What is the purpose of anointing with oil?
In the Bible anointing with oil has two primary purposes, along with some smaller purposes. In the Old Testament, anointing with oil was the way to show that one was chosen by God and set apart. Usually they were being chosen to be a king but this process was also used to sanctify a priest or a prophet.
This meaning continues into the New Testament as well. We see Jesus Christ saying in Luke 4 that He was anointed by God to preach the Gospel. The literal meaning of the word Messiah, or the Greek translation of this word Christ, is Anointed One. Jesus was anointed to be our prophet, our priest and our king.
The second use of anointing oil in the Bible was for healing the sick. Anointing was usually accompanied by prayer for the sick person as well. In James 5 we see that a sick person is to call for the elders of the church. They are to anoint him with oil and pray for him. The Bible promises in that passage that the prayer of faith will save the sick person and that the Lord will raise him up. In Mark 6 Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the Gospel. We read that they also anointed many people with oil and healed them.
One of the most striking examples of the use of anointing oil for healing comes from the story of Good Samaritan. In Luke 10, the Samaritan takes care of the injured man by pouring oil and wine onto his wounds.
When we read such passages in the Bible we should be reminded of another anointing that God sends to believers. The Bible tells us in I John 2 that we as believers have been anointed by His Holy Spirit. This anointing is permanent, it abides with us. The anointing is with us to teach us all things.
We as believers have been anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit. This sets us apart much as the priestly and kingly anointing did in the Old Testament. Just as Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit, He did not leave us comfort less.
Now we can follow in His footsteps and be anointed.