By His Stripes We Are Healed! Is Divine Healing Part Of The Atonement?
By His Stripes We Are Healed! Is Divine Healing Part Of The Atonement?
Is physical healing today part of the atonement? And should you pray things like “Lord of heaven and earth, heal me from my sicknesses and diseases because by His stripes we are healed“?
This a supercharged topic, with right hooks and uppercuts coming from both sides of the Body of Christ. But before I tell you why, let me help you understand what the atonement is quickly.
What is the Atonement?
Generally speaking, atonement in the Bible is a payment of sin. Think about it like paying a debt off. The only difference is, we cannot afford to pay our debt to God. And this is why Christ comes to die for the world. But only those of us (like me and you) who believe are saved.
This is how we get to heaven, where sin, death, sickness and tears will be wiped away. This is a simple walkthrough, but is enough for the sake of this article. And should start to help you see why answering today’s question is important,.
Why Is Divine Healing In The Atonement So Supercharged?
There’s many stories today of the miraculous…Miraculous healings all over the world. But at the same time, we hear stories all over the world about people praying desperately, but not being healed. And what makes this even more supercharged is the last group. Those manipulating people into giving money, in return for a “special healing” or a “special anointing“.
There are many misconceptions. And I want to throw them out and deal strictly with what the Bible says.
I want to deal with some misconceptions on both sides. Because you’ve got people who say, Isaiah 53 says “By his stripes we are healed” so we should pray and believe it. They will even accuse the other side of not believe in healing. Or say they believe God has changed/God can’t heal. Some will say God doesn’t heal anymore. And the kicker is when people who reject healing as part of the atonement as being afraid to be embarrassed if someone is not healed.
This needs to stop now.
But on the flip side, we see people throwing stones the other the other way in the Kingdom, and saying these people who pray and believe passages like “by his stripes we are healed” and apply it to physical healing are twisting God’s arm, or forcing God into something.
Many false teachers like I said, use passages like this to manipulate people, so if you believe similarly you must be false too.
If you believe physical healing is part of the atonement, then automatically you can be branded as part of the word of faith movement.
Some may accuse you of only believing in physical healing as part of the atonement because of passages like the “longer ending of Mark“, which they say shouldn’t be in the Bible anyway. You might be accused of robbing God of his glory, and trying to take the glory for yourself. And what about the fact not everyone’s healed?
And one of the most common ones you see today is, people who believe physical healing is part of the atonement, and pray prayers of healing like by Christ stripes we’re healed, are basically, Biblically illiterate, and don’t know what the Bible says.
Let’s put all misconceptions on both sides of the table out there. And say as the body of Christ, we need to be better. Let’s just deal with what the Bible says contextually and go from there.
Isaiah 53:4-5 “By His Stripes We Are Healed” – That Settles Is (Or does it?)
So let’s firstly read the passage: Isaiah chapter 53:4-5.
It says “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.“
Case closed right?
Healed means healed so take that. In your face. Remember what I said about throwing out misconceptions?
Don’t Be Biblically Illiterate!
Firstly, you always need to think about the context of the the passage. I’m big on context. And I’m always trying to get people to think “what’s the context?“
When you think about the verses I read, and the rest of Isaiah 53, it’s not necessarily speaking about physical healing (from a plain sense). Isaiah speaks about being judged for sins, iniquities, transgressions, and those transgressions being laid on the Messiah (atonement).
Don’t Be Illiterate Pt. 2
Next, think about the context of the book. And I’ll do that next.
Instead of look at every example, I want to look at a couple. This was we can look at how Isaiah uses this Hebrew word “Rapha” (healed).
Hebrew reads from right to left, and I added a green arrow in the picture to remind you.
This Hebrew word Rapha means “to heal, to cure, or to repair”. And when you think about this on a plain level, it’s understandable why some would immediately think, this means this includes physical healing as well.
