By His Wounds You Have Been Healed – 1 Peter 2:24

In 1 Peter 2:24, Peter alludes to Isaiah 53:5 when he declares that Christ’s death provides “healing.”  He is clearly referring to the death of Jesus on the cross (“he bore our sins on the tree”).  But Peter adjusts the wording of Isaiah 53 slightly. In both the Hebrew and Greek versions, the line reads “we are healed,” Peter has “you (plural) are healed.”  This may simply be a case of a pastor inserting his congregation into a text for rhetorical purposes.

On the other hand, it is not clear in Isaiah who the suffering servant benefits – who is the “we” in this verse?  A common first-century answer was “Israel.” The nation as a whole suffers in order to bring redemption to the world.   This could be an example of Peter re-using a text from the Hebrew Bible and applying it more specifically to the Church. It is not the nation of Israel who is healed by the death of the messiah, but rather the ones who follow Jesus.

The verb translated “healed” (ἰάομαι) can easily be misunderstood. While it is often used for physical healing, it is also used for being delivered from spiritual blindness. What is more, it is used in Isaiah 6:10 to describe what might happen if the people of Isaiah’s day turned their hearts to the Lord and really understood the message of the prophet – “they would be healed.” This text from Isaiah is used several times in the New Testament to describe the spiritual blindness of those who witnessed Jesus’ ministry. They were spiritually insensitive and therefore rejected the Suffering Servant when he revealed himself.

John 12:37-44 is a remarkable combination of Isaiah 6:10 and 53:1. This is John’s summary of the ministry of Jesus. No one heard the message of the Suffering Servant, so no one turned as was healed! Like John, Peter is saying that those who follow Christ are healed of their spiritual blindness in a way which separates them from those who heard the teaching of Jesus and failed to respond.

Isaiah 53 forms a foundation for Peter’s Christology, and probably for the Christology of the earliest apostolic preaching. Based on the suffering of Jesus Christ, his followers experience redemption.  But there is a pastoral application of Peter’s theology of salvation.  If Jesus suffered so intensely so that you can have salvation, then those who follow Jesus ought to suffer in the same way.  Look back a few verses:  1 Peter: 2:20 is an ethical statement about servants who are unjustly suffering at the  hands of their masters.

In fact, Peter’s point is that how you follow Jesus ought to be based on the way in which Jesus lived, suffered and died.  This is not some sort of sugary “WWJD” pep-talk.  Peter bases his ethical teachings on the suffering of Jesus, not his “good life” or other moral teachings.  It is remarkable that Peter does not say, “Love your neighbor the way Jesus loved his neighbors.” I am sure that is true and that Peter would agree with that sort of a statement.   But Peter says, “suffering in silence, the way Jesus suffered.”

My guess is that most people who wore the WWJD bracelets were not thinking about being silent while they were beaten unjustly for their commitment to their Lord and Savior.

14 thoughts on “By His Wounds You Have Been Healed – 1 Peter 2:24

  1. When I was reading through 1 Peter I was thinking that this would be a great book for every American church to study for a while. In my opinion, this book calls Christians to do the hard parts in living out one’s faith. I think all too often our church makes the Christian walk something that is a wake up and smile kind of day. In reality, we should wake up and smile for what Jesus did for us but sometimes life is rough. If we are living a sold out life Peter calls for then we will submit to God in every area of our life. One of those areas where I think our American church doesn’t submit very well in is when we face “persecution”. (I hesitate using that word because we don’t even come close to actually being persecuting but I think it gets the point across.) P. Long said that we should, “suffer in silence, the way Jesus suffered.” When the people in our country get persecuted we all just go crazy, argue with each other and maybe at some point get our own way. I think this is a big turn off to those who are looking at Christianity from a distance. They see us arguing inside our own denominations about stupid things when we aren’t even suffering. What if we had spirit of humility like Jesus? Jobes said, “If Christians are to live as servants of God, the essence of that identity is a willingness to suffer unjustly as Jesus did, exemplifying in suffering the same attitude and behavior he did” (309). 1 Peter 2:21 says that Christ left us an example to follow. If we are going to be serious about following Christ we too should look towards Him and act in the same way when we are “suffering”.

