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Don Stewart :: What Do We Learn from the Healing Miracles of Jesus' Disciples Which Are Found in the Book of Acts?

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What Do We Learn from the Healing Miracles of Jesus’ Disciples Which Are Found in the Book of Acts?

Divine Healing – Question 11

The record is clear that Jesus Christ healed the sick. The four gospels give unanimous testimony to this. He never turned anyone away because of lack of ability to heal their sickness or infirmity. Indeed, Jesus demonstrated that He was Lord over all.

The gospels also tell us that Jesus, on two occasions, sent out certain of His disciples to the people of Israel. These select men were able to perform miracles. Their miracles included healing the sick. In these instances, they exhibited the same power which He had.

We also find that this supernatural healing ministry of Jesus did not end after His ascension into heaven. Indeed, the Book of Acts records a number of healing miracles performed by Jesus’ disciples. From an examination of this book, which contains some of the deeds of those in the early church, we can make the following observations.

Healing Miracles Occurred but May Not Have Been as Widespread as Those of Jesus

When we consider the various reports of divine healing as recorded in the Book of Acts we discover that the apostles were able to supernaturally heal the sick and the infirmed. Yet the miraculous healings do not seem to be as extensive as the healing miracles of Jesus. The four gospels record numerous times when Jesus healed individuals as well as multitudes. We do have this taking place to the same degree in the Book of Acts.

This may indicate that the healing miracles of the apostles were not as widespread as those of Jesus. Yet this is not necessarily the case. In point of fact, we must remember that the ministry of Jesus took place over a three year period while the Book of Acts covers some thirty years of the deeds of the early church. It is possible that the miracles were indeed taking place everywhere the apostles preached but were not always recorded. Thus, it seems that we cannot know for certain whether or not the healing miracles of the apostles were as widespread as Jesus’ healing miracles.

There Was a Variety of Healing Techniques

There are many things about the healing miracles recorded in the Book of Acts which we do know. As we look at the different accounts of the supernatural healing of the sick and infirmed we discover that there were a variety of healing techniques which were employed. This is exactly what we find with the healing miracles recorded in the Old Testament was well as the ones found in the four gospels. In other words, God was not limited to certain methods or formulas to bring about the supernatural healing on the sick. We can cite the following examples.

There Were Healings by the Spoken Word

We find certain occasions where the miraculous healing took place as the result of a direct command by one of Jesus’ apostles. The Book of Acts records an episode where Simon Peter gave a command and someone was then immediately healed. Scripture says.

As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. (Acts 9:32-35 TNIV)

Peter spoke, the man was healed. His spoken word was enough to heal this paralyzed man. This caused many people in that area to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul Gave a Command for Healing

There is an instance where the Apostle Paul gave a healing command to a man who had never walked. The Bible records what took place in this manner.

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking (Acts 14:8-10 ESV).

The man, who had been crippled from birth, was immediately healed through the command of Paul.

In these cases, the miraculous healing took place by the spoken word of Jesus’ messenger. Nothing else was involved.

Healings by Prayer and Touching the Infirmed

At times, we find the apostles touching the infirmed people as part of the healing process. There was an episode where Peter met a lame man at the gate of the temple who was begging for money. Peter had something much more beneficial to give to him. Scripture records what took place.

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him (Acts 3:6-10 ESV).

In this instance, the man needed to be placed on his feet by Peter to assure him that he had indeed been healed. Once he realized this, the man, who had formerly been lame, started walking and leaping and praising the Lord.

Paul Laid Hands upon the Sick

We also find an instance where the healing took place by the laying on of hands. Scripture records the following healing miracles through the Apostle Paul.

And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed (Acts 28:8-9 NKJV).

While we are told that Paul laid hands upon one this individual to heal him, this is not necessarily the case with the others who were healed.

In these instances with Peter and Paul, the healings took place when the apostles touched the infirmed.

There Were Unusual Healing Methods

We also find two instances of unusual methods that were used in the divine healing of the sick. They are as follows.

The Shadow of Peter Healed Them

The Bible records that the shadow of Simon Peter was seemingly enough to heal the sick. The Book of Acts says.

And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them (Acts 5:14, 15 ESV).

If people were miraculously healed from Peter’s shadow passing over them, then that would certainly be unusual!

Cloths and Aprons That Had Touched Paul Were Used for Healing

We also find people taking the cloths which had touched the Apostle Paul to those who were sick. The Book of Acts says.

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them (Acts 19:11-12 TNIV).

Note that these were called “extraordinary miracles.” In other words, this was a unique situation.

These two instances by which people were healed, the shadow of Peter and the cloths from Paul, were certainly unusual.

Saul Was Healed without Human Intervention

The Bible also records a man named Ananias was sent by the Lord to tell Saul of Tarsus that he was to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As he was doing this, we find that Saul was healed of his temporary blindness.

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord-Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized (Acts 9:17-18 TNIV).

In this instance, Saul was also healed from his temporary blindness without any human intervention. Indeed, there is no record of Ananias praying for Paul to be healed or commanding the scales to fall from His eyes.

