No PrIvate Interpretation
2 Pet 1:20-21“says, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy”Ghost." In this book, I will not share some personal revelation or interpretation. I will share Scripture upon Scripture that highlig’ts God's promises and His will for healing.
All too often, I have witnessed that people, even pastors and preachers, take the Word of God and unknowingly bend it to match their personal experience. I believe, particularly in the area of healing, that for many people, their personal experience is so powerful, so overwhelming that it clouds their understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures on healing. They shrink the timeless revelation and inexhaustible power of the Word of the Almighty God in Heaven down to match their unique, fleeting experiences on Earth.
I attended a church years ago and was shocked to hear a well-known pastor say from the pulpit, "First God took my dad, now He took my”momma!" He talked about how angry he was with God. This preacher had a seminary education and degrees, but his personal experience with healing shaped his doctrine on healing and was now influencing the beliefs of thousands.
Recently, in another church, I heard a pastor denounce prosperity preachers as false teachers. He started with the financial area of prosperity but then moved into the area of healing. 3 Jhn 2 (NKJV)“says, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." The pastor literally began to preach against the 3 John 2 promise of prosperity in our bodies.
He began to try to explain that Go’ doesn't answer all of our prayers for healing, though ’e didn't know why. But unfortunately, he went further. He began to try to show in Scripture that for some people, the promises of God are not fulfilled.
I will walk through the specific Scriptures the pastor used in the next chapter, but I have to point out that he tied it to the death of a dear loved one. He“said, "he’d done everything,” and she still died. He said that it caused him to challenge his beliefs. I agonized over his loss, but all I could think of was how his loss might be affecting his theology and now influencing hundreds of others. I had my first hint of this bending of the Scriptures with this same pastor on a previous occasion.
The month prior, the pastor spoke of a child in Scripture with “epilepsy.” He went on to share a very personal and engaging story about a seizure he had as a child. However, my spirit got stuck on the word epilepsy because I was sure that word wasn’t in the Bible.
When he spoke of a boy with “epilepsy,” I was sure he was talking about a Biblical account where a man’s son kept being thrown into the fire and water in an attempt to kill him, and the apostles couldn’t heal him.
In that passage of Scripture, Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith but added, “This kind cometh not out but by prayer and fasting.” The pastor indeed was talking about the boy in Mark 9:14-29. Here’s the account:
“And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?” Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
*underlining added for emphasis
As you can see with the underlining, over and over in the passage of Scripture, the cause of the boy’s falls is identified as a “spirit.” In Dr. Mike Freeman’s Bible college, I was taught to look up the Hebrew and Greek meanings of words in the Old and New Testaments to see how their English translations affected their meaning.
The Greek word pneuma is translated as spirit in this passage. According to Strong’s Greek concordance, it refers to “demons, or evil spirits, who were conceived as inhabiting the bodies of men.” The Greek word akathartos, translated as “unclean” in the phrase “unclean spirit,” means foul. So, the phrase could be read as “foul spirit.” I also looked up the Greek words that described the spirit “crying out” and “convulsing” the boy. See Greek definitions below.
pneuma Strong’s G4151 (spirit)
The KJV translates’Strong's G4151 in the following manner: Spirit (111x), Holy Ghost (89x), Spirit (of God) (13x), Spirit (of the Lord) (5x), (My) Spirit (3x), Spirit (of truth) (3x), Spirit (of Christ) (2x), human (spirit) (49x), (evil) spirit (47x), spirit (general) (26x), spirit (8x), (6x),’(Jesus' own) ghost (2x), miscellaneous (21x).
(Blue Letter Bible, n.d.)
(Blue Letter Bible, n.d.)
krazō krad'-zo; a primary verb; properly, to "croak" (as a raven) or scream, i.e. (genitive case) to call aloud (shriek, exclaim, intreat):—cry (out). (Blue Letter Bible, n.d.)
sparassō to convulse, tear
(Blue Letter Bible, n.d.)
In my efforts to search for epilepsy in the Bible, I did find that the word or condition is mentioned in the Bible (please see notes at the end of the chapter), but it wasn’t what the boy was experiencing in this passage of Scripture.
We know from many examples in the Bible that Jesus laid hands on the sick and healed them, and he cast out demons, often by commanding them to come out. In this passage, we see Jesus commanding a “deaf and dumb spirit” to come out of the boy.
