Healing

Healing was a very significant part of Jesus' ministry. This study looks at healing throughout the Bible.

John Robertshaw  


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Contents

A. Destroying the work of the Evil One

B. Origins of Sickness and Disease
1) The Fallen State of Mankind and Nature
2) The Activity of the Devil
3) Punishment from God
4) To Show the Glory of God
5) Sharing or Testing?

C. Healing and the Cross

D. Health and the Bible
1) I am the Lord who heals you
2) Food and Hygiene

E. Medical Science

F. Healing in the Old Testament

G. Healing in the Ministry of Jesus
1) His Healings
2) His Methods
3) His Demands
4) His Reasons

H. Healing in the Apostolic Era
1) During the life of Jesus
2) After the death and resurrection of Jesus
3) Illness

I. Healing Principles

J. Healing and Death

 

A. Destroying the work of the Evil One

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the Evil One (1 John 3:8). Jesus’ ministry consisted of teaching, supernatural healing, casting out demons and preaching good news to the poor. He commissioned his disciples to do the same - the twelve (Luke 9:1-2), the seventy(two) (Luke 10:1-17). Healing the sick was a significant and essential part of the work of Jesus to overcome Satan. It was no minor part of his ministry but was integral with the forgiveness of sins and preaching of the gospel (Luke 5:22-24). It is what Jesus did! (Acts 10:38).

 

B. Origins of Sickness and Disease

1) The Fallen State of Mankind and Nature

The consequence of Adam eating from the tree was that he would die (Gen 2:17). there was a spiritual dimension to this in that Adam lost his close fellowship with God (Gen 3:8). There was also a practical dimension

  • Mankind would be at odds with Satan (Gen 3:15).
  • Woman would suffer in childbearing (Gen 3:16).
  • Mankind would struggle against nature. ruling nature was going to be hard work, there was a curse on the ground (Gen 3:17-19).
  • Man would return to the dust (Gen 3:19). Death and decay was going to be a part of man’s experience. See how the lifespan of man gradually decreases in the genealogies (Gen 5:1-32, Gen 11:10-26)
  • Creation is subject to bondage, decay and groaning (Rom 8:19).

Sickness and decay exist in the world because of the general fallen state of mankind and the world around him.

2) The Activity of the Devil

The activity of the devil is clearly seen in the book of Job. Satan removes all Job’s wealth and his family (Job 1:6-12) and then goes on to afflict him with illness (Job 2:1-8). Note the following:

  • Job is righteous - God says so!
  • Satan afflicts Job - not God.
  • Satan only operates by the permission of God.
  • The test is instigated by Satan.

The devil is a malicious enemy who distributes sickness unfairly on mankind. To attempt to explain sickness and disease without the interaction of the devil is very inadequate. Job and his friends tried to understand his condition in the light of a “Satan-free world-view”, and came to grief!

Demonisation

This mental affliction is the most obvious kind of Satan inspired illness. Sometimes demons are cast out, at other time relief is described as “healing” (Luke 8:2-3, Matt 12:22-23, Acts 5:12-16). Physical symptoms associated with demonisation are:

  • Violent irrational behaviour (Mark 5:1-20).
  • Deaf and dumb (Mark 9:14-27).
  • Blind and Mute (Matt 12:22-23)
  • Crippled (Luke 13:10-17 - “bound by Satan”).

Notes:

  • Not all mental illness can be directly attributed to demons - there are biological causes, brain damage etc.
  • The fact that there are physical, medical and psychological reasons for an illness does not rule out the activity of Satan and demons.
  • On the whole, Jesus did not deal with physical illness in the same way as he dealt with demonisation. He distinguished between the two.
3) The Sins of Individuals

(a) Does God ever Punish by Illness ?…Yes!

There are several examples of this direct punishment by God in the bible. In many cases there is healing on repentance:

  • Leprosy - Miriam (Num 12:1-16), Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27), Uzziah (2 Chron 26:16-23)
  • Snake bites - Israel (Num 21:4-9)
  • Withered hand - Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:1-10)
  • Bowel disease - Jehoram (2 Chron 21:18)
  • Madness - Nebuchadnezzar ( Daniel 4:28-37)
  • Death - Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5,10), Herod (Acts 12:23)
  • Weak and sick - Corinthian church (1 Cor 11:29-30)

In most cases, it is very unlikely that people we meet will be being punished by God for their sins. It is wise, however, before we pray for the sick to ensure that they are repentant and that they are not actively engaged in any known sin (James 5:15-16). There is a connection between the forgiveness of sins and healing (Luke 5:22-23). “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14)

(b) Can illness always be related to personal sin ?…No!

