The key to understanding the 1 Peter passage is to look carefully at the context. Peter begins by stating how Jesus bore our sins in His body on the tree. He connects Jesus bearing our sins with Jesus’ body being nailed to the cross. Next, Peter tells us why this is so significant. He says this was so thatwe might “die to sin and live to righteousness.” So far, this says nothing about physical healing.
There are many prosperity preachers who teach that physical healing—in this life—is part of the atonement. For example, Kenneth Copeland states,
Sadly, many Christians have been falsely accusing God of being the cause of their troubles. They wrongly believe that trials and tribulations are God’s tools for developing and strengthening our character….
This is absolutely against the Word of God. Why? Because the very basic principle of the Christian life is to know that God put our sin, sickness, disease, sorrow, grief and poverty on Jesus at Calvary.For God to put any of this on us now to teach us or to strengthen our faith would be a miscarriage of justice. To believe that God has a purpose for sickness would mean that Jesus bore our sickness in vain.What an insult to His love, care and compassion for us!
According to Copeland, Jesus didn’t merely die for your sins. He also died for your sickness and poverty.
Word-Faith teacher Andrew Wommack agrees. He claims,
The Lord redeemed us from sickness just as much as He redeemed us from sin. He would no more want us to be sick than He would want us to sin. Those are radical statements to many Christians because we’ve been taught that forgiveness of sins is what salvation is all about. Well that’s certainly a vital part of salvation, but that’s not all that Jesus accomplished. We were also healed by His stripes. Sickness is not of God just as sin is not of God. Thank You, Jesus!
Those who believe it’s God’s will to always physically heal in this life are quick to quote 1 Peter 2:24–25. It says,
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Pet. 2:24–25)
No one disputes what this text says. What is under dispute is what this text means. What does it mean by “healed”? Does it refer to physical healing in this life, or does it refer to spiritual healing?
The word itself doesn’t help us since it is used in Scripture to mean both physically healed and spiritually healed. For example, Jesus tells His disciples,
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them. (Matthew 13:15)
Clearly, this passage is talking about spiritual healing—salvation—not physical healing. Yet, it’s the same Greek word used by Peter.
The key to understanding the 1 Peter passage is to look carefully at the context. Peter begins by stating how Jesus bore our sins in His body on the tree. He connects Jesus bearing our sins with Jesus’ body being nailed to the cross. Next, Peter tells us why this is so significant. He says this was so thatwe might “die to sin and live to righteousness.”
So far, this says nothing about physical healing. But let’s continue.
Notice how Peter interjects the quote from Isaiah to back up his claim. Most theologians believe Peter is quoting Isaiah 53:5.
But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
It’s as if Peter is saying, “This is what Isaiah was talking about all along. By His wounds, you have been healed.” The wounds are what Jesus experienced “in His body on the tree.” The healing is the benefit we receive—dying to sin and living to righteousness.