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The Johannine Anointing: Focusing on Truth


In 1977, after a consideration of all New Testament literature, J. K. Moon gave this classic Pentecostal/charismatic, albeit eclectic, definition of the anointing:

The anointing is the special presence of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of God’s servant which produces an inspiring awareness of the divine presence. His entire faculties are enhanced (heightened illumination, courage, wisdom, discernment, faith, guidance, memory, vocabulary, emotions, intellect, and physical performance) beyond natural abilities. The Word of God is quickened to accomplish its regenerating, healing, edifying, and sanctifying objective. And those ministered to are invested with a God-consciousness. …1

John also spoke of an anointing, and his description … is much different than Luke’s.

For most Protestant Christians the word anointing has this univocal meaning, the rich meaning with which Luke impregnated it in his usage of its verb form in association with the empowerment of Jesus when the Holy Spirit descended upon him (3:22; 4:18). According to Luke, when the Spirit came upon Jesus, he experienced the power (4:14) and fullness (4:1) of the Spirit, which enabled him to victoriously endure satanic attacks, to preach the gospel, to effect inner-healing (4:18), to do good, and to heal those oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). However, John also spoke of an anointing, and his description, defying Moon’s definition, is much different than Luke’s.

The Lukan and Johannine Anointings

Oil of anointing, by Stan Myers.
Used with permission

In 1981, David Bundrick specifically addressed the Johannine anointing and isolated it, rightly so, as one particular kind of anointing, i.e., distinct from the Lukan anointing. Bundrick hinted at the distinction when he wrote that, “While emphasis today is placed upon ‘the anointing of the teacher,’ this text [1 John 2:18-27] demonstrates that ‘the anointing upon the student’ is vital.”2 But neither Moon nor Bundrick clearly defined and delineated both the Lukan and the Johannine anointings.

It cannot be said that the Lukan anointing abides, and it cannot be said that all Christians have it, whereas the Johannine anointing is had by all Christians and abides.

The distinctive marks of the Lukan anointing are the accompanying, mighty acts of God (such as, healings, exorcisms, evangelism). The Johannine anointing, on the other hand, is the chrisma (only John uses this word in its noun form). Its effect is more internal and thus hidden from the view of others. (It is not to be confused with Paul’s unrelated term charisma.) It cannot be said that the Lukan anointing abides, and it cannot be said that all Christians have it, whereas the Johannine anointing (chrisma) is had by all Christians (1 John 2:20) and abides (1 John 2:27). The Johannine anointing teaches and lends assurance to the believer that he has the truth and should remain in Christ (1 John 2:27; cf. 2 Cor. 1:21-22); the Lukan anointing enables one to be a teacher and lead others to Christ or further in Christ. Whereas the Lukan anointing is evidenced by external, mighty deeds of God for the performance of God’s will, the Johannine anointing is the quiet, inner witness of the Spirit, which certifies the truth of a teaching.


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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2005

About the Author: Robert W. Graves, M. A. (Literary Studies, Georgia State University), is the co-founder and president of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting Pentecostal scholarship through research grants. He is a Christian educator and a former faculty member of Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, and Kennesaw State University (adjunct). He edited and contributed to Strangers to Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture and is the author of Increasing Your Theological Vocabulary, Praying in the Spirit (1987 and Second Edition, 2017) and The Gospel According to Angels (Chosen Books, 1998).

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