The anointing of Christ by the Holy Spirit

Why was Jesus, the Second person of the Blessed Trinity, Anointed by the Holy Spirit His baptism? I understand that His baptism is His way of establishing the Sacrament, and, to take our sins upon Himself, but, the Anointing that followed is a different event, in my mind.
I have reflected and have come up with the following answer, and wondered if anyone in the forum can give their opinion as to whether I am headed in the right direction…

"I think that it is to anoint Him into His human roles. As a human, these roles have to be bestowed from God, but they are the roles of a human, not of God. These roles are Priest, Prophet and King. Biblically, not a single P, P or K ever just walked into the role. God sent a messenger – His prophets (and priests) to anoint people to these roles, or, He at least called them (and anointed them through His Spirit).

The Human nature of Jesus was united to His Divine nature, though it is still a separate nature. It is by His Humanity that Jesus “qualifies” to become a priest, or a prophet, or a King. His Divine nature supersedes these roles, hence the need for the Incarnation, so that a perfect man (made perfect by necessity through the hypostatic union), could offer the perfect sacrifice of reparation to God, in our behalf, in order that mankind may be redeemed to God.

The Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Divine nature of the Son (and the Father), anointed the Human nature of the Son into these roles.

The rest is a mystery…"

I sense a similarity in the anointing of Jesus with the Spirit with the anointing of Elisha with the Spirit, as the mantle of prophecy was being handed over to him from Elijah. Here, the mantle of prophecy was being handed to Jesus from John the Baptist (who was a priest and prophet).

So, this is not to contradict what you’re saying, but to elaborate on a different aspect of it.

There is no anointing of Christ’s human nature into his role. This seems to be blending the ancient heresies of Docetism and Adoptionism, both of which were condemned at the First council of Nicea. From Jesus’ incarnation, he was eternally anointed the Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, for, “Yours is princely power from the day of your birth. In holy splendor before the daystar, like dew I begot you.” (Psalm 110:3)

The descent of the Holy Spirit was not an anointing, but rather a self-revelation, an Epiphany in the original sense of the word. The descent of the Holy Spirit from the Father to the Son was the first revelation of the relationship of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit, as stated in the original Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, eternally proceeds from the Father to the Son within the Trinity (the filioque, ‘and the son’, which we include describes Christ’s sending of the Holy Spirit which He received from his Father outside of the relationship of the Trinity).


CRM_Brother - I have heard a different history and definition of the Filioque to you. Following the Byzantine council of Constantinople, which declared that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father, the Pope at the time apparently proceeded to add “and the Son” when commenting on the situation. This is all heresay, obviously, as I have only heard the comments in passing, and a quick search online couldn’t find for me the sources.
Basically, you said that the Son received the Holy Spirit from the Father outside of the relationship of the Trinity. This suggests that the Father “Generates” the Spirit on His own. I would have thought that that would be impossible, as He had already “Generated” (feel free to pick on my technical terms - I have only heard them in passing and have not read the sources myself) the Son from all Eternity (otherwise the Holy Spirit would be a second and independent variation of the second person of the Trinity, owing to His Existence being of the same type as the Existence of the Second Person of the Trinity). It makes more sense that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son from all Eternity as, to use the term in the Children’s religious classes, the “Love that passes between them.”

Your explanation of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Christ, as a moment of revelation, makes sense in many ways, and I am open to it, but, I feel that the language, as well as the old testament language prophesying that Christ is the “Anointed One” and other variations of anointing, need to be addressed. I am still tending toward it being an Anointing. Happy to hear more of your thoughts on this, though. Thanks.

BTW, I think it is possible that he was anointed to a role after actually having been living it. Our Lady was redeemed prior to the act of redemption.

Hello Bob,
In First Council of Nicea the original creed only states, “[I believe}… in the Holy Spirit,” like the Apostles’ Creed. There is no direct record of the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed until seventy years after at the Council of Chalcedon as a way to get around the Council of Ephesus’ prohibition of new Creeds. It is widely seen that Constantinople set the ancient precedent and practice of adding to existing creeds to suit contemporary needs. Because this offical approval of something not included in the canon comes after the prohibition of new creeds, this precedent was used by the West to introduce filioque into the creed in the intervening years between Constantinople (381) and Ephesus (431), being firmly in place before the oficial declaration and acceptance of Constantinople’s Creed in 451 at Chalcedon. The important point to note here is that Ephesus did not ban the continued uses of former Creeds, of which the Western filioque was one.

