus opening the door of salvation for all who would believe in Him (Rom 10:9-13; Eph 2:1-10; Heb 7:11-25; 9:11-15).

Part of God the Father’s plan of salvation for mankind was the provision of divine help for those who would believe in His Son. Believers could have all the help and power they would need to fulfill God’s will for them.

Thus, when Jesus had finished His God-appointed work on earth (John 17:4; 19:30), He promised to send us the “Helper” (John 7:37-39; 15:26; 16:5-15). That Helper (Comforter) is the Holy Spirit – God the Spirit.

What was foreshadowed by type in the Old Testament with the pouring or spreading of oil (anointing) was now to become a full reality for the believers in Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Covenant). This was begun when God the Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost (Joel 2:28-32; Luke 24:49; Acts 2:1-39).