Is it physical healing or eternal salvation?
(image courtesy Pinterest)
By Spencer D Gear PhD
I have a question for all Christians: Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, does this guarantee that Christians who pray for healing will be healed? True or False?
I refer to 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB), ‘He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed’.
This is the prophetic fulfillment of Isa 53:5 (NASB), ‘And by His scourging we are healed’.
I’ve heard it over and over from preachers, mainly in Pentecostal-Charismatic churches: ‘By his stripes you are healed’. Then comes something like this: Those who are sick, please come forward and we’ll pray for you. On the authority of God’s Word, because of Jesus’ suffering he is obliged to heal you. ‘By his stripes you are healed’.
Here are three examples from the Internet of this kind of teaching:
Benny Hinn Ministries
gives ‘7 Purposes of Divine Healing’.
This article begins:
God’s will for you to walk in divine health is emphasized throughout His Word.
- Jesus heals because He is full of compassion.
- The blood of Jesus was shed to forgive sin and provide healing.
The wonderful English Bible teacher Smith Wigglesworth used to tell about traveling one day in a railway coach. Two others on the train-a mother and daughter-were very sick, so Wigglesworth said to them, “Look, I’ve something in the bag that will cure every case in the world. It has never been known to fail.”
The mother and daughter were quite interested, so the minister went on to tell them about this “remedy.” When they finally asked for a dose, he opened the bag, took out his Bible, and read them the verse that says;
“I am the Lord who healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26).
What a wonderful way to share how the Bible is filled with promises and accounts regarding health and healing for His children.
Andrew Wommack Ministries
Matthew [18:17], under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, substituted the words “infirmities” and “sicknesses” for Isaiah’s words “griefs” and “sorrows.” Indeed, a study of the Hebrew words in Isaiah 53:4 will reveal that they were always speaking of physical healing. The following verse, Isaiah 53:5, makes it very clear that this was speaking of physical healing when Isaiah said, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed”.
Couple this with the example of Jesus healing every single person who came to Him for healing, and the truth that healing is a part of Christ’s atonement is undeniable….
Not all sickness is caused by something we do. Regardless of the reason, however, there is always something we can do about it. We can believe God, and He will heal ALL our diseases (Ex. 15:26, Ps. 103:3).
If it is God’s will to heal all our diseases, why isn’t everyone healed? That’s a simple question with a complex answer.
The bottom line is faith. The prayer of faith saves the sick (James 5:15). Prayer doesn’t save the sick; the prayer of faith saves the sick (Healing & Niki’s Miracle).
I find Wommack’s teaching especially concerning. We’ll examine its biblical authenticity below:
There are a number of keys to seeing the miraculous power of God manifest on a consistent basis. One of the least understood, and therefore seldom practiced, is the fact that healing is under the authority of the believer. God has already provided His healing power and placed it on the inside of every born-again believer. It is up to us to release it. Understanding and using our authority is the key to seeing miracles happen….
I know this goes contrary to popular Christian doctrine. We’re constantly told that it’s not us but God who is the Healer, and I agree with that totally. But, I also believe that God has placed His healing power under our authority, and it is up to us to release it. If we don’t take our authority and become commanders instead of beggars, God’s power will not be released. There needs to be a radical renewing of our thinking on this issue (Our Authority Releases God’s Power, emphasis in original).
Elsewhere Wommack continues his teaching on healing:
Here’s another indispensable basic truth you must know and understand about healing: It’s never God’s will for us to be sick; He wants every person healed every time. That’s nearly-too-good-to-be-true news, but that’s the Gospel (Faith for Healing Is Based on Knowledge, emphasis in original).
Andrew Wommack is an American Charismatic TV evangelist and faith healer now based in Colorado Springs CO.
Is that an accurate teaching of Scripture?
‘Every curse of sickness that was supposed to fall on you fell on Jesus instead. He bore every one of those stripes, so that you can walk in divine health all the days of your life. The price has been paid so that you can rise up and get out of your bed of affliction!’ (By Jesus’ stripes you are healed).
