Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 32: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
MARK 6:12-13; LUKE 9:6
12. And they departed, and preached 1 that men should repent. 13. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many diseased persons, and healed them.
6. And they departed, and we went round about through the villages 2 preaching the Gospel, and healing everywhere.
Mark 6:12. And they departed, and preached. Matthew silently passes over what the Apostles did. Mark and Luke relate that they proceeded to execute the commission which they had received; and from their statements it appears more clearly, that the office which Christ at that time bestowed upon them, as I have formerly mentioned, was temporary, and indeed lasted but a few days. They tell us that the Apostles went through the cities and villages: and they unquestionably returned in a short time to their Master, as we shall find to be stated in another passage.
The only matter that requires exposition here is the fact related by Mark, that they anointed with oil many diseased persons Christ having conferred on them the power of healing, it is asked, why did they apply oil? Some learned persons suppose that it was a sort of medicine; and I acknowledge that in these countries the use of oil was very common. But nothing is more unreasonable than to imagine, that the Apostles employed ordinary and natural remedies, which would have the effect of obscuring the miracles of Christ. They were not instructed by our Lord in the art and science of healing, but, on the contrary, were enjoined to perform miracles which would arouse all Judea. I think, therefore, that this anointing was a visible token of spiritual grace, by which the healing that was administered by them was declared to proceed from the secret power of God; for under the Law oil was employed to represent the grace of the Spirit. The absurdity of an attempt to imitate the Apostles, by making the anointing of the sick a perpetual ordinance of the Church, appears from the fact, that Christ bestowed on the Apostles the gift of healing, not as an inheritance which they should hand down to posterity, but as a temporary seal of the doctrine of the Gospel. In our own day, the ignorance of the Papists is exceedingly ridiculous in maintaining that their nasty unction, 3 by which they hurry to the grave persons who are fast dying, is a Sacrament.
“Eux donc estans partis prescherent;” — “they then having set out, preached.”
“Eux donc estans partis alloyent de village en village a l’entour;” — “they then having set out, went from village to village round about.”
The allusion is to extreme unction, (or last anointing,) which is one of the Seven Sacraments recognized by the Church of Rome. — Ed.