I’ve always been drawn to seeking out what “the anointing” truly is. In Pentecostal/Charismatic circles, we often throw the term around without regard to historicity or context. I discovered some notes from a message I delivered years ago about anointing with oil. Take time with it. Pray over it. See how the anointing is available for you today. My research is also prompted by recent discussions with a couple of pastor/friends who have some pretty jacked up theology of the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament. I’ve been dumbfounded by the error spreading through the Body of Christ. The end times are upon us and much of that is signaled by error in doctrine. I hope this helps shed some light as well
New Testament Versus Old Testament Anointing With Oil
Mark 6: 7 “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;”
vs. 12 “And they went out, and preached that men should repent.”
vs. 13 “And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”
The anointing with oil was very much a part of the Jewish culture. When Jesus talked to the disciples about anointing with oil, they were very familiar with the practice. Anointing with oil was found throughout the Old Testament but was not reserved for the sick. Anointing with oil in the Old Testament was often a symbol for God’s recognition of a position, a sacrifice, furniture in the temple, etc. But in the New Testament, the main purpose of anointing with oil was for the healing of people. This was an ordinance given in the New Testament. Because we no longer live according to types and shadows, the New Testament contains far less ordinances than the Old Testament. Jesus Christ has come and there is no longer a need for types and shadows.
It is so good to know that we do not have to drag an animal with us to church as a sacrifice. No longer do we have to have the priest offer up a sacrifice on our behalf to atone for our sins. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and fulfilled the requirements of the law. He fulfilled all of it and is now seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father.
The Purpose of Rituals
Rituals were never designed to bring power, healing, or blessings. The purpose of rituals is to point to the One who is the source of power, healing, and blessings. Animal sacrifices did not save people.
Hebrews 9:12 “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
Instead, animal sacrifices symbolized the pouring out of the life of Jesus Christ. They symbolized His shed blood and spiritual death. Jesus’ shed blood represents life, for the life is in the blood. When Jesus went to the cross, He voluntarily gave up His life. On the cross, he died…gave up the ghost to suffer for us, even beyond the cross and physical death. Jesus suffered three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
All that Jesus did on the cross is spoken of in types and shadows in the Old Testament. The sacrifices, the spices, and salt for the sacrifices, the smoke that went up, the incense…all of these spoke about the impeccable life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. But following Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, God was satisfied with His work.
There are also some rituals in the New Testament. Water baptism, the communion elements cannot save. However, if we understand the symbolism behind them, it can lead to salvation, healing, and blessing.
Discerning of the Lord’s Body
I Corinthians 11:30 “For this cause, many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
This verse is speaking of partaking of the communion elements without first examining yourself. The Greek infers that many are becoming weak, many are sickly, and many die prematurely because they do not discern the body of the Lord Jesus. They did not understand that the bread represents divine healing and the cup represents the remission of sins. This verse does not say that they did not eat the bread because they were making a meal out of the bread. The bread was to remind them of the work of Jesus on the cross; it was to remind them of the remission of sins and healing made available through the stripes on Jesus’ back. Whether it was the cup or the bread, Jesus said, “Do it in remembrance of Me.” The ritual of communion does not bring healing, but remembering what Jesus did on the cross and putting faith in Him can bring healing.
Old Testament Anointing With Oil
1. Anointed for Office
In the Old Testament, anointing with oil represented rank. Whenever an individual took an office, they were anointed with oil. The four offices that were anointed were the prophet, the priest, the high priest, and the king. The anointing with oil was a designation of their rank and the acknowledging and recognition of a new level of operation in the Holy Spirit. The oil typified a new anointing, a new level of responsibility, and a new outpouring on the life of the individual being anointed with oil.
2. Oil and Sanctification
In the Old Testament, oil also represented sanctification. It was used as a dedication. That sanctification showed that the individual was not only stepping out of something, they were also stepping into something.
When Samuel went to the house of Jesse to look for the next king, God did not reveal to Samuel which son it would be. After Samuel had seen all of Samuel’s sons, he asked if there were any other sons. Of course, David was out with the sheep. Jesse called for him and immediately Samuel knew that this would be the next king of Israel. Samuel laid hands on David and anointed him with oil, signifying that he was stepping out of being a shepherd and into being king over Israel.
David remembered being anointed by Samuel for the rest of his life. When he was running from Saul and his armies, when it looked impossible that he would become king, when he was hiding in the cave of Adullam, David would remember the time he was anointed to be king.
The oil represented sanctification. Sanctification means separation, a dedication into a new ministry. When we were born again, we were separated out of the world and into Christ. Not only are we saved out of the world and into Christ, we keep moving up to new levels of stepping out. This is the process of sanctification.
3. Oil and the Sacrifices
Oil was poured out on the sacrifices made to God in the Old Testament. The sacrifice was separated from man and ordained to God, but also anointed by the Holy Spirit. The sacrifice no longer represented an animal of the field; it now represented something that was going to be used for God’s glory.