Job and his comforters tried to do just this:

Job:

  • Bemoans his state and wishes he was never born (Job 3:1-2).
  • Claims that he does not deserve the affliction
  • Protests his righteousness
  • Can’t understand why this has befallen him
  • Feels that God has forsaken him
  • Feels that God is unjust
  • Asks God to forgive his sins if he has any (Job 7:20-21)

His comforters:

  • Job must be a sinner
  • Job must repent
  • God reward the just and punishes the wicked
  • It is your fault, Job - you get what you deserve.

Notes:

  • Job and his friends did not understand the part Satan played in these events, their world-view was inadequate - they could have done with reading Job 1-2 !
  • They had a very material view of reward and punishment in this life.
  • God’s Conclusions:
  • God created everything (Job 38:1-7)
  • God is just (Job 40:1-2, 6-8)
  • Our understanding is very small (Job 42:1-6)
  • Job’s friends did not speak what is right as Job did (Job 42:7)

(c) Beware of Guilt

Many Christians feel guilty when they are ill:

  • Because we believe in healing we feel that we should not be ill and tend to blame ourselves. If we have been prayed for we may feel that we are letting our friends down or letting God down if we are still ill. We might feel that it is a poor witness to our other friends. At worst we will lie about our conditions. We must beware of his guilt.
  • We look for sin in our lives imagining that this must be the reason for our illness.
  • We imagine that it is our fault because we do not have enough faith and we become guilty again. We must be very careful that we do not pour guilt into sick people by telling them that they are still ill because they have not got enough faith. Encouragement is required.
  • We may feel that the faith of others is not sufficient and harbour resentment in our hearts.

These accusations are particularly destructive. Clearly, we need to repent of sin, we need to allow our faith in God to rise. If we are not healed, we must maintain our faith, our joy and our trust in God - “I know that my redeemer lives…” (Job 19:25). Actually as Christians we cannot lose, whether we live or die, we are more than conquerors! (Rom 8:37-39)

4) To show the Glory of God

On one occasion Jesus’ disciples asked him about a man born blind, whether he or his parents had sinned. Jesus gave this amazing answer “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Then Jesus healed him. (John 9:1-7)

5) Sharing or Testing

(a) Sharing in Christ’s Sufferings?

Paul often speaks of sharing in the sufferings of Christ (Phil 3:10, Col 1:24). Hardly ever in the New Testament does the word “suffer” mean illness - it means persecution and hardship in the cause of the gospel. In our persecutions we share the sufferings of Christ and carry our cross - we do not share in his suffering by illness unless it is the result of persecution. There is no record of Christ being ill.

(b) Testing by God?

God does not inflict wasting illnesses on his obedient children to improve their character! In the case of Job, Satan is doing the testing by the permission of God. There is no doubt that much learning, sanctification and growth can occur through illness but this does not mean that God inflicts the illness however he uses the situation to work everything together for good to those who love him (Rom 8:28). Job believed (wrongly) that he was being tested by God (Job 23:10). It is true that God disciplines us by a number of means (Heb 12:1-13). Jacob’s thigh injury was sustained in an encounter with God (Gen 32:22-32).

 

C. Healing and the Cross

In Matt 8:16-17, the author links together the healing and deliverance ministry of Jesus with the prophecy in Isaiah chapter 53. In Isaiah 53:4-5, we read of our infirmities, sorrows, and iniquities being taken away - this passage looks forward to the time when Jesus would bring spiritual, physical and emotional healing. 1 Peter 2:24 again considers salvation and healing in the light of the suffering of Christ. “By his wounds you have been healed.”

Many people have received healing as they have pondered on these scriptures and have put their faith in Christ crucified.

 

D. The Bible and Health

1) I am the Lord who heals you

God said to the people of Israel “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” (Ex 15:26)

There are two aspects to this promise:

  • Faith in God and obedience to him will provide supernatural protection.   See also Deut 7:12-15, Deut 28:22,27,58-61, Lev 7:12-15. which include the converse - a curse of disease to the disobedient. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (Deut 27:26, Gal 3:10-14).
  • Obeying the law of God included following a considerable amount of sound practical medical advice.

