Divine Healing Part 2
(James 5: 13-14)
By: Mike Stokes
James is dealing with matter all Christians are faced with in an imperfect world. The subject of this article is Divine Healing. In Chapter Five Verse 13 he gives instructions to people who are “Afflicted” and in Verse 14 for those who are “Sick.”
First, consider the word “Afflicted” the Greek word literally means ‘in distress.’ It is a broad term which can mean physical and/or mental illnesses. It refers to general afflictions from which there is no immediate relief. James tells this person to “Pray.” There is no promise the person will be healed. It seems he is exhorting us to pray for endurance in this case.
Second, In Verse 14 another subject come up, the “Sick.” The Greek term means ‘Without strength’ it has the idea of being totally incapacitated. For this person James recommends three steps:
1) The sick person is to take the initiative, they are instructed to summon the Elders (Leaders of the church). There is no recommendation to call Spiritual Gifted healers, just the Spiritual leaders of the church.
2) The Elders are to perform two functions: Anoint and Pray. The Greek sentence structure states it like this: “Let them pray over him (the sick), having anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord.” So, anointing precedes the praying. The word James uses for “Anoint” is from the Greek word ‘Aleipho.’ This word is used to describe the application of salve, and lotions which usually had an oil base. In the first century an Aleiptes was a sports trainer who rubbed down athletes in gymnastic schools, it was sports medicine. This therapeutic ointment or oil was frequently used in medical treatise in NT times. So, it turns out, what James requires by use of “oil” was the best medical means of the day. The Good Samaritan in Luke 10: 33-34 used oil as a medical treatment. This is why whenever I participate in any anointing prayer for the sick, I always make a point of the necessity to follow their physicians instructions concerning medicine. It is foolish, dangerous and unbiblical for a sick person to stop taking their medicine because they have been anointed and prayed for. This ceremony can be an aid to ones faith. Fortunately our medical experts has improved from oil to antibiotics, x-rays and lazier surgery. So, just as the Elders in James’ day were to see that proper medical treatment was applied, the same is true of Elders today. After anointing, the Elders were to:
3) “Pray in the name of the Lord.” Which means, asking for God’s will in the situation (Luke 22:42). The Elders are to pray for healing yet acknowledging God’s ultimate sovereignty in the matter. It is intimated that in this particular case the sickness was a result of sin (v15), this is not always the case and we should not assume it is. The promise here is that God will answer prayer according to His will.