The Anointed: Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 12


31. Why is He called “Christ,” that is, Anointed?
Because He is ordained of God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit1 to be our chief Prophet and Teacher,2 who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption;3 and our only High Priest,4 who by the one sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us, and ever lives to make intercession for us with the Father;5 and our eternal King, who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us.6
[1] Heb. 1:9. [2] Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22. [3] Jn. 1:18; 15:15. [4] Ps. 110:4; Heb. 7:21. [5] Rom. 5:9–10. [6] Ps. 2:6; Lk. 1:33; Matt. 28:18; *Isa. 61:1–2; *1 Pet. 2:24; *Rev. 19:16.

32. But why are you called a Christian?
Because by faith I am a member of Christ1 and thus a partaker of His anointing,2 in order that I also may confess His Name,3 may present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him,4 and with a free conscience may fight against sin and the devil in this life,5 and hereafter in eternity reign with Him over all creatures.6
[1] Acts 11:26; 1 Jn. 2:27; *1 Jn. 2:20. [2] Acts 2:17. [3] Mk. 8:38. [4] Rom. 12:1; Rev. 5:8, 10; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6. [5] 1 Tim. 1:18–19. [6] 2 Tim. 2:12; *Eph. 6:12; *Rev. 3:21.


The Anointed

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2Co 1:21-22 NKJ)

In the Old Testament, men were commonly anointed with oil to announce their appointment by God to the office of prophet, priest or king. The prophet was a teaching and exhorting office, calling people to repentance and providing them guidance about God’s will in their lives. The priest held a religious office. He offered sacrifices on behalf of the people and taught the people the right use of the ceremonial system of the Mosaic Law. The king had the civil function; he ran the government and the military, providing law and order and protection from the nation’s enemies.

No man could hold all three of these offices in the Mosaic Law. In particular, no man could be both a king and a priest, and when they tried, like Saul, they came under heavy condemnation. That teaches us the limited nature of the Mosaic Law—it was never supposed to be the final state of things. Moses’ Law, among other functions, pointed forward to the One who would come and hold all the offices, who would be not just anointed but The Anointed, who would possess the Spirit of God without limit and perform all the offices perfectly.

Most of the Old Testament officers performed their job badly. A few were pretty good, but they were the exceptions. Prophets got rich telling people flattering lies. Priests neglected the true ordinances of God’s law, tolerated and even promoted the worship of foreign idols, and extorted money from the people for the performance of their duties. Kings advanced their own power and wealth instead of the good of the nation and brought Israel into forbidden and disastrous alliances with foreign powers. The result was that people were not warned of the danger of their sin, were denied access to the pure and true worship of God, and often came under the attack and domination of Israel’s enemies. But God’s promise always remained. The time would come when the perfect archetype would arrive, the faithful Prophet, the righteous High Priest, and the good and true King, and the result would be Israel’s everlasting blessedness. Jesus is that One, whose title, “Christ”, is the Greek version of the word “Anointed”, which in Hebrew is “Messiah.”

Adam was created to be all these things, to speak the truth, to live with God in harmony and love, and to rule over creation on God’s behalf. Jesus, the Last Adam, comes to restore what Adam lost through his rebellion. When we are united to Christ by faith (Q. 32), then we share in His anointing and begin to become what He is in His perfect humanity (never in His deity, of course). The Catechism shows us that the Christian likewise becomes a prophet, declaring the truth of Jesus Christ and by our very lives calling those around us to repentance; a priest, offering sacrifices of obedience and thanksgiving and dwelling in fellowship with God; and a king, ejecting the Devil from his hostile occupation of our lives and bringing ourselves and everything under our influence under the righteous rule of God’s law.

Revelation frequently describes saints in their saved state as “kings and priests” before God (Rev. 5:21) This is what we are created for and what we will be, when we are united to Christ by faith, because it is what He is, and His life and power is remaking us and shaping us to be like Him (Romans 8:29). Understanding what it means that Jesus is the Christ and that we are to be Christians, that He is the Anointed One and we are anointed with Him through the Spirit, is vital to understanding how, and to what, we are saved.