Anointing of Oil to Heal the Sick



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  • Anointing of Oil to Heal the Sick

    Is it ok to annoint someone with oil and pray over them, if you are not an elder of the church?

  • #2
    Scriptural Teaching about Anointing with Oil

    There are many places where the Bible refers to applying oil on an individual. To be “anointed” is, among other things, to be made sacred (consecrated); to be set apart and dedicated to serve God; to be endowed with enabling gifts and grace; to be divinely designated, inaugurated, or chosen for some purpose. We know this subject is important to God because the words anoint, anointed, and anointing appear in more than 150 Spirit-inspired Bible verses, including 22 New Testament Scriptures. The English word "anoint" derives from the ancient Latin inunctus, meaning “smear with oil.”

    Looking back into the old covenant, the act of anointing was significant for consecration of holy or sacred use; hence the anointing of the high priest (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 4:3) and of the sacred vessels (Exodus 30:26). The high priest and the king are thus called "the anointed" (Leviticus 4:3,5,16; 6:20; Psalms 132:10). Anointing a king was equivalent to crowning him (1 Samuel 16:13; 2Sam 2:4, etc.). Prophets were also anointed (1 Kings 19:16; 1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalms 105:15 ).

    During the new covenant, The charismatic camp have for years had their healing lines of the hopeful, in which they apply oil on the foreheads of the subservient, lay hands on them, praying with intensity while believing in the healing sought. If we study the passage in James, it says nothing about a church leader calling the sick to come to church and walk the "healing line." Nor does it encourage a "healing huddle" consisting of every person in the immediate vicinity. Nor will you find any place in scripture the practice of allowing anyone and everyone to apply oil in prayer. Indeed, a prayer in faith may result in a level of healing, even if not according to the scriptural guidelines, but it is an act of obedience and humility to follow the direction as ordained by scripture.

    It constantly amazes me how mental conditioning, teachings without examination and habitual practice has resulted in different traditions among believers, which sometimes result in a departure from scriptural revelation. The traditions of men have cut the corners off the sharp edges of truth for millenniums. The power of God through Christ has not changed, the church in some cases has rather deviated. Christian's everywhere must shake off the veil that has clouded the Spirit's voice, and return to the Holy precepts of scripture. Remember the prophesy in 1 Timothy 3:5 "Teachers will come having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. From such turn away." We are not to follow after men who deny the power of God!

    Continuing in the study of anointing with oil, you will learn that Priest were the only ones allowed to anoint prior to Christ Jesus. Men who were called and proven, sanctified and purified by ritual. Now Christ Jesus is our High Priest & advocate within us, where ordinary followers can represent the High Priest Christ Jesus. However, there is a disclaimer to this when it comes to anointing with oil for healing. James 5 specifically teaches that the sick are to call upon the elders of the church.

    "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven." James 5:14-15

    This passage is one of the more difficult passages of James. Debate has certainly raged concerning the meaning of this passage. Pick up any number of commentators and one will see the variety of interpretations of this passage. An elder or presbyter (Greek: presbuteros) is a classification of a specific type of Christian. An elder is a leader among a body of believers. It is a divinely appointed office that is held by men who are:
    1. Must be above reproach (Elders - Titus 1:6; Bishop - 1 Tim. 3:2)
    2. Husband of one wife (Elders - Titus 1:6; Bishop - 1 Tim. 3:2).
    3. Household must be in order with children who believe (Titus 1:6 ;1 Tim. 3:4).
    4. Not a new convert (1 Tim. 3:6).
    5. Self controlled and temperate (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim. 3:2).
    6. Honorable, hospitable, seeking good (Titus 1:7).
    7. Have a good reputation (1 Tim. 3:7).
    8. Not addicted to wine (or addictive substances) (1 Tim. 3:3).
    9. Not given to greed or materialism (1 Tim. 3:3).
    10. Able to exhort (teach) sound doctrine (Titus 1:9; 1 Tim. 3:2).
    11. Able to refute false teaching (Titus 1:9).
    12. They must be ready to earn their own living if necessary (Acts 20:17,33-35).

    The Catholics call the healing described in James as the sacrament of the sick, also called extreme unction. They also observe the limitations of anointing with oil to those of reputable standing and proven spirit. One other scripture I can think of is Mark 6:13, which states that the 12 apostles anointed sick people with oil.

    "Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff--no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them." Mark 6:7-13

    We see that Jesus' disciples anointed sick people with oil and healed them. They also drove out many demons. This passage does not make it clear how much of the healing was through deliverance and how much was through other means. It does not make it clear if the oil was used for deliverance or healing. But we do see that demons are cast out, the sick are anointed with oil and they are healed.

    In my spirit, the residing witness impresses that we should indeed seek out those who are the most proven in the faith, not new converts, but those mature in stature, humility and wisdom, to pray over the sick. However, if a person is in a situation where no one mature in the faith is in close proximity, and your best friend is being wheeled into emergency surgery, then it is quite another matter. By all means, anoint and pray IF lead by the Spirit to anoint. However, for the most part, there will be few situations that will circumvent the scriptural outline for calling upon the elders.

    When using anointing oil during times of prayer, it is important to remember the anointing oil is only a tangible symbolic representation of our faith in Jesus Christ. Anointing oils have no "special power" in and of themselves. The oil is merely a "point of reference" for our natural minds to connect with the spiritual process. It is Jesus Christ alone who performs miracles and answers our prayers of faith...with or without anointing oil.

    There are some who teach that we must not define James 5:14-15 in a 21st century context but a 1st century context. The teaching says we cannot assume that since oil is used that there is some sort of divine act taking place through its use. That oil had an important purpose in the first century, many who in the 21st century do not recognize. Oil was one of the best remedial agencies known to the ancients. The teaching refers to the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus tells how the Samaritan had compassion on him “went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Luke 10:34). It is pointed out that there is no miraculous connotation in using oil. Neither do we see this use of oil as a channel of God’s healing. Using oil for illnesses was extremely common in the first century and what was in reference in James. I do not adhere to this conservative interpretation, whereas there would be no purpose for men of quality spiritual stature if the application of oil was merely for medical reasons. A house servant could have taken care of the process if this were true.

    "In addition to these there is also a seventh [sacrament], albeit hard and laborious...In this way there is fulfilled that too, which the Apostle James says: 'If then, there is anyone sick, let him call the presbyters of the Church, and let them impose hands upon him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him.'" Origen, Homily on Leviticus, 2:4 (A.D. 244) .


    • #3
      More good content, Discerning Truth. I appreciate your heart and wisdom as a teacher, as you methodically unpack things so clearly.

      I just became an elder at BridgeWay Church this weekend (just got back from Elders' retreat yesterday). Now I'm wondering if I need to carry some oil... :-)

      I'm interested in your take on something. At BridgeWay, we announce the proposed slate of elders (which happened Sunday), and then there's a 3 week period before our complete affirmation as the elder team. People are given that time to voice their concerns or raise any issues they think would prohibit any of us from serving or might bring our qualification into question.

      We'll see if anyone has an issue with my hair, I guess. :-)



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