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  2. I love how Jobes brought the “WWJD” bracelets into the picture here. I specifically can remember wearing one as a kid. The concept in its basic entirety can have a positive impact towards a believer. However, there becomes a point in the walk of a follower of Christ, where that “doing what Jesus does” includes hardship and suffering which is rooted in persecution from unbelievers because of your acts of righteousness on behalf of Christ. Peter takes this point well and strong that persecution and trial are good when it is the result of following and obeying Christ. However, the concept that is missed with this “catch-phrase” is the idea of suffering in silence. P. Long mentions this at the end that Christ did not only suffer; he suffered in silence instead of standing up and justifying himself. That is where we receive (or should receive) the challenge and encouragement from Peter who enlightens this aspect of Christology more than any other New Testament book. There comes a point where we should not be so surprised when we face trials and suffer as a result, as that is a part of Christian life and should be accepted with a “dose of hope” that this will not only grow us spiritually, but the reward will be great in heaven as well.

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  3. Jesus Christ IS the ultimate example of servanthood and suffering. I wonder if he would have worn the WWJD bracelet. Now, many Charismatics and Pentecostals borrow the “by his stripes we are healed” scripture as a justification for modern day physical healing. I cannot recall how many times I have heard that scripture used when somebody was being prayed for. At one time I tried to tell people that it meant a spiritual healing (salvation) but that assessment was not well received. I do believe God still heals today but it is not done by taking scriptures out of context but, by faith and his divine prerogative. I know, short post but it is to the point.

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  4. The concept of suffering in silence brings up an interesting idea that I feel is commonly overlooked. When we suffer, it seems like we always have to tell someone about it, so they can know what we are going through, or so we can bring them down to our level. Rarely do we in this modern day think, “maybe I should just keep to this to myself, and not burden others with my problems.” Now that is a classic line for people who are struggling with things like depression, but that is a completely different area of issue. I’m not sure if I’m on the right track here but it seems that what Peter is talking about is almost like thinking…. “when I was walking home from school I saw this little kid getting beat up, so I ran over and tried to help out, he got away, but I got beat up pretty bad. When I got home I just told my parents it was nothing and didn’t worry about it.” Its been mentioned already, but 1 Peter 2:19-20 says “19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” I guess the big picture idea that this says to me is that if you suffer for no reason its ok, but don’t expect anything from anybody if you are punished for your own wrongdoing.

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  5. I believe far too often believers forget that they are supposed to be quiet, patient, and joyful in affliction and suffering. We are to suffer for standing up for what is right. In everything we do, we are to bring God glory. I think believers sometimes feel the need to draw attention to their suffering. This attention may mean they are trying to be relatable to others hurting or it may mean that they think they are better than others or that God is punishing them. The latter two reasons are not what God calls us to do. We are to be humble and patient. God works all things together for our good. We are to trust in God and His timing. We are to continually pray with thanksgiving. I think believers should spend more time praying quietly to God asking Him to reveal to them His plan and purpose.

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  6. I thought it very interesting that Jobes compared the WWJD bracelets to the message in 1 Peter. I have never thought of it in the way. Like most people, when I think of “What would Jesus do”, I think of Jesus’ compassion and love. i think of this when I am in situations that make be frustrated or impatient. Surprisingly, I never thought of this in times of suffering. I grew up learning to suffer as Christ has suffered. I always thought that this meant that I should suffer for Christ. I never actually thought of literally suffering like Christ suffered. I feel that many Christians today have this same problem. We hear of the sufferings of Christians all over the world. We tell our churches when we are going through hard times in hopes that they may pray for us or help us in some way. I don’t think that it is a bad thing to ask for prayer, however, I do believe that we make our suffering too big of a deal. I do believe that we should look at suffering in a new light. Suffering in silence is some what of a bad thing in today’s society. We shouldn’t sit around and suffer. We should stand up and fight. However, 1 Peter says the complete opposite. Christ suffered in silence. I believe that next time we ask ourselves “what would Jesus do?”, we should remember that HE suffered in silence and follow His example.

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  7. I agree with Sari and find it interesting that Jobes uses the “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets as a literal example. A lot of Christians either do not know or are still learning that we will suffer if we follow Christ. When they wear “WWJD” bracelets around their wrists, they do not think, okay, how am I going to suffer today? Just like P.Long said how it was Peter’s point that the way we should live is the way Jesus lived, suffered, and then died. Now, when it talks about Christ’s death provides “healing”, it is hard to remember that healing does not always mean physical healing. Peter was talking about “healing” in terms of not being able to know and understand Christ as our Savior. But, because Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose again, the ones who believe this is true is not “healed” from eternal death. I believe that Peter was talking to not only the Israelites, but as well as the people who believe in Christ Jesus as their personal Savior. And with knowing Christ as our personal Savior, we are not only healed by Christ, but we now suffer as he suffered to bring him Glory. “What Would Jesus Do”, what are we going to do for Christ who gave us life? That is why the “WWJD” bracelets are a great reminder.