Prince is an evangelist and senior pastor of New Creation Church based in Singapore. His TV program, Destined to Reign, is broadcast in more than 150 countries. He attended the Hillsong Conference 2007 in Sydney.
Is that what the Bible teaches? If so, we should head down to Caboolture Hospital, Qld and then Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital and pray for all the people who are sick. Then they will be able to get out of their bed of sickness without any further help from medical doctors.
If we did that, we may be called nutty or labelled members of a cult. Why?
1. Is physical healing taught in these Scriptures?
Read 1 Peter 2:22-25 (NET):
22 He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls (emphasis added).
Verse 24 is quoted from Isa 53:5 (NET).
The prophecy in Isaiah 53:3-6 reads:
He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.
4 But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed.
6 All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.
How do we decide if it’s physical healing or spiritual healing, i.e. salvation?
The context determines the truth of verse 5 if there is concern over the meaning of a word, in this case, ‘healed’.
1.1 In Isaiah
This verse confirms:
- He was despised and rejected.
- He was lifted up for ‘our illnesses’ (‘born our griefs, carried our sorrows’, ESV).
- Punished, attacked by God; afflicted for something he had done.
- Wounded for our rebellion,
- ‘crushed because of our sins’;
- Endured punishment to make us well;
- ‘Because of his wounds we have been healed’.
Are those phrases and prophetic predictions referring to physical or spiritual healing?
Verse 6 answers with a thunderous response:
- Like sheep, we wandered off.
- We strayed doing our own thing.
- The Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. Or as the ESV puts it, ‘the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’.
This confirms that Jesus’ death for sinners was not for physical healing but for salvation – spiritual healing.
1.2 First Peter chapter 2
What do verses 22-25 (ESV) teach us in context?
- Jesus was not a sinner or deceiver.
- When he was maligned (insulted ERV; shouted at him & made fun of him NIRV), he didn’t back answer.
- He suffered without retaliation.
- Committed himself to God, the judge;
- He bore our sins in his body on the cross …
- So we would stop sinning and live righteously.
- By his wounds people are healed. That’s how the English reads but the words for ‘his wounds’ or ‘his stripes’ are not plural but singular, tw mwlwpi – the wound. This is the only time this word is used in the NT.
- The classical Greek writers, Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Plutarch (c. AD 46 –120) used it to mean ‘bruise or bloody wound’. Robertson says that if Peter were ‘writing to slaves who may have received such stripes, Peter’s word is effective’ (Robertson 1933:106).
Why would that wound on Jesus be recorded by Peter is in the singular when we know from other verses that Jesus was mocked, flogged, and crucified. Matt 27:29 (NASB) states, ‘And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head….’ (See also Mark 15:17 and John 19:2, 5).
One commentator stated: This was perhaps ‘suggesting that his body was one massive welt’ (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p. 2357).
Listen to the language from the Gospels:
‘Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him’ (John 19:1 ESV).
Jesus predicted that would happen to him. Matt 20: 18-19 (ESV), ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day”.
‘They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head’ (Matt 27:28-30, ESV).
The OT prophesied this would happen to Jesus:
(image courtesy Pinterest)
‘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…. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him’ (Isa 53:5, 10a ESV).
Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment” and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears”.
Our sins will not be healed in the future. They were healed. When? By Christ’s death on the cross.
Theodoret of Cyrus was an early church father who lived AD 393 – 457. He wrote about 1 Peter 2:24, ‘A new and strange method of healing; the doctor suffered the cost, and the sick received the healing’ (in Selwyn 1981:181).
People were like sheep going astray but now have been turned back.
What kind of healing is stated in this context? Salvation! ‘He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed’ (Isa 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24-25).
This conclusion is reinforced by:
The verb for ‘you were healed’ that indicates it happened – full stop. You were healed by Christ’s shed blood.
It’s the verb used in James 5:16 (NET), ‘So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness’.
However, in James it is the grammatical mood of doubt: It may happen or may not. You ‘may be healed’.
So it is not a command to God: ‘In the name of Jesus, I command that you heal this person’. It is more like, ‘If it be your will, please raise this person to health’.
