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. Eternal Saviour or Eternal Doctor


Isaiah 53:4-5 (ESV) 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 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.




1 Peter 2:24 (ESV) 24 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.”


For many weeks now we have been looking at verses that are quoted out of context. Too many Christians are guilty of what atheists and sceptics do when it comes to the reading of Scripture. They think that through a plain reading of the text, whatever springs to mind is the meaning of the text. So, when they see something like the word ‘healed’ in Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24 they immediately think of physical illness and other sicknesses and they quote the verses accordingly, because let us face it – that is the first thing that comes to mind in our day.


Just think how nice it is to quote these verses to a sick person. Many years ago, somebody posted these verses on our Logos FB group with relevance to Brenda Hulshof with Leukaemia and Bernadette Page who was in hospital for an operation.


Isaiah 53:4 Surely, He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and Made whole.


What does the posting of these verse say to Brenda and Bernadette and to any other believer who is sick? My issue, is not entirely how the verse is presented above, but how should they (the sick and the dying) read it as it is shared with them? What is the intention, what is the message?


Now, while the motives of people who share these verses with the sick are good, while they are dear brothers and sisters, while they really love God and His Word, while they are filled with the Spirit, while they desire to be positive, while they really desire to glorify God, while they desire to be helpful, while they desire to be truthful, while they genuinely desire to encourage believers and while they are sincere, they are sincerely wrong and what they do not realise is that they break more Christians, depress more Christians and frustrate more Christians than they can ever imagine with their theology which is not based on an accurate reading of the text.


In general, I don’t blame these Christians as they have just been misled by pastors, who are too lazy to work hard at the text.

We will get back to the detail later, but I guess most of us know that there are only two options here. The one option is that these verses speak of being healed from physical illnesses and the other option is that we are healed from the wretched disease of sin.


So, as believers come with a pragmatic and plain reading of the text, the simple question we need to ask to a person who quotes this verse with reference to physical illnesses is this.


“So, let us remain pragmatic and stay with a plain reading. Do you know or know of any Christians, past or present that have ever got sick? Do you know of or know any Christians that have died of any sickness? Maybe a better question is this. Do you get sick, and if you do, at what point does the death of Jesus kick in to heal you? And if a Christian dies of sickness, based on solid Biblical principles, how do you explain it?”


If they were to be honest, they all know of sick people, they know Christians who are sick or who have died of sickness and they themselves get sick and will probably die of sickness. So, by implication, something has gone wrong somewhere if Christians get sick or remain sick. Atheists like to insult Christ and Christianity with these verses. They claim like many Christians that this verse implies healing of physical sickness and then on the back thereof remind us that there are many sick Christians, therefore the Bible is a lie, Jesus is a hoax and God, or Christianity means nothing. They love to tell you that Christians get sick just like they do. Sadly, if this verse does imply that Jesus died for physical sickness, I must agree with them. Just think of the amount of our own people at Logos who have been sick just this year. Either we must conclude that they are not Christians, or we must conclude that this verse does not mean what some force it to mean.


When I prepared this material, the following was real, and so I am going to present it as is.


At this very moment I am ministering at a bed where the circumstances look very dire. And yet, the family are being sent our verse in question via sms, FB messages, Whatsapps and various other means. They are told that God will honour His promises and their son who is lying in a coma for weeks now, will rise and leave the hospital and even according to some go into full time evangelism. While I share their desire, and it might happen,  I believe that it is totally dishonest to say ‘God said’, and the implications are, that if this does not materialise according to God’s supposed promised in this verse and all the prophecies by Christians, the family will do the normal thing, they will question God or even the existence of God, instead of rebuking these Christians for their lying and deceiving. (Sadly, the boy mentioned in this paragraph has died, despite dozens of prophecies to the contrary. He never came out of the coma, and never became the great evangelist and musician that so many proclaimed he would become. And once again, by His stripes we were healed did not happen in the physical realm.)

Do you personally know or know of any Christians who have died due to illness? Now, if these verses in Isaiah and 1 Peter imply that Jesus died for our physical sickness. Then I have a simple Chinese/English question: “Wot Went Wong?” It is interesting that Paul never quoted Isaiah to sick people. Peter quoted this verse by the way, but he is clear regarding its meaning. And, also, Paul did not heal all sick people. I am horrified at some of the teaching where Pastor’s pretend that Paul believed that everybody should be healed. He even left his friend Epaphroditus behind who was sick near to death. We read about it in Philippians 2:25-28 (ESV) 25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. "


So, Epaphroditus was ill, extremely ill as a believer. Paul simply sees his healing as God’s mercy, but we do not find this bravado that we find with some believers today in the words of Paul, and yet we know that God used Paul to heal the sick, but nothing of “hey believers we know Epaphraditus got sick, but praise God we know that by His stripes we are healed. Let us get on with life, we don’t need doctors."


