Belief in brief: Christ, the anointed

Friday, February 15, 2008 | 12:00 p.m. CST; updated 5:51 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — His name is perhaps one of the most well-known in history, yet few know that “Christ” would not have appeared on a birth certificate for Jesus. “Christ” was not Jesus’ last name but a title with a rich, historical meaning.

Meaning of Anointing

The title “Christ” comes from the Greek word “christos,” meaning “anointed.” According to the American Heritage Dictionary, anointment is the act of dedicating or sanctifying someone or something by applying special oil during a religious ceremony in order to symbolize being used for God’s purpose.

Anointing is a ritual found in Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and is used to designate someone or something as special.

The Hebrew verb “to anoint” is used nearly 70 times in the Bible, according to an article in “The Christian Century” written by Ralph W. Klein, dean and professor of Old Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.

Objects of Anointing

Throughout the Bible, there are many examples of anointing. For instance, there is a section in the Bible where God told the prophet Moses to anoint the tabernacle — a tent serving as a temple where people worshipped — as well as the priests and everything inside the tabernacle to make them holy. Kings and prophets were also anointed as a physical symbol of their spiritual favor.

Other oft-anointed objects included sacrifices and offerings, war shields and people seeking healing or refreshment.

Jesus, the Anointed

Pastor Joe Kline of Faith Baptist Church in Columbia says Jesus was also anointed, but not in a physical sense.

“Jesus was not anointed by a man, but in a spiritual sense,” Kline said. “He was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is referred to as the “oil of gladness” in the Bible. It was because of this special anointment that Jesus was given the name of Christ.

Jesus was called “the Christ” during his life, and especially after his death, when it is said he had accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies, according to the catechism of the Catholic Church. The catechism also says, “It was necessary that the Messiah (the Christ) be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord” to fulfill “the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.”

Sources: Pastor Joe Kline, Ralph W. Klein, American Heritage Dictionary, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Catechism of the Catholic Church

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