Wait a minute. What kind of healing is it in James 5:16? Look at the context.
The answer is found in James 5:14-15:
Is anyone ill? (sick ESV) It’s an old word that means ‘to be weak (without strength)’…. The use of olive oil was one of the best remedial agencies known to the ancients. They used it internally and externally’ (Robertson 1933:64). See also Matt 10:8.
Why was it needed for Christians to care for the physically sick? See 1 Thess 5:14 (ERV), ‘We ask you, brothers and sisters, to warn those who will not work. Encourage those who are afraid. Help those who are weak. Be patient with everyone’.
2. A question for you
I ask: ‘In what sense … did Christ “bear” our sins?’
He took the blame for sinners. ‘He suffered the “curse” for them’ (see Deut 21:23 which is quoted in Gal 3:13). That “curse” is separation from God and he ‘endured our penal consequences’ (Selwyn 1981:180).
See the article: What does it mean that “by His stripes you were healed”? (Got Questions)
I have two more issues associated with this topic.
3. Is there a place for divine healing in the contemporary church?
Yes, there is on two accounts:
3.1 Believers do the works of Jesus
Jesus teaches it in John 14:12-14 (NIV) states:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Whoever believes in Jesus will be able to do his works (including miracles);
They will do greater things/works because the one person of Jesus will not be here any longer. Many true believers will be scattered around the world.
Whatever believers ask in Jesus’ name he will do to glorify the Father and the Son.
In context, believers can ask for any of the ‘greater things’ and Jesus ‘will do’ them. Does this open the floodgates to Andrew Wommack’s kind of theology, ‘It’s never God’s will for us to be sick?
Definitely not, because believers asking “in Jesus’ name” means
Prayers that are offered in thorough accord with all that his name stands for (i.e. his name is not used as a magical incantation: cf. 1 Jn. 5:14, and in recognition that the only approach to God those who pray enjoy, their only way to God (cf. vv. 4-6) is Jesus himself (Carson 1991:496).
We pray for a person’s illness and recovery and leave the results with God himself. It’s not a farcical kind of prayer but a realisation that God Almighty is Lord of all and he sovereignly decides what happens through prayer for healing.
3.2 Heresies of Hinn, Wommack and Prince
Some of you may consider my assessment too condemning and rather see me put these three prominent preachers into the category of false teachers rather than teachers of heresy.
What is a heresy?
In NT Greek, the term from which we get the English, ‘heresy’ is hairesis. Arndt & Gingrich’s Greek Lexicon (1957:23) states that hairesis means ‘sect, party, school’. It was used of the Sadducees in Acts 5:17; of the Pharisees in Acts 15:5; of the Christians in Acts 24:5. It is used of a heretical sect or those with destructive opinions in 2 Peter 2:1 (‘destructive heresies’ ESV, NIV). This latter verse uses ‘haireseis (plural) of destruction’.
The Lexico/Oxford dictionary gives these meanings of heresy:
(a) ‘Belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine’;
(b) ‘Opinion profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted’ (Lexicon/Oxford Dictionary (2019. s. v. heresy).
From the NT, we see the term, heresy, being used to mean what Paul called strange doctrines, different doctrine, doctrines of demons, and every wind of doctrine (I Timothy 1:3; 4:1; 6:3; Ephesians 4:14). This is in contrast to sound doctrine, our doctrine, the doctrine conforming to godliness, and the doctrine of God (I Timothy 4:6; 6:1,3; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1, 10).
Therefore, I am justified in labelling the teaching on healing by Hinn, Wommack and Prince as heresy as it does not conform to sound doctrine, is a strange, unbiblical doctrine that is contrary to God’s teaching in Scripture.
4. Are these faith healers teaching heresy?
This is why these prominent ‘faith healers’ are promoting heresy.
4.1 Benny Hinn
He used Smith Wigglesworth as an example to support his theology:
‘I am the Lord who healeth thee’ (Exodus 15:26).
What a wonderful way to share how the Bible is filled with promises and accounts regarding health and healing for His children.
