I want to talk about the verses in Isaiah 53 and 1 Peter 2, where it says “by His stripes we are healed.” Many Christians believe that physical healing is part of the atonement that we experience in this life. They claim it in their prayers for the healing of others. However, it’s a misunderstanding of Scripture to interpret it that way. I don’t want Christians believing something about the atonement of Christ that is untrue. It’s a matter of basic Christian doctrine. This “healing” is spiritual healing, not physical. We don’t experience bodies without sickness and disease until we’re resurrected in our new bodies. Also, if the atonement provides us with physical healing in this life, then we would never get sick in the first place. Because, just as the atonement provides us with forgiveness of sins in this life, then so would physical healing be experienced in this life, where we never get sick again. But obviously, we do still get sick.
Yes, it’s true, in the resurrection we’re given a perfect body, which will never again experience any kind of sickness or disease or pain of any kind. That’s revealed in Revelation 21:1-4. So yes, the atonement ultimately provides for this, because sin is the cause of our sicknesses and diseases. However, we don’t experience this until we’re resurrected into our eternal state of the “new heaven and new earth” of Revelation 21 & 22. Positionally, in Christ, we are without sin and have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3). That’s also true of our perfect bodies. But we don’t experience sinlessness and perfect bodies until the resurrection. In this life, we’re born-again and have been forgiven of our sins, but we still sin and we still get sick and die.
Nowhere in the Bible is it taught that we are sinless. Likewise, nowhere in the Bible is it taught that we are without sickness and disease, or that we’re always healed of our sicknesses and diseases. This is obvious. We see this all the time among Christians. If the phrase “by His stripes we are healed” refers to the promise of physical healing in this life, we would all now be healed of all our sicknesses and diseases and every other physical problem, where it would never even occur. But quite obviously, such is not the case. Our sinless and perfect bodies await our resurrection. However, lest there be misunderstanding, this doesn’t mean that the Bible doesn’t teach miracles or healing. It does! We can still rely on the Lord for miracles and healing. But it’s all according to God’s sovereign will, as He sees fit.
Below I’ve provided all of Isaiah 53 and 1 Peter 2:19-25. Please note that the bold print is provided by me. The bold print provides the proper context for interpreting our phrase of discussion. Context is everything. Sin is the problem, and sin is the reason Jesus went to the cross. It’s our sins that separate us from God, not our sicknesses and diseases. Those things are merely a by-product or the result of our sins. When Adam and Eve sinned, their bodies began to die. It was at that point that sin entered the human race and we became susceptible to sickness and disease and all other physical afflictions. While we’re forgiven of our sins in this life, we will not be delivered from our sins or from physical sickness and bodily afflictions until the resurrection, when we’re finally out of this body of sin. Jesus didn’t die for perfect bodies. He died for our sins, which provide us with perfect resurrected bodies. Sin is the cause of sickness and disease. The two are not on a par. One is the cause, the other is the result. The benefits are partially enjoyed in this life. But both will be fully experienced in the next life.
I consulted numerous Commentaries dealing with these passages, including many Greek commentaries, and not one of them interpreted the phrase “by His stripes we are healed,” as referring to physical healing in this life. Every one of them applied it to spiritual healing. Greek definitions are important, but Greek words are only properly understood in the context in which they’re used. Greek words are no different than words in any other language, including English. Understanding the context in which words are used in any language is necessary. Knowing the meaning of Greek words are only properly understood in the context in which they’re used. Heinrich Meyer was a Greek scholar and is someone I consult with regularly when studying a passage and writing commentary on a particular passage. He’s the most thorough of any Greek scholar that I’ve been able to find. I’ve provided his commentary after the Scriptures. Pay particular attention to the bold print provided by me.
1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.
1 Peter 2:19-25
19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Heinrich Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
1 Peter 2:24
1 Peter 2:24. A further expansion of the ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, 1 Peter 2:21.
ὃς τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν αὐτὸς ἀνήνεγκεν κ. τ. λ.] “Who Himself bore our sins on His body to the tree.”
ὅς, the third relative clause; though a climax too, cannot fail to be recognised here: He suffered innocently,—patiently (not requiting evil for evil),—vicariously, for us, still it must not be asserted that this third clause predicates anything of Christ in which He can be an example for us (Hofmann); the thought here expressed itself contradicts this assertion.
