Anointing With Oil


All acts of God are based on His love and knowledge. He knows more than we and loves stronger. He is too wise not to know what is best for us in every instance. He is too loving not to do what is best for us.

In light of that, he heals some who are sick and/or injured and He does not others.

Appropriately, it is often asked, “What must I do to insure I have done all God intends for me to do regarding healing?” Some turn to James 5: 14, 15 for insight. Therein, believers are urged to engage in “anointing” with oil and “prayer.”

It should be noted that if a person is to be healed it is the “prayer of faith that shall save the sick.”

The question often emerges, “Should we anoint with oil?”

In the Greek text there are two words for “anoint.”

CHRIS is one. It is the root for the Greek name CHRISTOS, or our English name Christ. CHRISTOS means “The Anointed One.” In the Old Testament era prophets, priests, and kings were anointed by putting olive oil on their forehead. Christ is out Prophet, Priest, and King.

ALEPHO is the other word. It meant to massage or knead into the body. The material used was either olive oil or an ointment. Both had some of the best medicinal properties of the time.

The word translated “anoint” in James in ALEPHO. Therefore, if a person is going to do literally what the passage actually says, they should not put oil on the brow but massage the entire body with olive oil or an ointment.

What the text teaches is the use of the best medicine available. Such oil and ointments were among the best medicine of the time of the writing by James. Jewish Rabbis writing at the same time recorded their confidence in such treatment. In the story of the Good Samaritan the man who had been beaten was anointed with oil. It had a healing effect and stopped bleeding.

Based on what is actually taught in James it is not proper to simply put oil on the brow of a sick person and pray. The appeal made by James is for the best medicine available to be used along with prayer. Therefore, it is expedient that proper medical treatment be used. This is a commendation of the use of medicine. Christians should seek and use medical help.

Likewise, the urgent appeal in James is for prayer for the sick. Faithful Christians should privately and collectively pray.

Once these two things have been done the Christian can know all that God requires has been done. God’s response is then based on His love and knowledge. Confidently, persons having done what the Lord asks can be assured that whether their beloved is healed or not they did all God required by using the best medicine available and praying.

God’s response, though not always immediately understood, can be accepted with assurance knowing His action to be motivated by love and knowledge beyond our own. Therefore:

“Rejoice evermore, Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks.”
(I Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18)


A popular form of zealous prayer often offered by conscientious and earnest persons is for a “fresh anointing.” The intent is admirable and the act is broadly practiced, but it is not Scriptural.

In James 4:5 it is stated, “The Spirit that dwelleth in us…” it comes from a verb root meaning “to cause to take up residence.” At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit is caused by God the Father to take up residence in the believer once and for all. I John 2:27 used the expression “to abide” in the sense of “to remain.”

John 14:17 lets us know that the Holy Spirit is placed within the believer. I Cor. 12:13 speaks of being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ and makes it clear this happens to all believers at the moment of salvation.

The anointing with the Spirit is a Biblical reference to God the Father causing God the Holy Spirit to take up permanent residence in a believer at the moment of salvation. It takes place just once. It is never repeated.

Rather than pray for a fresh anointing, the intent of which is admirable, pray that a person or event might be filled with the Spirit. This is Scriptural. Even more simple language which is understood by people today is “May Christ control and direct this person (or event). May all that is done be within His will.” There are many ways to express this same basic concept.