Ecclesiology – Spiritual Gifts in the Bible – Gifts of Healings
Overview – Gifts of Healings in the Bible
The subject of healing in the Bible is an immense study. To fully understand the gifts of healings, much of the Biblical context concerning the larger subject of healing has to be explored. This is due to the nature of the subject itself, and the necessity to understand so much of the context that surrounds this entire subject matter.
This subject of Biblical healing includes healings from God, supernatural and natural healings; physical, psychological and emotional and spiritual healings. This purpose of this article is to focus on the spiritual gifts of healings as referenced in 1 Corinthians 12; however it will be necessary at times to reference other types or instances of healings, and the larger subject of healings in the Bible.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit … gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.– 1 Corinthians 12.7-11
Etymology – Definitions of Healing
In Hebrew the word for healing is ‘Rapha’; meaning to heal, cure, repair, restore or make whole.
In Hebrew the word for cure is ‘Marpe’; meaning cure, medicine, or deliverance.
In the Greek, the word for healing in 1 Corinthians 12 is ‘Iama’, which means a cure or effect of a cure or healing. It is a means of healing, remedy, medicine or healing. This word comes from the Greek word ‘Iaomai’, which means to cure (figuratively or literally) to heal, or make whole.
A healing can be further defined, as a restoration of a person or to make a person whole or restore them to the condition God made them to be in (1 Thess 5.23). This is why healing sometimes encompasses or is referred to as not only restoration of wounds or cures and removal of diseases, but the deliverance or removal of evil spirits.
God is our Healer – Jehovah Rapha
God is our healer and the restorer of our being, as He tells us throughout His word. God calls Himself Jehovah Rapha, which means Jehovah is Healer; first mentioned in Exodus 15.26 (Is further mentioned in Jeremiah 30.17, Isaiah 30.26, and Ps 103.3). God tells His children if they pay attention to His commandments, He will not bring on them the diseases of the Egyptians because He is healer.
God said, “If you listen carefully to 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.” – Exodus 15.26
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise – Jeremiah 17.14
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases. – Psalms 103.3
Psalms 103 teaches us that all healing, physical, spiritual, in any form or fashion is from God. All diseases that are healed are healed by God.
Consequences for Not Trusting God
A full account of King Asa is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa came down with a severe case of foot infection. He didn’t ask GOD for help, but went instead to the doctors. Then Asa died and was buried.
When Asa had been king for 39 years, he had a disease in his feet. He became very ill, but he did not ask the Lord to help him. Instead, he asked doctors to make him better. 13 Asa died when he had been king for 41 years. – 2 Chronicles 16.11-13
This account teaches us that we are to come to God first for healing, and trust that all healing comes from Him, not matter what manner it may come in. God may heal us through various means, but all healing is from God.
By His Wounds We Are Healed
One of God’s great plans in His redemptive work was to restore mankind to his original state, free from sin and the consequences of it. In order for mankind to be restored, someone would have to bear our punishment and wounds for our sins. This I what Jesus did, He bore all our sins and the consequences of them upon Himself, as prophesied in Isaiah and fulfilled in Matthew and reiterated in 2 Peter.
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.– Isaiah 53.5
They brought to Jesus many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”– Matt 8.16-17
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.– 2 Peter 2.24
This does not mean that every Christian will be free from every disease or injury in this life. We will still suffer in this life in the flesh (2 Corin 5.4). Jesus took our punishment for our sins, the injuries and diseases we deserve. Some erroneously teach this verse means we will not suffer disease as Christians in this life at all, if that were true they would have to teach we would not get physically injured either or ever experience pain, as it says in Isa 53.4 – ‘He has bore our Makob’ (word for pain in the Hebrew).
The purpose of this verse is the more important message of salvation and the eventuality of restoration in eternal life (2 Peter 2.24). However God does at times use the power of Christ to heal the sick and injured as He wills in this life, but it is on eternal things we should focus on.
God Heals Through Natural and Medicinal Means
There are various instances throughout the Bible in which God heals through medicinal and natural means.
Hezekiah’s Boil Healed with Herbs
Isaiah received a message from God to tell King Hezekiah to put his house in order because he was going to die from a foot infection. Hezekiah wept before the Lord and God had pity on him, giving him an extra 15 years. Isaiah told Hezekiah’s servants to make a cake of figs and put it on the boil to heal it.
Isaiah had said, “Prepare a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil, and he will recover.”– Isaiah 38.21
Naaman Leprosy Healed with Jordan Waters
He (Naaman) went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.– 2 Kings 5.14
Healing Waters of Bethesda
For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.– John 5.4
God Delights in Working through His Creation
Why does God use natural means to heal? God delights in working through and is constantly working in His creation. Creation is provided for from God; animals have their food because God feeds them (Job 38.39), animals have their place in creation because God gives it to them (Job 39.6). God tells us He is constantly at work throughout all His creation, and He delights in working through His creation (Ps 104.31).
