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The Mantle In The Bible: A Prophetic Look At Calling & Anointing

Mantles are common in the Bible, even though some translations use different words, such as “cloak.” From one of these verses, we even get the English saying “taking up the mantle,” referring to someone taking up another person’s responsibility or authority.

This even happens when a new king is crowned; they are covered with the previous king’s mantle or cloak.

But what does the mantle signify? Is there a deeper Biblical meaning behind it, and what can modern believers learn from the mantle in the Bible?

Let’s look at the different uses of mantles in the Bible and find out.

Key Takeaways

• The mantle in the Bible represents God’s calling, authority, and enabling power given to someone.

• It symbolizes passing on a calling/responsibility from one person to another. (e.g. Elijah to Elisha)

• The “anointing” refers to being consecrated/called to an office, not unique spiritual abilities.

• All believers already have Christ’s “anointing” through the Holy Spirit.

• Focus on taking up the mantle of Christ rather than seeking unique “anointings” from others.

The Mantle In The Bible: A Prophetic Look At Calling & Anointing

What Is A Mantle In The Bible?

When we read through the Bible, especially in the King James Version, we see the word “mantle” mentioned quite often.

However, there are a few different Hebrew words that are translated as “mantle,” all with different meanings, and newer translations often change the word to reflect these differences.

The first mention of “mantle” in the King James Version is in Judges 4:18, when Jael deceived Sisera into believing she wanted to help him escape his pursuers.

 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. – Judges 4:18 KJV

The Bible says she covered him with a mantle to hide him. The word used there is “semiykah” , which means “rug;” that’s also how modern translations state it.

שְׂמִיכָה sᵉmîykâh, sem-ee-kaw’; from H5564; a run (as sustaining the Oriental sitter):—mantle.

So, that is not the type of “mantle” we are referring to.

The most common words used for “mantle,” referring to a type of coat or clothing, are “meiyl” (H4603) and “addereth” (H155), so these are the words we should focus on.

מָעַל mâʻal, maw-al’; a primitive root; properly, to cover up; used only figuratively, to act covertly, i.e. treacherously:—transgress, (commit, do a) trespass(-ing).

אַדֶּרֶת ʼaddereth, ad-deh’-reth; feminine of H117; also the same as H145 something ample (as a large vine, a wide dress):—garment, glory, goodly, mantle, robe.

an ancient mantle or cloak

Within this interpretation, mantles are pieces of clothing, like coats or cloaks, and they carry huge significance.

What Is The Significance Of A Mantle?

The first mention of a mantle within this context is 1 Samuel 15:27.

And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.

We see the prophet Samuel confronting Saul because he did not obey the command of the Lord to annihilate the Amalekites. 

As Saul turned to walk away from Samuel, the prophet grabbed Saul’s mantle, tearing it. Then Samuel said,

The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you” (verse 28).

We can see that the mantle represented three concepts that were all inter-related:

  • God’s calling on Saul’s life.

  • Saul’s authority to walk in that calling.

  • The power of God enabled Saul to walk in that calling.

We see the same symbolism in 1 Samuel 24 when Saul was pursuing David, whom God had called to be the new king.

God handed David the opportunity to end Saul’s life and seize the throne, but David chose to cut a corner from Saul’s cloak (mantle) instead, signifying two things:

  1. David did not wish to steal Saul’s calling and anointing away from him; we can see this repeatedly as David refused to touch God’s anointed, referring to Saul as such even when it was clear to all the people of Israel that God had departed from Saul.

  2. Prophetically and probably unintentionally, David indicated that he would be the one to take over Saul’s authority in the end. It’s too similar to how Samuel grabbed and tore Saul’s mantle to be a coincidence.

2 Kings 2:13 is the origin of the saying about taking up someone’s mantle. Throughout 1 Kings, we see Elijah demonstrating God’s power with incredible feats, often using his mantle in the process.

Then, in 2 Kings, we see Elijah being taken up to heaven and dropping his mantle, after which Elisha takes it up and performs many similar (and even more incredible) feats.

Elisha starring at the mantle of Elijah on the ground

This symbolizes how Elisha took over Elijah’s anointing, though not in the way that many people understand it.

