Anointing Oil and James 5

by Brad Price
oliveoildrip.gifIf you walk into your local religious bookstore you will probably find some small bottles of oil; these may be labeled “anointing oil.” Similar “anointing oils” are offered on the Internet.
One web site offers:

“Golden juice that is pressed from the choice selected fruit of the olive tree. The product is procured by import and is then master-blended together in exact proportion with God’s loveliest most incredible fragrances on earth — to be used by his children for the express purpose of anointing and blessing.” /1

Many are interested in some type of oil for a medical miracle because James 5:14 says: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
It is interesting that many are familiar with James 5:14, but not the next verse. James went on to say: “and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him” (James 5:15).
James said a sick person’s healing would be the result of prayer, not the oil. Since oil was not what God used to cure sick people in the time of the apostles, it is not going to be what God uses now. There is no authorization ( Colossians 3:17) for the denominational practice of using oil to “anoint” people.
If the power to heal was in prayer instead of the oil, why did James tell Christians to bring oil to anoint the sick? The answer seems to be found in how first century people used oil. In many cases oil was used for personal hygiene (Matthew 6:17).
Bringing oil was a way of saying the sick person was going to be cured; the oil signified it was time for the one who had been ill to freshen himself up and get back to his daily activities because he was being healed by a special prayer.
Some oils may smell good and may be things we choose to use, but the idea of “anointing people with oil to get a supernatural cure from God,” is not taught in James 5 or anywhere else in the Bible.

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1/ http://www.rodco-ltd.com/oils.htm

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Brad Price is the owner of http://www.abiblecommentary.com, a site that offers a wide variety of Bible commentaries.

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

3 thoughts on “Anointing Oil and James 5

  1. While I agree with the basic teaching of this article, saying, “There is no authorization ( Colossians 3:17) for using oil to ‘anoint’ people” just isn’t accurate. James 5:14 authorizes it. The oil won’t heal anybody, and I’m convinced, as bro. Price seems to be, that the oil is a cultural thing. However, if some well-meaning brother or sister quotes the passage and asks the elders to anoint him/her with oil, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s definitely authorized. It’s harmless. Otherwise, great article!

  2. Thank you for your feedback, Joshua.
    The sentence in question now reads: “There is no authorization ( Colossians 3:17) for the denominational practice of using oil to ‘anoint’ people.”

  3. Thanks for your humility, brother. I’ll reaffirm what I said above: “Great article!”

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