The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: The LORD shall rejoice in his works. – Psalms 104.31
It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. – Phil 2.13
When God healed Hezekiah, Isaiah used a medicinal process (herbs or a fig cake), but God says it was He that healed the King (2 Kings 20.5). The Bible makes it clear that this is one of the ways in which God chooses to heal people.
Since all healing is from God, and healing is one of the gifts of the Spirit, we can easily see that one of the gifts of healing is using natural methods, in which God works through, to heal the sick. This does not negate the fact God heals supernaturally but is meant to point out one of the gifts of healing God gives is to the heal naturally, since all healing is from Him (Ps 103.3).
Perhaps God does this because He delights in helping and healing even those that do not believe in Him (Matt 5.45).
Purpose of Disease and Healings
The origin for disease and sickness comes from the curse placed upon Adam in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3), in which God revealed that through Adam’s sin, death entered into the world (Rom 5.12).
Some teach that God wants to heal every person, every time, instantly, without fail. This is an over simplification of God’s will, and fails to take everything God teaches us into consideration concerning disease and healing. Of course it is God’s plan to eventually heal all His children forever in Heaven, however there is purpose in all things done here on Earth (Rom 8.28).
Consider in a similar manner, the Bible teaches that God wants all people to be saved. Since God wants all men to be saved, and find their restoration in Him, He of course desired that all men would exist in a whole and complete state (which would include healing of all issues).
However, just as God allows some to reject His salvation, because He desires to give man a free will, He allows pain and suffering in the form of illness to exist for a greater purpose. God tells Isaiah the He is the creator of light and darkness, that He brings peace and calamity (Isa 45.7)! God tells Moses that He creates or makes people blind, deaf or lame. Moses himself lived his life with a speech impediment.
Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent…, I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.11. And the LORD said who made man’s mouth? Who makes the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the LORD?– Exodus 4.10-11
Other examples of Godly men that lived with life alternating disease or ailments:
- Jacob lived his life as a cripple after wrestling with God, worshipping God as he leaned on his staff (Heb 11.21)
- Job suffered immensely for a period of time, with excruciatingly painful boils and scabs (Job 2.8).
- Paul suffered from an eye disease (Gal 4.13).
- Timothy suffered from stomach issues (1 Tim 5.23).
Not all Sickness is a Punishment or from Sin
In John 9, Jesus healed a man born blind. The disciples asked Jesus why this man was born blind. They asked was it because of a sin committed by him or his parents. Jesus affirms here that sickness is not always the result of a sin, but this instance was strictly for the glory of God!
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.– John 9.1-3
Job confirmed this in understanding that everything was from God, for God is soverign over all. He even told his wife while suffering, shall we not accept the bad as well as the good from the Lord. That God has a purpose for all things that come to pass.
Shall we indeed accept only good from God and not also accept adversity and disaster?– Job 2.10
Gifts of Healings
Throughout the Bible we see the examples of various types or kinds of healings, and gifts of healings and miracles. We see that it is God that heals, and when He heals through us it is the manifestation or work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corin 12.7).
Most scholars agree this was written to the Church of Corinthians about 50+ a.d. or almost 20 years after Jesus’ resurrection, meaning this ministry still had a prominent position in the Church. Apostle Paul makes a point about the importance of this gift and its placement in the ministry, and they are subject right after teachers in the Church (1 Corin 12.28).
The Old Testament had a number of healings from God, however most examples of miraculous healings came from Jesus and His Apostles. This was primarily due to the fact that the gifts of healings and miraculous workings where a sign of Gods approval to the ministry and the Word of God (Acts 2.22).
Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.– Acts 2.22
Healings from Church Elders
The Bible teaches us to call for the elders of the Church for healings. This shows one of the many ways that God would heal His people in the Church.
Is any 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 sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins he will be forgiven.– James 5.14
Fervent Prayers of the Saints
God tell us plainly how simple healing is, confess your faults to each other and pray that you may be healed. The fervent or hot prayer of a righteous person is what avails.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much – James 5.16
Church Punishment in Sickness and Death
God disciplines His people, and sometimes sickness is punishment for acting inappropriately within the Church. Even death came as a means of God punishing His people so they do not become corrupt and condemned with the world (i.e. Like with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.5)
For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. – 1 Corinthians 11.30-34
Hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. – 1 Corin 5.5
God Doesn’t Always Heal Physically
We find throughout scripture there are various times that God does not heal for various reasons. God reveals some the reasons why He chooses not the heal, other times He does not. It is important for us to search the scriptures to understand the meaning of how God works in this regard (Acts 17.10). In the same way, sometimes God answers our prayers, other times He does not conerning this and other issues. It is important for us to retain our faith in Him and know His will and ways are greater then our own (Isa 55.8), and that He has a purpose and plan for everything that occurs (Rom 8.28).
There were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha,” Jesus announced, “and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian – Luke 4.27
Jesus Didn’t Heal Every Person
Jesus healed many people, but we have some instances to show that He didn’t always heal every sick person He encountered. At the pool of Bethesda, the place was filled with sick people. Jesus chose to only heal one man, even though verse 5 tells us that this place was filled with many blind, lame and paralyzed.
Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” – John 5.4-6, 10
The Apostles/ Church Didn’t Heal Every Time
There are multiple instances throughout the New Testament in which the Apostles left believers ill or sick, or they themselves were ill. This continues to show us the nature of healing and the complete dependency on God for the work.
Do Obedient Christians Experience Perfect Healing
Some groups believe that God heals all believers, perfectly, everytime, and instantly. It is not wise to stand on experience as God’s word is truth, so what does God’s word say about this idea? We have many examples in the New Testament of Christian brothers experiencing sickness or ailments.
(Epaphroditus) For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. – Phil 2.27
Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. – 2 Tim 4.20
Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. – 1 Tim 5.23
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. – 2 Corin 12.7
It was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead … I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. – Gal 4.13-15
Faith to be Healed
Acts 14.9 tells us that Paul identified a man that had faith to be healed. We do find the lack of faith hinders the work of God, as Jesus was limited by what He could do for those who did not believe and rejected His works (Matt 13.58). How did Paul identify the man in Acts 14 had faith to be healed? It was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit (John 14.26).
However faith is not always a requirement, how much faith do you think Lazarus had, who was dead, when Jesus resurrected him (John 11)?!
Healing is Done According to the Will of God
The Bible teaches us that God does all things, and all things are done for the glory of the Lord! All power belongs to the Lord (Ps 62.11) however God uses us, our faith and obedience to work through. All things must be done according to the will of God, and whatever was ask, according to His will, will be done (1 John 5.14). The Holy Spirit leads us and guides us as we do His works (Phil 2.13).
“The Lord brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up. 7 The Lord sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts.– 1 Sam 2.6-7
A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.– Matt 8.2-3
Instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so…– Heb 6.2-3
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us– 1 John 5.14
We know that God does not hear sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and does his will, him he hears.– John 9.31
[you who say we will do this or that] you ought to say, “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.– James 4.15
Nothing happens apart from God’s will:
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.– Matt 10.29
Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing, in the same way that we as His disciples should only act according to the will of the Father. We are to align or submit our will with His (Ps 40.8, 143.10, Matt 6.10, 12.50, Eph 6.6, Heb 13.21, 1 John 2.17)
Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing on his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise– John 5.19
Believers can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15.5), therefore Jesus taught us to abide in Him so that fruit may come. The Son only does what the Father is doing (John 5.19), and said He can do nothing by Himself. We see how everything depends on God’s will. Even Jesus prayed that the cup would depart from Him in the Garden of Gathsemane (Matt 26.36 – “Not what I will, but what Thy will”) and God’s will was for Him to drink the cup. The God who wills for the mountain to move also will not to remove the cup, Faith is trust God’s desire to restore or to permit suffering, and to see which God is doing.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good– 1 Peter 4.19
Purpose in Suffering
What is Gods purpose, one thing God teaches us is in our weakness He is strong. So what should our attitude be? If God is more glorified in my weakness, than we should delight in our own weaknesses, trials and hard times.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12.8
We see that believers in the New Testament suffered for Christ’s sake and participated in His sufferings. Even refusing to be released from hard times and suffering for a better resurrection. It is important to understand these concepts, because if we do not understand the focus is to be on eternal things, we will not use the gift God properly. Understanding God has a purpose for everything, even when we don’t see it.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death – Phil 3.10
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection – Heb 11.25
Types of Healings
The Bible describes various types of ailments and healings that occured for those various types of ailments.
List of Healings in the Bible
The following is a list of different types of healings found through the Bible:
- Healing or cure from Disease – Matt 4.23
- Healed from Wounds and Injury – Ps 147.3
- Healed from Amputations – Luke 22.50-51
- Healing of Bleeding and Hemorrhage Conditions – Luke 8.43
- Healing of Birth Defects – John 9.1-12
- Healing from Blindness – John 9.6
- Healing from Deafness – Mark 7.31-37
- Healing the Lame – Acts 3.9
- Healing cripples – Luke 13.10
- Healing from Lunacy or Moon Struck – Matt 4.24, 17.14-18
- Healing from Seizures or Epilepsy – Mark 9.17-27; Matt 17.14-18; Luke 9.37-43
- Healing or Deliverance from Evil Spirits – Luke 6.17-19
- Healing of Leprosy – Luke 17.12-19
Is Deliverance a Type of Healing
We have textual evidence that healing included deliverance from evil spirits, and that deliverance from evil spirit and their effects/ influences are a type of healing. Luke 8.2 says people were healed of evil spirits. This makes sense as we understand the broader meaning of healing is to make a person whole, or retore them to the state they are supposed to be in.
“And a great multitude of people…who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.” -Luke 6:17-19
“And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.” -Luke 7:21
“And certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons” -Luke 8:2
Jesus healed a disabled woman who He said was bound by Satan for 18 years in this condition. Was this a deliverance, a healing or both?
Then should not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be released from her bondage on the Sabbath day? – Luke 13.16