4. Oil and the Establishment of the Tabernacle
When the tabernacle was established in the wilderness, it was anointed with oil. The tabernacle represented the habitation of God. Oil was used to sanctify the place where God’s anointing was to abide and the place where the people would come to receive the teachings of the Word of God. The tabernacle was the place where the people would come to be edified, blessed, and encouraged. It was also the place where they would come to praise and worship the Lord, where their sins could be forgiven, and where they could learn about the One who would redeem them from their sins.
5. Oil and the Unity of Believers
Oil was also a symbol of unity in the Old Testament.
Psalm 133:2 “It (unity) is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments.”
The unity we have is with each other and with the Father, and with the Lord Jesus Christ. It always starts with the Head and flows down to us. We are first unified in the Lord Jesus Christ and then we become unified with each other. On the Day of Pentecost, the anointing oil began to flow from Jesus Christ in heaven down to the body of Christ. By the end of the day, there were 3,120 born again.
6. Oil and the Holy Spirit
Finally, oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in both the Old and New Testaments. The Holy Spirit sanctified and separated us. The Holy Spirit also makes us a sacrifice unto God.
Romans 12:1 “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God and our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. No matter what the oil represents, it is really a symbol of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
The Anointing That Abides Within
There is an anointing that abides within that is always present, whether we feel it or not. But there is also a tangible anointing that comes during a service. When we praise and worship the Lord, God says, “I inhabit the praises of My people.” That is the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit, which we also call the anointing.
The word “anointing” also means “to massage, to rub in.” In the Old Testament, oil was used for medicinal purposes. Often when a person was sick, they would be rubbed with oil. There was not just a dab of oil put on their body; they were saturated with oil.
When the Holy Spirit comes in, it is not intended to just be a touch. He wants to saturate us.
The First Mention of Oil Used for Ministry in the New Testament
When Jesus sent forth his disciples, two by two, He had instructed them about how to minister to others. By implication, we know that Jesus instructed the disciples about anointing the sick with oil.
Mark 6:13 “And they (the disciples) cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.”
The disciples did not use oil for medicinal purposes, rather as a representation of the supernatural healing power of the Holy Spirit. The oil does not heal. The power of God heals. When Jesus called His disciples He gave them authority and power over unclean spirits and over sickness and disease.
New Testament Uses of Anointing With Oil
1. Anointed for Burial
Luke 7:46 “My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.”
Mary anointed Jesus with oil, which represented Him dying and being buried. But not only was the oil a symbol of Jesus’ burial, it was also a symbol of His resurrection.
When we rub oil on a sick person and pray for them, we expect them to be healed. If we anoint a person with oil who is dying, we expect them to be resurrected.
Mary witnessed Lazarus coming out of the grave. When Mary anointed Jesus for burial, she also knew she was anointing Him for resurrection. She was one of the first to arrive at the tomb of Jesus. She came to the grave knowing that Jesus would be resurrected from the dead, just as Lazarus had been. No wonder Jesus commended her for her faith.
2 Anointing for Healing
Luke 10:34 “And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”
When the Good Samaritan found the man who had been beaten on the road, he bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine into those wounds. Oil was the first element poured into the wound. Again, oil represents healing. It also represents the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the new birth. The wine represents the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
3 The Oil of Gladness
Hebrews 1:9 “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
Verse 9 is speaking of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. More than that, it speaks of His ascension after being resurrected from the dead. This verse is God the Father speaking to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ at the resurrection.
The “oil of gladness” represents that the work was completed. Jesus’ time on earth is often referred to as a time of sorrows. Jesus knew His purpose. He came to redeem us, heal us, and deliver us, but the ultimate reason He came was to die for us.
I John 3:8 “For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
For Jesus, destroying the works of the evil one meant suffering, dying, going to the cross, taking on the curse, and removing it. However, once He was resurrected and ascended to heaven, He was anointed with the oil of gladness.
Hebrews 1:9 says, “God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” The word “fellows” is a reference to the angels. The importance of this verse is that a human being was exalted above the level of the angels. This verse does not refer to Jesus in His deity; it refers to Jesus in His humanity. Jesus earned the right to be exalted above the level of angels.
When He came to earth, Jesus was given a human name and any human name is lower than an angel’s name. But through death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, a human name has been elevated to an equal level with God. Jesus Christ is now synonymous with God.
Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
vs. 2 “It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments.”
Symbolic of Psalm 133, the oil began on the head and flowed down to the skirts of the garments. The same oil of anointing flowed to the upper room where 120 were anointed with the Holy Spirit.
On the day Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven, He became the High Priest over the Church, anointed with oil. He became King of kings, Lord of lords, Head of the Church. He was anointed with oil for every position He filled.
Again, the disciples were anointed to lay hands on the sick and to anoint them with oil. But the original disciples are gone. Mary anointed Jesus with oil, but she is gone. Jesus ascended into heaven and was anointed by God the Father, but that happened in heaven. So, how does the anointing with oil apply to us today?
Anointing With Oil Today
James 5:14 “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.”
The anointing with oil has come down through the centuries and we still practice it in the church today. The practice of anointing with oil has literally spanned the dispensations. It began in the Old Testament and has continued to the day in which we live. But something new was added when the anointing with oil reached the New Testament days. People were anointed with oil to receive healing.