What does Exodus 15:26 teach?
This is the context:
22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they travelled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’
25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.
There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you’
27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water (Ex 15:22-27 NIV).
Not once in this passage is there a hint that this was a general text for healing of people throughout human history, whether the 20th century with Wigglesworth or the 21st century with Hinn.
This is what it teaches:
After crossing the Red Sea and going into the Desert, the Israelites could not find water, only finding bitter water at Marah.
The people grumbled against Moses, wanting something to drink.
Moses sought the Lord who showed him a piece of wood which he threw into the water and the Israelites were now able to drink it.
Then the Lord tested the Israelites: If you listen carefully to the Lord, do what is right towards him, paying attention to his commands, then the Lord will not bring onto the Israelites that diseases inflicted on the Israelites.
At this point the Lord gave the reason for saving Israelites from those diseases: ‘For I am the Lord who heals you’.
This passage has nothing whatsoever to do with contemporary healing by Benny Hinn or Smith Wigglesworth. It only applied to the Israelites in specific circumstances.
Hinn has cherry picked a verse to make it say what it does not state. It inflicts his theology on the text and thus promotes his strange heresy of OT Jewish healing for all people.
4.2 Andrew Wommack
This Charismatic preacher is even more extreme. He promotes the heresy that:
‘If we don’t take our authority and become commanders instead of beggars, God’s power will not be released. There needs to be a radical renewing of our thinking on this issue’
I have not found a shred of NT or OT evidence to support such an extremist, heretical claim. Jesus said believers would be able to ‘do whatever you ask in my name’ (Jn 14:13) but that is only according to the Father’s will. We cannot command or demand or ‘take our authority’. Human authority is useless in the presence of the sovereign God who answers or refuses to answer human requests.
As for Wommack’s statement,
God has already provided His healing power and placed it on the inside of every born-again believer. It is up to us to release it. Understanding and using our authority is the key to seeing miracles happen.
This is fanciful nonsense that has Charismatic, irrational enthusiasm behind it, but it does not stand up against the Scriptures. Sadly, I need to condemn it a ‘destructive heresy’ (2 Pet 2:1).
I wonder how many Christians have become disillusioned with the faith because of this kind of fake theology. It is fake news with a supposed biblical ‘coating’ of Charismatic gloss.
4.3 Joseph Prince
The pastor of a large church in Singapore has sealed his own heretical fate with this view:
Every curse of sickness that was supposed to fall on you fell on Jesus instead. He bore every one of those stripes, so that you can walk in divine health all the days of your life. The price has been paid so that you can rise up and get out of your bed of affliction!
As the above exposition demonstrated, those stripes that Jesus bore were for our salvation – spiritual healing – and not for curing physical illnesses. Poor exegesis by Prince causes him to promote heresy.
5. Does Jesus heal today?
From the dampener I’ve placed on physical healing by my exposition of the biblical texts above, maybe you ask: Has God provided any means for physical healing? Does God perform miracles today?
See my articles:
Are Miracles Valuable?
Why doesn’t God heal everyone who is prayed for?
Did Jesus promise more physical miracles would continue after he departed from his earthly ministry?
5.1 John 14:12-14
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.
The ‘works’ (erga) available to all believers, that Jesus was doing, ‘cannot legitimately be restricted to deeds of humility (13:15) or acts of love (13:34-35) still less to proclamation of Jesus’ ‘words’ [14:10]. Jesus’ ‘works’ may include more than his miracles; they never exclude them” (Carson 1991:495).
What about ‘greater works’ (v. 12)? To what does it apply? Carson wrote:
Greater works is not a transparent expression. It cannot simply mean more works – i.e. the church will do more things than Jesus did, since it embraces so many people over such a long period of time – since there are perfectly good Greek ways of saying ‘more’, and since in any case the meaning would then be unbearably trite. Nor can greater works mean ‘more spectacular’ or ‘more supernatural’ works: it is hard to imagine works that are more spectacular or supernatural than the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the multiplication of bread and the turning of water into wine.