Example #1 Of “Healing“ In Isaiah (6:10)
Isaiah 6:10 says: “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.“
A plain reading of the passage is more likely speaking about coming judgment. But the healed there is likely speaking about iniquity from transgressions, just like we saw similarly in Isaiah chapter 53.
Example #2 Of “Healing“ In Isaiah (19:22)
The Lord is speaking about Egypt here, and he says “And the Lord shall Smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal“.
And there’s that Hebrew word “rapha”.
“and they shall return turn to the Lord, and he shall be entreated of them, and he shall heal them.”
2 times in this passage he’s speaking about healing.
And again, when we look at this plainly, it seems more likely it’s talking about physical judgment for iniquity, transgressions, for sin. The Lord is basically saying, the Egyptians are going to return to him.
And they’re going to be healed, their transgressions are going to be covered etc. But at the same time, when you think about Isaiah 19, going back to Exodus, Numbers and Leviticus, it gets interesting.
Physical healing in Isaiah 19?
The Lord said to the the Israelites, He would not to put any of the curses or diseases (which were physical plagues) on them.
If you think about it from that perspective, if some of those curses were physical, then it could be argued there is some sort of physical healing in mind by Isaiah.
Example #3 Of “Healing“ In Isaiah (30:26)
In Isaiah 30:26 says: “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.”
From a plain reading it seems to suggest physical judgment from transgression from sin from iniquity etc.
When you think about the last 2 examples, many scholars will speak about how these are talking about a future time period. And this could be easily argued there’s physical healing in it.
Examining New Testament Passages Quoting By His Wounds We Are Healed Etc (Isaiah 53)
We need to go to the New Testament passages quoting Isaiah 53. And this is what many people do to show physical healing is not part of the atonement.
Many will quote the apostle Peter’s epistle. And as you can see here, Peter says:
“Who his own self,” talking about Christ, “bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.“
You see, Peter is alluding back to Isaiah chapter 53 where we started today.
Peter’s Quotation of By His stripes we are healed in 1 Peter
As you read through more of the context of 1st Peter, he’s not necessarily speaking about physical healing. But he’s speaking about living righteously. And he’s speaking about how Christ put the sins on his body when he was on the tree being crucified.
So now we are dead to sin because of what Christ did. This is substitutionary atonement.
Because of this we should live unto righteousness because by his stripes we are healed.
It’s more likely this passage is speaking about spiritual healing. And not us being able to believe and pray “by his stripes we were healed.”
So I need to caution you.
But before I mention the next passage, I want to read a commentary from a scholar that I respect highly, Dr. Alfred Edersheim in his work The Life and Times of Jesus the MessiahDr Alfred Edersheim. The Life And Times Of Jesus The Messiah. Volume 1. Pg 493.
Dr. Alfred Edersheim’s Commentary on the Messiah
What Dr. Edersheim says can help us switch gears, and prove why it’s not a closed book about physical healing not being part of the atonement.
“One of the titles” [speaking about the Messiah from a Jewish perspective at the time of Christ], “which it gives to the Messiah is “the leprous”, the King Messiah being represented as seated in the entrance to Rome, surrounded by, and relieving all misery and disease in fulfilment of Isaiah 53:4.“
This is a resource I recommend for Christians. And you can purchase a good used copy for a few dollars just like I did on Ebay (although not always available).
But don’t mistake me…I’m not quoting this because I believe Jewish tradition at the time of Christ is equal to scripture. However it shows Jews believed when the Messiah came, physical healing was part of the atonement.
Matthew Quotes the Verse Before By His Stripes we are Healed In Reference to Physical Healing
I used the previous reference to segue into Matthew’s quotation from Isaiah 53. Because he quotes Isaiah 53 just like Peter did.
Matthew chapter 8:14-17 is a powerful text in regards to physical healing being part of the atonement.
“And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever, and he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose and ministered unto them. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with word and healed all that were sick:“
This is the key part here, why?
“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, himself took our infirmities, and bear the sicknesses.”
