James 5:14

Is any among you sick? (asqenei ti en umin;). Present active indicative of asqenew, old verb, to be weak (without strength), often in N.T. ( Matthew 10:8 ). Let him call for (proskalesasqw). First aorist (ingressive) middle imperative of proskalew. Note change of tense (aorist) and middle (indirect) voice. Care for the sick is urged in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 ("help the sick"). Note the plural here, "elders of the church, as in Acts 20:17 ; Acts 15:6 Acts 15:22 ; Acts 21:18 ; Philippians 1:1 (bishops). Let them pray over him (proseuxasqwsan ep auton). First aorist middle imperative of proseucomai. Prayer for the sick is clearly enjoined. Anointing him with oil (aleipsante elaiwi). First aorist active participle of aleipw, old verb, to anoint, and the instrumental case of elaion (oil). The aorist participle can be either simultaneous or antecedent with proseuxasqwsan (pray). See the same use of aleipw elaiwi in Mark 6:13 . The use of olive oil was one of the best remedial agencies known to the ancients. They used it internally and externally. Some physicians prescribe it today. It is clear both in Mark 6:13 and here that medicinal value is attached to the use of the oil and emphasis is placed on the worth of prayer. There is nothing here of the pagan magic or of the later practice of "extreme unction" (after the eighth century). It is by no means certain that aleipw here and in Mark 6:13 means "anoint" in a ceremonial fashion rather than "rub" as it commonly does in medical treatises. Trench (N.T. Synonyms) says: "Aleipein is the mundane and profane, criein the sacred and religious, word." At bottom in James we have God and medicine, God and the doctor, and that is precisely where we are today. The best physicians believe in God and want the help of prayer.