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  8. I agree with most saying that I find it interesting how Jobes brings up the WWJD bracelet in the fact that maybe by wearing that bracelet, we really draw more attention to ourselves rather than to Jesus Christ like the bracelets intended motives. Those bracelets are made as a reminder to us to quite frankly live like Christ lived. But sometimes I feel like those bracelets draw attention to the person wearing the bracelet saying “hey, see my bracelet! I’m living like Christ!” Is that not the opposite of how we are to live as Christians, sometimes quietly? Regarding other comments though, the bible does say to build each other up, each other being the body of Christ, building each other up in love and encouraging each other. How do we then encourage each other if we are quiet? I think there is a fine line between boasting and needing encouragement for suffering. I think it is one thing to draw attention to yourself and your suffering, and another thing to ask for encouragement, or prayer because of your suffering. Where does the body of Christ come in if we all continue to suffer in this kind of silence? All in all, at the end of this post, I agree with Jobes in the sense that we do need to learn to suffer for Christ and in the silence if all we do is bring everything to be about ourselves and our suffering, making nothing about Christ. But we cannot be afraid to call in the body, even Jesus asked his disciples to pray for him.

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  9. It is interesting to think about how as believers, we have “accepted Christ’s suffering and death as salvation”, but to think that we also should be accepting our own suffering just as he did as well. Accepting it in the sense that we choose it over sin. We don’t try to manipulate when we suffer in life, we don’t try to retaliate when wronged or falsely accused. Jobes talks about how the readers of 1 Peter had been experiencing verbal persecution and mockery at the time. So the author encourages them to react as Jesus did to his own enemies who mocked and insulted him–in silence…Jobes states that “Just as it was God’s will that his Servant should suffer (Isa. 53:10), Peter writes that it is God’s will for Christians to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and choose to suffer rather than to sin (1 Peter 3:17).”

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  10. I agree to the statement that we are to stand up and suffer for what is right. I have worn a WWJD bracelet for a long time and if something or a challenge occurs I just remember that. I also think that it is a good idea that we stand firm in our belief also like what God did. I would think that we all do whats good and stand up for what we believe in.

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  11. What do you mean this verse is “spiritual healing only and not physical healing”?

    Isaiah 53:4 “Yet it was our sicknesses He carried; it was our diseases”.

    One could argue forever that this refers to the disease of sin and to use it in praying for healing of the sick is way out of context. Maybe…maybe not.

    Gee whizz, I wonder if the Lord doesn’t mind at all taking His Word out of context in good faith to pray for another.

    Do it…!!!

    Help the people…

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  12. Thanks for the comment Darren. The context of Isaiah 53 is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel to return Israel from her captivity in Babylon. This sickness and disease in the the context of Isaiah 53 is Israel’s longstanding covenant unfaithfulness (sin, idolatry, etc.), and the servant of the song will sacrifice himself in order to atone for that sin and allow Israel to finally return from the exile.

    Peter applies this Servant Song to Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to end the exile, only now it is not just Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness, but the sins of the whole world (the passage is used similarly in Acts 8).

    You can believe God heals you from your sickness (and I think he can and does heal people all the time), but that is not what Isaiah or Peter were talking about.

    By weakening the clear teaching of Scripture to fit your theological agenda, you run the risk of missing what the verses actually say – God has solved the real problem (sin) with the ultimate demonstration of love (Jesus).

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  13. Based upon Peter’s other exhortations in 1 Peter to submit to the government and to endure suffering, it is no surprise that he uses Isaiah 53 as a supplementing passage. By Jesus’ suffering people were healed. As a result, we are to follow Him even if it means death. Jobes wrote that Peter took special focus on quoting and slightly rewarding Isaiah’s writings pertaining to Christ being silent when hit with insults. (Jobes, Pg. 308) It can be human nature to respond quickly in retaliation due to our desire to protect our honor. However, Peter writes in chapter 2 that believers are to submit to the persecutors and to show them respect in order that they “see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (2:12) Not only is showing respect to those who do not deserve it hard, but even more so those who are seeking to kill you. This is the wonder behind Christ’s composure as He was crucified. Peter seems to encourage the readers to not give into sin when they are pressured to. They are to stand firm in their faith and love their persecutors.

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