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Joe Mcintyre

This paper was written by Joe Mcintyre.

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Joe McIntyre is the President of the International Fellowship of Ministries.


Originally published in Refleks 1-1 (2002). Included by permission.

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Articles > Charismatic Theology > Healing In Redemption

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The word translated sorrows in the KJV, NASB and NIV and translated pains in Young’stranslation is  holi in the Hebrew. (In the KJV, even with its prejudice against healing,  is translated disease 7x; grief 4x; sickness 12x; be sick 1x.) It is a general word for  pain, whether physical or psychical. “Both physical pain and psychic pain are entailed, but no precise distinctions are drawn… Neither dimension of pain, however, can be eliminated from consideration in any text, given the understanding of the human as a psycho-physical totality.”[xvii] The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament suggests sickness, disease, illness as the basic meanings of the word, noting, “The word is translated ‘griefs’ in Isa. 53:3-4, although it may be better translated ‘sickness,’ whether physical or spiritual.”[xviii]

 

The word which is translated grief(s), suffering and infirmities in our common English translations is  makob. The word is used 16 times in the Old Testament, of which at least 11 have to do with mental suffering.[xix] These meanings are not really debated. What is debated is whether they are really saying that Christ in His atonement bore our physical and mental sufferings as well as our sins. If He did, then there is a basis to believe a provision for physical and mental healing is in Christ’s finished work.

 

The word translated healed in verse 5 is  rapha and is the standard word for healing. It is used over 60 times in the OT. The KJV translates it: cure 1x; heal 30x; make whole 1x; physician 5x; be healed 6x; be made whole 1x; cause to be healed 1x; heal 6x; repair 1x;  be healed 1x; be healed 1x. Brown, Driver and Briggs translate it to heal, to make healthful. Semitic scholar Michael Brown prefers restore, make whole as the true meaning.[xx]

 

The words used in the original text are broad enough to include spiritual, mental and physical healing. This is not really debated. But because of the prejudice against healing (and the prejudice against the physical aspects of God’s covenant provision in general) the Hebrew words are taken in their narrowest possible way instead of the broad way which, as Brown suggests, would be normative for a Hebrew.

Metaphor?

 

It is often suggested that these words are merely metaphors for sin. The atonement, in the minds of many, has to do with sin, and sin only. There are cases in the OT where the words for sickness can be clearly seen to be metaphors for sin. (See Is. 1:5-6, for example). But even in these examples it is possible to read an unnecessary dualism into them. If what I have been suggesting about the Hebrew worldview is accurate, sicknesss, whether physical or spiritual, would have been seen as the outworking of covenantal judgment. Physical sickness was the curse of the broken Law and could not be seen as a unrelated, non-covenantal issue.

 

 Avon

 

The Hebrew word for iniquity  avon, is used 3 times in Isaiah 53. In verse 5, “he was bruised for our iniquities.” In verse 6, “the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And in verse 12, “for he shall bear their iniquities.” In the light of the relationship between sin and sickness that the OT reveals, the meaning of this important word to the atonement of Christ is underlined dramatically. “the usage of avon includes the whole area of sin, judgment, and ‘punishment’ for sin. The Old Testament teaches that God’s forgiveness of ‘iniquity’ extends to the actual sin, the guilt of sin, and God’s punishment of the sin.”[xxi]

 

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, further explains, “as the above references indicate, it denotes both the deed and its consequences, the misdeed and its punishment. Both notions are present, but sometimes the focus is on the deed (“sin”), and at other times on the outcome of the misdeed (“punishment”), and at other times on the situation between the deed and its consequences (“guilt”)…. The remarkable ambivalence between the meanings ‘sin as an act’ and ‘penalty’ shows that in the thought of the OT sin and its penalty are not radically separate notions as we tend to think of them.”[xxii] Brown, Driver and Briggs give iniquity, guilt, or punishment of iniquity as the basic meanings of avon. This source also states that Isaiah 53:11 “He shall bear their iniquities” should be translated, “the consequences of their iniquities he shall bear.” [xxiii] All of this is consistent with what was suggested above, namely that the Hebrews would not have separated sin and its punishment or forgiveness and healing the way it is commonly done in Protestant theology and scholarship.

 

Robert Young, to cite one more example, translates Isaiah 53:6 “And Jehovah hath caused to meet on him the punishment [avon] of us all.” Young clearly saw Jesus as bearing the consequences of our sin in this verse.[xxiv] Sickness and disease were the curse promised to those who broke the Law. (Deut. 28:59,60,61). They were the punishment for covenant breaking.

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