You might have heard church leaders using this phrase “touch not the anointed”. This phrase indicates that a pastor has a special anointing from God, so that anyone who wants to stand up against them, God will put a curse to them. Though we should honor and respect church leaders because the Bible tells us so, this begs a questions. Is ‘touch not the anointed” biblical? Let’s examine this claim by shining the light of Scriptures.
But first let site two of the most common verses used and later we will mention another verse. Here are two most commonly sited verses that church leaders apply to themselves when they’re under criticism:
“Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” — 1 Chronicles 16:22
“saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” — Psalm 105:15
Now let’s dive to the 6 reasons why such claim is farce.
Because it’s taken out of context – One of the worse errors a preacher can commit is taking verses out of context. For all people, a preacher should not fall to this faulty interpretation of Scriptures. Rather, knows how the handle it with utmost care. After all its God’s Word. Sadly they would misused and abused the Scriptures to save themselves.
So what is the real context of those verses? Here’s how Got Questions responds (read the full answer here):
This passage refers to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When “they” (the patriarchs) were few in number, they lived as wandering strangers in a strange land (see Hebrews 11:9). Through all their travels and travails, God protected them, increased their number, and prevented the powerful rulers of the lands where they stayed from harming them.
Got Questions goes on:
So the point of 1 Chronicles 16:22 (and Psalm 105:15) is that nothing and no one can derail God’s will; God had a plan for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He refused to let the kings of Canaan and Egypt injure them: “For their sake he rebuked kings: ‘Do not touch my anointed ones’” (1 Chronicles 16:21–22). The patriarchs were His prophets. They were His “anointed ones”; that is, God chose them to accomplish a specific work in the world.
Because people who are anointed by God had a role to do with Israel – When God appoints someone to have a vital role in Israel; they were poured by oil as a symbol of God choosing them to represent Him. They are prophets, patriarchs, priest, builders and kings. Obviously, pastors were never mentioned as anointed in the Old Testament and has no prominent role in Israel.
Because anointing someone is a direct command by God – In some instances in the Old Testament we can find people who are to be anointed had a direct order from God. That’s an audibly command from God. For example, He will speak to a prophet to anoint the next king. He is speaking to a human. To be anointed biblically, there should be a prophet with a direct message from God to anoint someone. Obviously, God doesn’t speak like that today (we already have the Bible) nor there are prophets in our present time (except for some charlatans you see on TV or in the internet).
Because some of the verses used, in context are about physical harm not criticism – Some pastors usually throws these verses when they’re under heavy criticism. Whether it’s a question of teaching, sin or authority, this is the go to verse to stump the critics. However in close scrutiny, you’ll be surprise that the verse is not about criticism rather someone inflicting physical harm. For example (I heard this on my former church) 1 Samuel 24: 4-15, talks about David not hurting physically God’s anointed when he had the opportunity. In 2 Samuel 1: 13-15 David ordered to kill an Amalikite for killing Saul for the reason that Saul is God’s anointed. So what can we make out of these verses? David choose to honor King Saul by not inflicting physical harm and avenge the one who killed King Saul because the fallen king is God’s anointed. For a pastor to qualify to these verses, he should consider two things. First, he needs to be a king of Israel to be God’s anointed and second, he needs to be in danger of being physically hurt by someone. Any other way is just plain Scripture twisting.
Because being anointed by God doesn’t exempt someone to be criticized, rebuked or corrected. For the sake of argument, let us say that pastors can claim the “touched not the anointed” promise. However, when we examine Scripture, no one utilized it and acquit themselves in their errors or sins nor God promise a special protection to the pastor who is on the hot seat. Remember how the prophet Nathan rebuked King David’s sins (2 Samuel 8: 1-14)? Did David respond “touched not the anointed”? How about Paul confronting Peter (Galatians 2:11). Why didn’t Peter exercise his authority as a pastor by telling Paul to “touch not”? And look how the Bereans were called noble when they examined Paul’s teaching in the light of Scriptures (Acts 17:11)? Did Paul say to the Bereans to back off because he is God’s anointed? If an apostle didn’t use those verses to defend himself, why is it that some pastors loosely uses it to defend themselves?
Keep in mind, TV evangelist or faith healers who peddle prosperity gospel uses the same verses in defense of what they are doing. If a pastor keeps on using those verses to defend himself from criticism, what makes him differ from those false teachers who utilize them for their personal gain?
Never was this mentioned in the New Testament in regards with pastors – Anointing of oil, literally, were attributed only on Jesus (Hebrews 1:9) and the sick (Mark 6: 13, James 5: 14) but not a would be pastor or any other church leaders, much more in a figurative sense. Jesus, the apostles or anyone in the New Testament didn’t make mentioned or practiced it. Neither did they were called anointed (except for Jesus in John 1: 41 HCSB). In Paul writing to Timothy about the qualification of pastors and deacons, Paul made no mentioned of any anointing or special protection for being God’s anointed. The closest thing that we can attribute on being “anointed” is the practical laying on of hands (Acts 8: 18) but there are no mentions of special protection attached to it nor a curse that will fall upon someone who will harm a pastor. Laying hands were recorded not only in the Bible but also in church history. Today it is still in practiced for mission pastors and church planters.
This listacle is not to harbor disrespect or bring shame to a church leaders. Nor do we want a servant of God be removed or to step down to his pastoral ministry. That is not the aim of this post. This post would like to appeal to leaders to be biblically correct in handling the Scriptures. Rather that make excuses for the error and resort to another error which is Scripture twisting, a servant of God must humble and submit himself to the Word of God. My prayer is that God may soften our hearts and seek Him whenever we fall into errors.