There are four reports of Jesus being anointed by a woman while he was alive on earth. These appear to describe three separate cases:

  1. In Luke 7:36-38 and 44-50, a woman wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair and anointed them with ointment from an alabaster flask. She is described as a “woman of the city who was a sinner”. The city is not named, but was probably in Galilee as the events surrounding this passage took place in Galilee. This probably took place shortly after Jesus chose his 12 disciples.
  2. In John 12:1-11, Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment of pure nard . Judas Iscariot complained about the waste. This anointing took place six days (John 12:1) before the Passover at which Jesus was crucified.
  3. In Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9, an unnamed woman anointed Jesus in the house of Simon the leper in the town of Bethany. She anointed Jesus’ head with very expensive ointment of pure nard from an alabaster flask. In this case it seems that all of Jesus’ disciples complained about the waste, prompting Jesus to defend her action, describing it as a beautiful thing done to anoint him for burial. This anointing took place 2 days (Matthew 26:2 and Mark 14:1) before the Passover at which Jesus was crucified.

The differences in setting, time and the part of Jesus’ body which was anointed, argue convincingly that these four records do not all record the same event; while the closeness of the records of Matthew and Mark reflect a description by two writers of the same event.

There is one more attempted anointing. On the Sunday after Jesus had been crucified, various women came to anoint his dead body with spices and ointments (Matthew 28:1-6, Mark 16:1-6 and Luke 23:55-24:7), but could not do so because he had been raised from the dead!

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  • David Levandusky

    Jesus was also anointed by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea when they took Him down from the cross to bury Him. See John 19:38,39.

    • Rob J Hyndman

      True, but neither were women and the question specifically asked about women.

  • The Saint

    Thank God,
    The Holy Spirit was leading me to study this event, when I investigated I found it was three separate events but I could not find anyone who noticed this.
    So I thought I was incorrect…so when I found your page, I gave me great relief.
    Thank you for your spiritual insight

  • jim

    why did jesus had to be anointed before his death

  • Mark Morgan

    I don’t think the Bible says that Jesus had to be anointed before his death. However, in one of the cases of anointing, just 2 days before the Passover at which he died, Jesus did say that the anointing was a beautiful thing to have done to prepare him for burial (Matthew 26:10, Mark 14:6). Jesus appreciated the woman’s generous gift, given in love.

  • lee

    Is is possible that Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus twice. One account is recorded in Luke and the other occasion recorded in the other gospels. The reason for this theory is the statement by John in chapter 11verse 2 of his gospel. Is John referring to the anointing he will later describe in detail at Simon the lepers house or the previous occasion at Simon the Pharisees house he does not record in detail? Just another thought to ponder.

    • Mark Morgan

      Yes, it is possible, although it would need to have been three times, not just twice, since the last two events are about 4 days apart as is shown in the answer above. However, I think 3 anointings by one Mary are unlikely, given the very high cost of the ointment. There is no indication that Mary and Martha were rich, and the fact that Martha was having to serve alone when her sister would not help (Luke 10:38-40) shows that they did not have servants – as might be expected of rich people able to afford such a gift 3 times.

      There is no reason to believe that Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:39-40) and Simon the leper (Matthew 26:6) were the same person. Names were normally qualified to help distinguish people. Simon was a common name: two of Jesus’ disciples were had the name Simon and were distinguished as “Simon called Peter” and “Simon the Zealot”.

      There is also no Biblical reason to believe that Mary was considered “a sinner” as the woman in Luke was described (Luke 7:37).

  • theresa neal

    i was told there were four women in jesus’s life.one was a harlot two were prostitutes and the fourth was an adulterer.can you give me more info on these women?

  • r nelson

    In luke this was the first time in john was the second time matt and mark told of the third time the first time the city was nina then twice in bethnay

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=518810248 Ashley Rothermel Fluke

    I disagree about the timing on the 2 vs. 6 days – Just because John records that Jesus went to Bethany 6 days before the Passover does not mean that he actually had the supper 6 days before the Passover. Very easily he could have been in Bethany for a few days before given the meal and annointed. I personally think there was one or two annointings at most. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/prototypeatheist Prototype Atheist

    Total dick move by Jesus to chide his disciples for pointing out that the oil could be sold and used to help the poor. He’s all “Yeah, you’ll always have poor people, but I’m here now. I’m more important”.

    • Phillip A Cherry

      not only do i think it’s likely, but also probable that jesus and mary magdeline had a daughter named”sara, ” “sarah”. what would have been so terrible about that.. Is this really the Holy Grail ? maybe.. oh how i would have love to have been a fly on the wall while those fatass romans sat around and argued and paid each other and did favors for each other and probably murdered each other and traded there wires off to each other and god only knows what else when they were likely sinning the asses off during the compilation of the New testament.

      • Phillip A Cherry

        what a bunch or manure!!! all of this is!!

    • Phillip A Cherry

      shut up buttface!!!!