"Is anyone among you sick? 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" (James 5:14). Anointing others with oil is mentioned in the Bible, but what exactly is James getting at when he mentions it? Pastor Andy unpacks the text here for us to correctly understand.
Is any among you sick? Everybody say sick. It's an interesting word because the word sick in the original Greek is pronounced asthenei.
In the Gospels, it's always translated as sick but throughout the rest of the New Testament — in Romans 15:9, in 1 Corinthians 14:15, in Ephesians 5:19 — this word is translated as weak.
You see, it's not exclusively a word about someone who is physically sick. It's actually more used in the context of somebody who is spiritually depleted, discouraged, and worn down.
If any of you is suffering let him pray. If any of you is cheerful let him sing praise. If any of you are beat down and depressed and discouraged...
Instead of just sick... Now, could it mean sick? Yes. But I'm gonna make an argument that as we walk through this, one of the reasons we've been confused by this is we think this is God's holy health slot-machine. That if we do this just right we can make anybody well but that's not what he's promising and that's not what the passage says.
"Is anyone among you..." and the word sick works, but tired... Everybody say tired. If you have trouble remembering that — If any of you is sick and tired... That's what it means. It means depressed or downcast let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him anointing him with oil.
Now this anointing is an interesting word as well because when we see anointing we think very spiritual things don't we? Samuel anointing David. We see Psalm 133, as the oil runs down over the beard... it's a very spiritual thing. Well the problem is there were two words in the original Greek that were used for anointing.
One was chrio and chrio was the word that meant ceremonial anointing. That's not what this is. The other word is very hard to pronounce.
By the way, I'm gonna pronounce this for you. If you don't know how to pronounce old biblical words, here's how: you do it quick, fast and with authority and pretend you're right every time. If somebody calls me on it, it's because you're a Greek prof. and you can call me on that later.
Aleipsantes. Aleipsantes. And that word doesn't mean to ceremonially anoint; it means to like rub in an oil for comfort.
Now my wife... I don't know if you know y'all know what essential oils are? It's kind of thing now. It's a cult. But my wife's a part so I can't call it out.
They have these mixtures of oils that they put and my wife believes in essential oils. Like, I get like a neck ache or headache and she wants to she wants to put essential oils on me which I am totally down with but to be straight up, I don't really believe in the oil I just like the neck rub if I could be really honest with you.
The application of it is awesome. You kneed that stuff in.. She asks, "Is it working?" "I think it is, baby. I think it is."
Now this kind of rub... oil was used in the same way in a medicinal way, in a soothing way, in a relaxed way. Chrio was the way it was used ceremonially and religiously for a healing. Aleipsantes is the way it was used by a doctor for soothing, for a balm, for health, and that's the word we have here. It was for soothing.
Now here's the argument — if any among you is sick, well yes, sick, but depressed or down or hurting or weary, then let him call for the leadership of the church and let them pray over him and soothe him and help him and encourage him and lift him up.
View the full sermon here.