I am sorry if I caused any confusion, but this is the exact opposite of my intended meaning. The procession of the Holy Spirit between the Father and the Son is within the Trinity.

Within the Trinity, the Son is begotten. The Son can be seen as generated (the term is used in the East, but many Western Christians reject it due to the nuances in the definition) but only in the sense of the relationship between a father and a son. There was never a time when the Son never existed.

The Holy Spirit, however, has always been seen as proceeding from the Father. He is cannot be separated from the Father and the Son in the sense that He is always in motion from the Father to the Son, as seen in the coming down of the Holy Spirit. This can be seen in the writings of the Church Fathers, especially in the Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon when the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed was laid down. These same Fathers, Sts. Basil of Caesarea, Gregory Nanzianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa (of which the first two are Doctors of the Church) state that the Holy Spirit, as seen in Christ’s promise to send us the Paraclete, then proceeds through the Son to us below.

Both the Eastern and Western Church hold the same position on this. We just say it in different ways and the pride which has built up on both sides over the years since the Schism has made it hard to accept the other side’s formulation. Both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have stated that they would be willing to chuck the filioque out of the Creed if it meant closer ties and more reconciliation, but many have stated that even without it, they would refuse communion.

There are three anointed ministries which make up the prohesied Christ: priest, prohet and king. First, the priesthood of Christ is of the manner (order) of Melchizedek. This, according to Jewish tradition and theology at the time of Christ, meant that the priesthood of Melchizedek was passed on through first-born generation (his birth from his father) in an unbroken line from Adam (skipping Cain through his murder of Abel to Seth). The Jews believed Melchizedek to be Shem, Noah’s first born son and Abraham’s ancestor. As a priest in the manner of Melchizedek, Christ was not anointed in a separate ceremony as the Aaronic priesthood was, but by the very nature of his birth as the first-born Son of the Father, in both divinity as the Son and physically through the Incarnation.

So too, with kingship. In Matthew 2:1-2, the magi came seeking him who had been born the King of the Jews. This, when taken with Psalm 110 quoted in my original post and Isaiah 9:6 which states that as soon as the son who had been prophesied comes, the government shall rest upon his shoulders (reference to the official mantle/cloak of the king) point to the kingship of Christ existing from the moment of His birth.

Finally, not all prophets were officially anointed. Most were considered prophets through the (Holy) Spirit of God working through them. It was the presence of the Holy Spirit which anointed them prophets and any exterior anointing was secondary. Christ’s human nature was joined to his divine one at the moment of the Incarnation. Thus the Holy Spirit was present in Christ’s life at the moment of conception in a much more immanent way than any of the prophets of the Old Testament.

Jesus’ messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, “for the name ‘Christ’ implies ‘he who anointed’, ‘he who was anointed’ and ‘the very anointing with which he was anointed’. The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing.’” His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power”, “that he might be revealed to Israel” as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as “the Holy One of God”. CCC 438 emphasis added

The external anointing found in the Baptism added nothing to Christ, whether in his divine or human natures, but was instead an external sign geared specifically so “that he might be revealed to Israel”.

God Bless,
Br. Ben, CRM

My impression is that you come very close to echoing the passage of the catechism that Br. Ben cited. (CCC 438)

The one caution is that these are not just human roles, but part of the Divine nature as well. Christ is constantly being anointed by the Holy Spirit. Eternally he reigns as king, eternally he offers himself to His Father, eternally he is the Word God speaks to the world.

The Baptism of Jesus does not add anything to Christ’s essential nature, but it revealed Christ to us. The water and the spirit are given as outward signs of the Trinity, so that by those signs we can participate in the divine mission. We reign with Christ, we offer with him, we speak his word. These outward signs were given so that we could recognize him as prophet, priest and king, and ourselves with him.

