Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb χριω (chrio) means to smear or anoint, and is part of the Proto-Indo-European root "gher-", to rub, which also gave us the nouns χρως (chros), skin, and the familiar χρωμα (chroma), color (see below).
The PIE root of these words happens to be identical to another root "gher-", meaning to desire, hence the verb χαιρω (chairo), meaning to rejoice (and thus English words like care, charity and charisma). A third identical PIE root "gher-" has to do with collectivity and enclosures: hence words like carol, choir, chorus, cohort, court and the familiar Latin word hortus, meaning garden. This cluster of roots probably also includes the adverb χωρις (choris), meaning separately or apart, the nouns χορτος (chortos), grass or grassy pasture, and εορτη (eorte), feast, and the verb χαρασσω (charasso), to engrave (hence our English noun character, and possibly also the verb γραφω, grapho, to write).
It's even possible (albeit not often proposed) that all these words stem from some ancient Über-root "gher-", which originated in one of the first words ever spoken, and which expressed one of the most fundamental principles of human thought, namely that of αγιος (agios), or social (i.e. part natural and part artificial) selection of desired qualities and traits, and thus social convergence upon what John the Revelator would dub the New Jerusalem — that is a civilized (i.e. urban, not natural but wholly synthetic) humanity in a state of ελευθερια (eleutheria), freedom-through-law.
Note that the pleasing similarity between the Greek verb χαιρω (chairo), to rejoice, and the noun χειρ (cheir), hand, also exists in Hebrew, namely between the noun יד (yad), hand, and the verb ידה (yada), to praise, hence the name Judah, or Praiser. The equally similar verb ידד (yadad) means to love, hence the name David, meaning Beloved, not unlike the Latin caritas and the English charity (the King James translation of the noun αγαπη, love: agape, 1 Corinthians 13:1).
The Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament) used our verb χριω (chrio) to describe any kind of smearing, pouring or anointing, ranging from regular armory maintenance (2 Samuel 1:21, Isaiah 21:5) to basic medical routines (Isaiah 1:6).
In Israel, the ritualistic act of anointing was performed to inaugurate people into certain specific offices, and only offices that had no earthly superior and were subject only to God. Thus only a High Priest (Leviticus 4:3) and a prophet and a king would be anointed into office (1 Kings 19:16). Regular priests and certain venerable objects would be consecrated by receiving a mere sprinkling of the oil (Exodus 30:26, Leviticus 8:30).
- The noun χρισμα (chrisma), meaning an anointing or the anointed. In the Septuagint, this noun is used to indicate the anointing oil (Exodus 29:7) and the Anointed One (Daniel 9:26). Our word occurs only twice in the New Testament and indicates the state of being anointed in the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20 and 2:27). It needs to be stressed, however, that whoever pertains to the anointing may be dubbed a Christian, but someone who partakes in the anointing is a Christ — see next.
- The noun χριστος (christos), denoting anyone anointed with the holy oil (high priests, prophets and kings; see the link below for our article on the pseudo-name Christ). This noun occurs 565 times in the New Testament, see full concordance and in Hebrew this noun is the familiar word משיח (mashiah). From this Greek noun in turn derive:
- Together with the preposition αντι (anti), meaning over or against: the noun αντιχριστος (antichristos), meaning antichrist. This noun occurs 5 times, see full concordance, or see the link below for our article on the pseudo-name Antichrist.
- The noun χριστιανος (christianos), or Christian, uses the rather rare suffix -ianos, which denotes a being under but not a being part of. Comparable words are: Ασιανος (Asianos), meaning Asiatic, a foreigner living in Asia, as contrasted by Ασιοσ (Asios), a native Asian; Φασιανος (phasianos), the Phasian bird, named after the Φασις (Phasis), the river Phasis; λεοντιανος (leontianos), someone born under the constellation Leo, and παρθενιανος (parthenianos), someone born under Virgo (after παρθενος, parthenos, virgin).
An Asianos was not a native Asian but an immigrant. A Phasianos was a bird, not a fish that swam in the river. A leontianos and a parthenianos were men born under the star signs of Leo and Virgo, not stars that were part of those constellations. Likewise, a χριστιανος (christianos) denotes someone who remotely pertains to the anointing but has no part of it. This word probably originally denoted nationalists who wanted a Jewish king on the Jewish throne (folks whom Jesus actively avoided: John 6:15), and which erroneously came to be applied to the Hodosites, or People of the Way (Isaiah 35:8, John 14:6, Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 24:14, 24:22). The word χριστιανος (christianos) occurs in Acts 11:26, 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16 only. See the link below for our extended article on the spectacular misnomer Christian.
- Together with the adjective ψευδης (pseudes), meaning false: the noun ψευδοχριστος (pseudochristos), denoting someone who claims to be anointed but who is probably just being religious (Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22 only).
Compound derivations that contain our verb χριω (chrio):
- The verb εγχριω (egchrio), from the preposition εν (en), meaning in, on, at or by, and our verb χριω (chrio). The verb εγχριω (egchrio) also means to anoint but with a rather mundane reflection, largely indicating a lubricating or smearing in a medical or perhaps even recreational sense; eyes with salve (Revelation 3:18 only).
