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Question 31. Why is he called Christ, that is, anointed?

Answer. Because he is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost, to be our chief Prophet and teacher ; who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption, and to be our only High Priest, who, by the one sacrifice of his body, has redeemed us, and makes continual inter cession with the Father for us ; and also to be our Eternal King-, who governs us by his word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in the enjoyment of that salvation he has purchased for us.



Jesus is the proper name of the mediator; Christ is, as it were, an additional appellation; for he is Jesus in such a manner that he is also the Christ, the promised Saviour and Messiah. Both titles designate his office,, jet not with the same clearness ; for whilst the name Jesus denotes the office of the mediator in a general way, that of Christ expresses it more fully and distinctly; for the name Christ expresses the three parts of his office, viz : prophetical, sacerdotal, and regal. The name Christ signifies the anointed. Therefore, he is Jesus the Saviour, in such a manner that he is Christ, or the anointed, having the office of one that is anointed, which consists of three parts, as has just been remarked. The reason why these three things are comprehended in the name of Christ, is, because prophets, priests and kings were anciently anointed, by which was signified both an ordination to the office, and also a conferring of those gifts which were necessary for the proper discharge of the duties thereby imposed.  Therefore, we thus conclude: He who is to be a prophet, priest, and king y and is called the anointed, he is so called on account of these three offices.  Christ was to be a prophet, priest and king, and is called the anointed.  Therefore, he is called the anointed, or Christ, on account of these three, so that these parts of the office of the mediator are expressed in the one title of the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed. In discussing this question of the Catechism, we must enquire:

                      I.     What is meant by the anointing of Christ, seeing the Scriptures no where speak of his being anointed?

                    II.     What is the prophetical office of Christ?

                  III.     What is the priestly office of Christ?

                 IV.     What is the regal office of Christ?



Anointing was a ceremony by which prophets, priests and kings were confirmed in their office by being anointed either with common, or with a particular kind of oil. This anointing signified, 1. An ordination, or calling to the office for which they were thus set apart. 2. It signified the promise and bestowment of the gifts necessary for the purpose of sustaining those upon whom the burden of either of these offices was imposed.  There was also an analogy between the sign, or the external anointing, and the thing signified thereby : because as oil strengthens, invigorates, renovates, and makes firm the dry and feeble members of the body, and renders them active and fit for the discharge of their office ; so the Holy Spirit enlivens and renews our nature, unfit of itself for the accomplishment of any thing that is good, and furnishes it with strength and power to do that which is agreeable to God, and to discharge properly the duties imposed upon us in the relations in which are called to serve him.

Moreover, those who were anointed under the Old Testament were types of Christ, so that it may be said that their anointing was only a shadow,, and so imperfect. But the anointing of Christ was perfect. For “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Col. 2:9.) He alone received all the gifts of the Spirit in the highest number and degree. Another point of difference is seen in this, that none of those who were anointed under the Old Testament received all the gifts some received more, others less ; but no one received all, neither did all receive them in the same degree. Christ, however, had all these gifts in the fullest and highest sense. Therefore, although this anointing was proper to those of the Old Testament, as well as to Christ, yet it was real and perfect in no one excepting Christ.

Obj. But we no where read of the anointing of Christ in the Holy Scriptures. Ans. It is true, indeed, that it is no where said that Christ was anointed ceremoniously ; but he was anointed really and spiritually, that is, he received the thing signified thereby, which was the Holy Ghost. “There fore God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me.” (Ps. 45:7. Heb. 1:9. Is. 61:1.) The anointing of Christ is, therefore, spoken of both in the Old and New Testament. It behooved Christ to be, not a typical prophet, priest and king, but that one which was signified and true, of whom all the others were but shadows.  Hence it behooved him to be anointed, not typically, but really; for it was necessary that there should be an analogy between the office and the anointing, and, as a matter of consequence, it became necessary that his anointing should not be sacramental, but spiritual; not typical, but real.

Christ was, then, anointed,

1.     Because he was ordained to the office of mediator by the will of his Heavenly Father. a I am not come of myself, but the Father hath sent me.” “God hath spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things.” (John 7:28. Heb. 1:1.)

2.     Because his human nature was endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit without measure ; so that he had all the gifts and graces necessary for restoring, ruling and preserving his church, arid for administering the government of the whole world, and directing it to the glory of God, and the salvation of his people. “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” (John 3:34.) These two parts of the anointing of Christ differ from each other in this manner, that the conferring of gifts has respect to the human nature only, whilst his ordination to the office of mediator has respect to both natures. Hence, an answer is readily furnished to another objection which we sometimes hear: God cannot be anointed Christ is God. Therefore, he could be anointed. Ans. We grant the whole if understood of that nature in which Christ is God, that he cannot be anointed,

1. Because it is impossible for us to add anything of justice, wisdom and power to the Godhead.

2. Because the Holy Spirit, by whom the anointing was effected, is the proper Spirit of Christ, no less, than of the Father. Therefore, just as no one can give thee thy spirit which is in thee, because what thou hast cannot be given to thee ; so no one can give the Holy Spirit to God, because he is in him, from him, is his proper Spirit, and is given to others by him.

Obj. But if Christ could not be anointed as to his Divinity, he is then .prophet, priest, king and mediator, according to his humanity only; for he is mediator according to that nature only which could be anointed. But it was possible for him to be anointed only as to his humanity. Therefore, he is mediator according to his humanity alone. The minor proposition is proven by the definition of anointing, which is to receive gifts. But he received gifts only as to his human nature. Therefore, it was in respect to this alone that he was anointed. Ans. We deny what is here affirmed, because the definition which is given of anointing is not sufficiently distinct nor full; for anointing does not merely include the reception of the gifts which pertain only to the humanity of Christ, but also an ordination to the office of mediator which has respect to both natures. Therefore, although the humanity of Christ alone could receive the Holy Spirit, yet it does not follow that his Divinity was excluded from this anointing, in as far as it was a designation to the office of mediator. Or we may present the argument clearer by considering it negatively: Christ is not mediator according to the nature in which he is not anointed. He is not anointed as to his Divinity. Therefore he is not mediator in respect to his Godhead. Ans.  There are here four terms. In the major, the anointing is taken for both parts thereof, or for the whole anointing for the designation to the office, and the bestowment of gifts. In the minor, it is considered only in relation to one part of the anointing. Therefore, it follows that Christ was anointed according to each nature, although in a different manner, as has been shown. Hence, Christ is prophet, priest, king and mediator, in respect to each nature, which is confirmed in the word of God by these two fundamental rules :

1.   The properties of the one nature of the mediator, are attributed to the whole person in the concrete, according to the communication of properties; but in respect to that nature only to which they are peculiar, as God is angry, suffered, died, viz., according to his humanity. The man Christ is omnipotent, eternal, everywhere, viz., according to his Divinity.

2.   The names, also, of the office of mediator, are attributed to the whole person in respect to both natures, yet preserving the properties of each nature, and the differences in the works peculiar to each; because, both the divine and human nature, together with the operations thereof, are necessary to the discharge of the office of mediator. So that each may perform that which is proper to it, in connection with the other.

Irenaeus says, in relation to this subject, that this anointing is to be understood as comprehending the three persons of the Godhead: the Father, as the anointer, the Son, as the anointed, and the Holy Spirit, as the unction, or the anointing.



Having considered what we are to understand by the anointing of Christ, we must now speak briefly of the three-fold office, or of the three parts of the office of the mediator unto which Christ was anointed. And in order that we may have a proper understanding of this subject, we must define what the terms prophet, priest, and king signify, which may be gathered from the parts of the office which these persons severally discharged.

The word prophet comes from the Greek profhthv, which means to publish things that are to come. In general, a prophet is a person called of God, to declare and explain his .will to men concerning things present or future, which otherwise would have remained unknown, inasmuch as the truths which he reveals are of such a nature that men, of themselves, could never have attained a knowledge of them. A prophet is either a minister, or the head and chief of the prophets, which is Christ. Of those prophets which were ministerial, some were of the Old and some of the New Testament. Among the latter there were some that were generally, and others specially, so called.

The prophets of the Old Testament were persons immediately called, and sent of God to his people, that they might reprove their errors and sins, by threatening punishment upon offenders, arid inviting men to repentance ; that they might declare and expound the true doctrine and worship of God, and preserve it from falsehood and corruption ; that they might make known and illustrate the promise of the Messiah the benefits of his kingdom, and might fore-tell events that were to come, having the gift of miracles, and other sure and divine testimonies so that they could not err in the doctrine which they declared ; and at the same time sustaining certain relations to the state, and performing duties of a civil character.

