Healing in the Bible
The Bible has a lot to say about healing. It also shows countless times when God healed people in many different ways.
This post will go over what the Bible specifically says about healing, and what that can mean for us today when we are suffering. You’ll also learn about how healing is holistic—including body, mind, and Spirit.
Here are 8 things we’ll cover:
- How the Bible talks about health and Healing
- The connection between body, mind, and soul
- Examples of healing in the Bible
- A healthy lifestyle that promotes healing
- Bible promises on healing
We’ll start with what the Bible says about healing.
How the Bible talks about health and healing
Healing is commonly defined as the complete removal of illness or injury.
But in the Bible, healing is presented as having multiple dimensions and degrees. It involves the restoration of the spiritual, mental, and physical health. It covers everything that makes us human.
John the Apostle expresses his desire for us to have health in body and soul when he writes:
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 1: 2, ESV).
So beyond spirituality, the Bible also addresses things like our health. Things that go a long way to ensure we have a pleasant and enjoyable life.
That’s why Jesus said that part of His mission on earth is to help us have a full and abundant life (John 10:10).
And a good description of a full life healthwise is when we thrive and feel alive physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Let’s begin with physical healing.
Physical healing involves the restoration of the different parts of our bodies to normal functioning.
Today, healing would mean recovering from diseases. And this brings relief from the pain and suffering caused by these illnesses.
When we think of common diseases today, we often think of things like:
- Crohn’s disease
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
In the Bible, we find people being healed from all kinds of diseases and disabilities.
A good example is those who were healed from leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-27; Matthew 8:2-4).
Leprosy was a highly contagious disease with no cure, and anyone who had it was considered an outcast and shunned by society (Leviticus 13:45-46; Numbers 5:2). But even this was frequently healed through God’s power and grace.
And we also read of people with disabilities being healed. Even ones they were born with.
- Restoring sight to the blind (John 9:1-38).
- The lame being able to walk again (Acts 3:1-9).
- The deaf hearing (Mark 7:31-37).
- The mute being able to speak (Matthew 9:32-33).
- The crippled were made normal (Luke 13:10-17).
- The paralysed being restored (Matthew 9:1-8).
We’ll look at more of these examples in detail in a later section.
You may find it intriguing that the Bible has a lot to say on mental health.
And just as with physical healing, we have many examples of people being healed of mental burdens in the Bible. Examples such as:
- Jesus defending a woman who was being criticized by His disciples (Mark 14:3-9).
- Jesus and the widow of Nain who was weeping for her only son who had died (Luke 7:11-17).
- Elisha helping a widow and her sons pay their debt and start a business to earn a living (2 Kings 4:1-7).
- God giving Hannah a child after years of barrenness (1 Samuel 1:1-2:11).
- Jesus relieving a distressed father by healing his epileptic son (Matthew 17:14-18).
Today, many people experience stress or even mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts for various reasons. Sometimes it can be a tendency they’re born with. And sometimes other causes for them can be just as scary:
- Emotional or verbal abuse
- Loss of a loved one
- Loss of a job or livelihood
- Marital problems or divorce
- Debilitating illness or disability
Thankfully, God does not leave us alone. He heals us as we believe in His promises.
Each day, God asks us to look to Him for help, reminding us that we can “do all things through Christ who strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).
He assures us that though we may face troubles in this life, we can be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
He asks us not to be anxious about anything, but to present our deepest needs to Him in prayer. And His promise is that we’ll have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7, ESV).
And beyond calming our anxieties, He teaches us to trust Him and how to live a worry-free life. He will draw us to His presence where we can experience “abundant joy” and “eternal pleasures” (Psalm 16:11, CSB).
Then we can experience the joy of living, enjoying every bit of it.
This boosts our sense of wellbeing, which has a ripple effect on our overall health. The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, knew this when he wrote:
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22, NASB).
Most of us know this to be true by experience. That the more joyful we are, the healthier we feel. And the more sorrowful we are, the more likely we are to feel or fall sick.
When the Bible talks of the “heart” and the “spirit” here, it’s referring to the same thing. It doesn’t mean our physical heart, but our feelings, our will, and our thoughts.