The Healings Were Immediate: No Recuperation Was Needed

Like the healing miracles which we find in the four gospels, the Book of Acts also tells us that the healings were instantaneous. Indeed, the command was given and people were healed. There were no periods of recuperation neither were there relapses. The healings took place instantly and they were complete.

For example, when Peter commanded a lame man to be healed the Bible records that the healing was immediate.

And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong (Acts 3:7 ESV).

In this case, we find an immediate cure to the infirmity of this man. We find the same thing taking place in each of the healing episodes which are recorded in the Book of Acts; instant healing and no reoccurrence of the problem.

Physical Infirmity or Death Came as a Result from the Sin of the Individual

The Book of Acts records occasions where sin resulted in either sickness or the death of the individual. We discover that this happened to both believers as well as unbelievers.

Two Believers, Ananias and Sapphira, Were Struck down Dead

We read of two individual believers, Ananias and Sapphira, who were struck down dead because of their sin of lying to the apostles. The Bible records what happened to Ananias.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died (Acts 5:3-5 TNIV).

These apostles were the special representatives of Jesus Christ. Jesus had sent the unique power and authority of the Holy Spirit to them once He had ascended into heaven. Thus, lying to the apostles was the same as lying to the Holy Spirit.

His wife Sapphira was also struck down dead when she lied to Simon Peter. Scripture records what took place.

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of those who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died (Acts 5:9-10 TNIV).

In this case, it was believers in Jesus Christ who were judged for their sin.

King Herod Was Given a Terminal Illness

The evil King Herod was struck with a terminal disease for not giving God the proper glory. The Book of Acts records the following took place.

So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died (Acts 12:21-23 NKJV)

This horrific disease resulted in his premature death. He was judged in this manner for robbing God of His glory.

Therefore, the Book of Acts informs us that God may judge sin by sending death to the guilty party.

Blindness Came to a Sorcerer

There was a certain evil sorcerer which the Apostle Paul pronounced judgment upon. This caused the man to be temporarily blind. We read the following.

Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand (Acts 13:9-11 NKJV).

This man was temporarily blinded for his perversion of God’s truth.

These examples show that physical infirmity as well as death can be a result of God’s judgment of personal sin.

There Was No Infirmity Too Difficult for the Apostles to Heal

As was true in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, everyone who was brought to the apostles for healing was healed. The Book of Acts stresses this. It says.

Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed (Acts 5:16 TNIV).

There was no infirmity too difficult for these disciples of Jesus.

Indeed, we find that the healings recorded in the Book of Acts were thus of similar quality to those performed by Jesus. In fact, we read the following words which these believers prayed to the Lord.

Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30 NKJV).

The supernatural healing ministry of Jesus continued through His immediate apostles.

At Times, the Faith of the Ill Was Honored

There were some occasions when the faith of the one who was infirmed was honored. The Bible records the account of a crippled man who obeyed the command of the apostle. This led to him being completely healed.

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking (Acts 14:8-10 ESV).

In this instance, faith was exercised by the person who was healed. The man stood up, as commanded, and was healed.

Those Who Were Healed Did Not Always Exercise Faith (Two Accounts of Resuscitation)

We also find that those who were healed did not always exercise faith that they would be healed. Indeed, there are two accounts in the Book of Acts of resuscitating one who had died. Simon Peter brought back to life a woman named Tabitha. The Bible says.

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up (Act 9:40 TNIV).

He did this at the request of other believers.

There is also a recorded episode of Paul bringing a young man back from the dead. Scripture records what took place.

Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted (Acts 20:9-12 TNIV).

In these instances, it was certainly not the faith of the one who had died that brought them back to life!

Unbelievers as Well as Believers Were Healed

Interestingly, miraculous healing was not limited to believers only. We read of all those who were brought to the apostles were healed.

The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed (Acts 5:16 ESV).

This certainly included unbelievers as well as believers.

Philip Healed the People of Samaria

When Philip the evangelist went to the city of Samaria he healed the sick and infirmed people who were in that city. The Book of Acts records what took place.

And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed (Acts 8:6-7 ESV).

It was these miraculous signs which caused the people of Samaria to believe in Jesus. Again we stress that the supernatural healings were performed as signs to signify a greater truth; Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and offers forgiveness of sins to everyone who comes to Him!

Paul Healed Unbelievers While Stranded on an Island

There is also the account of the Apostle Paul healing a number of people on an island in which he and others were stranded. Scripture relates the following took place.

And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed (Acts 28:8-9 NKJV).

These people were not believers in Jesus Christ.

Thus, the healing miracles were employed as signs which testified to the truth of the message of the apostles. The purpose was to cause belief in Jesus.

The Miracles of Healing Could Not Be Denied

As in the case of the Lord Jesus during His public ministry, the miraculous healings performed by the apostles could not be denied.

For example, we read that fear came upon everyone in the city of Jerusalem because of these miracles of the apostles.

Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles (Acts 2:43 NKJV).

Obviously nobody could deny what was taking place.

On another occasion, the religious rulers could not deny a certain miracle that the apostles performed. Scripture records the following response.