A prophet of the New Testament specially so called, was a person immediately called of God, and furnished with the gift of prophecy for the purpose of fore-seeing, and fore-telling things to come; such were Paul, Peter, Agabus, &c. Whoever has the gift of understanding, explaining, and applying the holy Scriptures to the edification of the church, and individuals, is a prophet, generally, so called. It is in this sense the term is used in 1 Cor. 14 : 3, 4, 5, 29.

Christ is the greatest and chief prophet, and was immediately ordained of God, and sent by him from the very commencement of the church in Paradise, for the purpose of revealing the will of God to the human race ; instituting the ministry of the word and the sacraments, and at length manifesting himself in the flesh, and proving by his divine teaching and works that he is the eternal and con-substantial Son of the Father, the author of the doctrine of the gospel, giving through it the Holy Spirit, kindling faith in the hearts of men, sending apostles, and collecting to him self a church from the human family in which he may be obeyed, invoked and worshipped.

The prophetical office of Christ is, therefore,

1. To reveal God and his whole will to angels and men, which could only be made known through the Son, and by a special revelation. “He who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” “I speak to the world those things which I have heard of my Father. (John 1:18; 8:26.) It was also the office of Christ to proclaim the law, and to keep it free from the errors and corruptions of men.

2. To institute and preserve the ministry of the gospel; to raise up and send forth prophets, apostles, teachers, and other ministers of the church; to confer on them the gift of prophecy, and furnish them with the gifts necessary to their calling. “And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists,” &c. “Therefore said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets, and apostles,” &c. “For I will give you a mouth, and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay, nor resist.” “The Spirit of Christ spoke through the prophets.” (Ep. 4:11. Luke 11:49; 21:15. 1 Pet. 1: 11.)

3. It pertains to the prophetical office of Christ that he should be efficacious through his ministry, in the hearts of those that hear, to teach them internally by his Spirit, to illuminate their minds, and move their hearts to faith and obedience by the gospel. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” “Then opened he their understandings, that they might understand the scriptures.” “Christ gave himself for the church that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” “And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” “The Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended unto the things spoken by Paul.” “The Lord gave testimony unto the word of his grace.” (Matt. 3:11. Luke 24:45. Ep.  5:26. Mark 16: 20. Acts 16: 14; 14: 3.) To sum up the whole in a few words, the prophetical office of Christ consists of three parts:

To reveal the will of the Father ; to institute a ministry, and to teach internally, or effectually through the ministry. These three things Christ has performed from the very commencement of the church, and will perform even to the end of the world, and that by his authority, power and efficacy. Hence, Christ is called the Word^ not only in respect to the Father, by whom he was begotten when beholding himself in contemplation, and considering the image of himself, not vanishing away, but subsisting, con-substantial, and co-eternal with the Father himself; but also in respect to us, because he is the person that spake to the fathers, and brought forth the living word, or gospel from the bosom of the Father.

Hence it is apparent from what has now been said, what is the difference between Christ and other prophets, and why he is called the greatest teacher, and prophet, and so the chief of all prophets.

1. Christ is the Son of God, and Lord of all; the other prophets were only men, and servants of Christ.

2. Christ brought forth and uttered the word immediately from the Father to men; other prophets and apostles are called and sent by Christ.

3. The prophetical wisdom of Christ is infinite; for even according to his humanity, he excelled all others in every gift.

4. Christ is the fountain of all truth, and the author of the ministry: other prophets merely proclaim and reveal what they receive from Christ. Hence Christ is said to have spoken through the prophets. Neither does he reveal his doctrine to the prophets alone, but to all the godly. Hence it is said, “of his fullness have we all received,” &c. (John 1:16.)

5. Christ preaches effectually through his own external ministry, and that of those whom he calls into his service, by virtue of the Holy Spirit operating upon the hearts of men: other prophets are the instruments which Christ employs, and are co-workers together with him.

6. The doctrine of Christ is clearer and more complete than that of Moses and all the other prophets.

7. Christ had authority of himself; others have their authority from Christ. “We believe Christ when he speaks on account of himself, but we believe others because Christ speaks in them.



