What Does “To Be Anointed” Mean in the Bible

a stone arch on the beach with the ocean in the background
By Daniel Goodman
Kelli Harris
Edited by Kelli Harris

Updated May 30, 2024.

Priest rubbing Christian worshipper's hands with anointing oil

The definition of the word "anointed" is to have holy water or aromatic oil, also known as anointing oil, rubbed on your head as part of a religious ceremony. Biblically, to be anointed was something of great significance, as it symbolized the Lord's favor. To be anointed carried a great deal more weight in biblical times than it does today.

The Meaning of Anointed in the Bible

The term anointed appears many times in the bible. For example:

  • Samuel 16:3: "Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you."
  • Psalm 20:6: "Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed."
  • Exodus 30:30: "You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests."

In these instances, anointing does not mean physically anointed as per the dictionary. Instead, it means to be chosen and protected by God and to be within his favor.

Who Is the Anointed One?

In the verses above, we see that the phrase anointed is used fairly often, which begs the question: who is the anointed one? When the Lord's anointed one is referenced, it simply means that this individual has the favor of God. In some instances, the anointed one means Jesus Christ the Messiah, as anointed by God. The word messiah here is actually the Hebrew word that translates to "anointed one".

How Does One Become Anointed by God?

All Christians who are pure of heart and strong of faith are anointed by God. You must practice your faith rigorously, and proclaim God publically to prove that you are not ashamed. If you truly believe in the Lord, then you shall be one of his anointed.

“Touch Not My Anointed”: What Does It Mean?

"Touch not my anointed" is a promise from God that no harm shall come to those who have favor, and that they shall be successful in their endeavors if it is the Lord's will.

Becoming Anointed by God

Aside from the instances where the "anointed one" is referring to Jesus himself, there is no particular person. It is rather a concept which applies to all of those who have favor from the Lord. This should motivate us as Christians to continue to spread the Lord's word, and to do good to others so that we may also be anointed in the eyes of the Lord.