Anointing the Sick
The anointing of oil is an important and sadly neglected ministry of the church’s pastors and elders today. The purpose of this anointment is for both the physical and the spiritual healing of the soul. Anointing with oil for healing is only mentioned two times in the Bible – in James 5:14 and in Mark 6:13. Mark states, “And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”
Oil is a symbolic act of faith and submission to God and should be certainly practiced today. Olive oil was usually used as a medication in ancient Palestine (Luke 10:34), and was used both internally and externally. The literal use of oil as a medication may have provided the basis for its symbolic use in Mark 6:13 and later on in the Christian church.
Anointing with oil as an act of faith is mentioned also in James. The apostle wrote, “Is any sick among you? 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. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:14,15).
It is the will of God that the sick may receive healing. Jesus stressed the healing of the body as well as the soul. He went about “healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35). And He sent out His apostles with power “to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matthew 10:1).
Even after His resurrection, the apostles of Christ received sick folks and “healed every one” (Acts 5:16). And they acknowledged the importance of prayer for the physical and spiritual needs of the people (Acts 6:4). Men are only the tools; the miracles of restored health and the forgiveness of sin are done in the name of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:17; Acts 3:16).
the Prayer of the sick means that a man is sincerely willing to cooperate with God and to obey all of His commandments. A lack of full sincerity disqualifies any prayer (Psalms 66:18). The sick person cannot expect God’s healing apart from a desire to forsake sin. He also should plan to live in accordance to the laws of health.
The complete service, including the anointing of the oil and the offering of the prayer, must be conducted in harmony with the will of God for no one knows what is best for another (Romans 8:26). Some of the most needed lessons of life are learned in the school of pain (Hebrews 2:10).
Oil – Symbol of the Holy Spirit
In the Bible, Oil is a symbol for the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:1-13). True Christians have the presence of the oil of the Spirit who leads them into all truth and anoints them continually with His grace and comfort. The apostle John wrote, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (1 John 2:20).
The early apostolic church clearly did not attach any sacramental power to the ceremony of anointing, though the church later used supposedly “holy oil” as a substitute for pagan magic, in an effort to heal the sick. By the 8th century, the passage in James 5:14,15 had been used to support of the practice of what Catholics today call extreme unction, or the last rites of the church for the dying. The Council of Trent in its fourteenth session, 1551, officially announced that James here taught the sacramental efficacy of the oil.
In His service,