SHOULD THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH ANOINT THE SICK WITH OIL?
By Ken Blue
“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; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 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.” James 5:14-16.
Several years ago one of the best-known pastors in fundamentalism preached at our church. I have no memory what the title or purpose of the sermon was. However, in the sermon, he mentioned the above text and stated that many women, who seemed barren, wanted to be anointed with oil in order to heal their bareness. He said he did so, and many of the women later conceived. Several of our ladies lined up and he proceeded to anoint them with oil.
At that time I had little understanding of right divisions of Scripture or the book of James. However, the right division of the Scriptures makes it clear that Hebrews through Revelation are Jewish epistles. Therefore, it must be understood and interpreted accordingly. The first verse of James makes it clear to whom it is written and for the twelve tribes of Israel. “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” James 1:1. It is written to the twelve tribes of Israel and falls under the ministry to them.
The book of James was written about A.D. 45 at Jerusalem before the first Christian council in A.D. 51, and is, no doubt, the first epistle written under the Kingdom of Heaven offer to Israel. James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ is the author of the book. James is more Jewish in content than Matthew, the gospel for the Jews; than Jude and Revelation, and even Hebrews. “The book of James could take a place with the Old Testament canon as far as doctrine is concerned. There is no mention of the gospel, the incarnation, life, death, or resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no suggestion as to the Messiah has come or of redemption through Him. There is no trace of early Christian controversies. However, James adheres to the teachings of Christ…” Dake’s notes. The book of James parallels much of the Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew 5-7.
We conclude that the anointing with oil is a Jewish practice under the Kingdom of Heaven ministry, and it has no place or application to the church of this grace dispensation. I have witnessed several Baptist preachers attempt to practice the anointing in order to appease a request, but I have never seen anyone follow the scriptural mandate. Nothing is as silly as a Baptist pastor with a dab of oil on his finger dabbing it on some naive Christian. However, I too was once foolish and blind to the understanding of the book of James because I had not learned to rightly divide the Word of God. The internal evidence is overwhelming that James is not to or for the church, the Body of Christ. We must study all Scripture, but we must know to whom and for what purpose they are written. Anointing oil has no place in this age of grace.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.