Healing in Acts
1. Acts 3:1-4:12
Several important points are to be noted:
First, this man was born paralyzed (3:2) and had remained in that condition for 40 years (4:22).
Second, his healing was not a gradual restoration but instantaneous and complete (3:7-8).
Third, the man himself was not expecting to be healed. It appears to catch him totally by surprise. He anticipated a monetary gift, not a supernatural touch from God (3:5).
Fourth, his healing was public and visible and therefore empirically verifiable (3:9-10). Even unbelievers were compelled to acknowledged that a miracle had occurred (4:5-6,14-17).
Fifth, even though the miracle was undeniable, it did not lead all to saving faith in Christ (4:16-17; cf. Luke 16:19-31).
Sixth, Peter makes it clear that God, not man, is the source of the healing (3:12; 4:10).
Seventh, faith plays a key role (3:16). But whose faith and in what or in whom was it exercised? There appear to be only two options: (a) It is unlikely that this refers to the man's faith. There is no indication he believed in Christ prior to his healing (no gospel had been proclaimed and, as noted above, his expectation was monetary, not spiritual). Furthermore, nothing is said about any faith on his part that God either could or would heal him. (b) More likely it was the faith of Peter and John. Their steadfast confidence in the authority and power of the risen Christ was the basis for this release of power (cf. 3:12-15).
2. Acts 5:12-16
Let us note three things:
First, here we see that what happened in Acts 3 was not an isolated incident. All who were being brought to the apostles experienced healing (5:16).
Second, the role of Peter's shadow is difficult to explain. Several things are to be noted: (1) Luke does not explicitly attribute healing to Peter's shadow, although it seems to be implied by the surrounding context. (2) Was there power in the shadow, or was it simply a point of contact for the sick whereby their faith was aroused and increased? (3) There is evidence that in primitive cultures a man's shadow was thought to be an extension of his soul or personality. Many even feared the midday because it was then that one's shadow virtually disappeared.
Third, Luke attributes some of the sickness to demonic influence (5:16).
3. Acts 8:4-8
Two things to note:
First, again we see that the healing of those paralyzed was not an isolated event. Luke tells us that many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed (8:7).
Second, these miracles were characteristic of the ministry of an average layman, Philip, not an apostle. One must not conclude from 5:12 that only apostles healed the sick. Philip was only a deacon (6:5).
4. Acts 9:32-35
This incident is noteworthy for several reasons:
First, we again see healing of a paralyzed man. For eight years he had been bedridden.
Second, Peter unequivocally declares that it is Jesus, not himself, who is responsible for the miracle (9:34).
Third, Peter doesn't pray for this man to be healed. He simply declares it to be so.
Fourth, the healing was instantaneous.
Fifth, the healing was evangelistic: it led to the salvation of all who lived at Lydda and Sharon (9:35). Contrast this with what we saw in Acts 4.
5. Acts 9:36-43
This is the first instance of resurrection in Acts.
First, note that this woman was known for her piety and kindness, something "which she continually did" (9:36).
Second, no cause is stated for her fatal sickness. Luke is careful to make it clear that she did not die because of sin. What explanation is there for the sudden and premature death of one who was so devoted to the Lord and his people?
Third, why did Peter send everyone out of the room before he ministered to Tabitha (9:40)?
Fourth, note that Peter both prayed and proclaimed. He first asked God for healing and then declared it!
Fifth, this healing had great evangelistic fruit (9:42).
6. Acts 10:38
First, we see here that Jesus performed his miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit by whom he had been anointed. It was not by virtue of his own inherent divine nature, but through his dependence on the Spirit that he healed the sick.
Second, healing the sick is specifically said to be the doing of good. If the removal of sickness is good, the presence of sickness must be bad. Nowhere is Jesus said to have done good by imposing sickness on people or afflicting them with disease. See Acts 13:6-12 as an example of sickness/affliction being a curse or punishment, not a blessing.
Third, many whom Jesus healed were sick because of demonic influence.
Fourth, no one who was oppressed by Satan was left by Jesus in that condition.
7. Acts 14:8-10
This incident is similar to the one in Acts 3-4.
First, this man was congenitally lame. He had never walked. Needless to say, he was an unlikely candidate for the kind of faith that leads to healing.
Second, this man is filled with faith in the ability or power of Christ to heal him.
Third, Paul apparently exercised the gift of discerning of spirits in recognizing the man's faith.
Fourth, once he "saw" the man's faith, he commanded him to walk. He did not pray that he would be healed, but declared it.
8. Acts 19:11-12
First, in this remarkable passage, we are told that "handkerchiefs" used by Paul as headbands to absorb perspiration and "aprons" worn to protect his clothing were used to effect both healing and deliverance.
Second, and most important of all, Luke describes these events as "extraordinary miracles" (v. 11). What makes this language noteworthy is that a miracle is by definition something out of the ordinary. So why does he describe Paul's miracles as "extraordinary"? This terminology is used nowhere else in Acts to describe a miracle. Its only other occurrence is in 28:2 in reference to the "extraordinary kindness" shown to Paul by the natives of Malta. Therefore, there are miracles, and then there is what God did through Paul in Ephesus -- an extraordinary display of divine healing.
9. Acts 20:7-12
10. Acts 28:7-10