The clues to the expression’s meaning are two: first, the final clause, because I am going to the Father, and second, the parallel in 5:20: ‘For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these‘ (meizona touton, as in 14:12). The two clues point in the same direction. Jesus’ disciples will perform greater works because he is going to the Father: this cannot mean that they will have greater scope for their activity because he will have faded from the scene and relinquished the turf to them, but that the very basis for their greater works is his going to the Father. Their works become greater precisely because of the new order that has come about consequent on his going to the Father (Carson 1991:495-496, emphasis in original).
Lenski agrees that the present participle of v. 12 refers to the person who continues in this faith. The universality of this designation is demonstrated by the language of ‘whoever believes’. ‘The works that I am doing’ refers to the very works of which Jesus spoke in 14:10-11, i.e. ‘the mighty miracles’, However, Lenski considers that the ‘greater works’ means to ‘convert sinners by God’s grace, carry the gospel to the ends of the earth, save souls for life eternal’; cf. John 4:35-38; 10:16; 12:24 and 32; and the story of the Acts.
He emphasises that Jesus ‘returns to the Father as one having completed his mission, and this it is possible that, with redemption accomplished, the greater works of the gospel of redemption can begin.’ He rejects the meaning ‘that believers today must do miracles such as Jesus and the apostles and others performed in the first church’ (Lenski 1943:988-989).
I’m supportive of Jesus’ teaching that the “works” of Jesus in John 14:12 include his miracles and much more. Don Carson’s words are concise and accurate: ‘Jesus’ “works” may include more than his miracles; they never exclude them’ (Carson 1991:495).
See examples of the continuation of miracles into the fourth century through St Augustine:
Augustine’s last illness: A divine healing encounter
St. Augustine: The leading Church Father who dared to change his mind about divine healing
See further examples of miracles in the time of Augustine in my article: Are Miracles Valuable?
What about verified miracles in the twenty-first century? There are verified accounts of physical healing in Delores Winder with Bill Keith (2009), Surprised by healing.
A few months before writing this article, I experienced severe pain in one of my calf muscles of the leg during the night. The pain was so excruciating I was about to hobble to the phone and call for an ambulance. The Lord prompted me to pray for it and the pain ceased immediately. That’s impossible for anybody else to verify as I was the only one in my bedroom when it happened.
See evidence in: Famed heart doctor tells the dramatic story of how a patient of his was ‘raised from the dead’ after prayer
Steve Stewart explained his experience with the supernatural of God:
I have been asked it in England, New Jersey and Canada: “Why don’t we see the same kind of healing here (in England, the U.S., Canada) as you do in Africa and India?”
I usually respond to this in several ways. First of all, I do see God heal in the same way in the West as in the developing world. I have watched in North America, Europe and Australia as deaf ears were opened, cataracts dissolved, cancer instantly disappeared (verified by doctors), and paralysis and pain have gone.
In my living room, the Lord healed a woman who had been totally blind in one eye for 20 years. He is the same God in Canada as Kenya, in the U.S. as Uganda, in England as India.
Although I have seen the Lord open the ears of nine deaf people—one after another—in North America, in fairness, I would say that although the quality of healing that I see is the same everywhere, the quantity seems higher in the developing world. However, I need to clarify this statement.
It is not that I see more people not being healed when prayed for; it seems to me there are fewer people looking to be healed in the West. (To clarify once again, I am not saying the people on the streets of our cities do not want to be healed; it is just that they are not being asked and therefore do not think of healing as an option in their lives) [Stewart 2014].
5.2 James 5:13-15
This is a clear account of how God offered physical healing or relief from distress to people in the early church:
Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven (NLT).
Here in 5:12, people are ‘sick’ or ‘suffering’; also in 5:10. It is not parallel to the English idea of suffering with pain. It places an emphasis on enduring hardship, experiencing adversity or calamity. You’ll appreciate this means more than physical sickness and extends to general trouble and distress (Hiebert 1979:316-317).
For people in such a situation, what should they do?
They call for the elders who engage in prayer and anointing with oil in ‘the the name of the Lord’, i.e. because of the power of the Lord.