But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name” (Acts 4:15-17 ESV)

The evidence was clear. This man had been miraculously healed by Jesus’ apostles.

Paul’s Miracles Were Acknowledged by Everyone

In the city of Iconium, Paul confirmed the truth of his message with miraculous signs. We read about the signs and wonders he performed.

Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands (Acts 14:3 NKJV).

There was no doubt that these healing miracles actually took place.

The Miracles Were a Means to an End

As is true with the miracles of Jesus during His public ministry, as well as the miracles many of these same disciples performed when Jesus was hear upon the earth, the purpose of these healing miracles which took place after Jesus’ ascension was to confirm the message. This is crucial to understand.

For example, Simon Peter testified as to why a certain lame man was healed.

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see (Acts 3:16 TNIV).

The miracles were always done in the name or authority of Jesus. Thus, these deeds of healing pointed to a greater truth; Jesus is the promised Messiah. It is He alone who offers forgiveness of sin.

Indeed, the credentials Jesus Christ displayed, as well as the powers which He gave to His selected apostles, demonstrated that He was the Promised One.

In sum, when we consider the miracles of healing recorded in the Book of Acts we find that they are consistent with what is emphasized elsewhere; they were performed to spread the message of Jesus Christ.

Summary – Question 11
What Do We Learn from the Healing Miracles of Jesus’ Disciples Which Are Found in the Book of Acts?

The New Testament records that Jesus Christ healed the sick. These healings were miraculous in nature. We also find that the same supernatural healing ability was given to certain of His disciples during the time the Lord was upon the earth.

However, the healing miracles were not limited to the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Book of Acts tells us that Jesus’ miraculous healing power continued through His disciples after His ascension into heaven. As we shall see, the miracles performed by Jesus’ disciples in the Book of Acts were similar in nature to those which were done during His earthly ministry.

To begin with, in comparison to the four gospels, the number of recorded miracles in the Book of Acts was far less in number. This is the case though the gospels cover three years of Jesus’ public ministry while the Book of Acts records some of the highlights of the first thirty years of the Christian church.

Thus, from the written record, it seems like the number of miracles by Jesus’ followers, while many, were fewer in number than their Lord performed. Of course, it could be that as many miracles did take place during this period but that the Book of Acts does not record them.

From a study of the Book of Acts, there are certain things which we can be certain about the healing miracles of Jesus’ disciples.

For one thing, there was not a particular method or ritual which was used to bring about the miraculous healings. On a few occasions, it was the mere command of Jesus’ disciples which caused the miracle of healing to take place. The disciples spoke and people were healed. Nothing else was necessary.

times, the infirmed person was healed by the laying on of hands by Jesus’ disciples. This happened to both Peter and Paul.

There were two reported episodes of unusual miracles; those who passed under shadow of Peter were healed and cloths which the Apostle Paul had touched were used to heal the sick. This is the sort of thing which we discover in the other parts of the Scripture. Indeed, God does not limit Himself to one specific manner in which He will heal the sick.

The healing miracles which are recorded in the Book of Acts, like those documented in the four gospels, were instantaneous. As soon as the command was given, the person was healed. There was no waiting period, no time needed for recuperation.

We find that the healing miracles which the apostles performed were directed at believers as well as unbelievers. Among other things, this shows that faith in Jesus Christ was not always necessary for one to be healed. In fact, a number of people who were healed demonstrated no faith whatsoever that they would be healed. This includes two people who were brought back to life once they had died.

Yet in other instances we find that the person desiring to be healed did exercise faith. This further illustrates that God heals whom He will, when He will. Ultimately, it is His decision alone.

As we find in other parts of Scripture, the Lord sent physical infirmity as a judgment for sin. The Book of Acts reports that the Lord sent blindness to a certain sorcerer who was opposing the Apostle Paul. On three occasions, the Lord caused the death of people who sinned mightily against Him. This includes two believers, Ananias and Sapphira, as well as one unbeliever, the evil King Herod

The responses to the miracles of healing were the same which we find in the four gospels; shock and amazement. These healings were miracles. This was obvious to everyone. They had never seen anything like this before.

Like the miracles of Jesus, the fact of them was never denied. Indeed, the religious rulers admitted that Peter and John performed a notably miracle in healing a lame man; a miracle that nobody could deny. However, instead of believing the message of Jesus, which the miracles testified of, these religious rulers attempted to keep the disciples from preaching the message that Jesus was indeed the Christ.

We must again stress that the healing miracles, like the rest of the miraculous signs performed by Jesus and His followers, were a means to an end. These miracles testified to the truth of the message that Jesus was the One whom He claimed to be; God the Son, the Savior of the world.

Thus, as we look at the subject of healing miracles in the Book of Acts we find them to be consistent with the other accounts of miraculous healing which are recorded in the Old Testament as well as in the four gospels.

What Do We Learn from the Healing Miracles of Jesus' Disciples Which Are Found in the Four Gospels? ← Prior Section
What Do the New Testament Letters Have to Say about Divine Healing? Next Section →
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