From earliest times the church has practised chrismation immediately
following baptism. In the sacrament of chrismation (Gr. chrismatis,
"anointing") the newly baptised person receives the Holy
Spirit through the anointing with oil by the bishop or priest. The
roots of this sacrament are clear in both the Old and New Testaments,
and are especially brought to light on the Day of Pentecost.
Promises of the Holy Spirit from the Old Testament
In his sermon on Pentecost, St. Peter quotes the well-known prophecy
of Joel, "I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh" (Acts
2:17; see Joel 2:28). This promise was significant because under
the Old Covenant, the gift of the Spirit had been given only to
a few - the patriarchs, the prophets, and some of the judges. Certain
leaders of Israel were indwelt with the Holy Spirit to accomplish
their tasks. Joel, however, prophesied that the Holy Spirit would
be given to all God's people, "all flesh." This was fulfilled
at Pentecost, for Peter exclaims, "this [outpouring of the
Spirit] is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16).Other
Old Testament prophets who speak of this same promise of the Spirit
include Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34) and Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:25-27). In
fact, the Ezekiel passage ties together the water and the Spirit
in a prophetic vision of baptism and chrismation.
Jesus promises the Holy Spirit
Our Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly promised the gift of the Holy
Spirit to His disciples. Early in His public ministry He said, "'If
anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.' He who believes in
Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers
of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit ..."
(John 7:37-39). Jesus also said, "I will pray the Father, and
He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever"
(John 14:16).Christ promised the Holy Spirit would reveal truth
to the Church. "When He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will
guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority,
but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things
to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare
it to you" (John 16:13, 14). Jesus says the Holy Spirit will
bring glory to Christ. This gives us an excellent means of testing
whether or not acts attributed to the Holy Spirit are indeed valid.The
last words of Christ before His Ascension include a promise: "John
truly baptised with water, but you shall be baptised with the Holy
Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:5). This word was fulfilled
ten days later on the Day of Pentecost.
How is the Holy Spirit given to us?
The people who heard Peter speak at Pentecost asked him how they
might receive salvation. He answered, "Repent, and let every
one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission
of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"
(Acts 2:38). We repent (turn from our sins and toward Christ); we
are baptised; we are given "the gift of the Holy Spirit,"
chrismation. That practice has never changed.In Acts 8, Philip,
the deacon and evangelist, preached in Samaria (Acts 8:5-8). Many
believed and were baptised (Acts 8:12). The apostles came and later
confirmed these new believers with the gift of the Holy Spirit through
the laying of hands (Acts 8:14-17). Here is the sacrament of chrismation
following Holy Baptism. Later, the Apostle Paul met some disciples
of John the Baptist who had not been present when Peter spoke at
Pentecost (Acts 19:1-7). They believed in Christ, "were baptised"
(Acts 19:5) and "the Holy Spirit came upon them" (Acts
19:6), again through the hands of the apostle.The promise of God
includes both our union with Christ in Holy Baptism and gift of
the Holy Spirit at chrismation.
from The Orthodox Study Bible
Copyright © 1993 by St. Athanasius Orthodox Academy
Nelson ISBN 0-8407-8391-4
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese