What does olive oil symbolize in the Bible (Biblical Symbolism and Significance)?

Last week, our church had an anointing session. As a pastor I am the one who carried this out. Based on tradition, our church uses olive oil to anoint its followers. But what does the scripture say? What does olive oil symbolize in the Bible?

In the scripture, olive oil appears in various texts as it had different uses Exodus 29:7, Leviticus 24:2, and Deuteronomy 8:7-8. In most instances, olive oil was used as an anointing oil; 1 Samuel 16:1. It was the case; as the scripture implies, it symbolizes purity, fortune, and divinity. Therefore, those who got its anointing received these attributes.

In this article, I invite you to join me as we delve into the biblical symbolism of olive oil. The write-up below will inform you about that and highlight the spiritual meanings of olive oil. There are spiritual meanings linked with olive oil; read on to find out about these and more.

What does the Bible say about olive oil?

The Bible mentions olive oil in different settings. These verses imply that olive oil is an integral part of the Jewish culture. In Israel, Deuteronomy 8:7-8 they grew olive trees whose leaves were crushed to extract olive oil. We learn they used olive oil to cook, light their lamps and the anointing.

From other instances in the scripture, we get that olive oil was treasured as it was used for essential functions. These are some of the direct ways the scripture implies they used olive oil. Also, they use olive oil to mean other things symbolically; for instance, in the parable of the ten virgins where five of the ten virgins had olive oil to light their lamps. In the parable, we may suggest that olive oil has a symbolic meaning. It is to teach Christians about preparation for Jesus’ second coming.

How was olive oil used in the Bible?

What does olive oil symbolize in the Bible?
How was olive oil used in the Bible? Image source: Pixabay

Anointing and Sanctification

In most churches, they use olive oil to anoint. We trace this tradition from the scripture, where olive oil was an anointing oil. In Exodus 30:30, we read the plans to anoint Aaron and his sons to be priests. Also, kings received an anointing from olive oil, which showed that God had chosen them to govern.

In 1 Samuel 16:1, God told Samuel to take olive oil meant to anoint His chosen king. However, they are days when the Israelites placed anointing aside during mourning or fasting, as we read in 2 Samuel 14:2. The scripture suggests that olive oil signifies purity, which explains why it was used in anointing kings. Olive oil was used to sanctify priests, as we read in Exodus 29:7.

Olive oil used to anoint kings and priests shows the presence of God through that process. It is through God’s ordination that separates ordinary oil from that used in anointing. Furthermore, they use the best grade of olive oil to carry out this process; Exodus 30:23-25.

Lighting lamps

Back then, there was no electricity, so they used lamps and torches as lighting. Olive oil was used to light up lamps. In Leviticus 24:2, the scripture implies how God commanded the Israelites to extract olive oil from the olives in order to light their lamps.


In most pantries, you are likely to find olive oil which is highly recommended for cooking. In the scripture, they equally used olive oil for cooking. In Deuteronomy 8:7-8, the scripture implies that olive trees provided oil which was used for cooking. The olive leaves went through extraction in order to produce oil. Also, in 1 Kings 17:12 and Ezekiel 16:13, we read through instances when olive oil was taken solely as food.

Grain offering

From the scripture, we also learn of the use of olive oil as a grain offering. In Leviticus 2:5, olive oil was mixed with flour and given as an offering.

Healing of wounds

They used olive oil to dress wounds which is in practice to date. The oil is good in preventing drying and chapping of the skin. In Luke 10:34, we read of the Good Samaritan who used oil and wine to heal the wounds of the man rescued from the desert. We get more of this in Mark 6:13, where the scripture suggests that olive oil was used to anoint the sick.

What does olive oil represent in the Bible?

The Bible suggests that olive oil represents health, richness and Joy, as we read in Hebrews 1:9 and Jeremiah 31:12. They used the oil in performing religious actions such as anointing, sanctifying and healing. Therefore, it represents holiness as ordained by God. Also, in the parable Mathew 25:13, olive oil represents faith concerning those who have faith and are ready for Jesus’ second coming.

4 symbolic meanings of olive oil

What does olive oil symbolize in the Bible?
Symbolic meanings of olive oil. Image source: Pixabay

Holy Spirit

Olive oil has numerous uses, some offering comfort, healing, food, anointing and sanctifying. It is similar to the spirit that provides life and all the values that surround it. We get olive oil from the olive tree, which has existed for many years and provides all the benefits. It signifies eternal life as it compares with the long-lasting characteristic of the tree. The Holy Spirit, through God, provides for these things, health, anointing and sanctifying. Therefore, olive oil compares with the Holy Spirit in this context.