The NABRE translation makes an excellent comment about this ministry of anointing with oil:
In case of sickness a Christian should ask for the presbyters of the church, i.e., those who have authority in the church (cf. Acts 15:2, 22–23; 1 Tm 5:17; Ti 1:5). They are to pray over the person and anoint with oil; oil was used for medicinal purposes in the ancient world (see Is 1:6; Lk 10:34). In Mk 6:13, the Twelve anoint the sick with oil on their missionary journey. In the name of the Lord: by the power of Jesus Christ’ (Note for James 5:14 NABRE).
It is a well-documented fact that oil was one of the most common medicines of biblical times. See Isaiah 1:6 and Luke 10:34. Josephus (Antiq. XVII, 172 [vi. 5] reports that during his last illness Herod the Great was given a bath in oil in hopes of effecting a cure. The papyri, Philo, Pliny, and the physician Galen all refer to the medicinal use of oil. Galen described it as `the best of all remedies for paralysis” (De Simplicium Medicamentorum Temperamentis 2.10ff). It is evident, then, that James is prescribing prayer and medicine (Burdick 1981:204, emphasis added).
Is this relevant for contemporary Australia and other Western countries? It would be applicable to countries with inadequate medical facilities.
‘A priest, a minister and a guru sat discussing the best positions for prayer, while a telephone repairman worked
nearby “Kneeling is definitely the best way to pray,” the priest said.
“No,” said the minister. “I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven.”
“You’re both wrong,” the guru said. “The most effective prayer position is lying down on the floor’.
The repairman could contain himself no longer. “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted. “The best prayin’ I ever did was when I was hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole.” 
Who are to pray for the sick or suffering person? They are the presbuteros, i.e. elder, bishop (overseer), and pastor. All three seem to refer to the same office (see Titus 1:5, 7; Acts 20:17, 28; I Peter 5:1-4). These are the church leaders.
However, in James 5:16 we are exhorted to pray for one another:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (NLT).
In context, there may be a connection between physical illness and spiritual condition (needing forgiveness).
What is ‘a prayer offered in faith’ for healing the sick?
All faith must be ‘in faith’. This is the basis of the Christian life. What’s the point of any prayer if it does not believe fully that God is able to do it?
Faith was the secret of the Lord’s earthly life and gospel: its value, even outside religion, is recognized in some modern psychosomatic medicine. The faith James here has in mind is, of course, both that of the patient and that of the elders, shown in his calling for them and their response to his call (Adamson 1976:198).
Does this prayer guarantee healing? Of course not! Answers to prayer are always conditioned on God’s sovereign will that effects what is best for us in our growth in Christ.
See my articles:
Should God heal all Christians who pray for healing?
DIVINE HEALING: IS IT FOR EVERYONE?
What is the connection between physical healing, sins committed, forgiveness and repentance?
Donald Burdick summarised these verses:
The assurance is given that prayer “will make the sick person well.” In the final analysis this is what effects the healing. In answer to “the payer offered in faith,” God uses the medicine to cure the malady. The statement “the Lord will raise him up” means that the sick man will be enabled to get up from his sick bed. If it was sin that occasioned the sickness, “he will be forgiven.” This suggests the possibility that, because of persistence in sin, God sent sickness as a disciplinary agent (cf. 1 Cor 11:30). The conditional clause “if he has sinned” makes it clear that not all sickness is the result of sin (Burdick 1981:204).
Benny Hinn, Andrew Wommack and Joseph Prince promote heretical doctrines regarding healing because they maintain positions that are contrary to Scripture and lead to false hope for believers. This fake theology is seen in statements such as, ‘It’s never God’s will for us to be sick; He wants every person healed every time’ (Wommack).
Exegesis and exposition of 1 Peter 2:24-25 and the parallel verses in Isaiah 53 demonstrate that, in context, these narratives deal with Jesus’ punishment of being wounded for the sins of human beings. They don’t teach physical healing but spiritual healing, i.e. salvation.