What then would cause this pastor to call the cause of this boy’s condition epilepsy with the same conviction as if it were the written Word of God? What would cause him to replace the words of Jesus Himself with his own interpretation?
I don’t know if the pastor found that the condition of epilepsy was mentioned in the Bible and mistakenly assumed that was what was happening in the passage or not. I also don’t know if his personal experience affected his interpretation. I don’t believe that the pastor intended to deceive. He is a man of incredible sincerity and a tremendous love for God. It is his most compelling quality.
However, this example highlights the importance of researching Scripture for ourselves. I have such a high regard for this pastor that I wasn’t going to research what he said. But I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me to. It was the genesis of this entire book.
I have always been motivated to study the Scriptural support of those who don’t believe in the healing principles of the Bible as I understand them.
“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”
Again, I don’t know if this pastor’s experiences and “traditions” related to healing influenced his interpretation of the boy's account in Mark chapter 9. I do know, however, that with great sincerity and conviction, he mistakenly conveyed that what was happening to the boy was the illness epilepsy vs. what Jesus called a “deaf and dumb spirit.”.
If Jesus’ disciples could not heal the boy without the proper spiritual approach, how can we? If our religious traditions exclude the existence and operation of demons, could we ever expect to see healings of this kind? Was this interpretation important? Did the pastor’s misinterpretation matter? It mattered to the father whose child was thrown into the fire and water. And I believe it could matter if we encountered something similar and wondered what the appropriate Scriptural remedy was.
*My research on the word epilepsy in the Bible
“An account of a boy with epileptic-like seizures is recorded in three of the four Gospels (Matthew 17:14–18; Mark 9:14–29; Luke 9:38–42). Only in Matthew’s account (in the ESV and NKJV) is the word epileptic used to describe the boy; the NASB and KJV say ‘lunatic,’ based on the original Greek word’s meaning of ‘moonstruck.’ The NIV says, ‘He has seizures.’ In Mark and Luke, the father of the boy states that his son is ‘possessed by a spirit’ and ‘a spirit seizes him.’ Comparing the three accounts in the Gospels, the boy’s symptoms included sudden screaming, foaming at the mouth, lack of speech, falling, rigidity, and self-harm.
Matthew 17:14–18 says, ‘When they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.’ And Jesus answered, ‘O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly’ (ESV).
It is important to note that epilepsy was the father’s assessment of his son’s situation. Jesus, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all call it a demon, and Jesus cast it out as He did other demons. The seeming discrepancy in the three biblical accounts is probably due to the fact that the father said a lot of things in trying to get Jesus’ attention. He was distraught, desperate for help, and at a loss to describe what was happening to his son. The fact that the father speaks of epilepsy in Matthew’s account and calls it a ‘spirit’ in the other two Gospels does not create an irreconcilable difference. The father could easily have said all of the above as he described his son’s condition. He did not know what was wrong. He only knew that he needed help.
The term epileptic is used only twice in the New Testament, in Matthew 17:15 and Matthew 4:24. The word translated ‘epileptic’ comes from the Greek word for ‘lunatic.’ In those days, the term could be applied to any type of seizures or behavior that resembled insanity. In New Testament times, people had no way to differentiate between brain disorders and demonic possession. Little was known about the causes or treatment of epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, or dementia, so it is understandable that the father in Matthew 17 would describe his son’s behavior as epilepsy. But we know from Jesus’ treatment of this boy that the child was in fact demon possessed (Mark 9:26).
However, the Bible does mention epilepsy as a condition separate from demon possession. Matthew 4:24 says, ‘So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them’ (emphasis added). Here epilepsy is listed with other physical ailments, indicating that epilepsy is a medical condition that can cause symptoms similar to demonic possession. Jesus healed epileptics, and He also cast out demons. The two conditions were not synonymous.
Although many inexplicable behaviors that affect the personality can be attributed to demonic oppression, we should never rush to judgment. Demons are still active and can possess and oppress people. Prayer and spiritual warfare can enable us to help those who are oppressed (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:12–17). But brain abnormalities or injury can also affect human behavior and can respond to medical treatment. Jesus always treated the individual, and He rarely healed the same disease in the same way. This shows us that we should also respond to individuals with sensitivity and discernment, using everything at our disposal to help and heal any way we can.” (Got Questions, n.d.)
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