Annointing With Oil

I preached a revival several years ago at an "independent" Baptist church in Nacogdoches, Tx. Several bottles of oil sat around the flat part of the pulpit. I asked about it & the pastor said that they occassionally used it on someone who really needed prayer.

I have never felt led to do that nor is it practiced in any other churches that I know of. However, based on James 5:14,15, what argument could you make against it except something like, "That's weird!"


  1. Oil is getting expensive and needed to fry fish. :-)

  2. I am persuaded there is NO ABA preacher who would give an inkling of support for this.

    However, I also think no one could scripturally dismiss it either.

  3. I have been unknowingly a part of an annopinting with oil service in an ABA Church.
    I was preaching a revival and an elderly man asked his pastor do it and the pastor did it...the preacher asked all of the men present to come to the front and reach towards hiom if not close enough to touch him.
    The preacher then coated his hands in pompei extra virgin olive oil (purchased at the local Brookshire Bros.) then put his hands on the elderly mans head and commenced to praying.
    I was sitting on the front row and all of this took place right in front of me in an ABA Church.

  4. I am 99% sure from all my studies that the oil was medicinal. History seems to show that families did not have every-day pediatricians or family doctors. Instead, their pastors acted in a medicinal sense. Back then, oils were some of, if not the only, medicines they had that actually helped. Similar to a Vicks Vapor rub, different kinds of oils had different effects. Different herbs were crushed and mixed into the different oils. Thus, when someone was sick, they would call for the pastor. He would pray for them, but also anoint them with the oils for healing.

  5. This was a question we had to answer in Pastoral Counseling class, so we studied it pretty in depth.

  6. I would not make any argument against it. I believe James meant what he wrote. I don't personally know any ABA preachers who hold this practice, but many Baptists before there was an ABA believed in and practiced it. It was one of the nine rites of Separate Baptists, and, Morgan Edwards, long-time clerk of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, made strong arguments in favor of it. In my blog post on a anointing with oil there are several historical references in the comments, from the Waldenses to England to America. The Faithway Landmark Missionary Baptists of S.LA and S.MS, though they haven't been in the ABA for over 50 years, still often practice it.

    A quite popular interpretation, and probably the leading one in the ABA, is that the oil here in James 5 refers to using medicine in conjunction with prayer (that the oil is medicine). I don't agree that the oil here is application of medicine for several reasons.

    First of all, it would make physicians of the elders. If I were looking for application of medicine, I would prefer to seek the most medicinally talented rather than default to preachers. Second, it would recommend oil as a universal remedy for sicknesses. Even in James' day there were other medicines than just oil, and applied according to the sickness. Oil is good for a lot of things, but it is not good for everything. Also, it is the prayer, not the oil, that is credited with "healing power". It is the Lord, not the oil, that raises the sick from his bed. And, finally, I agree with Morgan Edwards that the same kind of reasoning used to discontinue anointing with oil, consistently applied, would lead us to discontinue every positive rite. This becomes a passage of scripture with little meaning today. Who today really asks the preacher to apply oil as their medicine??

    I would, under the right circumstances, consent to anoint with oil a sick person who called for it. All that said, I am quite leery that many so-called Baptists who practice anointing with oil do so more out of crackpot semi-Charismatic leanings rather than strict adherence to the Scriptures.

  7. Good contribution Bro. Robert....

  8. Brother Vaughn thanks for the reply.

  9. I still say it was medicinal. Historical references show early church bishops as the family "doctor". Not that he was trained in the arts of medicine (if you can call what they did back in that day medicine). But rather that physicians were not common for people that were not rich. The bishop did often assume this roll, since he was called for when someone was sick. As I said, there were different kinds of oils and oil mixtures used for different purposes. Some soothing of skin, some soothing of muscles, some keeping pests out, some for constant inhalation (like Vicks Vapor Rub today).

    The pastors carried the oils with them when called. Indeed the sick were healed by the LORD, but it shows that God doesn't disagree with church members relying on Him, and at the same time using soothing medicines. Thus, take a little wine for thy stomach sake, right? If God just wanted people to be anointed with some symbolic oil and wait for healing, then why would He command this of Timothy?

    We have no other place in the Bible oil was used for magical healing, or for pastoral prayers. This type of interpretation that the oil was NOT medicinal would seem to ALSO take away from the idea that God is the one who heals. As a matter of fact, it would seem to suggest one must have the oil for God to do the healing.

    The medicinal point of view is much more valid, historically accurate, and logical in my opinion.

  10. Two brief comments. I don’t want to take up too much space debating on Bro. Adrian’s blog, so have placed some more thoughts HERE.

    1. Bro. James, perhaps you think my interpretation rejects the idea of use of medicine. I do not. I don’t believe that medicine is in view in James 5. I believe the medicinal value of the wine is in view in I Timothy 5:23.
    2. The idea which you foist upon my interpretation -- one must have the oil for God to do the healing -- I suspect you are not willing to apply to your own interpretation. If this "logic" applies to the text in James, then you are pierced by the horns of your own dilemma. One must use medicine for God to do the healing.

  11. I don't guess I understand your point #2. You'll have to email me to further explain what you are saying. Sorry.