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September 18, 2007 / Daniel

Rejoiner on “The Anointing” in 1 John 2

As my comment back to Dennis and Levi grew in size, I thought that I would just make a whole new post in connection with the conception of the anointing in 1 John 2. 

First, I would guess that the sacrament of “anointing” with actual oil developed from this text, and not the other way around.  I doubt that the text refers to a pre-existing sacrament.  But you have some documentation from church history, I would love to change my mind on this.

Secondly, the reason that I said the passage refers to Matt. 3 is because it’s here where we see the anointing of Christ via his baptism.  The concept of anointing comes from ancient Israel’s practice of appointing a King. 

For example, look at the stories of David and Saul.  In Matt. 3, Jesus is being anointed as King through his baptism.  The Holy Spirit descends on him. (Read Samuel and watch the connection between the Spirit and the King.  When Saul rebels, the Spirit leaves him and comes upon David as the new representative of divine authority.) 

At the baptism of Jesus, God also calls Jesus “His Son in whom He is well-pleased.”  This refers back to Psalm 2 where the title “Son of God” is a royal title for David.  

I have no problem with locating the anointing in 1 John 2 close to baptism because of Matt. 3.  And that means that the anointing that John refers to includes the concepts of the gift of the Holy Spirit and the connection by baptism with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.    



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  1. Dennis / Sep 18 2007 7:44 pm


    In looking through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I found this which may be of interest to you:


    436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.29 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.30 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.31 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

    437 To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”32 From the beginning he was “the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world”, conceived as “holy” in Mary’s virginal womb.33 God called Joseph to “take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, so that Jesus, “who is called Christ”, should be born of Joseph’s spouse into the messianic lineage of David.34

    438 Jesus’ messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, “for the name ‘Christ’ implies ‘he who anointed’, ‘he who was anointed’ and ‘the very anointing with which he was anointed’. The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing.'”35 His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power”, “that he might be revealed to Israel”36 as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as “the Holy One of God”.37

    Btw…I found some early texts talking about the anointing (albeit not before when the Scripture were written):

    Tertullian, On Baptism 7-8 (c. 200 AD)

    “Then having gone up from the bath we are anointed with a blessed anointing of ancient discipline, by which people were accustomed to be anointed for priesthood, by oil from a horn from which Aaron was anointed by Moses [Ex 30:22-30]. For this reason we were called “christs” (“anointed ones”) from “chrism,” which is the ointment which lends its name to the Lord. It was made spiritual because the Lord was anointed with the Spirit by God the Father, as it says in Acts: ‘For they were gathered together in that city against your holy Son whom you have anointed [Acts 4:27].’ Thus also the anointing flows on us physically, but benefits spiritually, as the physical act of baptism (that we are immersed in water) has a spiritual effect (that we are free from trans­gressions). Next, calling and inviting the Holy Spirit, the hand is imposed for the blessing.”

    Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition 21-22 (c. 215 AD)

    “The neophytes are anointed by the presbyter from the oil consecrated by the bishop. He says, ‘I anoint you with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ.’ And thus, drying themselves, the individuals are vested, and afterwards are brought in the church.

    “But the bishop, imposing his hand on them, prays by saying, ‘Lord God, who made them worthy to merit the forgiveness of sins by the bath of rebirth of the Holy Spirit, send your grace onto them, that they may serve you according to your will. For to you is the glory, to the Father and to the Son with the Holy Spirit in the Holy Church, both now and for ever. Amen.’

    “Afterwards, pouring the consecrated oil from his hand and imposing it on the neophyte’s head, let him say, ‘I anoint you with holy oil in the Lord, the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.’

    “And consigning the neophyte on the forehead, let him offer the kiss and say, ‘The Lord be with you.’”

    Origen (d. 253 AD), Homily on Leviticus 9

    “And don’t be surprised that this sanctuary is reserved for priests alone. For all whoever have been anointed with the oil of sacred chrism have become priests, as also Peter says to the whole Church: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Pet 2:9). Therefore you are a “priestly people,” and on that account you approach holy things.”

    Additionally, when reading the Catechism, I found this interesting:

    Christ’s Baptism

    1223 All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. He begins his public life after having himself baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan.17 After his resurrection Christ gives this mission to his apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”18

    1224 Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to “fulfill all righteousness.”19 Jesus’ gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying.20 The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his “beloved Son.”21

    1225 In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion, which he was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a “Baptism” with which he had to be baptized.22 The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life.23 From then on, it is possible “to be born of water and the Spirit”24 in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

    See where you are baptized, see where Baptism comes from, if not from the cross of Christ, from his death. There is the whole mystery: he died for you. In him you are redeemed, in him you are saved.25

    I guess I believe that the anointing is referring to our Baptism. As you had pointed out, Catholics (and Orthodox?) are anointed with holy oils (called Chrism) at Baptism.

    (from the Catechism)
    1241 The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one “anointed” by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king.41

    Sorry to quote so much…I just thought you might find this useful insight from a different perspective.


  2. Levi Michael / Sep 18 2007 9:31 pm

    I appreciate the connection between the anointing of Christ at His baptism and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer at his Baptism & Chrismation.
    In Orthodox practice the Chrismation typically follows directly after the Baptism of the catechumen.
    Incidentally, wasn’t this epistle estimated to have been written around AD 90 (by conservative scholars)?
    This means that John is writing to a Church which has survived 50+ years since the Ascension of Christ. And how did/do you do this and maintain the same Apostolic Faith? “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.” And what empowers you to do this? The “anointing from the Holy One.” If this passage was transliterated like the passages about baptism are, it would have the word chrism (oil) in it.
    The closest it comes in English translation is unction in the KJV or anointing. The NLT takes the concept of ‘anointing’ right out of the passage and makes the chrism (oil) into the Holy Spirit.

  3. Dennis / Sep 18 2007 9:46 pm


    I guess I would be in agreement with you as Baptism is strictly only the water and the Tridentine formula.

    During the Rite of Baptism is when the Chrismation occurs (after the actual Baptism takes place.)

    The Chrism oil is not necessary for the sacrament to take place but it is there as a reminder that we participate with Christ as Priest, Prophet, and King and as such are anointed with the oils.

    I guess when I was talking about Baptism, I was thinking about the Rite and not the actual event.

  4. fiester25 / Sep 19 2007 1:12 am

    I would disagree with the NLT translation. It’s way too interpretative.

    However, I would say that this is a case of metanymy. For instance, when we talk about the White House making a press statement, we don’t mean that the actual building is making a press statement. White House here refers to the president and his administration.

    I think that the same thing is going on here. By using the “chrisma,” John is referring to the concepts behind Jesus’ anointing (i.e. baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit).

    I don’t think that it’s a bad thing that some churches anoint with actual oil. I just tend to think the practice took root after the text.

    BTW, what do you mean by “transliterated”? Are you suggesting that this text was originally in Hebrew or something? Just wondering.

  5. Levi Michael / Sep 19 2007 12:17 pm

    In the Orthodox Church Chrismation is the corollary to Confirmation and is the primary Sacrament through which heterodox Christians are received into the EOC.
    Daniel, I meant that if instead of interpreting/translating the word, we substituted English letters for their Greek counterparts, like has been done with the word “baptize.” No, I’m certain the NT was originally written in Greek.

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