You have probably experienced or heard of the practice of using anointing oil. Most churches still employ this practice that was so common in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the use of anointing oil was clear; to mark those people who God had set apart. Some instances imply that anointing oil was used to sanctify that which God had chosen. However, did Jesus carry on with this practice in the Old Testament? Did Jesus use anointing oil?
The scripture in the New Testament implies that Jesus and his disciples used anointing oil. In the gospel of Mathew 6:17, Jesus urges us to anoint our heads with oil and wash our faces when fasting. The book of Mark 6:13 also indicates that Jesus’ disciples used anointing oil to heal the sick. However, there is nowhere that the Bible explicitly notes that anointing oil has supernatural powers. In the Old Testament, it was used to set apart those whom God had chosen.
So, what does it mean to anoint with oil? What does the Bible say about anointing oil? Why is anointing oil important in the Bible? Where did the anointing oil come from? Does anointing oil have supernatural powers? Is anointing oil biblical? What is the oil symbolism in the New Testament? Stick around to get more information and answers to these questions and more.
What does it mean to anoint with oil?
According to the Old Testament, to anoint with oil means to set apart. Israelites commonly anointed the heads of those God had chosen to lead them with oil. For example, Prophet Samuel anointed King David in the book of 1st Samuel 16. He also anointed King Saul, indicating that God had chosen him to lead his people.
Prophets and high priests were also anointed to mark them as holy. In the New Testament, Jesus’ disciples anointed those who were in need of God’s healing. In today’s world, the practice of anointing people is often associated with Roman Catholicism. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that to anoint with oil means to set apart those in need of Jesus from others.
What does the Bible say about anointing oil?
Anointing is mentioned around twenty times in the Bible. The oil was mostly used in the Old Testament, sprinkled on the tabernacle, and poured on the heads of the high priests and their descendants to set them apart from God and mark them as pure and holy. For example, Leviticus 8:30 says, “Moses took some of the anointing oil and of the blood that was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron and his garments, and also on his sons and his sons’ garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.”
Why is anointing oil important in the Bible?
Anointing oil is essential in the Bible because not only was it used to set apart those chosen by God, but it was also linked to the Holy Spirit. Some scholars note that God used the symbol of anointing those he chooses to foreshadow the work of the Spirit. Although in the Old Testament, only holy objects, priests, and kings were anointed and set apart to do God’s work, that was only the start.
Just like anointing oil, the Holy Spirit anoints those who have been chosen by God and sets them apart to accomplish God’s mission on earth. Furthermore, the disciples symbolically used anointing oil to heal the sick. The scripture is clear that the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us various gifts, including healing. He guides us and leads us to live holy lives. Therefore, anointing oil is quite important in the Bible because of what it symbolizes; our helper and comforter, the Holy Spirit.
Where did the anointing oil come from?
In the Old Testament, God instructed the Israelites to make the anointing oil. He gave them specific instructions on what to do, and they were supposed to obey him and make it as instructed by God. Exodus 30:23-24 records the ingredients of anointing oil. It says, “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, 24 and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil.” Theologians thus imply that though there was no indication that anointing oil contained any supernatural powers, the strict instructions given when creating the oil were to test the obedience of the Israelites and a reflection of the absolute holy nature of God.
Does anointing oil have supernatural powers?
The Bible does not say or indicate in any way that anointing oil had superpowers. Though the anointing oil is linked to the Holy Spirit, it has no supernatural powers and is just a symbolic practice in the Bible. However, the scripture links anointing oil to healing. Paul, in the book of James 5:14, notes that if anyone is sick, then he should go and be prayed over and be anointed. Furthermore, the book of Isaiah 1:6 says, “From your head to your toes, there isn’t a healthy spot. Bruises, cuts, and open sores go without care or oil to ease the pain.”
It is important to note that though anointing oil is linked to such supernatural happening, it has no supernatural powers on its own. If you do not have faith in Christ Jesus and try to heal yourself with anointing oil, nothing will happen. However, if someone who is anointed (full of the Spirit) anoints you with the oil and proclaims healing upon your life, Jesus will hear your prayers and answer them.
Is anointing oil biblical?
Anointing oil is biblical, and Christians can follow it so long as they keep in mind that it is a symbolic act. There is no command in the Bible that we should adhere to the practice, and also, the scripture does not forbid Christians from anointing with oil. Some scholars posit that the scripture urges us to use anointing oil, maybe because we have the anointed one who guides us in all truth. 1st John 2:20 says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy one, and all of you know the truth.”
Oil symbolism in the New Testament
Anointing oil is only mentioned five times in the New Testament, and none of them indicate why it is used. However, we can draw the symbolism of oil in the New Testament from the context of Jesus’ words in the book of Mathew 6:7, “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face.” Furthermore, the gospel of Mark 6:13 notes that Jesus’ disciples anointed the sick with oil and healed many.
The Bible indicates that the oil symbolizes spiritual truth belonging to Jesus. As stated above, the book of 1st John 2:20 notes that we have the anointed one in us. Paul encourages the use of anointing oil in the book of James 5:14-15, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the church elders to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” Through the various descriptions of anointing in the Bible, scholars link the anointing oil to the anointed one, the Holy Spirit.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.