The ministry of both Jesus and the apostles gives evidence that divine healing was integral to the proclamation of the gospel message. It was an important witness to Jesus as the revelation of the Father, the promised Messiah, and the Savior from sin (see John 10:37,38). The Bible shows a close connection between the healing ministry of Jesus and His saving, forgiving ministry. His power to heal was actually a witness to His authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:5–12). Frequently the gospel writers testify that His healing miracles parallel His preaching of the gospel, both being the purpose of His ministry (Matthew 4:23; 9:35,36).
People came from all directions both to hear Him and to be healed (Luke 5:15; 6:17,18). He never turned any away but healed all varieties of sicknesses, diseases, deformities, defects, and injuries (Matthew 15:30,31; 21:14). He also delivered people from demons and the problems they caused (Matthew 4:24).
Jesus recognized that sickness is ultimately the result of the fall of humans into sin, and in some instances may be linked to specific sin (John 5:14) or to the activity of Satan (Luke 13:16). He recognized also, however, that sickness is not always the direct result of specific sin (John 9:2,3). There were times when it was rather an opportunity for God to be glorified (Mark 2:12).
Miracles of healing were an important part of the works God sent Jesus to do (John 9:3,4). This is in line with the Old Testament revelation of God as the Great Physician, the Lord who heals (Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:3, where the Hebrew participles used in both cases indicate it is God’s nature to heal). Jesus’ ministry showed that divine healing is still a vital part of God’s nature and plan.
Healings also helped to identify Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:4: “Surely he took up [lifted and took away] our infirmities and carried [as a heavy load] our sorrows.” (“Infirmities,” choli, is the same word used of physical sickness and disease in Deuteronomy 28:59,61; 2 Chronicles 16:12; 21:15,18,19; Isaiah 38:9. “Sorrows,” makob, is the same word used of physical pain in Job 33:19.) Matthew, in the account of Jesus’ healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, sees this
Isaiah passage fulfilled in the healing ministry of Jesus: “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases’ ” (Matthew 8:17).2
Isaiah also ties the sufferings of the Servant to the provision of salvation, a ministry fulfilled by Jesus (Isaiah 53:5,6). His sufferings were for our sins and lead to our peace with God: “And by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The Isaiah context and the reference to it in 1 Peter 2:24,25 emphasize especially the healing or restoration from sin. However, in view of the emphasis on physical sickness in Isaiah 53:4, it is clear that these passages teach that the gospel to be introduced by the Suffering Servant, Jesus, includes healing from both the spiritual and physical effects of the fall of the human race into sin recorded in Genesis 3.
When John the Baptist was imprisoned, he questioned whether Jesus was actually the promised Messiah or just another forerunner like himself. Jesus responded by calling attention to His messianic works that linked miracles and the preaching of the gospel to the poor (Matthew 11:4,5). Again, healing was an important witness, an integral part of the gospel (Isaiah 61:1,2; Luke 4:18; 7:19–23).
Divine healing continued to be an integral part of the gospel through the ministry of the apostles and the Early Church. Jesus sent out the Twelve and the Seventy-two to preach and to heal the sick (Luke 9:2; 10:9). After Pentecost “many wonders and miraculous
signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43). Luke wrote the Book of Acts as an extension of the story of what Jesus did and taught, not only through the apostles but through a Church filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1,8; 2:4).
The working of miracles, including divine healing, was not limited to the apostles. The promise of Jesus was to all believers (John 14:12–14) who would ask in His name (that is, those who recognize His authority and conform themselves to His nature and
purposes). God used deacons such as Philip to preach and heal (Acts 8:5–7) and an otherwise unknown disciple, Ananias, to bring healing to Saul (Paul) (Acts 9:12–18).
The gospel message includes the provision of spiritual gifts through the Holy Spirit to the Church, among which are the gifts of healings (1 Corinthians 12:7). All of these gifts, including that of healing, continue to edify or build up the Church and offer hope to every
believer. Moreover, James asserts that healing is a normal aspect of the regular meetings of the Church. Whenever the community of faith is gathered, anyone who is sick may request prayer for healing (5:14). We are assured that divine healing is an ongoing manifestation of the gospel in the current day, and will continue until the return of Jesus.
Source: A/G Position Papers