Question: What is the oil of gladness?
“I was reading your newsletter Present Truth, April 2002, in the ‘Questions and Answers’ section, about being baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. I very much appreciate how you explained that verse, my question is, close to the end of your answer you quoted Hebrews 1:9 and I was wondering what is the oil of gladness?”
Thank you for your question. Hebrews 1:9 says in context, “But unto the Son [God the Father] saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Hebrews 1:8, 9)
Anointing a person with oil was practiced many times in the Bible. Men were anointed when they became priests (Exodus 30:30), kings (1 Samuel 15:1), and, at times, prophets (1 Kings 19:16). James instructed us to pray and anoint the sick with oil that they may be healed. (James 5:14)
Christ was anointed to preach good tidings. He said, through the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1)
Here Christ used the word anointed synonymously with receiving the Holy Spirit. The same thing took place when David was anointed king. “Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed [David] in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.” (1 Samuel 16:13) Many times in the Bible, the word oil is used to refer to the Spirit of God. It is called “the golden oil” in Zechariah chapter four.
The Father anointed His Son by giving Him His Spirit without measure, “for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” (John 3:34) “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.” (Acts 10:38) The oil of gladness that Christ was anointed with signified God giving His Spirit to His Son above, or more than, any of His fellows.
I hope this helps to answer your question.