Who Is the "Anointed One" in the Bible?

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The term "anointed one" is used several times throughout the Bible and in several different situations. For that reason, we need to understand right off the bat that there isn't a single "anointed one" in the Scriptures. Rather, the term applies to different people depending on the context in which it is used. 

In most cases, the "anointed one" being described is a regular person who has been specially set apart for God's plan and purposes. However, there are other times when the "Anointed One" being described is God Himself -- largely in connection with Jesus, the Messiah.

Anointed People

Most often, the term "anointed one" is used in the Bible to refer to a person who has received a special calling from God. There are many such individuals in the Scriptures -- most often notable public figures such as kings and prophets.

King David, for example, is often described in the Old Testament as God's "anointed one" (Psalm 28:8). David also used a similar expression, "the Lord's anointed," to describe King Saul on a number of occasions (1 Samuel 24:1-6). King Solomon, David's son, used the same expression to refer to himself in 2 Chronicles 6:42.

In each of these situations, the person described as "anointed" was chosen by God for a special purpose and a heavy responsibility -- one that required a deeper connection with God Himself.

There are also times when the entire assembly of the Israelites, God's chosen people, are described as God's "anointed ones." For example, 1 Chronicles 16:19-22 is part of a poetic look at the Israelites' journey as God's people:

19 When they were but few in number,
few indeed, and strangers in it,
20 they wandered from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another.
21 He allowed no one to oppress them;
for their sake he rebuked kings:
22 “Do not touch my anointed ones;
do my prophets no harm.”

In each of these situations, the "anointed one" being described is a regular person who has received an extraordinary call or blessing from God.

The Anointed Messiah

In a few places, the Bible authors also refer to an "Anointed One" that is different from everyone described above. This Anointed One is God Himself, which modern Bible translations often make clear by capitalizing the letters in the term.

Here's an example from Daniel 9:

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.
Daniel 9:25-26

This is a prophecy given to Daniel while the Israelites were captives in Babylon. The prophecy describes a future time when a promised Messiah (the Anointed One) would restore the fortunes of Israel. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight (and the New Testament), we know that promised One to be Jesus, the Messiah.

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O'Neal, Sam. "Who Is the "Anointed One" in the Bible?" Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, learnreligions.com/who-is-the-anointed-one-in-the-bible-363390. O'Neal, Sam. (2020, August 26). Who Is the "Anointed One" in the Bible? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/who-is-the-anointed-one-in-the-bible-363390 O'Neal, Sam. "Who Is the "Anointed One" in the Bible?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/who-is-the-anointed-one-in-the-bible-363390 (accessed June 3, 2023).