Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: anointing

Four women named Mary, three men named James

I suppose there has always been a fashion in names. When I was a boy in school there were three Roberts in one classroom. To our teachers we were Bob, Bobby and Robert; to our classmates we were Bob, Professor and Goofy. I was Professor, I must have been a know-it-all. Goofy was the class comedian; in the midst of a serious discussion he would come out with an off-the-wall remark that would crack up the whole room. The teachers did their best to pretend they were not amused, but even they could not help smiling at times.

Years later, while working in an auto parts factory, there were often three Bob’s out on the floor. Bob Wolfgram was a shift supervisor, Bob Wickenheiser an electrician, and Bob Goodnough was from the quality assurance department. When Bob was paged over the PA system, we had to listen carefully to get the last name.

And back in my younger years all the nice girls were named Joan. At least it seemed that way to me, though I did have a couple of female cousins who were not named Joan and who I thought were pretty nice. I believe Joan was the most popular name for girls in that era.

Getting to the subject at hand, it can seem confusing to sort out all the Mary’s mentioned in the gospels. The name was popular because Miriam was one of the most prominent ladies in the Old Testament. In Hebrew the name was spelled Myriam or Miryam; it became Maria in the transition to Greek and Latin and is spelled Maria, Marie or Mary in most European languages.

The first lady we encounter in the New Testament is Mary, the virgin who was espoused, but not yet married, to Joseph and who became the mother of Jesus. Then there is Mary, the wife of Alpheus (also spelled Cleophas or Clopas), Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene.

There is no indication in the Bible that Mary remained a perpetual virgin. Matthew 1:25 states that Joseph knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son. That plainly indicates that a normal conjugal relationship began after the birth of Jesus and that he was the eldest among the children of Joseph and Mary.

Mary, the wife of Alpheus, is sometimes called Salome, and John 19:25 states that she was the sister of Mary, the wife of Joseph. They both had sons named James and Jude (or Judas). Those who hold to a doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary take verses like Matthew 13:55 to refer to the children of the other Mary and Alpheus. To this Adam Clarke comments: “Why should the children of another family be brought in here to share a reproach which it is evident was designed for Joseph, the carpenter; Mary, his wife; Jesus, their son; and their other children?”

Jesus was a frequent guest in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, this Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with spikenard (John 11:2 and 12:3). This should not be confused with the incident recorded in Matthew 26:7, Mark 14:s and Luke 7:37, of a woman anointing the head of Jesus. This anointing also took place in Bethany, but a few days later in the home of Simon, the Pharisee, and the woman is not named.

Neither should the woman in the latter anointing be confused with Mary of Magdala. Nor should we assume that Mary Magdalene was a former prostitute or a very sinful woman. The scribes and pharisees would surely have made such accusations against her if there were any grounds for doing so. All the information we have of her indicates that she was a respectable woman of some wealth, Jesus had cast seven evil spirits out of her and that she was the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection.

James in the New Testament is a translation of the Greek form of Jacob (Yaakov in Hebrew), the father of the Israelite people. There are three men named James in the gospels and the early church. The first is James, the brother of John. He became the first leader of the church in Jerusalem. James, the brother of our Lord, remained a skeptic during the life of Jesus, but became a believer after the resurrection. He was the second leader of the church in Jerusalem after the first James was murdered by Herod. It is this James who wrote the epistle of James. James the less, son of Alpheus and Mary Salome was also one of the apostles of our Lord.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit

The Bible speaks of three types of baptism: the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of believers by water and the baptism of suffering. Of the three, the most important is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as it is a precondition for the other two. There is evidence of this Holy Spirit baptism throughout the Bible.

The anointing oil which was poured upon the head of priests and kings was a type of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, imparting to them the sanctification and spiritual gifts needed to lead God’s people. First was the anointing of Aaron, the first high priest, by Moses:
And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him. (Leviticus 8:12)

The anointing of kings; the first example is Saul, the second is David:
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance? And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. (I Samuel 10:1, 6, 9-10)
Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. (I Samuel 16:10)

A prophecy of the anointing of the Messiah:
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Psalm 45:7.)

There are many prophecies in the Old Testament of the Holy Spirit being poured out on all believers:
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (Proverbs 1:23)
For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. (Isaiah 44:3)
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:25-27.)
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:28-29)

John the Baptist also prophesied of the pouring out of the Spirit upon all believers, calling it a baptism:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. (Matthew 3;11)

The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at the beginning of His ministry:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. (Matthew 3:16.)

Jesus foretold that believers would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit:
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63.)
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. (Acts 1:5)

The disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4)

Cornelius and his household were the first Gentiles baptized with the Holy Spirit:
And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 10:45.)
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 11:15-16.)

Testimonies of Paul and John on the efficacy of the baptism or anointing of the Holy Spirit:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. (Titus 3:5-6.)
But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:20, 27)

Pauls description of the effect of the baptism of the Holy Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 )
For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. (Ephesians 5:9.)

Note the consistency in all the examples of the Old Testament anointings and in the prophecies and examples of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They all show the anointing or baptism as a pouring or sprinkling, the Spirit coming down from God above upon the heads of men and women. There were often outward signs, such as prophesying or speaking in tongues, but the enduring proof of the anointing or baptism was a new heart and a transformed life.

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