On a website with the following address http://www.logosapostolic.org/bible_study/RP112-2God'swill.htm the claim is made that Romans 12 has all to do with healing. Romans 12:1 (ESV) 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Again all context is ignored and based on a plain reading the claim is made that we cannot present our bodies to God when it is sick as it is unholy and unacceptable. If we follow this through to its logical conclusions, I must then conclude that the death of a saint is no longer precious in the sight of God. The same Pastor claims that Paul’s thorn in the flesh could not have been bad eye-sight or any sickness because: If this were true, and the apostle Paul was sick and couldn't get healed, then none of us can stand in faith for healing, because if God refused to heal Paul, and God does not change, how can we expect Him to heal us?” Without discussing the thorn in the flesh issue and its meaning, we know that Paul had bad eyesight which by the way is a sickness. But let’s take this statement to its logical conclusions. So, by implication, God did not refuse to heal Paul and we can therefore expect Him to heal us. A few years ago, the great faith-healer Benny Hinn had to cancel his trip to New Zealand because he was ‘sick as a dog,’ to use his words.


These guys simply do not think before they pen their theology down. They start with a presupposition and then force Scripture to say what their presupposition says, and that is extremely dangerous.


Let us just unpack the verse and then we will put it in context.


1. Isaiah 53.


“Stripes,” (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24) in the language of the King James Version of the Bible, and in some others, means “wounds,” as seen in more modern translations such as the New International Version. The Hebrew word is chabbuwrah {khab-boo-raw'} or chabburah {khab-boo-raw'} or chaburah {khab-oo-raw'} which means: “bruise, stripe, wound or blow.” These stripes were administered by whipping the bare backs of prisoners whose hands and feet were bound, rendering them helpless. The phrase “by His stripes we are healed” refers to the punishment Jesus Christ suffered—floggings and beatings with fists that were followed by His agonizing death on a cross—to take upon Himself all the sins of all people who believe Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).


The whips used were made of braided leather, with pottery shards and sharp stones affixed to the ends, which tore open the flesh of the prisoner with each cruel swing of the whip. When we picture this terrible, inhumane form of physical punishment we recoil in horror. Yet the physical pain and agony were not all Jesus suffered. He also had to undergo the mental anguish brought on by the wrath of His Father, who punished Him for the sinfulness of mankind—sin carried out despite God’s repeated warnings, sin that Jesus willingly took upon Himself. He paid the total price for all our transgressions.


So, what were these stripes for that brought healing for us?


Let us look at the whole of verse 5.


Isaiah 53:5 (ESV) 5 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.”


‘Chastisement’ in a sense is a summary of ‘wounded’ and ‘crushed’ as a positive result is attached only to chastisement.  And then ‘stripes’ in a sense is the summary of ‘wounded’, ‘crushed’ and ‘chastisement’. Together they form the stripes that Jesus suffered. And again, a positive result is attached to ‘stripes’.


And then peace and healing go hand in hand as the outcome of the ‘chastisement’ and ‘stripes’.



The Hebrew word for ‘healed’ is  rapha' {raw-faw'} or  raphah {raw-faw'} which means to heal, make healthful or to repair.


Now, the simple question is this. Does ‘rapha’ always refer to physical healing as in being healed from a physical sickness? Let me quote you a well-known verse where exactly the same word if used. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”


I can give you more verses. “Rapha’ is used 62 times throughout the Old Testament. Most of these refer to physical healing, but not always. The word “healed” as translated from both Hebrew and Greek, can mean either spiritual or physical healing. The immediate context will tell you how the word is used. This often happens in the Hebrew language. We don’t have time to study the whole context in a detailed manner, but I believe there are two verses that make it abundantly clear that the reference here is to spiritual healing. Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) “6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”. This is clearly not about physical sickness, but spiritual direction. The direction is clear, it is ‘astray’, it is ‘turned’, it is ‘own way’. None of this is with reference to physical sickness. The words ‘laid on him’ can easily be replaced with ‘wounded’, ‘crushed’, ‘chastisement’ and ‘stripes.’