The Bible never promises that everyone will be healed but what does the Bible say about healing? Are there things that we can learn from Scriptures about healing?
Many Christians unknowingly believe that God will heal everyone if only they have enough faith. Still others claim certain passages like Isaiah 53 in the belief that God has promised to heal everyone who is sick or have diseases. What does the Bible actually teach about healing? Let the Bible speak for itself because it is really God speaking to us through His written Word. You may have different verses than I do about healing but here are ten Bible verses about healing that I thought were important followed by my own personal reflection on what these verses mean based upon their context.
James 5:14-15 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
Do these verses really promise that everyone will be healed? I don’t believe that they do. It is telling those who are sick to ask for the elders of the church to pray for them. It doesn’t say to have the elders pray for them so that they will be healed in every case. When James writes, “The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up” he seems to be writing more about salvation than healing. Notice that he says the “prayer of faith will save the one who is sick.” He does not say it will heal all who have the prayer of faith but they will be saved. The word “saved” is the same word used elsewhere when it is speaking about salvation like in Acts 4:12 which states that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This praying ties in with their sins being forgiven. True healing is that which has to do with the soul and the forgiveness of sins (Isaiah 53). We can be healed by prayer, yes, but God doesn’t promise everyone will be healed every time. We will eventually die again but those who have repented and trusted in Christ will live forever with the Lord. James may be saying that if a person has committed sins and they have not repented, God may discipline one of His own to bring them to repentance and may allow sickness to linger until the do.
Acts 28:8 “It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him.”
This fits in nicely with the prayer request from James 5:14-15. The apostles were given the ability to perform miracles by God and they never failed to have someone healed when they prayed and laid hands on them. We must realize however that it is God Who does the healing, otherwise why would Paul be praying here? This model is still used today in many churches and we are to lay hands on the sick, if possible and if they are not contagious, and commanded to visit the sick as Paul did but notice that they still prayed to God and that means that the healing is tied to God’s sovereignty. It is God Who heals and when we pray, we can only pray for God’s will to be done and if it is His will for those to be healed then they will be healed. Either way, when we pray, we acknowledge that it is God’s decision and not ours and we should say in prayer “God, I only want your will to be done above our own.”
Mark 5:41-43 “Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.”
The first thing I noticed was that Jesus “strictly charged them that no one should know this.” This was Jesus’ manner. He didn’t heal for the sake of publicity, unlike the so-called “faith healers” today who do it on national TV and in front of thousands in attendance. This robs glory from God and puts the spotlight on the healer. This little girl was more than sick, she was dead. Jesus has resurrection power in Him and when He raised Lazarus from the dead, if He didn’t specific “Lazarus, come forth,” all who were in their graves may have risen from the dead. That is because Jesus is the life and the resurrection. Jesus said that whoever believes in Him, even if they die, will live again (John 11:25-26).
Psalm 41:3 “The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.”
What I noticed immediately is that it is the Lord Who sustains a person on their deathbed and interestingly, He restores them “to full health.” This reinforces the fact that it is God alone Who heals and that healing is fully a sovereign work of the Lord and not from the will of man. God even sustains a person on their sickbed, which could be interpreted to mean their “deathbed.” In no way does this promise that He will heal every sickness, even from a condition that brings them close to death, but it does reaffirm that it is God and God alone Who is the Healer.
For more Bible verses for the sick check out this article: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-for-the-sick-20-comforting-scripture-quotes/
Matthew 9:35 “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”
Again, only Jesus has this power to heal at will. There was never a time that the person being healed lacked the faith to be healed and so the false criticism of the faith healers who say that the reason a person wasn’t healed was because they didn’t have enough faith. It is God alone Who heals and it is only when it is the will of God, not the will of the people being healed or the people praying for a person to be healed. God always knows what is best for us in the long term and this may or may not include healing.
Isaiah 53:4-5 “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
This may be one of the most frequently misquoted Scriptures about healing and it is sometimes taken out of context. If you read the end of Isaiah 52 and into chapter 53, you can clearly see that this is talking about our Redeemer’s suffering on the cross for our spiritual healing. Notice that He was “wounded for our transgressions [and] crushed for our iniquities” not for our sickness and disease. Every human alive is a sinner and none are righteous (Rom 3:10). The greatest healing that occurs is not that from sickness because if we are healed, we are only going to die again but the forgiveness of our sins enables us to have eternal life. Jesus was the only reason that we can have everlasting life because “the chastisement that brought us peace” was inflicted upon Christ and now we have peace with God because the penalty of our sins has been removed (Rom 5:1). The wrath due to our sinfulness is gone in Christ’s atoning work at Calvary and now we are at peace with God because of Christ’s supreme sacrifice.
Acts 19:11-12 “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”
Once again we see that it is “God [Who] was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul.” It was not Paul doing the miracles by God’s hand. The glory always belongs to God and if a faith healer ever claims to have that power, they are robbing God of glory and denying that it is God alone who heals and not mankind.
Second Corinthians 12:7-9 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Who had greater faith than Paul in the New Testament besides Jesus and yet he was never healed. Three times Paul prayed to be healed from his “thorn in the flesh” but God told Paul He would not heal him because “My grace is sufficient for you.” God understood that this thorn was given to Paul to keep him “from being conceited.” Sometimes God allows our illnesses and sickness to linger because it keeps us humble and in need of Him. God’s power “is made perfect in weakness.”
Mark 16:18 “they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
This verse has produced a few extreme religious fanatics that emphasize snake handling, yet that is not what this verse means. Paul was shipwrecked on an island and was bitten by a poisonous snake yet he did not die. This was when this prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled. The drinking of “deadly poison” could mean that some of the apostles were secretly poisoned and yet never died from it. There is no biblical reference to this happening but we can imagine this happening as much as the religious leaders hated the gospel message of the apostles. As for the laying on of hands for the sick, it does say that “they will recover” but it does not say that all will be healed nor will all recover from their sickness or disease. This is not a sweeping statement where Jesus conclusively says that all who have hands laid on them will be healed. Paul and Timothy are a great example of this because they continued to have health issues that were never healed.
John 9:1-3 “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
This reminds me of Job’s three friends. They accused Job of suffering because of his own sin. Many people falsely attribute people’s illnesses and sickness from sin. This might be the case but it is most certainly not always the case. Jesus said that this man was born blind, not because his parents sinned or that the man sinned but so “God might be displayed in him” meaning that God will receive glory for this and not man.
Healing is God’s prerogative. He heals Who He wills too. Healing is not from the will or power of any man but only from God and only for His glory. If you have not repented from yours sins, confessed them to God, and put your trust in the Savior, then you have an eternal death sentence hanging over your head and that is worse than any illness or disease that you could ever imagine. Isaiah wrote about the healing that came from Jesus’ suffering in chapter 53:4-6, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design
Resources: The Holy Bible (NIV Version)