The laws in Exodus and Leviticus given by God before 1200 BC were medically far in advance of their time, many of them were to do with health and hygiene.It is an extraordinary code of practice for its day.

2) Food and Hygiene

(a) Food

There were several restrictions on eating meat:

  • Only animals which chew the cud and cloven hooved were permitted. These were herbivores and excluded the carnivores which readily transmit infection in a climate where flesh decays rapidly. There were similar restrictions on birds. Today we eat mainly herbivores. Pork was excluded - it contains many human parasites. Vermin were also excluded
  • Only fish with scales and fins were to be eaten. Shellfish were excluded - some can produce food poisoning and enteritis.
  • The only insects permitted were locusts and grasshopper - they are wholly vegetarian and have high protein content.

(b) Hygiene

There are many detailed laws relating to hygiene for example:

  • Laws to do with not touching dead animals
  • Hygiene for women in period and childbearing
  • Diagnosis, washing, treatment and isolation of those with leprosy and other skin diseases
  • Treatment of cloth and other items infected by mould and fungi
  • Uncleanness due to bodily discharge
  • Advice about keeping water supplies clean
  • Disposal of sewage

 

E. Medical Science

  • If we believed that sickness was sent by God, it would be illogical to do anything to bring healing - any medical or spiritual means of healing would be thwarting the purposes of God! We believe that illness is basically evil and medical help serves to defeat this evil to some degree.
  • Man’s commission by God was to subdue the earth. Science is one area where we bring nature under our control. Science in itself is not evil.
  • Controlling pain and disease and bringing healing by medical means is a human way of defeating evil. In the hands of Christians or supported by the prayers of Christians we expect God to be involved in the activity. There are tremendous opportunities for the Christian doctor (Dr.Luke! - Col 4:14), Christian nurse, etc. It may be that the application of oil in James 5:14 indicates a use of medicine alongside prayer?
  • Medical science is imperfect - drugs have side-effects, treatment fails and doctors make mistakes.
  • We should not feel competitive with the medical profession but should be happy to pray alongside medical help where necessary.
  • We should not belittle the great work of the medical profession in bringing relief and healing to millions of people.
  • There is no need to feel guilty if we need to consult a doctor - it is not an admission of defeat!
  • Diagnostic medicine may well help us to pray more intelligently and effectively.
  • It is not our task to advise on drugs or other treatment. This is the business of the patient and the doctor.
  • Although illness and sickness is evil, it does not mean that every method which succeeds in healing is permissible. Methods which invoke supernatural powers, powers of the mind, hypnosis, yoga, spiritualism etc. should be resisted. A good guide to true Christian healing is to observe whether it is taking place in the context of sound teaching and preaching of the whole gospel of Christ.
  • It is worth noting the comment regarding King Asa who early in his reign walked closely with God but later began to rely on man’s help rather than trust God. He developed a disease in his feet. “Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.” - he died a year later. (2 Chron 16:12)

 

F. Healing in the Old Testament

Miracles in the Old Testament generally cluster around the times of Moses and Elijah (and Elisha). There are several healings worthy of study:

(a) Barren Women

There are many examples of the conception of women who had been barren for many years. The study of these can give hope and faith to those with this problem:

  • Sarah at the age of 91. (Gen 11:30, 17:1-2, 15-17, 18:10-15, 21:1-7)
  • Rachel (Gen 30:22-24)
  • Samson’s mother (Judges 13:2-3)
  • Hannah (1 Sam 1:2,10-11,19-20, 2:1-11)
  • Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:14-17)
  • Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25,57-80)

(b) People healed after being struck by the judgement of God

  • Looking at the snake on the pole in the desert - prayer of Moses (Num 21:4-9)
  • Miriam healed of leprosy after 7 days - prayer of Moses. (Num 12:1-16)
  • Jeroboam’s withered hand - prayer of man of God (1 Kings 13:1-10)

(c) Raised from the dead

  • Son of the widow at Zarephath. Elijah cries out to the Lord “O Lord my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” (1 Kings 17:17–24)

  • Son of Shunammite woman. Gehazi lays Elisha’s staff on the child but without success. Elisha shut the door and prayed to the Lord. “Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy’s body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got onto the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and open his eyes.” (2 Kings 4:11-37)

(d) Naaman the Leper

       The commander of the Syrian Army. Elisha prescribes dipping in the Jordan. Naaman needs to humble himself in this way and is healed. Through the miracle he becomes a worshipper of the Lord. (2 Kings 5:1-14)

(e) King Hezekiah

       Hezekiah is at the point of death and Isaiah confirms that he is going to die. Hezekiah turns to the wall, prays and pleads with God weeping bitterly. Isaiah is spoken to by God again and returns with the word of the Lord “I have heard your prayers (see Isaiah 38:1-22) and seen your tears; I will heal you...I will add fifteen years to your life,” A fig poultice was applied to the boil and Hezekiah recovered.