Olive oil is rare and not easy to extract, and the trees are not easily located. The scripture suggests that olive oil is an expensive oil. Since we use the oil in performing spiritual functions such as anointing and sanctifying, it becomes a rich ointment. Some churches sell the anointing oil, which may not come cheap. If olive oil is able to provide healing, its value cannot be compared or measured and symbolizes richness.


You get olive oil from the olive tree, which is always evergreen. Olive tree provides different products from ointment, light, food, medicine and lumber. Its product, olive oil, represents health as people use it to cure specific diseases, especially skin problems. Also, since its tree is always green, it symbolizes unending good health.

Atonement of sins

According to teachers of the scripture, they imply that Jesus compares to an olive tree. The way his body went through suffering in order for us to receive salvation relates to the olive leaves getting pressed in order to get olive oil. Therefore, we may imply olive oil is a symbol of Christ’s atonement of sins.

Why is olive oil used for anointing?

Olive oil is used for anointing since it carries divinity and sacredness. The scripture implies that kings received anointing through olive oil. Therefore, the tradition has since been carried on. Olive oil signifies God’s divine presence and blessings. When God wanted Samuel to anoint a new king, He requested Samuel to use olive oil. Hence, using olive oil as an anointing oil honors God’s wishes.

Also, reading the scripture, we learn that olive oil was highly regarded. The process of extracting oil from the leaves is tiring but worth it, which explains why it is pricy. The oil that comes out at the end is of great value and can be used to play an important role, such as anointing.

Cost of olive oil in Biblical times

The cost of olive oil in the Bible has not been quantified. However, they refer to it as an expensive oil. In Mathew 26:7 and Mark 14:3, the scripture talks of a woman who anointed Jesus. The verse further describes the oil as pricy, which is olive oil. In that scene, there were those who complained that the precious oil had been wasted, and if sold, it would have fetched a high price of more than three hundred denarii.

Since the woman used olive oil to anoint the Savior, this added value to it. God promised the Israelites a land with olive trees, which shows it was highly valued and a privilege. Also, He requested the Israelites to use olive oil as part of their offerings. It could have been any other oil, but olive was chosen, making it more valued.

What does the olive oil represent on Hanukkah?

What olive oil symbolize in the Bible
What does the olive oil represent on Hanukkah? Image source: Pixabay

In the Hanukkah, olive oil is used to the light. Olive oil symbolizes the victory in repossessing Jerusalem. This celebration is one of the Jewish celebrations which honors the recovery of Jerusalem and the rededication of the Second Temple. During this period, they do not use lamps but instead olive oil to light the temple’s menorah. The olive oil would light the menorah for eight days consecutively. This practice follows the old tradition where menorahs only used oil, not candles.

Did Jesus use olive oil?

Based on various texts in the Bible, they imply that Jesus used olive oil. There was a woman who poured olive oil on Jesus. The woman poured olive oil on Jesus’ head to anoint him. Apart from that incident, they used olive oil to prepare meals during those times. Therefore, it is possible that Jesus had a meal containing olive oil. Also, Jesus used olive oil in one of the teachings where he was talking about preparedness for His second coming. We get this in the scripture of the parable of the ten virgins in Mathew 25:1-13.

Spiritual meaning of olive oil

According to the parable of the ten virgins, it suggests that olive oil represents faith. The five virgins who had olive oil to light their lamps compared to people who have faith and are ready for the second coming of Christ. Olive oil represents healing and the spirit of life as people use it to seek recovery. The olive oil also symbolizes the Holy Spirit since they use it to protect the person who receives anointing. As we know, the Holy Spirit protects and guides us from evil, which is how olive oil works.

What is olive oil’s significance in the Bible?

According to the Bible, it implies that olive oil plays a significant role as it identifies those God has chosen and anointed. For instance, God sought Samuel to anoint who he had chosen to be king. Therefore, it teaches Christians that it is through Him that one gets authority. Also, it passes the tradition of using olive oil as anointing oil. In the parable of the ten virgins, olive oil plays a vital role in teaching values and attributes Christians are to have. We also learn of some traditions that Israelites practiced, such as grain offerings that olive oil was a part of.

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