In fact, the original word used for the heart also means the inner man, mind, understanding, soul, memories, thinking, emotions, passions, and the seat of courage.1
So when we truly have a “broken heart,” it means that the core of who we are is broken.
Yet, one of the things that Jesus came to earth for was “to heal the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18, NKJV).
That means that in our heartache, we can turn to Jesus for comfort and healing.
Beyond healing of the body and the heart, the Bible points to an even deeper need for healing—spiritual healing.
One of the most common Bible verses we refer to when talking of God’s gift of healing is found in Isaiah 53. Talking of Jesus, it says:
“But He was pierced for our offenses, He was crushed for our wrongdoings; The punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him, And by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NASB).
The healing that Jesus secured for us through His physical pain and suffering is first of all healing of the soul. It is a cleansing from the things that cause our very core to ache. Things such as guilt, shame, and rebellion to God’s ways, which ultimately leads to regret.
The verse says that it was our offenses and wrongdoings that Jesus paid for. And these are the very things that cause disease of the soul, which can often lead to mental and physical illnesses.
Think about it. For many people who deal with mental illnesses like depression or anxiety, they can have rooted triggers like regret or disappointment. Or a sense of shame or guilt from something they did, or something that happened to them.
And these mental issues can cause a buildup of stress, which leads to physical conditions like hypertension.
So when Jesus offers us forgiveness and restoration from our offenses and wrongdoing through His sacrifice, He offers us healing for our souls.
And as we’ll see in the following chapters, every time Jesus healed people, He always addressed their spiritual health, too.
The Bible recognizes the connection between our bodies, minds, and souls.
The relationship between these three is often presented in many verses.
For example, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 talks of our “whole spirit, soul, and body” being preserved” (NKJV).
And 1 Corinthians 6:20 says we should “glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (NKJV).
In both, the writer mentions the physical, spiritual and/or mental together. This makes perfect sense when we realize that the Holy Spirit communicates to us through our minds.
“The relation that exists between the mind and the body is very intimate. When one is affected, the other sympathizes…The condition of the mind affects the health to a far greater degree than many realize. Many of the diseases from which men suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death…. Courage, hope, faith, sympathy, love, promote health and prolong life. A contented mind, a cheerful spirit, is health to the body and strength to the soul.”
So our physical, mental, and spiritual health are tightly interconnected. Neglecting one is neglecting the other, and investing in one is investing in the other.
Examples of healing in the Bible
Jesus is the ultimate healer in the Bible. But we also find Old Testament prophets and Jesus’ disciples who healed through God’s power.
Here are some healing stories in the Bible.
Jesus’ Ministry of Healing to the Sick
A key part of Jesus’ ministry was healing. This is why when He walked the earth, He was ever ready to heal and sympathize with the sick and diseased.
And when He healed people, He was interested in their entire wellbeing: physical, mental, and spiritual.
Healing of a man born blind (John 9:1–12)
In this healing event, Jesus met a man who was born blind. He asked Jesus to have mercy on him, and Jesus healed him.
Many people believed his blindness was as a result of God’s punishment.
This was a common belief in the Jewish culture at this time. Even Jesus’ disciples and the priests believed God inflicted people with diseases to punish them for their sins or their parents’ sins.
But Jesus corrected them and told them that the blindness wasn’t because of his or his parents’ sins. Instead, God was glorified in this man’s life by healing him.
So not every situation of sickness or disability of any kind is a result of something someone did.
From this story, we learn of God’s deep providences. Sometimes, what may seem to be a misfortune may end up serving a far greater purpose than we could imagine!
Healing at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–15)
For 38 years, a paralyzed man laid near a pool named Bethesda with no one to help him. Jesus visited him and asked if he wanted to be healed, and he said “yes.” So Jesus healed him.
Later on, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him:
“See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:14, ESV).
Jesus was interested in both his physical and spiritual restoration. He also expressed his desire for him to continue in a health-promoting lifestyle.
So, after healing someone, Jesus also encouraged them to do all they could to maintain good health. And for those who had diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles, He asked them to reform and stay away from the things that led to the disease.
