In the heart of Hebrew history, there existed a ritual that is fraught with New Testament meaning. It was the practice of anointing a king or a high priest. In the ceremony, oil was literally poured upon the head of the person in symbolism of the filling, covering, empowering of that person by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the office to which he was installed.
Of course, as many things were, this was a shadow, type, picture of the One Whom God would both send and anoint to be the ultimate Prophet, High Priest and King. In the Hebrew language the word for “anoint” is “Messiah.” Therefore, the believing Jews looked for their Messiah (anointed one) to come. In the New Testament times, the primary written language was Koine Greek. The word in that language for “anointed” is “Christos” or in transliteration: “Christ.” Now the person anointed of God in the New Testament is Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. His anointing was not in oil but in the reality that oil symbolized: Holy Spirit. That occurred at Jesus baptism as He and John moved to fulfill all righteousness.
Moreover, Jesus is the head of His body, the church. Since the Head is anointed, (Christ) it is appropriate that the body also be anointed (Christ). That anointing of the body occurred at Pentecost, Acts 2. In that anointing, the body received energetic power and gifts to perform the commission given to it by the Head. The church exploded with true growth, but God was not preparing it for a megachurch, but for its demise through immediate proliferation in Jerusalem, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the earth. It was destined for an effective scattering in a few days. Therefore, those that were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word.
A powerful church then came to exist in Antioch. Teachers such as Barnabas, Paul, and others were a part of it. It was there that the disciples were first called “Christians.” Some say this was a term spoken by locals in contempt of who these people were, and what they were doing. There simply is no proof at all of such an allegation. On the other hand, the locals knew Greek very well. They applied this term to them because they recognized that they were ministering in the name of, and in the Spirit of Jesus the Anointed (Christ).
While to the locals it may have been primarily the works of the church by which the name was applied; to the church it was the things that made them a church by which the name was rightfully applicable. That is, they were born-again people; baptized people, church-body people; dedicated people to the teaching of Jesus. They were indeed Christians (Christ-i-ans) (anointed ones). Any other application of that term today is nothing more than a corruption of it. It does not apply to all the saved today anymore than it applied to all the saved in Old Testament times. It is a term that is uniquely applied to the true members of the anointed body of Jesus: His church: anointed in Spirit and Truth: Christians, in the uncorrupted meaning of the term.
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