“What does the Bible say about anointing oil?”

Anointing oil, mentioned 20 times in Scripture, was used in the Old Testament for pouring on the head of the High Priest and his descendants and sprinkling the Tabernacle and its furnishings to mark them as holy and set apart to the Lord (Exodus 25:6; Leviticus 8:30; Numbers 4:16). Three times it is called the “holy, anointing oil” and the Jews were strictly forbidden from reproducing it for personal use (Exodus 30:32-33). The recipe for anointing oil is found in Exodus 30:23-24 and contained myrrh, cinnamon and other natural ingredients. There is no indication that the oil or the ingredients had any supernatural power. Rather, the strictness of the guidelines for creating the oil was a test of the obedience of the Israelites and a demonstration of the absolute holiness of God.

Only four New Testament passages refer to the practice of anointing with oil and none of them offer an explanation for its use. We can draw our conclusions from context. In Mark 6:13; the disciples anoint the sick and heal them. In Luke 7:46; Mary anoints Jesus’ feet as an act of worship. In James 5:14; the church elders anoint the sick with oil for healing. In Hebrews 1:8-9, God says to Christ as He returns triumphantly to Heaven, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever…” and God anoints Jesus “with the oil of gladness.”

Should Christians use anointing oil today? There is nothing in Scripture that commands or even suggests that we should use similar oil today, but neither is there anything to forbid it. Oil is often used as a symbol for the Holy Spirit in the Bible as in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). As such, Christians have the presence of the oil of the Spirit who leads us into all truth and anoints us continually with His grace and comfort. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth” (1 John 2:20).

About Dr. Mike Harmon

Dr. Harmon began preaching at the age of 15 while living in southern California. He has conducted over 600 revivals and evangelistic campaigns nationwide, and has served as Senior Pastor at seven churches. Dr. Harmon has degrees from Central Baptist College, the University of Central Arkansas, and a Ph.D. From the Christian Bible College and Seminary. He has served as trustee for Southeastern Baptist College and Chairman of the trustees for the BMA Theological Seminary. He also served as Chaplain for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas State Senate. His many sermons and articles on Christian Apologetics are widely published. He is married to one wife of 43 years; has two sons, and seven grandchildren. He considers the simple pleasures of cooking, dining with family and friends, and liesurely rides on his Harley through the Texas Hill Country to be some of the most enjoyable blessings from the Lord.
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