He also encouraged them to live a life of gratitude, renewed in all aspects—not just the absence of their disease.
Healing of a paralyzed man (Luke 5:17–26)
One day, as Jesus taught in a packed room, a group of friends brought a paralyzed man to be healed by Jesus.
But they couldn’t find a way to get past the crowd to Jesus. So they climbed to the roof and made a hole right above where Jesus was standing. Then they gently let him down, right in front of Him.
And when Jesus saw this man’s friends’ faith, He said to him:
“Man, your sins are forgiven you” (Luke 5:20, NKJV).
Then the religious leaders started questioning why He had forgiven the man (Luke 5:21).
But Jesus told them He has authority to forgive sins. Then He went on and said to the man:
“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home” (Luke 5:24, ESV).
Here again, Jesus demonstrated interest in both physical and spiritual restoration. He first dealt with the man’s spiritual health, then his physical health—healing him so he could walk.
Jesus heals a leper (Matthew 8:1–3)
Jesus healed a man with leprosy by touching him.
In the Jewish culture, leprosy was often used as a symbol to describe sin, because of the way it was contracted and so easily spread. It was a horrible and highly infectious, degenerative disease.
Generally, it referred to a range of serious skin diseases that were hard to cure.3
In fact, someone with leprosy was typically secluded and lived as an outcast. The person was not allowed to come close to healthy people, and no one was allowed to touch them, either.
But going against these restrictions, this man came to Jesus. Then He “knelt before Him, saying, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean’” (Matthew 8:2, CSB).
And Jesus also went against the set “rules” and compassionately touched him to heal him.
But in order to get him accepted by the rest of the community, Jesus asked him to get an “examination.” The priests would examine him and verify that he was fully healed and safe to be around (Matthew 8:3).
From this story, we learn that there is a place for both courage and caution.
There are times when we can overstep norms to get in touch with Jesus for our healing. But we also need to be responsible citizens and follow needed precautions. This ensures we avoid unnecessary harm to others or prejudice to ourselves.
The woman who bled for 12 years (Mark 5:25–34)
An unnamed woman had suffered from constant bleeding for 12 years.
In the Jewish culture, a woman with a condition like this was an outcast of society.
But she defied the odds and made her way through the crowds, determined to reach Jesus. She told herself, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well” (Mark 5:28, NASB).
And when she did, she got well instantly.
But when she tried to sneak away unnoticed, Jesus asked who had touched him. So the lady came forward and told her story. Then Jesus told her:
“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be cured of your disease” (Mark 5:34, NASB).
What a tender and reassuring Healer!
We can be encouraged that when we come to Him in faith with our needs, He will be compassionate and comfort us from our afflictions.
Jesus heals a demon possessed man (Mark 5:1-20)
In the country of the Gadarenes, Jesus met a fierce man with an “unclean spirit.” He lived at a cemetery, and no one could tie him up—even with chains. He cried all day and night, and cut himself with stones.
When Jesus approached him, he said that he was possessed by many demons. Jesus then commanded them to leave him and enter into pigs that were feeding nearby.
After the demons that possessed him were cast out, he was seen “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind” again (Mark 5:15, NKJV).
This is an example of someone who was healed of a serious mental disease caused by spiritual corruption. Jesus restored him completely, demonstrating His absolute power over demonic forces.
Healing by Old Testament Prophets
Healings did not start in the time of Jesus. Even in the Old Testament times, God worked through certain prophets to provide healing miracles.
Elijah and the widow of Zeraphath’s son
Prophet Elijah stayed with a widow and his son during a famine in Israel. This was in a region called Zarephath. God provided food for them so that they didn’t starve.
While he was there, the widow’s son became sick and died. Elijah cried out to God and God brought the widow’s son back to life (1 Kings 17:17–24).
Through the miracle, God extended His love and care to this non-Israelite woman. She ended up learning about the God of Israel and to exercise her faith in Him.
Elisha and the Shunammite woman
In 2 Kings 4, we read the story of Elisha being hosted by a wealthy woman in Shunem. And since she was barren, Elisha prayed for her and she got a baby boy who died later. But again, Elijah prayed for him and he came back to life.
