The word: “Health” occurs only twice in our New Testament (Acts 27:34 and 3 John 2) where it represents two different Greek words. The second reference surely expresses one of the loveliest birthday wishes we can imagine – “Beloved, I pray above all things that you will prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” The same word, meaning to be sound, healthy, well, is translated “whole” in Luke 5:31 and 7:10, where the idea of physical health is clear.
The other reference takes us into the vivid description by Luke of the disastrous voyage to Rome in which he accompanied Paul. Amid howling winds, driving rain, leaden skies, on a doomed ship, and surrounded by despairing men, God’s servant says “Take some meat: for this is for your health” – and then proceeds to eat some bread, after he had given God thanks, before them all . . . “Then were they all of good cheer.” In this case the word is that important word “soteria” that keeps on recurring throughout the New Testament. In 40 instances it is translated “Salvation.” The verb “sozo” is translated “save” no less than 92 times. So we might think of Paul saying, “Take some food, for this is for your salvation.” And so, physically, it proved to be.
I am indebted to J. A. C. Murray in the BRITISH WEEKLY for a refreshing reminder that “soteria” can be translated “health,” and “sozo” to heal or to save. Furthermore, he points out the very interesting and suggestive fact that John Wycliffe (1320-1384) who gave us the very first translation of the New Testament into the English tongue, ALWAYS renders the word “health” instead of “salvation.” Some of the passages shine with new significance by this translation as, for instance, the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:9) “This day is health come to this house.” Or Paul’s great testimony in Romans 1:16 “1 am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the virtue of God unto health for believers.” Working in the opposite direction we can render Luke 8:36 – “By what means he that was possessed of the devils was saved,” or Acts 14:9 where Paul perceived that the cripple had faith to be saved.
This enriching bit of Bible study all adds up to the one important truth that when we speak of “salvation” we ought not limit it to the soul, but should understand that it includes a gracious place for the present needs of the body too; and when we speak of “healing” in evangelism we rightly include it as a part of full salvation. When we announce an “evangelistic AND healing campaign” we are making an almost unnecessary distinction from the point of view of scriptural terminology, although it may wisely avoid confusion in popular thinking if we keep them separate. But from a literal standpoint on New Testament language a divine healing meeting is very richly a “salvation” meeting; and a healing meeting means that my whole spirit and soul and body can be graciously saved and sanctified.
The same rich truth is affirmed when our Bibles speak of us being “made whole.” To be healthy is just to be whole. “Whole” comes from the Old English root “Halig,” from whence “Haelth” which is just our modern word “Health” with a transposition of vowels. We still speak of healthy people, particularly old people, as being “hale,” that is – robust and vigorous. Of very helpful significance is the fact that from the same root-word “Halig” we get our word “HOLY” (German ‘ “Heilig”). Rightly understood to be “holy” is just to be in robust and vigorous health of soul and spirit.
Scriptural holiness is not that rather sickly, ascetic, white-faced, negative quality that so often it is wrongly imagined to be. To be holy in God’s sense is to be living a full life, red-blooded, active, strong and healthy in perfect obedience to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
THE VOICE OF HEALING December 1952 Page 15