A priest in general is a person appointed of God, for the purpose of offering oblations and sacrifices,, for interceding and teaching others. We may distinguish between those who serve in the capacity of priests, by speaking of them as typical and real. A typical priest is a person ordained of God to offer typical sacrifices, to make intercessions for himself and others, and to teach the people concerning the will of God, and the Messiah to come. Such were all the priests of the Old Testament, among whom there was one that was the greatest, usually called the High Priest; the others were inferior. It was peculiar to the High Priest,

1. That he alone entered once every year into the sanctuary, or most holy place, and that with blood which he offered for himself, and the people, burning incense and making intercession.

2. He had a more splendid and gorgeous apparel than the others.

3. He was placed over the rest.

4. He offered sacrifice, and made intercession for himself and the people.

5. He was to be consulted in matters or questions that were doubtful, weighty and obscure, and returned to the people the answer which God directed him to give.  All the rest were inferior, whose office it was to offer sacrifices, to teach the doctrine of the law, and the promises pertaining to the Messiah, and to intercede for themselves and others. Wherefore, although all the priests of the old Testament were types of Christ, yet the typical character of the High Priest was the most notable of them all, because in him there were many things that represented Christ, the true and great High Priest of the Church.

Obj. But if prophets and priest both teach, they do not differ from each other. Ans. They did indeed both teach the people, yet they were variously distinguished. Prophets were raised up immediately by God, from any tribe, whilst the priests were mediately ordained from the single tribe of Levi. Prophets taught extraordinarily, whilst the priests had the ordinary ministry. The prophets received their doctrine immediately from God, whilst the priests learned it out of the law. The prophets had divine testimonies so that they could not err; the priests could err in doctrine, and often did err in their instructions, and were reproved by the prophets.

The signified and true priest is Christ, the Son of God, who was immediately ordained by the Father, and anointed by the Holy Ghost to this office, that, having assumed human nature, he might reveal the secret will and counsel of God to us, and offer himself a propiatory sacrifice for us, interceding in our behalf, and applying his sacrifice unto us, having the promise that he is always certainly heard in behalf of all those for whom he intercedes, and obtains for them the remission of sins ; and finally through the ministers of the word and the Holy Spirit, collects, illuminates and sanctifies his church.

There are, therefore, four principal parts of the priestly office of Christ:

1. To teach men, and that in a different manner from all others, who are called to act as priests ; for he does not merely speak to the ear by his word, but effectually inclines the heart by his Holy Spirit.

2. To offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

3. To make continual inter cession and prayer for us to the Father, that he may receive us into his favor on account of his intercession and will, and on account of the perpetual efficacy of his sacrifice ; and to have the promise of being heard in reference to those things which he asks.

4. To apply his sacrifice unto those for whom he intercedes, which is to receive into favor those that believe, and to bring it to pass that the Father may receive them, and that faith may be wrought in their hearts, by which the merits of Christ may be made over to them, so that they are regenerated by the Holy Spirit unto everlasting life.

From what has now been said we may easily perceive the difference between Christ and other priests.

1. The latter teach only with the external voice; Christ teaches also by the inward and efficacious working of the Holy Spirit.

2. Other priests do not make continual intercession, nor do they always obtain those things for which they pray.

3. They do not apply their own benefits to others.


4. They do not offer themselves a sacrifice for others ; all of which things belong to Christ alone.



A king is a person ordained of God, that he may rule over a certain people, according to just laws, that he may have power to reward the good and punish the evil, and that he may defend his subjects, not having any one superior or above him. The King of Kings is Christ, who was immediately ordained of God, that he might govern, by his word and Spirit, the church which he purchased with his own blood, and defend her against all her enemies, whom he will cast into everlasting punishment, whilst he will reward his people with eternal life.

The kingly office of Christ is therefore :

1. To rule the church by his word and Spirit, which he does in such a manner that he does not only show us what he would have accomplished in us, but also so inclines and affects the heart by his Spirit, that we are led to do the same.

2. He preserves and defends us against our enemies, both external and internal, which he does by protecting us by his almighty power, arming us against our foes, that we may by his Spirit, be furnished with every weapon necessary for resisting and overcoming them.

3. To bestow upon his church gifts and glory; and finally, to liberate her from all evils; to control and overcome all his enemies by his power, and at length, having fully subdued them, to cast them into inconceivable misery and wretchedness.


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