According to Dr. L. Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, pages 54, 55, the Hebrew word “masah” is translated as “anoint” in the NIV and NASB and means “to apply oil” by pouring or spreading. The Old Testament purpose for anointing was that of being used in religious ritual and for induction into leadership offices (e.g., priests – Ex. 28:41; 30:30; Lev. 4:3, 5; 8:12; prophets – 1 Kings 19:16; kings – Judges 9:8, 15; 1 Sam. 9:16; 15:1; 16:3, 12; 1 Kings 1:34). The act has several functions. First, it consecrated religious items and served to ordain religious leaders. In each case, the idea is that of setting aside, or authorizing for God’s service. Second, while it was done by a human agent, it was considered to be done by God Himself (1 Sam. 10:1; 2 Sam. 12:7). Because God Himself set the anointed person apart to be His servant, that person was worthy of special respect (e.g., 1 Sam. 26:9-23). The one anointed was considered chosen by God to carry out his appointed service. It set objects (Ex. 29:36; 40:10) and persons apart for God’s use (even pagan king Cyrus, Isa. 41:1). It was sometimes used to identify the royal line of David (Psa. 2:2; 18:50; 84:9; 89:38, 51; 132:10, 17).
The Greek word “chrio” translated “anoint” expresses the idea of rubbing or spreading oil, perfume, or ointment, and is always used figuratively in the sense of some special appointment or commission by God that sets the person(s) apart (Lk. 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; 2 Cor. 1:21; Heb. 1:9).
The Greek word “aleipho” refers to the literal rubbing of oil or ointment on the body (Matt. 6:13; Mk. 6:17; 16:1; Lk. 7:38, 46; Jn. 11:2; 12:3; James 5:14).
The Greek word “charisma” used only 3 times for “anointing” (1 Jn. 2:20, 27) focuses not on the act of rubbing or spreading (anointing as a process), but rather on that with which one has been anointed. In this case, the Holy Spirit – see Jn. 16:12-15 (used by metonymy, Drs. Vine, Unger, and White, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, NT, p. 51).
In the New Testament, physical anointing is not used in worship nor to consecrate persons for leadership. But there is a spiritual anointing. By it, God Himself consecrates each believer to Himself and equips us with His Holy Spirit.
Jesus is identified as the ultimate Anointed One, a title designating Him as set apart for a distinctive mission. According to Dr. T. Miethe, The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words, p. 28, anointing with oil in the Old Testament set a person or object apart, symbolizing dedication to divine service.
According to Drs. Vine, Unger, and White on pages 8, 9, “mashach” means “anoint, smear, or consecrate”. Its most common use in the Old Testament is a special setting apart for an office or function. In the NT, “chrestos” emphasizes the same of Jesus as God’s chosen one.
According to Dr. M. Unger on page 67 of Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “anointing”, which came from the Hebrew and Greek words “to rub”, was done as an expression of hospitality (Lk. 7:46); for medicinal purposes (James 5:14; Isa. 1:6); as an act of consecration (setting apart) of something or someone to/for a sacred purpose (Gen. 35:14; Ex. 30:23-26); as a coronation custom to set apart kings; or figuratively as a symbol of endowment with the Spirit of God (1 Sam. 10:1, 6; 16:13; Isa. 61:1) for the duties of the office to which a person was consecrated.