Sunday, February 03, 2019

Healing In the Atonement, part 16 of 16

These are the various ways "astheneia" is used in the New Testament.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness [astheneian]. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26)

The context suggests that it means general impotence, inadequacy, etc.

"When evening came, many who were demon posessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He took up our infirmities [astheneias] and c/arried our diseases.'" (Matthew 8:16-17)

In this context, the word strictly refers to illnesses. Matthew quoted from the Septuigint which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The word for diseases here is "nosous." The physical weaknesses result from the diseases. That's why "astheneia" almost always means physical illness. To be physically weak is an illness, or a symptom of an illness.

"When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sicknesses [astheneia], and laying his hands on each one, he healed them." (Luke 4:40)

"If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple [asthenes] and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed." (Acts 4:9)

Here, "asthenes" is translated as "cripple" because the context proves that this is what was wrong with the guy. (See Acts 3:1-10)

"Is any one of you sick [astheneo]? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord." (James 5:14)

It's clear from the context that James is talking about physical sickness.

"Who is weak [asthenei] and I do not feel weak [astheno]? Who is lead into sin and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast in the things that show my weakness [astheneias]....I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about in my weaknesses [astheneiais]." (2 Corinthians 11:29-30, 12:5)

In this context, Paul seems to be using astheneia in different ways. He seems to be encompassing physical, emotional, and spiritual weakness.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness [astheneia].' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses [astheneiais], so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses [astheneiais], in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak [astheno], then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

The thorn in Paul's flesh, which is the context of this passage, is somewhat controversial as to its nature, so I won't make a case over whether it was physical or not, but I believe that by weakness in this passage, Paul is referring to any kind of weakness, be it physical or otherwise.

"As you know, it was because of an illness [astheneia] that I first preached the gospel to you." (Galatians 4:13)

The context indicates that Paul was referring to an illness because in the next verse, he says that his "astheneia" was a burden to them. He probably had to be taken care of because he was sick. That's why hundreds of Greek scholars all agree that this word should be translated "illness" in this context. Furthermore, the literal translation is, "weakness of the flesh," so it was a weakness in his body which is why the NAS translates it, "bodily illness." I'll say more about this later.

"One who was there had been an invalid [been in his astheneia] for 38 years." (John 5:5)

From the context, it's clear he was crippled or too sick to walk. Here, his "astheneia" is a result of his "nosema," meaning his sickness.

"When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness [astheneia] will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." (John 11:4)

From the context, it's clear that "astheneia" is the sickness that threatened Lazarus' life, so it was a physical illness. Furthermore, it was given to Lazarus to bring glory to God just like when Jesus healed the man born blind. He wasn't blind because he sinned or his parents sinned, but so that the glory of God would be displayed in his life by his healing.

"About that time, she became sick [asthenesasn] and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room." (Acts 9:37)

It's clear that her "asthenesasn" was a physical illness because it lead to her death.

"For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill [esthenesen (a form of the word "astheneia")]. Indeed he was ill [esthenesen] and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow." (Philippians 2:26-27)

Because he almost died from it, it must have been a physical illness.

"Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick [asthenounta] in Miletus." (2 Timothy 4:20)

It's clear Trophimus was sick because his sickness was why he was left behind in Miletus. He didn't have the strength to travel.

"When this had happened, the rest of the sick [astheneias] on the island came and were cured." (Acts 28:9)

It's clear in the context that "astheneias" referred to those who were physically ill because this happened as a result of Paul curing a specific disease called dysentery, which we know is a physical illness.

"That is why many of you are weak [astheneis] and sick [arrostoi], and a number of you have fallen asleep." (1 Corinthians 11:30)

In this context, astheneis is a result of arrostoi. Weakness is a symptom of sickness. In this case, it clearly means physical weakness, and incidentally, these people were apparently sick as a result of God's punishment for taking communion unworthily, so God does use sickness as punishment for sin, which is evident in a number of other scriptures, which I'll say more about later.

"Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses [astheneias]." (1 Timothy 5:23)

It's clear from this scripture that Timothy was suffering from physical stomach problems making him weak.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses [astheneiais], but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

In this case, weaknesses just means inadequacy, and probably not physical illness. The same is true of Hebrews 5:2 and 7:28. In Hebrews 11:34, the weakness of Samson refers to his relative weakness compared to the unusual physical strength he had when his hair was still long. Then his weakness was turned into strength just before he died. (See Judges 16:23-30)

"I put this in human terms because you are weak [astheneia] in your natural selves..." (Romans 6:19)

In this context, atheneia refers to the Romans' inability to understand spiritual things. (1 Corinthians 2:14) It has nothing to do with physical illness.

"I came to you in weakness [astheneia] and fear, and with much trembling." (1 Corinthians 2:3)

In this context, Paul does not appear to be talking about physical illness.

"It [the body] is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness [astheneia], it is raised in power." (1 Corinthians 15:43)

In this context, astheneia means our physical bodies have limitation and are subject to decay, old age, sickness, and death.


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