The Baptism of Christ, or: The Anointing of the King -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 09:2 (Winter 2000)
Article: The Baptism of Christ, or: The Anointing of the King
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Baptism of Christ, or: The Anointing of the King1

David J. MacLeod2


In the Book of 1 Samuel (16:1–13) the prophet Samuel was told to go to Bethlehem to anoint a new king. When he arrived in Bethlehem he invited the elders of the village and the family of Jesse to a sacrifice. He then had Jesse bring forward his sons, but the Lord said that none of the seven was His choice to be king. When Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other children, Jesse said that he had one more, his youngest, who was out tending the sheep. Samuel told Jesse to send him, and when he arrived Samuel saw that he was physically fit and handsome in appearance. The Lord then spoke to Samuel, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he” (v. 12). Samuel then took a flask of olive oil3 and poured it on David’s head. The text then says that “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.” This anointing with oil consecrated or set David apart for service as king, and the coming of the Spirit empowered him for the task.4

In Old Testament times three official groups, namely, prophets (1 Kings 19:16; Isa. 61:1), priests (Exod. 30:30; 40:13, 15), and kings (1 Sam. 2:10, 35; 10:1; 15:1) were commonly inaugurated into their offices by a ceremony of unction or anointing. The word anoint in Hebrew is מָשַׁח (mās̆aḥ) from which we get the word Messiah (ֶָמשִׁיחַ mās̆îaḥ) or “anointed one.” The Greek word is χρίω (chriō, “I anoint”) from which is derived Χριστός or “Christ,” which also means “anointed one.”

It is striking that the early Christian writer, Eusebius, “the father of church history,” referred to the anointed officers of Israel — the prophets, priests, and kings — as “types…of the...

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