Scripture provides support for the continuation of the physical healing ministry, based on Jesus’ teaching to his disciples in John 14. Physical healing in association with prayer and medicinal means by church leadership is possible (God willing), based on the teaching of James 5.
7. Works consulted
Adamson, J B 1976. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle of James. F F Bruce (gen ed). Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).
Burdick, D W 1981. James, in F E Gaebelein (gen ed), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol 12, 159-205. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.
Carson, D A 1991. The Gospel according to John. Leicester, England / Grand Rapids, Michigan: Inter-Varsity Press / William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Hiebert, D E 1979. The Epistle of James: Tests of a Living Faith. Chicago: Moody Press.
Lenski, R C H 1943. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (1943 Lutheran Book Concern; assigned 1961 to Augsburg Publishing House).
Robertson, A T 1933. Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol 6. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.
Selwyn, E G 1981. Thornapple Commentaries: The First Epistle of St. Peter (The Greek Text), 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.
Stewart, S 2014. Why Are There More Miracle Healings in Third World Countries? Charisma (online). Available at: https://www.charismamag.com/spirit/supernatural/22521-why-are-there-more-miracle-healings-in-third-world-countries (Accessed 7 September 2019).
Winder, F & Keith, B 2009. Surprised by Healing. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers Inc.
 Benny Hinn Ministries 2019. 7 Purposes of Divine Healing (online). Available at: https://www.bennyhinn.org/your-life/healing/7-purposes-of-divine-healing/ (Accessed 21 August 2019).
 Andrew Womack Ministries n.d. Healing & Niki’s Miracle (online). Available at: https://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/healing_niki/ (Accessed 14 August 2019).
 Available at: https://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/authority_releases/ (Accessed 6 September 2019).
 Available at: https://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/healing_knowledge/ (Accessed 6 September 2019).
 Details from Wikipedia 2019. Andrew Wommack (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wommack (Accessed 6 September 2019).
 Joseph Prince Ministries 2008-2019. By Jesus’ stripes you are healed (online). Available at: https://www.josephprince.org/blog/daily-grace-inspirations/by-jesus-stripes-you-are-healed (Accessed 14 August 2019).
 Details from Wikipedia 2019. Joseph Prince (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Prince (Accessed 14 August 2019).
 Available HERE (Accessed 12 August 2019).
 Available at: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/32299322315108885 (Accessed 6 September 2019).
 Cited in Wikipedia 2019. Crucifixion. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion#cite_note-24 (Accessed 13 August 2019).
 It is iathete, aorist passive indicative of iaomai, a common verb meaning to heal.
 It is aorist, passive, subjunctive.
 Available at: https://www.gotquestions.org/by-His-stripes-healed.html (Accessed 10 August 2019).
 Available at: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/heresy (Accessed 06 September 2019). Throughout this document I’ll use ‘s.v.’ as an acronym for the Latin ‘sub verba’, i.e. under the word. When I write ‘ s.v. heresy’, it means that you need to go to the reference in the resource to obtain the meaning (here it is Lexico/Oxford Dictionary online) and check the word, ‘heresy’. The abbreviation s. v. is used primarily for dictionary and encyclopaedia entries.
 Hinn op. cit.
 Wommack op. cit.
 Prince op. cit.
 ‘In case of sickness a Christian should ask for the presbyters of the church, i.e., those who have authority in the church (cf. Acts 15:2, 22–23; 1 Tm 5:17; Ti 1:5). They are to pray over the person and anoint with oil; oil was used for medicinal purposes in the ancient world (see Is 1:6; Lk 10:34). In Mk 6:13, the Twelve anoint the sick with oil on their missionary journey. In the name of the Lord: by the power of Jesus Christ’ (Note for this verse in NABRE translation).
 The NABRE (New American Bible Revised Edition) is a Roman Catholic dynamic equivalence modern translation of the Bible. Please don’t confuse the NAB with the NASB.
 Illustration taken from Stone United Methodist Church 2019. Available at: http://www.stoneumc.org/653550 (Accessed 7 September 2019).
 This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’ (4th rev & aug ed 1952) (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).
Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 07 September 2019.