What is the Biblical Promise of Being Healed by His Stripes?
The Kings James Version tells us, “with His stripes we are healed.” Most modern versions replace the word “stripes” with “wounds” so that, “with His wounds we are healed.” In either case, the point is that the wounds, or stripes, suffered by Jesus were sufficient to bring healing.
However, to understand what this phrase means, we need to read it in context. To take verses out of context is dangerous and will usually lead to an incorrect understanding of what God is actually trying to say to us. We find Satan (Genesis 3:1, Matthew 4:5-6) doing this in the Bible and throughout History. False teachers often follow his lead (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
In an effort to find Truth, let’s look at the two places we find this phrase:
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5
and 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. – 1 Peter 2:24
The first time we come across this phrase is in Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Suffering Servant. As Isaiah describes the suffering of the Messiah, he writes about the reasons for His suffering: he was pierced for our transgressions (sins) and crushed for our iniquities (sins). Isaiah was pointing out that our sins required something more than the blood of the animal sacrifices being performed constantly at the Temple. Our sins needed the blood of the Messiah.
Isaiah writes in the typical Hebrew poetic form called Parallelism. While English poetry looks to rhyme the final words of each line, Hebrew poetry looks to repeat lines. Throughout the book of Psalms you will find examples of Parallelism.
Here, we see Isaiah using Parallelism. The first two lines of the verse repeat the idea that Messiah would bleed for our sins. The second two lines of the verse repeat the concept that these punishments against Messiah would bring the cure, restoration, alleviation. The question that needs to be asked here is: cure for what? Obviously, for our sin problem.
Our Sin Problem or Our Physical Problems?
What is noteworthy here is that nowhere does Isaiah speak of any physical problems that would be cured by Messiah. It is clearly for our transgressions and our iniquities that He is bringing healing.
One of the greatest false teachings of today’s Evangelical Church is that we are healed physically by His stripes, i.e.: His work on the cross. Look through Isaiah 53:5 and you will not see one mention of any physical problem. Look at Isaiah 53:4. Review Isaiah 53:6. You will find no mention of being physically healed by the work of Messiah.
Our second verse in 1 Peter 2:24 is no different. Peter writes about the work of Jesus on the cross. He explains that Jesus bore our sins on the cross. He teaches that this was done so that we could live righteously. Again, there is no mention of being physically healed by his work on the cross.
I have heard so many people take this phrase out of context and use it either in prayer or as an explanation for why sick or injured people should be confident of healing. Heather’s in the hospital? “Lord, by your stripes she is healed.” Bob’s back went out? “Don’t worry Bob, by His stripes you are healed.” This is not only unbiblical but also foolish. No one is healed physically by the work of Jesus on the cross.
All are healed spiritually by His crucifixion.
The work of Jesus on the cross heals every single person of their sin problem.
(BTW – that’s an example of parallelism)
Incorrectly Dividing the Word of God
Just this week, I heard someone change the entire verse. In their new translation, they quoted, “by His stripes we are healed physically, spiritually and emotionally.” That is nowhere in scripture. Twisting scripture like this is exactly how cults begin. It is what false teachers do. It is what Satan does.
I pray that those of you who have used this phrase to mean we are healed physically will recognize the harm you are doing to the word of God. Can God bring physical healing? Of course! Does He always? Absolutely not. Not even the Apostle Paul and his friends experienced or expected this (1 Timothy 5:23, Philippians 2:25-27, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
Pray for God’s healing. Encourage those in pain with the Gospel. Comfort them with reminders of what God has done in the past (i.e.: the healing miracles performed by Jesus). But do not give false hope, for this only destroys the faith of the weak and is a poor witness to the unbeliever when God decides that His Grace is sufficient and physical healing is not going to happen.
Instead, rejoice that spiritual healing is available and it is given to all who receive Christ’s work on the cross. Because of this work, we have eternal life (John 3:16). Because of this work, our suffering now is but for a moment (John 16:33, Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Peter 4:12). By His stripes we are healed!