Why Do the Elders Anoint With Oil?

by | Jan 24, 2022 | Ordinances, Scripture Study | 5 comments

Anointing oil on a wooden table outside.

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: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up (James 5:14-15).

Following right along with the above verses, The Church of Jesus Christ instructs those who are sick to be anointed with oil by the elders of the Church for the purpose of being healed of the sickness.

It’s not that the oil has magical power — it’s clear from the verse above that it’s the prayer of faith that heals the sick.

Yet, the Apostle James is very specific as to the use of anointing with oil in praying for the sick. Why?

Then He called His twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick (Luke 9:1-2).

As the above verses describe, Jesus sent His disciples on an outreach mission and equipped them to cast out devils and cure diseases. As recorded in Mark, a result of this mission was: And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them (Mark 6:13).

Clearly, James is passing along the instruction of Jesus Himself regarding anointing with oil for the healing of the sick.

The elders of The Church of Jesus Christ today continue this practice, placing a drop of olive oil (see Deuteronomy 28:40, Micah 6:15) on the head of the sick person, laying their hands on the person’s head and praying for a healing.

Jesus said that one of the signs that that would follow those who believe is this: “they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18 and Mormon 9:24).

We are happy to report that on many occasions, the sick person does recover. We thank God for extending His power to us in this manner.

Note: The origin of anointing is related to shepherds caring for their sheep.

Lice and other insects would often get into the wool of the sheep, and when these insects got near the sheep’s head, they could burrow into the sheep’s ears and kill the sheep. To protect the sheep from this, the shepherd would pour oil on the sheep’s head, making the wool slippery so the insects would slide off before they could get near the sheep’s ears.

As a result of this practice, anointing became symbolic of blessing and protection. It also explains why Psalm 23 (written by shepherd David from the perspective of one of the Lord’s “sheep”) includes the phrase, “thou anointest my head with oil.”

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.

Author

  • Brother Jerry lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with wife Sister Pat and daughter Maria.

5 Comments

  1. Sister Kathie Perkins

    Thank you for that interesting explanation. I have been in the church for almost 50 years and still learned something new today! God bless you for the time and effort put into this blog.

    Reply
  2. Sister Kathie Perkins

    Thank you for that interesting explanation. I have been in the church for almost 50 years and still learned something new today! God bless you for the time and effort put into this blog.

    Reply
  3. Josie Jasmin

    I want to commend you on this wonderful new column, it is very informative and spirit filled. Thank you for this added blessing where we can read the scriptures and see everything for ourselves written by the word of God.
    I have been in the gospel all my life, but this is an opening for our eyes and mind even though we already believe. This has to be the greatest info for our young in the gospel.
    Thank you and God bless you all for this wonderful blog.

    Reply
  4. Josie Jasmin

    I want to commend you on this wonderful new column, it is very informative and spirit filled. Thank you for this added blessing where we can read the scriptures and see everything for ourselves written by the word of God.
    I have been in the gospel all my life, but this is an opening for our eyes and mind even though we already believe. This has to be the greatest info for our young in the gospel.
    Thank you and God bless you all for this wonderful blog.

    Reply
  5. anonymous

    According to the 1970 book by the former sheep rancher Phillip Keller titled “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” sheep are especially pestered by nose flies. Keller would smear a homemade remedy of linseed oil, sulfur, and tar over the sheep’s nose and head which worked incredibly well. He also stated that in King David’s time the remedy would be olive oil, sulfur and spices.

    Reply

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