Very good question! We actually don’t know which oils Jesus and his disciples specifically used-but this we do know-they were not using their cooking oils or their lamp oils to anoint for healing. In other words-they were not anointing with olive oil alone. More than likely they were using a healing oil which may have been within a carrier oil such as olive.
What Essential Oils Were Available and Used in Biblical Times?
The Bible actually refers to thirty-five different botanical plants by name. Some were used primarily for incense but many others were crudely distilled by several different methods and used for healing the body. They were rubbed or smeared on the body, poured on the body or may have been sprinkled on the body.
The more popular oils that would have been commonly available at the time of Jesus include myrrh, frankincense, balsam, sandalwood (called aloes at that time-no relation to aloe vera), cypress, hyssop, spikenard, cinnamon, cassia, calamus among others. These would have constituted their “medicine cabinet” much like we might have aspirin and other remedies in our medicine chest.
Since these oils were just as expensive in Biblical times as they are now, how do you suppose Jesus and his disciples were able to afford them? The early Christian writings give us some insight-“The women saw to the needs of the ministry.” You might interpret this as the women seeing to the disciple’s physical needs like cooking and providing a place for the disciples to stay. Or as this writer feels-they made sure all the disciples had these expensive anointing oils for the ministry.