Holman Bible Dictionary
The Hebrew verb mashach (noun, messiah ) and the Greek verb chrio (noun, christos ) are translated “to anoint.” From ancient times the priests and kings were ceremonially anointed as a sign of official appointment to office, and as a symbol of God's power upon them. The act was imbued with an element of awe. David would not harm King Saul because of the anointing the king had received (1 Samuel 24:6 ). Likewise, Israel (Psalm 89:38 ), and even Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1 ) are called God's anointed because of God's working through them. Israel came to see each succeeding king as God's anointed one, the messiah who would deliver them from their enemies and establish the nation as God's presence on the earth.
In the New Testament anoint is used to speak of daily grooming for hair (Matthew 6:17 ), for treating injury or illness (Luke 10:34 ), and for preparing a body for burial (Mark 16:1 ).
Christians see Jesus as God's Anointed One, the Savior (Acts 10:38 ). The same symbolism as in the Old Testament is employed in this usage: God's presence and power are resident in the anointing. Likewise, the Christian is anointed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21 ; 1 John 2:27 ) for the tasks of ministry.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Anoint'. Holman Bible Dictionary. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/a/anoint.html. 1991.