Back to Questions and Answers


Will God heal if elders anoint and pray with the sick according to James 5:14-15?


Your question on James 5:14-15 has been greatly debated as you know. Some think the passage is outdated and some think that the anointing with oil was the medicine of their day and that we should have the elders pray but we should go to the doctor. I think that is a good idea but I don't think the passage is teaching that. Others think that this only has to do with the illnesses related to some sin that is causing the problem.

When I read my Bible I usually assume that what is in an epistle is written to us and for us in the church age. I don't like to set anything aside unless the passage does that (1 Cor. 13 makes it clear that some gifts will pass away--when they pass away is often argued). So I feel this passage in James applies to us today.

Note: the person calls for the elders, the elders don't take this on themselves. The anointing seems to be ceremonial to me, the praying if it is in faith seems to be healing (no person has the gift of healing in our day as early apostles did in my view). The healing is connected to forgiving of sins. So my view is that this applies today and would be beneficial where the person knows that their illness is sin related (maybe alcohol or drugs or an unforgiving spirit). 

I would have no problem doing this where the person knows of no sin related problem but we are not given any promise that all illnesses are going to be cured (after all we all do die of something apart from the Lord's return). So the prayer in that case would not really be a prayer of faith. The prayer of faith would not be a prayer of intense believing but a prayer reminding the Lord of a promise that He has made. It would have to do with a specific promise that God will heal when confession is made in this particular situation. 

That is my view. Hope this gives you something to think about.

Christian love,

Bruce Collins


Back to Questions and Answers