The Anointing of the Spirit

“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the Day of Vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” —Isaiah 61:1-3

IN OUR TEXT, the word anointing is used in the sense of ordination. This symbolism is based upon the ancient custom of installing kings, priests, and others into office through the use of anointing oil which was ceremonially poured upon the head of the candidate—this being the official symbol of induction or designation to office.

The title translated ‘Messiah’ from the Hebrew language, and ‘Christ’ from the Greek, literally means ‘Anointed’, or ‘the Anointed One’. This title, applied to Jesus, conveys the thought that he was the one whom the Heavenly Father specially anointed or commissioned to carry out the divine plan for the redemption and restoration of the lost world. This commission includes not only the work of making known the glad tidings of salvation, which Jesus so effectively did, but also the actual and blessed work of executing all God’s life-giving provisions for humanity—a work that will not be completed until the close of Christ’s Millennial reign, but which, nevertheless, has its beginning now, through the church.

In John 7:38,39, we read “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.)” The Old Testament scripture to which Jesus evidently referred is that of Isaiah 12:3, which depicts the world of mankind during the Millennial Kingdom period, drawing water from the wells of salvation.

Proverbs 18:4 reads: “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” By a comparison of these scriptures, the thought is made plain that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life will manifest itself by a pouring out of the message of salvation now, and if faithful in so doing, participating in giving life to mankind during the times of restitution.

The Spirit’s anointing, as outlined in our text, came first upon Christ Jesus, the Head of the church, which is his Body. In our Lord’s case we know exactly when this prophecy was fulfilled. It was when he went to John at Jordan to be baptized, and there presented himself in sacrifice to God.

The Divine acceptance of this sacrifice and its authorization for use in keeping with the divine plan, was manifested by the impartation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus recognized that he had received a special anointing and unction from the Father. While the record indicates that even at the early age of twelve, Jesus was desirous of being about his Father’s business, yet it is not recorded that he actually ministered in the things of God prior to his having received the Holy Spirit at Jordan.

This does not signify that Jesus was not interested in speaking kind words and doing kind acts before that time. As a perfect man he was in the image of God, and possessed the Spirit of God in the full measure possible for such an one. To the extent that the image of God has not been obliterated, even members of the fallen race naturally display a spirit of kindness and love. Certainly this was much more the case with the perfect man, Jesus.

The anointing of the Spirit that was upon Christ Jesus continued with him throughout his entire earthly ministry. The fullness, or completeness, of God’s favor rested upon his every word and act. God was manifested in and through his flesh; for he was the perfect human representation of all the qualities of Jehovah’s glorious character—his every perfect talent being energized by the anointing of the Spirit to render the divinely authorized service committed to him.

John the Baptist referred to the divine anointing that came upon Jesus, saying, “What he has seen and heard, this he testifies; and no one receives his testimony. He who receives his testimony has set his seal that God is true. For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for he gives not the Spirit by measure.” (John 3:32-34, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott)

These words indicate that the anointing of the Spirit is valid only for service that is in harmony with the divine plan—‘for he whom God has sent speaks the words of God’. How very true this was in the case of Jesus. The anointing of the Spirit which authorized him to speak, at the same time enlightened his mind, enabling him to set forth all the divine truths then due in the proper manner to accomplish God’s purpose for that time.


In I Corinthians twelfth chapter, the Apostle Paul points out that all consecrated Christians are baptized by the same Holy Spirit into the one body of Christ, thus becoming a part of the Anointed One. It is clear that the divine authorization for service as outlined in our text applies to the church as well as to Jesus, its Head. A study of Paul’s lesson here also reveals that the anointing of the Spirit has to do particularly with the activities of the Christ. The Holy Spirit begets to a new life; it witnesses for our encouragement; it leads in the way of sacrifice; but it anoints to serve—to work the works of God.

With the followers of Jesus, even as with the Master himself, there goes with the anointing of the Spirit not only the divine authorization to speak and act for God, but also the necessary qualifications for such service. This is suggested in the words of the Apostle John, as follows: “The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”—I John 2:27

In the case of Jesus and the apostles, their anointing of the Spirit was accompanied by a miraculous revealing of truth—an ability to understand the Word of God which had been already recorded in the Old Testament. But with the remainder of the body members this illumination of the mind is not instantaneously miraculous, but comes through a study of, and full devotion to the written Word of God. The anointing in our case is not something that takes place apart from the Word of God, but is one of the blessed results of our sincere and unreserved study of that Word, in order that we may know God’s will and obey it. It must be a sincerity, a devotion, however, that does not stop short of full obedience to the divine will, regardless of what the cost may be.


Near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he entered a synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath Day. When asked to read the Scriptures, selected the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3—our theme text—reading to the point which speaks of the “Day of Vengeance of our God.” He then added that the passage was being fulfilled in their presence, meaning, of course, that he was the one to whom this foretold anointing of the Holy Spirit applied.—Luke 4:16-21

Being perfect to start with, and having his mind miraculously illuminated, the manner in which Jesus obeyed the commission of the Spirit is a perfect example for us, his body members, to follow. He was commissioned to ‘preach good tidings unto the meek’, and he did this zealously and untiringly. As his body members, energized and authorized by the same anointing, we, too, are to be zealous in proclaiming good tidings to the meek.