Biblical AccountSymbolism of the Mantle
Saul/Samuel (1 Samuel 15:27-28)– Represented God’s calling on Saul’s life
– Symbolized Saul’s authority to walk in that calling
 – Signified the power of God enabling Saul to walk in that calling 
 – When torn, it indicated God taking away Saul’s kingdom/calling
David/Saul (1 Samuel 24)– David cutting a corner of Saul’s mantle showed respect for Saul’s anointing/calling 
– It prophetically hinted at David taking over Saul’s authority eventually
 – David refused to steal Saul’s calling/anointing from him
Elijah/Elisha (2 Kings 2:13)– Elijah’s mantle represented his prophetic calling and ability to perform miracles 
– Elisha taking up Elijah’s mantle symbolized him receiving a “double portion” of Elijah’s anointing/calling 
– Represented the passing of Elijah’s prophetic ministry to Elisha

The Link Between Anointing And Calling

The modern church tends to think about the anointing as a “special gift from the Holy Spirit,” but this is inaccurate.

This view often causes us to glorify people with statements like, “He must be a great man to be operating in such a powerful anointing.” It’s a dangerous and unbiblical view.

In Luke 4:18, Jesus reads from Isaiah 61, specifically verse 1, which says,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

The Greek word translated as “anointing” is “chrio” (G5548), and the Hebrew word is “mashach” (H4886).

χρίω chríō, khree’-o; probably akin to G5530 through the idea of contact; to smear or rub with oil, i.e. (by implication) to consecrate to an office or religious service:—anoint.

מָשַׁח mâshach, maw-shakh’; a primitive root; to rub with oil, i.e. to anoint; by implication, to consecrate; also to paint:—anoint, paint.

Both refer to a consecration or a call to an office in the same way kings and prophets were anointed in the Bible as a symbol of their calling. It does not refer to an extraordinary power or ability granted to us by the Holy Spirit.

However, Jesus said the Holy Spirit was upon Him because God called him. The calling comes first; then the Holy Spirit gives us the power to walk in that calling (Acts 1:8).

It does not make anyone unique because the Holy Spirit was poured out on all believers; we all have access to Him and His power.

The Mantle In The Lives Of Modern Believers

When we consider the mantle, we must remember that it does not refer to unique ability or power flowing through us from God. It refers to God’s calling on our lives.

When we take up the mantle, we tell God (and others), “Yes, Lord, I am willing to walk in Your calling.” After that, the Holy Spirit will give you the supernatural strength, gifting, and power to do so.

We have to understand that examples like Elijah and Elisha, though there’s much we can learn from them, don’t apply entirely to the life of a modern believer. 

Elisha asked the Lord to give him a “double portion” of Elijah’s anointing, and God gave it to him, symbolized by Elisha taking up Elijah’s mantle.

But in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was given to people selectively, based on their calling; He mainly came upon prophets, kings, judges, and those who fulfilled similar roles.

In the church, things work differently.

All believers are in Christ, and Christ is in us through His Holy Spirit. The name “Christ” comes from the same root Greek word used for the anointing, “chrio.”

He is the Anointed One, and we have the full anointing through Him. 

We don’t have to take up the mantle of a preacher or spiritual leader we respect to get their anointing because we already have the Anointed One in us. This is a hard one to swallow in charismatic circles.

Every gifting, anointing, and calling can be found in Christ. We don’t need to look anywhere else for it.

We are all called to the same ministry as Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20), so the only mantle we should take up is that of Christ.

It often seems like there are different anointings; we may see a preacher performing great miracles in Jesus’ Name, like healing people’s diseases in a way that’s hard to understand. 

But that does not make their anointing greater or something to pursue. Those who truly do it in Jesus’ Name have just learned to take up the mantle of Christ to such an extent that they seem to be abnormally “anointed.”

And yet, their calling is the same as our calling, which is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and spread the good news of Christ in word and deed.

The more we take up and embrace the mantle of Christ, the more we will see the power of God in our lives. That is what we are called, or anointed, to do, more than anything else, and any other calling that comes into your life will always be to serve that primary calling.

The mantle is a symbol of God’s calling in our lives. Wherever it is mentioned in the Bible, it refers to the task or purpose God has called and equipped someone to perform.

In cases like Elijah and Elisha, the calling passed from one person to another through the symbolic passing on of the mantle.

Modern believers don’t have to take up the mantle of other great spiritual leaders.

People seeking the “anointing” of some powerful ministers are looking in futility because the greatest spiritual leaders are simply the ones that take up the mantle of Christ, the Anointed One, and understand His calling on the lives of all believers.

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