Laying Hands on the Sick
Laying on of hands is not just a ministry for pastors or apostles or those called to the healing ministry. It is a ministry that has been given to every believer.
Mark 16:18 “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Importance of Prayer in Healing
James 5:13 “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.”
vs. 14 “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:
vs. 15 “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”
vs. 16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
vs. 17 “Elias (Elijah) was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.”
vs. 18 “And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”
The subject of this passage is not anointing with oil. The subject is prayer. Notice the number of times prayer is mentioned.
Verse 13, you pray for yourself. Verses 14 and 15, you let others pray for you. Verse 16, you pray for one another. This passage of scripture emphasizes the importance of prayer. If you are weak and do not have the faith to pray for yourself, you can have an elder pray for you. It is not necessary to call up the pastor every time you are attacked with sickness. You can pray for yourself, you can have others pray for you, you can pray the prayer of agreement with another believer, or you can call for the elders of the church to anoint you with oil.
Verse 16 says again, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” This verse is simply saying, “If you are born again, you have no faults between you and your brother, and you stand clean before God, you are one of those effectual fervent prayer warriors. You may not feel like you are. You may not look, think, or even act like one, but you are. These verses even compare us to Elijah, who was emotionally up and down yet, he prayed and the earth did not receive rain for three and a half years. Then He prayed again and it rained.
Are you afflicted? Pray for yourself. Are you merry? Sing psalms. Are you to the point of weakness, where you need someone else to pray for you? Call the elders and let them anoint you with oil and pray for you. That prayer is going to heal you and the Lord will raise you up.
When verse 16 says to “confess your faults one to another,” that does not mean confessing your sins before everyone. This verse means that we are to go to the person we have wronged, confess our sin, and then pray for one another.
Call for the Elders of the Church
Verse 14 says again, “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.”
The Greek word for “sick” actually means “sickly or weak and sick.” If you are having difficulty rising up in faith because you have been beaten down by the enemy and you have prayed for yourself, you have had others pray for you, and there is no sin in your life, then call for the elders of the church and let them pray for you and anoint you with oil.
Verses 14 and 15 could actually read, “Call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith shall save the sick one.” The “sick one” is a weak one. Not only is this person sick, but what is accompanying that sickness is a spiritual weakness.
The oil does not heal. It is simply used as a point of contact for our faith to begin operating as it had been previously. The oil does not heal and the prayer of faith does not heal. God heals. The vehicle God uses for healing to be manifested is the prayer of faith.
What Anointing With Oil Means to the Believer
1. You Have a Position
If I anoint you with oil, it means you hold a position. As believers, we are no longer servants. We are sons and daughters of God. We belong to the family of God. The moment we are born again, we hold a high rank in the body of Christ. It is a higher rank than the Old Testament prophet, priest, or king because they were still servants in the house of God. Romans 8:29 says that Jesus was “…the firstborn among many brethren.” We, as New Testament saints are the “many brethren.”
2. You Have Been Separated
Satan will often tell believers, “You are worthless. You are no better than the world. Just yesterday you got angry with the store clerk. A few hours ago you said something bad about your boss. You call yourself a Christian? God will never use you.”
That is when we can reply, “I have been called out of the world and into Jesus Christ. I am no longer part of the world, I am part of the family of God.”
2 Corinthians 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…”
The oil represents that point of sanctification.
3. A Living Sacrifice
Whenever sacrifices were offered to God, oil was placed on those sacrifices. A believer can confidently declare, “My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I have been sanctified and set apart. Why should my body be sick? My body should be well and whole. My body is a living sacrifice unto God and God wants well bodies and not sick bodies as a sacrifice.”
God wants us well so we can spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. It would be difficult to receive from someone talking about the goodness of God if they are deathly ill. It is much easier to receive the message of the gospel from someone who is well.
4. Your Body is the Tabernacle of the Holy Spirit
Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is not only a living sacrifice, it is where the Spirit of God dwells. There was a day when the temple was made of animal skins. The physical temple would be built and anointed with oil and the presence of God would move into that temple built with physical hands. God’s presence in the temple was called the shekinah glory.
Today, the shekinah glory of God dwells in us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The moment Jesus Christ died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom and the presence of God moved out. On the Day of Pentecost, God’s presence moved into His people, which is where He had always desired to abide.
In the Old Testament, God’s presence moved from place to place. It moved from the tabernacle of Moses to the tabernacle of David to the temple of Solomon to the temple of Herod. But after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He came to dwell within us and He will never leave. He will be with us forever.
5. A Symbol of Unity
Satan tries to sell the lie to believers that they do not fit in with other Christians and he tries to alienate them. But the oil is a reminder that we are part of the body of Christ, that we have a specific function within that body, and that they have been unified with other all other believers
A Symbol of the Holy Spirit
Finally, the oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The type of oil is unimportant. Some people make an issue about needing to use a certain kind of oil, what type of water they are baptized in, or whether real wine or grape juice is used for communion. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is what they represent. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”