We are not to force the message upon the rebellious or the indifferent, for these are to be dealt with by and by. The judgments of the Lord, during the present time of trouble upon all nations, and the individual judgments that will later come to the people when the kingdom is established, will mellow and soften their hearts, and effectively prepare them to receive the blessings of divine grace then due.—Heb. 4:7

For the present, the ambassadors of the Lord are to seek especially all those everywhere who manifest that they are ‘feeling after’ the Lord, and are not satisfied with the things of the world—but rather, long for better, nobler things. Such will manifest a teachable disposition, and the message of the kingdom will be a genuine blessing to them.


The meek ones of Jesus’ day, even as now, were doubtless primarily those whose hearts had been broken and mellowed by the trials through which they were passing. They who are proud of heart are an abomination, and to attempt to convert such would be like “casting pearls before swine.” (Prow 3:32; 11:20; 16:5; Matt. 7:6) The broken-hearted, on the other hand, are glad to receive the comforting message of the truth. It is not possible, of course, for us to seek out individually those who are brokenhearted, and witness only to such. The divine method is to sow beside all waters, and in God’s providences the brokenhearted will hear and respond. (Isa. 32:20) Then it is our happy privilege to assist further in comforting them.


Another phase of the work in which the Christ is commissioned to engage is ‘to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound’. The ‘captives’ referred to are those held in bondage to sin and death. The actual release of all such captives will, of course, be accomplished by the Christ during the thousand years of the kingdom reign. As a matter of fact, the fullness of all the work of God which the Christ is divinely authorized to execute will be reached only during that time. However, the work began with Jesus while he was in the flesh, and the same is true with his church.

Yes, Jesus proclaimed liberty to the captives. He bore witness to the fact that the time was coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come forth, and he accentuated the spoken word by awakening some few dead ones from the sleep of death as an illustration of the glorious liberty yet to come to all mankind.

The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit which enabled Jesus and the apostles to heal the sick and raise the dead no longer operate in the church. We, today, are limited to the use of the spoken and written Word. But if we are faithfully following the example of Jesus, we will delight to make every sacrifice possible in order that the glad tidings of a coming resurrection from the dead may be heralded far and wide.


Jesus was also commissioned to proclaim ‘the acceptable year of the Lord.” This expression denotes God’s plan for the Gospel Age, during which the “better sacrifices” of the redemptive program are acceptably offered. (II Cor. 6:2; Heb. 9:23) Jesus was the first to offer acceptable sacrifice—offering himself for the sins of the whole world. His sacrifice provided the ransom, the merit of which makes justification by faith available for the church, and when finally applied on the heavenly Mercy Seat, will make actual restitution to human perfection available for all mankind.

But the sacrificial work of the Christ was not finished in the offering of Jesus, for his body members are also invited to present their bodies “a living sacrifice,” with the assurance that through Christ, such sacrifice will be “holy and acceptable” to God.—Rom. 12:1

In II Corinthians 6:1,2, the apostle in referring to our partnership in this Messianic work says concerning it, “Now is the accepted time.” The Scriptures show that this entire Gospel Age is the acceptable time here referred to by Paul—that is, the time in which the sacrifices of both Jesus and his body members are acceptable in connection with God’s program of reconciling a lost world to himself.

It is still our privilege, in obeying the commission of the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. As long as members of the anointed company are in the flesh, this phase of the divine plan continues, and it is the privilege of each one to minister the truths pertaining to the high calling, and the opportunities of sacrifice in connection therewith, to all who have a hearing ear. This phase of the divine plan was definitely inaugurated for the church at Pentecost, and when the divine purpose connected therewith has been fully accomplished, it will be as definitely ended. It is not our prerogative to determine when the church is complete and the privileges of sacrifice are no more available for the consecrated.


The entire message as given in our text is now due to be proclaimed. On the occasion when our Lord read this prophecy in the synagogue at Nazareth, he omitted the part pertaining to the ‘Day of Vengeance of our God’. This portion of the commission was not due to be proclaimed in Jesus’ day, hence he could not have said concerning it, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”—Luke 4:21

But today it is due time to proclaim the Day of Vengeance, for the manifestation of God’s wrath is already upon a world on fire. It is now our privilege to emphasize the words of the prophet, “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy:”—Zeph. 1:14-18

We are not commissioned to pronounce vengeance upon mankind, but merely to declare that present events are in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. The fact that our privilege of comforting all who mourn is so closely associated with the statement pertaining to the Day of Vengeance, implies that our message should primarily be one of comfort to those who are suffering as a result of the present, trouble in the world. In Jesus’ prophecy pertaining to the time of his Second Presence, he said that all the tribes of the earth would mourn. (Matt. 24:30) We are now witnessing this time of mourning, and it is our privilege to comfort the mourners who have an ear to hear and a heart to accept the glorious message of the kingdom in advance of its inauguration and establishment.