Jesus’ Healing of Peter’s Wife’s Mother & All Who Were Sick
Matthew is highlighting just like Peter suggested, there is a spiritual healing part of the atonement. But at the same time, Matthew is highlighting it wasn’t just a spiritual atonement.
Jesus’ healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, and all that were sick demonstrates that physical healing is also part of the atonement. But not so fast, there’s more to be discussed!
Good Scholarship on the Relationship between Physical Healing and the Atonement
Think back to the misconception I said at the start about being Biblically illiterate. It’s not just Christians taking Isaiah 53 out of context. Because there’s good scholarship backing this point of view.
I want to share some with you to think about. And then I want to deal with some of the implications (why everyone today is not healed, and how we should think about it).
Dr. Ian Howard Marshall’s Scholarship on Physical Healing and the Atonement
Dr. Ian Howard Marshall in his book Luke: Historian & TheologianDr Ian Howard Marshall. Luke: Historian & Theologian. Pg 95 gives a list of examples from Luke’s Gospel of where Jesus heals people.
- Luke 6:9 (Mark 3:4)
- Luke 6:36
- Luke 8:48 (Mark 5:34)
- Luke 17:19
- Luke 18:42 (Mark 10:52)
And then he says something which applies to the other Gospels as well.
“This shows that there is some link between the healings wrought by Jesus and the spiritual salvation which he brought to men, a link which is not merely linguistically easy but has its deeper roots into the fact that common to both sets of activity is the power of God revealed in Jesus in response to faith.”
Examples of Physical Healing in the Gospel of Luke
So what he’s basically saying is, these examples of Jesus healing in the Gospel of Luke, are examples, and highlight, physical healing in one way, shape, or form is part of the atonement.
But he goes on, after speaking about the Book of Acts on the next pageibid. Pg 96, he says something more conclusive.
“We may conclude that the healing ministry of Jesus is definitely seen as a part of his broader power to save.“
The Link between Physical Healing and Spiritual Salvation
Now this is where we need to be really careful. And I’ll break my conclusion into 2 steps.
Step 1. What we can agree on.
We all believe at the end of the age, because of what the Messiah did, what Christ did for us, healing is going come. And it’s going to give us new bodies, new life, etc.
My Action Step For You
Step 2 is my action step for you. And my action step for you going forward is…Keep praying for healing.
Consistently pray (as in pray without ceasing), believing and expecting healing, just as James instructs to you in James 5:14-15.
James encourages us as believers in Christ to pray for healing, and expect results.
If any among you are sick then call for the Elders of the church, let them lay hands on him [or her] anointing them in oil and the prayer of faith shall save the sick.
Trust God Regardless
But I also want you to trust that regardless of what happens, just like Job said in Job 13:15-16. God is on the throne and God knows best.
Job was in turmoil but said something so special.
Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. He also shall be my salvation, For a hypocrite could not come before Him.
Believe In God’s Healing Power
Just like those in the 1st century who were walking with Christ, who had faith. And just like Matthew said, Jesus healing these people was fulfilment of Messianic prophecy in Isaiah.. So we should pray when somebody is sick. There is nothing wrong with you praying “by his stripes we are healed”. And pray believing for healing , just like James is instructing us.
Pray believing God can heal and God does still heal today.
But at the same time, we have to understand for whatever reason God knows best. We’re all not going to be healed today. Just like Paul prayed repeatedly and the Lord answered him, but didn’t heal him physically. And just like Hananiah Mishael & Azariah who were going to be thrown into the fiery furnace.
We believe that God can save us, but even if he doesn’t, God will prevail, we’re not gonna bow.
And I pray today we won’t bow to the doubts, we won’t bow to the physical ailments which may attack us at any given time in our life. But we will continue to trust, just like Job, just like all of God’s children we read about in the Bible, we continue to trust in him, let us continue to trust in him. And be a blessing to those we come into contact with, and trust that Christ has covered our sin, and we are redeemed by the blood of the lamb. So make sure you share this with someone this can bless. And look out for my next article at some point in the future.