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Anoint, blot out (Greek)

There are two main words, with their compounds, for "anoint".

Classically, "chrio" has the idea of "smear" or "daub". This comes out in the use of "epichrio" for the Lord's smearing of mud on the eyes of the blind man (Joh 9:6,11). The same idea is there in the exhortation to Laodicea to "anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see" (Rev 3:18), an allusion back to the blind man just mentioned? -- only here the word is "enchrio", suggesting that the ointment be rubbed well in.

However, in the Bible, "chrio" and its highly important derivative "christos" lose the idea of smearing, and take on the notion of anointing for some holy office. In the OT (LXX) it is used often for the anointing of priests especially and the dedication of the equipment of the sanctuary, less often of the anointing of kings (eg Saul, David, Solomon) and on at least one occasion regarding the office of prophet: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek...." (Isa 61:1). Compare also Elisha: 1Ki 19:16.

In all these OT examples the Hebrew original is "mashiach", from whence is derived "Messiah".

Out of five passages, "chrio" is four times used of the anointing of Jesus. In each of these the emphasis is on declaring him to be Christ (Luk 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb 1:9).

How daring, then, for Paul to use this word with reference to himself and his fellow-preachers! But he does so only because he recognizes Christ at work and themselves as humble instruments in that work: "He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God" (2Co 1:21: a link with Luk 4:18 -- "anointed to preach" -- is not difficult). In the next verse Paul alludes to the gift of the Spirit as the anointing oil (only he changes the figure): "Who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."

Similarly the apostle John twice refers to the gift of the Spirit as an "anointing" ('chrisma': 1Jo 2:20,27). Here the allusion (see context in both places) may be to Spirit gifts of interpretation and "discerning of spirits", or it may be to the Spirit's guidance given them through the apostles; it is difficult to be sure.

"Aleipho" is used where the anointing does not signify an appointing to office as prophet, priest or king. Hence it is used of the anointing of Jesus (Luk 7:38,46; Joh 12:3), and of the anointing of the sick by the apostles (Mar 6:13; Jam 5:14).

The more emphatic "exaleipho" is the equivalent of OT "machah", used of wiping a dish (2Ki 21:13), euphemistically of the appetite of a whore (Pro 30:20) and of the blotting out of a man's name from remembrance (Exo 17:14; 32:32; cp Rev 3:5). But in the NT there is significant use of this word not with respect to a man's sins but to the "handwriting of ordinances" (Col 2:14) which makes his sin evident!

Specially important is the use of "exaleipho" with reference to the "anointing out" of the sins of Israel on the Day of Atonement through the splashing of sin-offering blood on the mercy seat: "I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions" (Isa 43:25; 44:22; and cp Jer 18:23; Psa 69:28). This, for certain, is the allusion in Acts 3:19: "Repent ye therefore... that your sins may be blotted out, and that there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord (reference to the high priest returning from the Holy of Holies to bless the people)." There is a long list of reasons why it should be concluded that the healing of the lame man and this ensuing discourse should be regarded as taking place on the Day of Atonement.

That sordid imprecation uttered against David: "Let not the sin of his mother be blotted out" (Psa 109:14), was probably spoken with reference to the trial of jealousy detailed in Num 5: "The priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water" (v 23). The suggestion that has been made, that there was some truth in this beastly insinuation regarding the mother of David (and Jesus), does not deserve a moment's consideration, any more than the other imprecations spoken in that psalm against the Lord's anointed.

Not only the anointing out of sins is signified, but also of the misery which is the outcome of those sins: "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." The Lord found this worth repeating twice from Isa 25:8 (Rev 7:17; 21:4).

There is just one occurrence of the word "murizo" (from "muron", myrrh). Whereas John's records uses "aleipho" (Joh 12:3) for the anointing of Jesus, the Lord himself preferred "murizo" because of its associations with the embalming of a corpse: "She is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying" (Mar 14:8).

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