What’s the difference between the anointing and spiritual gifts?
Wow. I’ve never really thought about the difference between the two, or even if there is a difference. Let’s take a look at the Old Testament where the anointing is used on a regular basis and then at the New Testament where gifts are very common.
In the Old Testament, anyone who began serving in a long-term office of Israel, such as the prophets, priests, and kings, was anointed for service. These three offices of Israel were long-term appointments.
What is the anointing?
The anointing is symbolized with oil being applied to the body, understood as the Holy Spirit coming upon a person for service in an office. Offices are ways in which people serve. Objects and people can be anointed for service.
Anointing in the New Testament
The anointing in the Old Testament showed that the Holy Spirit came upon a person for a time to help them in serving God. By this definition, any Christian is anointed because the Holy Spirit dwells in us at salvation.
Some people talk about specific anointing, like the anointing to minister to God’s people through preaching and teaching. Some people think that the fivefold ministry (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers from Ephesians 4:11) is anointed for serving the body of Christ.
1 John 2:20, 27 tells us that every believer has been anointing of knowledge from God. We know the truth that Jesus is the Savior of the world and God’s special Son. This anointing is shared with others through witnessing and reconciliation of sinners to God.
Christians also have ministry that is empowered by the anointing that is on them. They use the gifts of the spirit as part of their ministry to the body of Christ and to unbelievers. If I could say at this way, the anointing is the foundation and the ministry/gifts is the overflow.
What are spiritual gifts?
These are Spirit-infused and empowered abilities that the Holy Spirit gives us to serve the church. They tend to be momentary ways in which he uses us to provide for a need in the body of Christ.
The anointing and the gifts work together in ministry. Sometimes for those going into the fivefold ministry we even use Old Testament images like anointing with oil. The offices of Israel seemed to enjoy the anointing throughout the Old Testament. But in the New Testament all believers enjoy this outpouring of the Spirit.
I do not see the fivefold ministry as offices of the church. I see them as functions within the church. Giving titles to human beings that seem to make them permanent may not be with the Lord envisioned. Yet, all of the people who demonstrate the gifts in the fivefold ministry demonstrate the anointing as well.
These functional gifts of ministry to the church provide leadership in God’s Word and in understanding. They provide direction to the church and for the they need both anointing and the gift to be active in each person’s life who is used in this gifting.