Signs of Apostolic Ministry | Mark 6:7, 12–13
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. … 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
God announced His message with miracles, both in Jesus Christ and in His apostles. Jesus appointed these twelve back in chapter three, and now we come to the reason He originally called them (3:13–15). They’ll be His “sent ones” (or the apostles from the Greek). While other apostles appear in Scripture, these are in that special category of specifically being sent by Jesus Christ, those who would later be witnesses of His resurrection (Acts 1:22). As such, Jesus would give them authority that no other disciple would have.
His apostles could work supernaturally. Throughout the Book of Mark, we’ve seen the wonders of Jesus, but the idea that He could distribute His power to others is greater still. Casting out demons and supernatural healing are among “the signs of a true apostle,” practiced “with signs and wonders and mighty works” (cf. 2 Cor 12:12). God was bearing witness to the apostolic message of repentance with these miracles (Hb 2:3–4).
They could do so in the Holy Spirit. Oil was used for medicinal purposes (Lk 10:34), but the context here is that supernatural healing took place. The anointing symbolized the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Zech 4:1–6). Those being anointed by the apostles would recognize that the power of God working through them, and that they were sent by Christ. As such, they would realize that Jesus had the power to send the Holy Spirit and dispense supernatural authority as He wished.
While this special healing and deliverance ministry was only for that era, Jesus still distributes grace to believers through the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:7 says, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” He not only gave the church the apostles and prophets that we read about in Scripture, but also evangelists and pastor-teachers who teach it and build up the body of Christ (vv. 11–12). Indeed, the whole body should work in this process (v. 16), for our sufficiency is always from God in the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 3:5–6).