 

G. Healing in the Ministry of Jesus

1) His Healings

Jesus performed many miracles during his few years of public ministry - multitudes came to him and he healed all their sick (Matt 4:23, 8:16, 9:35, 11:4-5, 12:15, 14:14, 14:34-36, 15:30, 19:2). We are given details of a small sample of these healings:

  • 5 Blind (Matt 9:27-31, Mark 8:22-26, John 9:1-41, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43)
  • 1 Deaf (Mark 7:31-37)
  • 3 Dead (Luke 7:11-17, John 11:1-44, Matt 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56)
  • 1 Bent over for 18 years (Luke 13:10-13)
  • 1 Dropsy (Luke 14:1-6)
  • 11 Lepers (Luke 17:11-19, Matt 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16)
  • 1 Cut off ear (Luke 22:51)
  • 2 Near death (John 4:46-54, Matt 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10)
  • 2 Paralysed (John 5:1-9, Matt 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:17-26)
  • 1 Fever (Matt 8:14-15, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39)
  • 1 Woman with issue of blood (Matt 9:20-22, Mark 2:25-34, Luke 5:43-48)
  • 1 Withered hand (Matt 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11)
  • Several Demonized - dumb (Matt 9:32-33), suffering terribly (Matt 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30), blind and dumb (Matt 12:22-23, Luke 11:14), unclean spirit (Mk 1:21-28, Luke 4:31-37), maniac (Matt 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39), epileptic (Matt 17:14-20, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43)

Notes:

  • Nearly all the conditions which are described were serious and chronic. The most notable exception is the fever of Peter’s mother in law (Peter was married), when the healing was so complete that she got up at once and began to wait on them! (Luke 4:38-39)
  • There was complete and immediate healing. the gospels are full of “immediately”, “straight away”, “at once”, “was healed” etc.
2) His Methods

Jesus healed people in a variety of ways. It is quite clear that his approach was suited to the individual, the situation and the particular illness. Jesus did not pray for people to be healed, he healed them.

(a) A Word of Command to the Individual

  • “Young man I say to you, get up” to a dead man (Luke 7:11-17)
  • “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” to a paralysed man (John 5:1-9)
  • “Lazarus, come out!” to a dead man in his grave (John 11:1-44)
  • “Be clean!” to a leper (Matt 8:1-4)
  • “Get up little girl” to a dead girl (Mark 5:21-43)
  • “Get up, take your mat and go home” to a paralysed man” (Matt 9:1-8)
  • “Stretch out your hand” to a man with a withered hand (Matt 12:9-14)

(b) A Word of Command to the Condition

  • “Be opened” to a deaf and dumb condition (Mark 7:31-37)
  • He rebuked the fever (Luke 4:38-39)

(c) A Word of Command to Demons behind the condition

  • Jesus cast out spirits causing disease (Matt 9:32-33)
  • Jesus rebuked demons in people (Matt 17:14-18). This word “rebuke” is the same word used of Jesus rebuking the winds and the waves(Mark 4:39).

(d) A Word of Assurance of Healing

  • “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity” to a woman bent over (Luke 13:10-13)
  • “You may go. Your son will live” to a man with a sick son (John 4:46-54)

(e) Touch and Actions

  • Jesus sometimes laid hands on the sick (Mark 6:5, Luke 4:40, Luke 13:10-13)
  • He sometimes touched the sick part of the body - eyes (Matt 9:27-31), ear (Luke 22:51, Mark 7:31-37), leper (Matt 8:1-4)
  • He put his fingers into a man’s ears and spat and touched the man’s tongue! (Mark 7:31-37)
  • He led a man outside the city and spat on his eyes! (Mark 8:22-26) This is an interesting miracle since it is the only case where the healing is gradual.
  • He touched a funeral bier. (Luke 7:11-17)
  • He spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and put it on a man’s eyes and told him to wash it off in the Pool of Siloam. (John 9: 1-41)
  • He took a dead girl by the hand. (Matt 9:18-26)
  • Some received healing as they touched Jesus’ garment. (Matt 9:20-22, Matt 14:36)
  • Jesus was able to heal people at great distances as he spoke to relatives and friends. This proves that the miracles were genuine and not just psychosomatic, positive thinking or mind over matter.
3) His Demands

Jesus sometimes talked with ill people and their friends. He asked about the history of the illness, established if they wished to be healed and assessed their level of faith.