- The verb επιχριω (epichrio), from the preposition επι (epi) meaning on or upon, and our verb χριω (chrio). The verb επιχριω (epichrio) means a smearing over. This verb occurs only in John 9:6 and 9:11, where Jesus over-smears the eyes of the blind man.
The noun χρως (chros) means skin (Acts 19:12 only) and derives from the same Proto-Indo-European root "gher-" as the verb χριω (chrio), to anoint, and thus the noun χριστος (christos), anointed or Christ (see above). From the same root comes the familiar noun χρωμα (chroma), which occurs often as synonym for χρως (chros), skin, but which emphasizes the color of the skin rather than the organ itself or the fact that it encloses the body, not unlike a fence does a pasture.
Note that the Greek word for body, namely σωμα (soma), looks like a derivation of the verb σωζω (sozo), to save. The Greek word for flesh is σαρξ (sarx), hence our English word sarcasm (i.e. taking a bite out of someone's flesh). Quite to the contrary, the Hebrew word for flesh is בשר (basar), which stems from the verb בשר (basar), meaning to bring glad tidings, which is not unlike the Greek verb ευαγγελιζω (euaggelizo), meaning to deliver a good message, hence our English verb to evangelize, which in turn derives from the noun αγγελος (aggelos), messenger, from which comes our English word angel.
All this demonstrates that one of the first ideas our very distant ancestors sought to put to words was that humanity's mind is self-similar to the entire biosphere, and that the emergence of sapiens within the biosphere was self-similar to (i.e. governed by the same principles, and producing the same basic patterns as) the emergence of life within the world of polarized energy (poetically dubbed the "dust of the earth").
When God created Adam, he gathered the dust of the earth into a viable composition and released into that composition the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). And Adam became a living soul: a hyper-complex assembly of chemical processes that was separated from the world of large by Adam's skin. Within Adam's body, the same natural laws applied as outside his body, but the complexity of his body was such that it formed a region of spacetime that was quite unlike regular spacetime at large.
This is a difficult idea, but imagine two identical objects, one white and one black, and the sun shines on both objects. The white object will reflect most of the light, whereas the black one will absorb most of it. The white object will stay cool but the black object will warm up. The blacker the object, the warmer it gets, and that is because the separate molecules that make up the black object absorb the light and use it for their own private motions. That causes the molecules to act like exited dogs in a pen, and every bounce between them causes the heat we measure.
Now imagine that the black molecules somehow find a way to no longer utilize any absorbed energy for their own jumping and jolting, but rather engage with the other molecules in a kind of super-cooperation that allows all absorbed energy to be converted into a chemical equivalent that can be stored, retrieved and re-used at will. Now the black object can absorb energy without getting warmer, which is a thermodynamic paradox. It would mean that the black object is now blacker than perfectly black: trans-black or transfinitively black. And that is precisely what defines life.
A living plant cell is able to absorb sunlight and convert it into a chemical compound (nectar, oil), which means that it absorbs energy without getting warmer or burning up (Exodus 3:3). A human mind does precisely the same thing, by converting observations into words and storing these words within a memory (and eventually written text; see our article on YHWH) for later use (Psalm 16:10). That means that stellar black holes, living cells, and sapient human minds are basically the same thing. They emerge for the same reasons, via natural causes, and operate according to the same general principles. This is called self-similarity and that is a quality of fractals. For more on fractals, see our article on αστηρ (aster), meaning star.
God formed Adam's body from the dust of the earth and released into it the breath of life, and Adam became a living soul. Much later, God promised Abraham that his descendants would be like the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:16, as well as like the stars in the sky: 15:5). Later still, Paul explained that those who are of faith are sons of Abraham (Galatians 2:7). Like before, God took that Abrahamic dust of the earth, gathered it into a vital composition, released his Spirit into it (Acts 2:4), and the Church became a new creature, wholly alive within a world of dead dust (Ephesians 2:1).
Jesus was the first-born of a much larger body (see our article on the name Stephen for a look at the similarity between the passion of the Christ and the mammalian reproductive cycle), or said differently: Jesus was the zygote of a whole new being, a being whose Body consists of a multitude of cells that nobody can count, but which are all based on the same genetic constitution that the first-born was, namely the Word of God. Everybody who partakes in the anointing (1 John 2:20) is an anointed and thus a Christ (not a Christian, a Christ).
And just like every complex body consists of transparent eye-cells, contracting muscle cells, policing white blood cells, electricity conducting nerve cells, remembering brain cells, even acid producing stomach cells and feces processing bowel cells (who in turn host vast colonies of alien creatures such as bacteria and fungi), so comprises the body of Christ (the tribe of anointed ones) vastly differing leanings, passions, convictions, applications, interests and so on. And the only thing they have in common is the Word of God, and they all are able to recognize this Word at the core of whatever weirdo shows up, or the lack of it in whatever well-spoken charlatan tries to get in.