Why Was This Man Born Blind?
I never saw anybody healed through my hands until I got the issues I was confused about out of the way and became convinced, from scripture, that it’s God’s will. I laid out the scriptural foundation in the article “13 Solid Scriptural Proofs Of God’s Will To Heal.” The two issues that seem to confuse the most people are the book of Job and Paul’s thorn in the flesh. I deal with those in the articles “The Answer To Job’s Question” and “What Was Paul’s Thorn In The Flesh?” I also responded to the objection that claims sickness is “suffering according to God’s will.”
A few other common questions have come up again, so I thought it might be helpful to share responses to some of these. But before we even deal with this, I think it’s important to understand how strong and clear scripture is in multiple passages about God’s will concerning healing. Scripture is not contradicting itself, and it’s a poor practice to set up questionable interpretations of a few verses against the weight of scripture.
The amazing thing is that all of these objections are questionable or twisted interpretations which try to use scriptural passages about healing as an objection to God’s will to heal.
Born Blind So God Could Be Glorified?
This comes from a story in John Chapter nine.
John 9:1-7 (NIV) As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
Looks pretty clear in the NIV, right? But the phrase “so that” is not in the Greek. Look at Young’s Literal Translation:
John 9:1-5 (YLT) And passing by, he saw a man blind from birth, and his disciples asked him, saying,
Rabbi, who did sin, this one or his parents, that he should be born blind?' </span><span id="en-YLT-26444" class="text John-9-3">Jesus answered,Neither did this one sin nor his parents, but that the works of God may be manifested in him; it behoveth me to be working the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night doth come, when no one is able to work: —
In the Young’s Literal Translation, it becomes clear that where the translators decided to put the punctuation and verse divisions makes a big difference in the meaning. It could easily read “Neither did this one sin nor his parents. But that the works of God may be manifested in him, it behoveth me to be working the works of Him who sent me…“
In other words, Jesus was doing God’s work so it would be manifested in the man. And what did Jesus do? Heal him. That was God’s work. And that makes a lot more sense, since Acts 10:38 calls sickness an act of the devil. Jesus did not say why the man was born blind.
It’s funny how a story about Jesus’ healing a blind man gets twisted into a doctrine, in opposition to the weight of many other scriptures, saying that God makes people sick to show his works. Jesus healing him manifested God’s works, not the sickness!
For further insight, let’s look at what Dr. Gregory Boyd says on the passage about the boy born blind. The grammar in Greek can very easily be understood not as Jesus saying the man was born blind so that God’s works be displayed in him, but rather as Jesus saying “neither” and then commanding “Let God’s works be displayed in him!” I often speak in the same way when I am ministering healing to people. I command “May God’s will be done in your body right now in Jesus’ name!”
“…Having said this, there is no good reason to accept this translation. In God at War I note that the phrase “this happened so that” is not in the original Greek. The Greek simply has hina (“that” or “let”) with the aorist subjunctive passive of phaneroō (“to manifest”), which often is intended as an imperative (“let x happen”) rather than a purposive clause (“so that x happens”) (e.g., Eph 5:33). (In Greek this is called a “hortatory subjective”). In this case, the verse should be translated, “Neither this man or his parents sinned, but let the works of God be displayed.” Jesus is essentially saying to his disciples, “Wrong question. The only thing that matters is that God is glorified by ridding this man of his infirmity.”-Dr. Gregory Boyd
This is a case in which scholars generally agree that there is more than one possible translation. It shows in the footnotes of some Bible versions. When there is more than one possible translation, I think we should consider the weight of scripture instead of hinging a doctrine on a questionable translation of a single verse and then ignoring many other relevant passages of scripture.
Greg Boyd’s full article is here: https://reknew.org/…/did-jesus-say-that-god-causes…/
“Take Some Wine For Your Stomach”
Another common objection is taken from Paul’s letter to Timothy:
1 Timothy 5:23 (NIV) Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
Again, the logic here is a bit funny. Paul is giving Timothy advice for his health. And this health advice gets taken as an objection to God’s will to heal?
Critics sometimes accuse people who teach divine healing of setting up the miraculous against doctors and medicine. That was more common with the early faith teachers but is rare today. But here, it is the critics who are setting up medicine and natural wisdom against divine healing, the very thing they often (usually wrongly) accuse faith teachers of doing!
God answered King Hezekiah’s prayer for healing by having them apply a poultice of figs to the boil. Jesus put mud on the eyes of a blind man and sometimes gave a command like “stretch out your hand” or “show yourselves to the priests” when he healed them. So why can’t God give Paul a word of wisdom for Timothy’s healing?
But let’s consider the historical context. Dirty water was a major problem at the time, and it was common practice to mix wine with water in order to kill pathogens. Paul wasn’t giving advice to Timothy about how to deal with a chronic health problem as if he had first laid hands on him and unsuccessfully tried to minister healing. (Which is the picture some people paint.) Paul was giving practical advice about preventing repeated, acute stomach infections due to dirty water.
In our next post we will examine two more “objections” to God’s will to heal, which, ironically, are both taken from stories of divine healing in the New Testament. These are the arguments that “Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus” and “Jesus only healed one man at the Pool of Bethesda.”