(a) Desire to be healed

       It might seem obvious that ill people wish to be well. But sometime they have got so used to being ill and depending on others that they do not wish to face the responsibilities of being a well person again. Hence Jesus asked these questions.

  • “Do you want to get well?” to the paralysed man at the pool of Bethesda(John 5:6).
  • “What do you want me to do for you”...The blind man said “Rabbi I want to see.”...“Go!” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” (Mark 10:51-52)

(b) Faith in the ability of Jesus to heal

  • “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”..“According to your faith will it be done to you.” (Matt 9:27-31)
  • “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”...“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-29)

(c) Faith in the will of God to heal

  • “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean.”...“I am willing, be clean!” (Matt 8:1-4)

(d) Faith in the word of Jesus

  • “Rise, go your way, your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)
  • “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.”...his son was healed John 4:46-54)
  • “Woman you have great faith! Your request is granted.”...her daughter was healed (Matt 15:21-28)
  • “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.”...his servant was healed. (Matt 8:5-13)
  • “Take heart daughter, your faith has healed you.” (Matt 9:20-22)
4) His Reasons

(a) Healings were a sign that he was the Son of God - the Messiah

When John the Baptist’s disciples came to Jesus and said “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”, Jesus replies “ The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”(Luke 7:20-23) These signs were to be expected in the last days, the days of the Messiah. (Isaiah 29:17-18, 35:5-6, 61:1-2)

(b) It was a sign that the power of God was with him.

  • “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him.” (Acts 2:22)
  • “No one could perform the miraculous signs that you are doing if God were not with him.” (John 3:2)

(c) It is evidence of the complete salvation of God

       Jesus came to restore the whole person. God is interested in this life as well as the life to come.

  • He came to save from sin
  • He came to deliver from demonic bondage
  • He came to heal people’s bodies
  • He came to sort out our lives

(d) Jesus had compassion

Jesus showed real compassion for those he healed (Matt 14:14). Sometimes he just saw a sick person and called them to be healed (Luke 13:10-17). One day he was near a town called Nain when he saw a funeral procession - a widow had lost her only son. When Jesus saw this woman and the tragic situation, his heart went out to her in compassion and he raised the young man from the dead. (Luke 7:11-17)

 

H. Healing in the Apostolic Era

1) During the Life of Jesus

(a) The Twelve and the Seventy

Jesus sent his disciples out to towns and villages to spread the good news - the twelve (Matt 10:1-15, Luke 9:1-9, Mark 6:7-13) and the seventy two (Luke 10:1-21).

  • He gave them power and authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases.
  • He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

We do not have any details of their exploits except that the seventy were very successful and came back to Jesus with great joy.

  • Sometimes they anointed the sick with oil. (Mark 6:13)
  • They were successful and returned with great joy. (Luke 9:6, Luke 10:17)

(b) Other Incidents

  • When Jesus returned from the transfiguration the disciples were unsuccessfully trying to cast out a demon. Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith and states that in these difficult cases prayer (and fasting?) is required. (Matt 17:14-20, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-43)
2) After the Death and Resurrection of Jesus

(a) General

  • “These signs will accompany those who believe...they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mark 16:18)
  • The prayer of believers - “Enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.“ (Acts 4:29-30)
  • Healing is included in the list of spiritual gifts. (1 Cor 12:9,28,30)
  • Miracles are expected in a church based on faith and motivated by the Spirit. (Gal 3:5)
  • Many specific examples below result in people in the vicinity coming to the Lord.

(b) Peter and others

  • The healing of the cripple at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. (Acts 3:1-10) Note:
    • Eye contact - looking for faith ?
    • The command “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
    • The name of Jesus (Acts 4:10)
    • the helping hand
    • Instant and complete healing - walking and jumping
    • The importance of faith (Acts 3:16)
    • The opportunity for preaching and witness after the miracle
  • Many miracle, signs and wonders were performed by the apostles. People were healed as Peter’s shadow fell on them. All were healed and there was much awe and people turned to the Lord. (Acts 5:12-16)
  • The paralytic Aeneas at Lydda. “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and tidy up your mat.” Immediate healing (Act 9:32-35)
  • The dead woman Tabitha (or Dorcas) at Joppa. Peter got down on his knees and prayed. Then he turned to the dead woman and said “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He took her by the hand and helped ;her to her feet. (Acts 9:36-42)

(c) Philip

Miracles accompanied Philip’s evangelistic ministry at Samaria. (Act 8:4-7) People were delivered from demons and many paralytics and cripples were healed. There was great joy in the city.