Again, just like the widow of Zarephath, she got to experience God’s love and care for her.
Isaiah and the healing of King Hezekiah
In 2 Kings 20 and Isaiah 38, we read of how Hezekiah, King of Judah, became so sick. He was destined to die, and even Prophet Isaiah came and told him to prepare himself and his house.
But he turned to God and prayed to be spared. And God, in His patient mercy, added him 15 more years of life.
Naaman healed of Leprosy
In 2 Kings 5, there is the story of a Syrian General with leprosy who came all the way to Israel to be healed.
The prophet Elisha, giving glory to God, asked him to go bathe in the River Jordan seven times. And when he did, he was healed. In fact, his skin became even healthier than it was before he had leprosy!
From this story, we learn that God may sometimes use very simple things to restore our health. Things such as a healthy lifestyle can be so helpful to heal and maintain good health.
Healing by Early Apostles
The disciples of Jesus were also performed healing miracles. These happened both while Jesus was on earth, and after He went back to heaven.
Apostles healing while Jesus was still with them
- In Mark 6: 7-13, we read the story of Jesus sending out His 12 disciples.
And as part of their mission, they “cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:13, NKJV).
- In Luke 10:1-23, Jesus sent out 70 disciples as missionaries to all the neighboring cities.
When they returned from the mission, they joyfully reported that “even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17, NKJV).
Apostles healing after Jesus’ ascension
- In Acts 3:1-10, there is the story of John and Peter healing a lame beggar.This man had never walked before. But Peter told him, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6, NKJV).And to everyone’s amazement, the man stood up, “and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:8, NKJV).
- For Paul, we read that “God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11-12, NKJV).
God still heals people, even today, in answer to prayer. And if you trust Him and pray, He will answer your prayers according to His will.
In his instruction to members of the church, James counsels:
“Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15, CSB).
God’s ultimate desire is to save us and give us eternal life. But right now, we live in a sinful world—a world where we “know both good and evil” trying to exist together (see the Nature of Humanity and Great Controversy beliefs). Sickness and disease are also part of our unfortunate reality.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t help to pray to Him for healing, comfort, and peace. Claim His promises both for yourself and your friends who are sick. In one way or another, God will heal, restore, and strengthen!
And whatever the circumstances, read the Bible and ask for wisdom to know what to do or where to find help.
When God did not Heal
But there were some situations in the Bible when people prayed for healing, or longed for it, but they were not healed. Or situations where it took long before they were healed.
There are even instances of God’s people dying from being sick. Like Prophet Elisha, who had himself been used by God to heal as we saw earlier (2 Kings 13:14).
And we don’t always know why things worked out this way.
Let’s look at four examples:
First is the story of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
Paul had a problem for which he pleaded with God to take it away three times. He referred to it as “a thorn in the flesh.”
But God didn’t take it away.
Instead, He told Paul that even as he struggles with it, His grace will be sufficient for him. That in his weakness, Paul will find that God’s strength will be revealed more perfectly through him.
So like Paul, at times we pray for healing but it doesn’t come. It’s not necessarily because of what we’ve done or not done. It could even be a part of something God uses to make us stronger.
And sometimes, we just won’t know why it was our struggle until we can ask Jesus in heaven. After all, it is not our right to know why everything happens the way it does.
The story of Lazarus in John 11
Lazarus was one of Jesus’ best friends and he had a life-threatening sickness. So, his sisters sent a message to Jesus asking Him to come urgently and heal their brother.
But Jesus took four more days before going. And by this time, Lazarus was dead.
When Jesus arrived, he showed the distressed sisters that he had a greater plan by resurrecting Lazarus.
He used this occasion to carry out his most remarkable miracle. He also got to teach important lessons about the resurrection.
So, sometimes healing takes a long time. But even then, God still has a plan. And as in the case of Lazarus, the plan usually reveals God’s glory (John 11:4), and provides a favorable outcome for the person.
The story of King Jeroboam in 1 Kings 14:1-13.
His son Abijah was sick. So he sent his wife to Prophet Ahijah with a gift to know the child’s fate. But she was met with the announcement that the child would die.
