1. Religion & Spirituality
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Anoint: How are People or Things Anointed? What does Anoint Mean in the Bible?


Samuel Anoints Saul

Samuel Anoints Saul

What does Anoint Mean?:

To anoint means to touch, rub, or smear with oil — the subject of anointing may be a person or an object and the oil involved is holy from having been sanctified by a religious cleric at some point. The use of oil in this manner stems from the fact that scented oils were a luxury in the ancient world, so they were only used for special occasions — including especially religious ones. They were also used for their medicinal qualities.

Why Were People Anointed?:

The Bible describes many different circumstances where people and objects are anointed. It was common to anoint objects in a ceremony dedicating them to the service of God, for example the furnishings of the tabernacle. In Israel, the king was anointed with oil to signal his service to God and the people. Priests were anointed to signal their dedication to God.

What Does it Mean to be Anointed?:

Although anointing might occur in many different circumstances, the general meaning tends to be consistent: whatever or whomever is anointed is dedicated to the service of and obedience to God. They are sanctified, which means that they are made spiritually and ritually pure, a necessary condition for the service of God.

What is Unction, or Extreme Unction?:

In Roman Catholicism, unction is the act of using oil for the purpose of anointing someone — in particular, for anointing a sick person. Thus, it is commonly called “Anointing of the Sick” and it became so important that, in the Middle Ages, it was made one of the seven principle sacraments. The purpose of unction, sometimes also called “Extreme Unction,” is to forgive sins and to heal the body, mind and spirit.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.