The children of God, who have learned the true source of comfort, are the only ones properly qualified to be real comforters, in the scriptural sense. These have had their own hearts bound up and healed by the Great Physician, and they know where to direct longing hearts needing the balm which only God can give.—II Cor. 1:3,4


Another part of the divine commission omitted by Jesus in his reading of the prophecy is that which speaks of comforting the mourners in Zion. This is a work that the saints of today, who have been enlightened and blessed with the message of present truth, are eminently qualified to do. Many of us were ‘mourners in Zion’ before this refreshing message came to us—mourning because of the confusion and worldliness and dearth of spiritual food which prevailed in the nominal systems wherein we were bound.

In recent years, particularly, many have been exceedingly distressed by conditions of error and sectarian bondage. Many have been mourners, indeed, but as the refreshing message of the truth once enjoyed is again heard and acted upon, how great is the rejoicing! And what a wondrous privilege is ours today—we who are free—to comfort the remaining mourning ones in Zion.

Our message of comfort to all such mourners should be such as will help them lay hold more firmly upon the exceeding great and precious promises of the Lord. These promises, being ratified by the blood of Christ, assure his consecrated followers who have been “called out of darkness into his marvelous light” that they are indeed “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”—Isa. 61:3


In I Thessalonians 5:19, Paul exhorts us to “quench not the Spirit.” The term ‘quench’, as applied to the Holy Spirit, is but another figurative way of illustrating still further the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. It is a symbol that is associated with the thought of the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit. All down throughout the Gospel Age the church has been the light of the world, because the Holy Spirit has shined through its members. Jesus, knowing that his faithful followers would, like himself, obey the divine commission of the Spirit’s anointing, said of such, “Ye are the light of the world.”—Matt. 5:14

As there are various ways by which a light may be extinguished, so there are different means by which the Holy Spirit may be quenched in us. A light will go out if the source of energy upon which it depends—oil, other fuels, or electricity—is shut off. In the case of burning fuels, it can also be extinguished if oxygen is limited when something is placed over the light. So it is with us—the light of the Holy Spirit will die out if fuel is not supplied or replenished, or it may be ‘quenched’ by contact with outside influences like a bushel basket, if it prevents the light from burning as brightly as it should.

In order to have the Holy Spirit in large measure, we must keep near to Lord. This means that if we neglect the privilege of prayer or study of the Scriptures, or of fellowship with others of like precious faith, the illumination of the Spirit will grow dim.

On the other hand, it will become brighter in proportion to our realization of our own imperfections, and to our degree of consecration to the Lord. We manifest our consecration by the zeal with which we study his will, and with which we practice that will in the affairs of life.

The world, the flesh, and the devil are all in opposition to the light of the Holy Spirit. To whatever extent they are brought into contact with the light, to that extent they tend to smother it. If the spirit of worldliness comes into our hearts, it could, if left unchecked, extinguish the Holy Spirit. Likewise, the spirit of selfishness or thoughtlessness could cause the light to grow dim, and finally to die out.

Weariness in well-doing could produce the same result. Indulging in selfish pleasures of the flesh will also tend to quench the Spirit. Sinful pleasures, of course, should be shunned by every Christian. But there are pleasures which are not sinful—yet, nevertheless, if permitted to interfere with our service of God, would tend to quench the Spirit if we indulge in them.

The Apostle Paul exhorts the church not to forget the assembling of themselves together. (Heb. 10:25) Where assembling is not possible, the Lord makes up for the lack in some other way, but where it is possible and then neglected, a quenching of the Spirit is sure to be the result. Those who have this opportunity for fellowship and who do not appreciate it are certain, sooner or later, to find themselves in a very unsatisfactory spiritual condition. In such cases, the light is not burning brightly, else that one would delight to be with fellow-pilgrims in the same narrow way.

Let us, dear brethren, avoid all things that in any way may tend to quench the Spirit. A flame might be revived, of course, even after being largely extinguished, but we are not to presume on the Lord’s grace along this line. So we should ever be on guard lest we allow anything to dim or extinguish our love for the Lord, for the truth, or for holiness and Christlikeness, which are the manifestations of the indwelling Spirit of God.


Ephesians 4:30 is an admonition that we “grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption [deliverance].” This should not be construed to mean that the Holy Spirit is a person which can be made sorrowful by our lack of faithfulness. The thought is, rather, that the Holy Spirit may not have the full influence in our lives that it should, if we willfully oppose that influence. It is an important exhortation, therefore, symbolically teaching that we should do nothing in violation of our covenant of sacrifice; nothing to cause grief to our new Spirit-begotten minds; nothing to smite our conscience through dereliction of duty.

In plain terms, this admonition means simply that our hearts and minds should be ever alert to the leadings and inspirational influences of God’s Spirit as they reach us through the Word of God. We should be quick to hear the instructions of God’s Word, and zealous to obey. It is in this way that the mind of God in us will become more and more the dominating influence of our lives, assuring us of our seal of divine sonship.

How wonderful, then, is the work of God’s Spirit in the Christian life! Let us all, who have covenanted to lay down our lives in sacrifice as Jesus did, seek daily to be more and more emptied of self, that we may be filled more with God’s Spirit, and be like him, and like his beloved Son, in whose footsteps, by his grace, we are endeavoring to walk.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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