(d) Ananias

This obscure disciple in Damascus healed Paul from blindness. He laid hands on Paul and declared his healing. (Acts 9:12,17-18)

(e) Paul

Paul’s preaching ministry was accompanied by the power of God, miracles, signs and wonders. (Rom 15:19, 1 Cor 2:4, 1 Cor 4:20) and were the mark of an apostle. (2 Cor 12:12)

  • A man lame from birth in Lystra. He listened intently to Paul’s teaching. Paul saw that he had faith to be healed and called out “Stand up on your feet!” - the man jumped up and began to walk. (Acts 14:8-10)
  • A demon possessed girl in Philippi was delivered. (Acts 16:16-18)
  • Extraordinary miracles at Ephesus. Handkerchiefs and aprons which had touched Paul were taken to sick people and they were healed and delivered. (Acts 19:11-12)
  • Eutycus is raised from the dead at Troas after falling out of a third story window. Paul threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him and declared his healing. (Acts 20:7-12)
  • Paul was healed from a snake bite in Malta. (Act 28:3-5)
  • Publius’s father sick with fever and dysentery in Malta. (Acts 28:7-10)
    • Paul visited him
    • He prayed
    • He placed his hands on him
    • He healed him
    • He heals others on the island

(f) Gifts of Healing

Paul includes the "gifts of healing" in his list of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:9, 28, 30). Although we would expect that any believer could pray for healing, it appears that certain members of a church may be particularly gifted in this area.

(g) James

James describes how we should deal with the sick in church. (James 5:13-18)

  • He should call for the elders of the church (faith in the sick person)
  • The elders should pray over him and anoint with oil.
  • Confession and forgiveness are related to healing.
  • Prayer should be made in faith by righteous men with persistence. (1 Kings 18:41-44)

(h) John

       John prays for good health for Gaius in his letter. (3 John 2)

3) Illness

Despite the faith and the miracles experienced by the apostles, there are still several cases of people being sick!

  • Paul left Trophimus ill at Miletus. (2 Tim 4:20) Trophimus was an Ephesian gentile who joined Paul’s team. (Acts 20:4, 21:29)
  • Epaphroditus, one of Paul’s helpers, was very ill and nearly died. (Phil 2:25-27)
  • Timothy had frequent illnesses. Paul prescribes wine for his stomach. (1 Tim 5:23)
  • Paul was ill during his missionary journey in Galatia. (Gal 4:13-14) This illness provided an opportunity to preach the gospel
  • Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ may have been a recurrent illness? (2 Cor 12:7-10)

 

I. Healing Principles

From these many examples in the bible, principles can be drawn. Note that there are no easy techniques or formulas. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our approach to healing.

  • Often a word of command, declaration or assurance of healing is given.
  • Touch and actions are sometimes appropriate.
  • Faith in the sick person is important.
  • Healing is in the name (by the authority ) of Jesus.
  • Praying in faith might be involved.
  • Prayer by elders and anointing with oil may be appropriate.
  • We need to minister with compassion.
  • Confession, repentance and forgiveness of sin may be significant.
  • Healing is a sign and can be very effective in evangelism.
  • Healing can validate ministry.

 

J. Healing and Death

Healing serves to relieve pain, cure disability, improve our quality of life, make us able to serve God more effectively and extends our life. We all must die sometime, some of us earlier, some of us later. We need to be very sensitive in dealing with seriously ill people - some of the issues are:

  • Praying and ministering persistently in faith for God to heal in the face of symptoms which remain.
  • Recognising whether this illness is one from which the person will die. For a believer death is not defeat or a curse, it is a gateway into life forever with the Lord.
  • Caring for the sick and preparing them (and their relatives and friends) for death, and at the same time continuing in faith for their healing. this is a difficult dilemma since talk of death may be construed as lack of faith.

©John Robertshaw - Written before 1989 - Reviewed 2018

Last Edited: 2018-10-11   

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