You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9


You said that these roles (I assume that you are referring to Priest, Prophet and King) are not just Human roles. I would have said that the Priest, at least, is. The ultimate role of a priest is to offer sacrifice to God. Jesus fulfils the role as High Priest, I would have said because He is the first among men. Was He priest before He took flesh? He was predestined to be, but, it was not until the moment of the Incarnation, I would have thought, when he began His Sacrificial Works (His self-emptying of certain Divine privileges, and self-exposure to the potential for all of the weaknesses of mankind (pre-fall), such as the potential for injury, temptation, want, etc. Before the Incarnation, was He offering any Sacrifice?
I suppose, though, on second thoughts, that another priestly duty is intercession. The Holy Spirit is offering up prayers to the Father. He has no Flesh.
Any chance that you can lead me to clarity on this point?


I am on board with most of what you have said - I was discussing this conversation with my wife and she gave me a quizzical look and asked me why I hadn’t been paying attention to the sermon at the recent feast of Christ’s baptism, as what you have been telling me sounds very similar!

Back to the filioque issue, though. You said that the Holy Spirit is continually passing from the Father to the Son. I would suggest that the Holy Spirit would also pass back the other way. After all, the Son IS the perfect living image of the eternal Father. He isn’t a deficient copy. The Love that eternally exists as the Holy Spirit is a reciprocated Love. So, the Son is the self-knowledge and self-love the Father has of Himself, right? The Holy Spirit is the eternal manifestation of the their reciprocated Love for each other, right? At least, in a simplified nutshell, that is how I see it. If my expressions are wrong, feel free to correct.

So, wouldn’t the above suggest that it the Holy Spirit does proceed from the Father and the Son, in the sense that He is OF the Father and the Son?

A side note, is that what we mean when we say “proceed”? There are many nuances and variances in the meaning of that word. I think that the original clear definition means to follow-on from…, but, this is looking at the English word. Do you know what the original Greek word was, and, in the context in which the councils used it, do you know what they meant by the word?

If it is “follow-on from…”, I would always have said that the Holy Spirit followed-on from the Father and the Son.

Anyway, I hope this post isn’t disjointed. I have to rush these in during my morning tea time, or, just before leaving work, so, unfortunately, it doesn’t allow me time for thought (or including references). Any chance that you might be able to clarify what you are saying to me, in the context of what I have always thought, as per my comments above?

The Holy Spirit descends upon Christ for two reasons, 1) to equip him to conduct his ministry, and 2) as a witness to those who saw his baptism, that he is indeed the Messiah spoken about in Isaiah 11.

Thanks Jason, but what equipping does the Son of God require? All I can think of is that He requires Divine witness to His authority, in order that people listen to Him, simply because He came to the
Jews in Flesh, looking no different to them. The voice of God, and the descent of the Spirit on Him, while a revelation of the Trinity( I agree with you on your second point, obviously) also act as His credentials. It stinks, really, to be given an important
role, one where you are in leadership, but then that your employer does not inform those whom he has placed you above (it happened to me once), and so, they don’t believe you or heed you. It is, perhaps as per my initial comments, that Christ has been anointed
into His roles, but not for the same reasons I stated originally. Actually, I nor suspect that it was because the Jews wouldn’t otherwise recognise the authority He has, and the Right to the tiles that are His. Perhaps.

Jesus, Himself, at the end of one of the Gospels declares that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. Maybe, the physical manifestation of this was in His anointing after His baptism.

Is this, per chance, what you meant by Equipping?


I am not an expert on these issues, so I can only tell you how I think about them. There is no guarantee of clarity in that. Probably I should guarantee mystification!

The relationship between Christ and the Father is one of love. The Son is always offering himself to the Father. Think of it like a marriage, where a husband offers himself to his wife, and vice versa. Not just in a physical way, which would not apply to the Father and Son, but “to love, honor and obey.” If you offend your wife and want to appease her, you bring flowers. But you can also just offer her flowers as an act of love. That is how the priesthood is; we think of it in terms of appeasing, intercession, etc. because we need those things. Jesus does not need those things from the Father, but offers himself out of love. He obeys the Father, though his divine will is one with The Father’s, not to appease, but because he loves God. The effect of that offering is forgiveness for those who share his human nature, intercession, etc.

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