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What Type of Healing is being Discussed in Isaiah 53:5?

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Question:  I have a question about Isaiah 53:5, which I have heard some people claim for physical healing ("and by His wounds we are healed"). In my opinion I believe to be spiritual healing, being brought by into fellowship with the Lord God. Could you please give me your interpretation?

Response:  You are absolutely right on Isaiah 53:5. The entire context is one of Christ's atoning sacrifice for our guilt and sin. This is certainly how Peter uses the passage in 1st Peter 2:24 (cf. the following verse that interprets v.24 where "going astray" is clearly our total sinfulness rather than any physical ailment). It is true that Jesus healed many people physically during His earthly ministry, but that was for the sake of showing who He was, namely, the Messiah (Jn.10:38), and for demonstrating symbolically that just as He was able to heal physical disease, so He would heal our spiritual infirmities through His death for us on the cross (cf. Lk.5:17-26, especially vv.23ff.).

Incidentally, while I would not place an inordinate amount of weight on this, the Hebrew nirpa` is in the perfect, and really says "we have been healed", so that even if one takes this as a generalizing perfect tense, the idea is "once and for all" rather than "whenever necessary" - it has already been done (prophetically in Isaiah, and in actuality since the cross). That is to say, the prophecy contemplates Christ's "once and for all" sacrifice for sin (Rom.6:10; Heb.7:27; 1Pet.3:18), and would not be the way to phrase a promise of repeated physical healing because, in the perfect as here, that would have to mean that we have already been physically healed once and for all at salvation (a claim which few make). I can't see any way to make this passage promise perfect health or immediate physical healing for believers who become ill after salvation (as we all inevitably do), or to imply that as believers we are freed from chronic illness (as we most certainly are not; e.g., the apostle Paul: 2Cor.12:7-10; cf. Gal.4:13-15).

You might want to look at these links as well:

The Blood of Christ

The Gift of Healing

Jesus' Healing by Touch

Is Jesus the only One who ever Cured Blindness?

The Course of Jesus' Ministry

In the One in whom we have eternal life and ultimate victory over all sin, death, and disease, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

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