Jeroboam had been so selfish and corrupt, misleading Israel away from God. This request for healing wasn’t based in pure faith but in self-preservation. And because he was just interested in healing and wasn’t repentant, God did not heal the boy.
From this story, we learn that treating God like He is a genie to grant wishes, like He is subject to our own wills, can understandably be an obstacle to our prayers and petitions.
That’s why James tells us, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (James 5:16, CSB).
Fourth is the story of King David and the child he had with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11-12.
After Nathan told David about his sins and David even confessed, Nathan told him that the child he had with Bethsheba would die. This was a consequence of his actions since he had ashamed God (2 Samuel 12:14).
The child became sick, and for seven days, David “pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground” (2 Samuel 12:16, NKJV).
Then the child died.
Sometimes things happen to us as a result of our bad choices. And while God graciously forgives our sins, He doesn’t always take away consequences.
Healthy lifestyle that promotes healing
As we saw in the beginning, God wants us to be in good health and enjoy a happy life. And being healthy in body, mind and soul does a lot to ensure this quality of life. So, God gave us principles for living a lifestyle that promotes health and healing.
In the Old Testament, God asked Moses to write them down. They are mostly in the Books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
And though they were given many years ago, and to a nation that was re-learning how to provide basic care for themselves, at principle-level many of them are still relevant and helpful today. In fact, current research and credible scientific journals are proving this to be true.
Generally, a healthy lifestyle will address aspects such as:
- Getting proper nutrition
- Exercising, having an active life
- Drinking enough water
- Being outdoors, enjoying sunshine and fresh air
- Getting enough rest
- Avoiding things that harm us, and using everything else with moderation
- Trusting God’s guidance
Why is it important to maintain a lifestyle that promotes health and healing?
- Because the Bible tells us that our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” That we are not our own since we “were bought with a price.” So, we should “glorify God” in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV).
- And there’s the obvious reason for enjoying a quality, vibrant life.
Bible promises for healing
The Bible contains a lot of promises for healing and restoration of health—physical, mental, and spiritual.
Just as God told the Israelites when He brought them out of Egypt, He tells you, “I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26, NKJV).
He promised that if they remained faithful to Him, He would “ take away sickness from among [them]” (Exodus 23:25, NKJV).
And this is His promise to us too.
Obedience to God’s laws or principles brought the blessing of good health to God’s people.
But when they didn’t obey God and got into all kinds of trouble and disease, still “He sent out His word and healed them” (Psalms 107:19–21, NKJV).
And throughout the history of God’s people, we see Him promising them healing and restoration.
In the same way, the Lord tells us, “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds” (Jeremiah 30:17, NKJV).
If you are struggling with sickness, know that “the LORD sustains [you] on [your] sickbed and restores [you] from [your] bed of illness” (Psalms 41:3, NKJV).
If your heart is broken, you can be comforted that “the LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:17–22, NKJV).
And if you are struggling with regret and guilt, you can praise the Lord “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion” (Psalms 103:2–4, NKJV).
Whatever your situation, He says:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29, NKJV).
Like David, you can encourage yourself and trust the Lord. You can affirm your faith and trust in His healing power saying:
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:11, NKJV).
And even if you feel that everything is going wrong. When you feel like you’re doing your best and praying, but your health is still failing, you can say as David did:
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalms 73:26, NKJV).
You can trust God even in these hard times because we know that one day, God will fulfil His ultimate promise to us. The promise of giving us a body that will never again become sick. A body that will never grow old. When He’ll save us from this world of sin and suffering, once and for all (1 Corinthians 15:53-55).
We read that “God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV).
As we’ve seen, the Bible is full of stories of God healing His people. It also has principles to help us be at our healthiest—physically, mentally, and spiritually.
God wants us to find healing, so much so that He gave us the Bible with plenty of guidance.
He welcomes us to pray to Him in every emergency, and He promises to hear and answer our prayers.
 James Strong, Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009), Strong’s # H3820.
 Ellen White, Ministry of Healing: Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, CA (1905), pp. 142.
 Francis D. Nichol, The Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 1, (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1953), pp. 758-763.
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