By Charles H. Welch
Healing. This word is a translation of one of two Greek words in the N.T., therapeia and iaomai. The word therapeia originally meant service or attendance of any kind, and only in a secondary sense, the ministry of healing. In the term therapeutics the word has the more restricted meaning of the science of healing, with particular reference to the form, manner and time in which drugs should be administered. There are but four occurrences in the N.T. and these are equally distributed between the two meanings of the word.
laomai and iasis. The former indicates that the action is complete, the latter that it is in progress. There is no agreement among authorities as to the origin of the word, but in the LXX it translates the Hebrew word rapha "to heal". Iaomai occurs twenty-eight times, and iasis three times in the N.T. The bulk of the occurrences of iaomai are in the gospels; it is found in but one of Paul's epistles, namely Hebrews, in 12:13. James uses it once (Jas. 5:16) and Peter once (1 Pet. 2:24). We give as a sample the occurrences of iaomai in the Acts:
Here is a summary of the scope and extent of the Saviour's healing ministry; we see that the whole land was moved from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea and beyond Jordan, and every variety of sickness is represented. If in lesser things it is a maxim that holds good that
then the truth and the magnitude of this initial record of the Saviour's public ministry is beyond criticism. There are seven occasions in the gospel of Matthew where the Evangelist pauses to speak of these miraculous healings in the mass. We have seen Matthew 4:23,24. Here are the other passages:
In addition to these collective healings there are a number of cases where the disease that was healed is specified. We give the order of their occurrence in the gospel of Matthew:
This list can be augmented from the other gospels, and reaches its zenith in the raising of Lazarus from the dead after being buried for four days. Each one of the cures reported in the above list was a recognized disease, there was nothing vague about them, and in most instances were beyond the power of human skill. In addition we must inc1ude the command given to the twelve when they were sent out to preach the gospel of the kingdom.
These healings are interspersed with references to Israel (Matt. 8:10, 9:33, 10:6, 15:24 and 31).
Let us turn our attention to the references already given of iaomai, sozo and soteria in the Acts. The healing of the lame man by Peter is used by him to point the moral of his exhortation. This is made evident by observing that the word "whole" in Acts 4:10 is in the original sozo "to save", and the word "salvation" in verse 12, soteria, is preceded by the article "the". In effect Peter said: You have rejected Jesus of Nazareth, but I tell you that just as this lame man stands before you "healed" by the power of that rejected Saviour, so I would warn you that "The Healing", the great national "Salvation" can come through no other. So, when the moment had come for Israel to go out into that long spell of blindness, the quotation of Isaiah 6:9,10 given by the Apostle in Acts 28:27, ends with the words "I should HEAL them".
The healing ministry of the gospels and the Pentecostal period are called in Hebrews "the powers of the age to come", heralding as they did the near approach of the "kingdom of heaven". The "so great salvation", soteria, "healing" was confirmed "with signs and wonders and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost" (Heb. 2:3,4). Miraculous healing was one of the special gifts granted to the church in Pentecostal times, 1 Corinthians 12:28 placing "gifts of healings" together with the gift of apostles, mirac1es and tongues. It is of importance to observe that the promise made in Mark 16:17,18 was in unabated force at the close of the period of the Acts, Paul being bitten by a viper, but feeling no harm, and healing such a disease as dysentery (Acts 28:8) by a touch. After Acts twenty-eight there is no record that Paul healed anyone again. We are conscious that an argument built upon silence or omission is weak, but this silence is supplemented by one or two positive references, which all point in the one direction. Epaphroditus was a most valuable help to the Apostle. Any one of the names given to him by the Apostle would have been enough to warrant a mirac1e on his account-"brother, companion in labour, fellow-soldier, your messenger, and minister to my wants". This most useful and faithful fellow-servant had been sick, so sick that he had been "nigh unto death". Not only so but God had mercy on him, and Paul had been plunged into sorrow. Paul, though a prisoner, could have sent a handkerchief or an apron (Acts 19:12) or any other portion of his clothing, for these had been effective in dealing with disease and evil spirits. Yet apparently he could do nothing (Phil. 2:25-30).
Again, Timothy, loved as a son, and a faithful servant of the church, suffered not only a particular stomach trouble, but "often infirmities", yet no mirac1e of healing was performed for his relief-instead the Apostle sent a prescription (1 Tim. 5:23). It is not enough to claim that certain undiagnosable diseases have been "cured" while the sufferer was in a highly emotional condition which so of ten characterizes "healing campaigns" today. Such cases of "healing" should be sent to the local doctor for a certificate even as Christ sent the leper to the priest. My youngest sister and her husband worked for fifteen years among the lepers of India. Never, throughout that period did a "Pentecostalist" venture to demonstrate the reality of his claim to share in the commission of Matthew ten, and so far as we have knowledge no healing campaign has ever been organized by Pentecostalists among lepers. We ask "why?" and the answer is evident. Not only so, but the raising of the dead is also included in these gifts, but there is no accredited instance where such a power has been possessed or exercised. The gift of healing accompanied the gospel of the kingdom, and when the people of the kingdom, namely Israel, were set aside, the gifts went with them. See MIRACLE, PENTECOST, KINGDOM and ACTS for further notes. Individual faith is not in question, we speak here only of gifts, as possessed during the period covered by the Acts.