The phraseology of this verse arose from a reference to the passage in Isaiah 53, and the actual fulfilment of the prophecy herein contained. The words of that chapter which were chiefly present to the mind of the apostle, are those of 1 Peter 2:12, LXX. καί αὐτὸς ἁμαρτίας πολλῶν ἀνήνεγκε ( נָשָׂא); cf. also 1 Peter 2:11 : καὶ τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν αὐτὸς ἀνοίσει, ( יִסְבֹּל) and 1 Peter 2:4 : οὗτος τ. ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν φέρει ( נָשָׂא). The Hebrew נָשָׂא with the accus. of the idea of sin, therefore: “to bear sin,” is equivalent to, “to suffer the punishment for sin,” either one’s own or that of another. Now, as ἀνήνεγκε is in the above-quoted passage a translation of נָשָׂא, its meaning is: “He suffered the punishment for the sins of many.”(156)
This suffering of punishment is, in the case of the Servant of God, of such a nature that by it those whose the sin is, and for whom He endures the punishment, become free from that punishment; it is therefore a vicarious suffering.(157) Since, then, Peter plainly had this passage in his mind, the thought here expressed can be no other than this: that Christ in our stead has suffered the punishment we have merited through our sins, and so has borne our sins. But with this the subsequent ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον, which means not “on the tree,” but “on to the tree” does not seem to harmonize. Consequently it has been proposed to take ἀναφέρειν in the sense which it has in the phrase: ἀναφέρειν τι ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον (cf. James 2:21; Leviticus 14:20; 2 Chronicles 35:16; Baruch 1:10; 1 Maccabees 4:53); cf. 1 Peter 2:5; where τὸ ξύλον would be conceived as the altar (Gerhard: Crux Christi fuit sublime illud altare, in quod Christus se ipsum in sacrificium oblaturus ascendit, sicut V. Testamenti sacrificia altari imponebantur). But against this interpretation, besides the fact that ἀναφέρ. is thus here taken in a sense different from that which it has in Isaiah 53, there are the following objections: (1) That in no other passage of the N. T. is the cross of Christ represented as the altar on which He is offered;(158) (2) That neither in the O. T. nor in the N. T. is sin anywhere spoken of as the offering which is brought up to the altar.(159) ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον might be explained by assuming a pregnant construction, as in the Versio Syr., which runs: bajulavit omnia peccata nostra eaque sustulit in corpore suo ad crucem,(160) that is: “bearing our sins He ascended the cross” But the assumption of such a construction is not necessary, since ἀναφέρειν can quite well be taken to mean “carrying up,” without depriving the word of the signification which it has in the passage in Isaiah, since “carrying up “implies “carrying.” In no other way did Christ bear our sins up on to the cross than by suffering the punishment for our sins in the crucifixion, and thereby delivering us from the punishment. The apostle lays special stress on the idea of substitution here contained, by the addition of αὐτός, which, as in Isaiah 53:11, stands by way of emphasis next to ἡ΄ῶν; but by ἐν τῷ σώ΄ατι αὐτοῦ—not “in,”(161) but “on His body”—we are reminded that His body it was on which the punishment was accomplished, inasmuch as it was nailed to the cross and died thereon. It is quite possible that this adjunct, as Wiesinger assumes, is meant at the same time to serve the purpose of expressing the greatness of that love which moved Christ to give His body to the death for our sins; but that there is in it any special reference to the sacramental words of the Lord (Weiss, p. 273), is a conjecture which has nothing to support it. The addition of ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον is explained by the fact itself, since it is precisely Christ’s death on the cross that has redeemed us from the guilt and power of our sins. Peter also uses the expression τὸ ξύλον to denote the cross, in his sermons, Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39. It had its origin in the Old Testament phraseology, עֵץ, rendered ξύλον by LXX., denoting the pole on which the bodies of executed criminals were sometimes suspended; cf. Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Joshua 10:26. Certainly in this way attention is drawn to the shame of the punishment which Christ suffered; but it is at least doubtful, since there is no reference to it in any way, whether Peter, like Paul, in Galatians 3:13, used the expression with regard to the curse pronounced in Deuteronomy 21:22 (as Weiss, p. 267, emphatically denies, and Schott as emphatically asserts). Bengel is entirely mistaken in thinking, that by the adjunct ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον the apostle alludes to the punishment of slaves (ligno, cruce, furca plecti soliti erant servi).
REMARK 1. The interpretation of many of the commentators is wanting in the necessary precision, inasmuch as the two senses, which ἀναφέρειν has in the different phrases: ἀναφέρειν τὰς ἁμαρτίας and ἀναφέρειν τι ἐπὶ τ. θυσιαστήριον, are mixed Up with each other. Vitringa (Vix uno verbo ἔμφασις; vocis ἀναδέρειν exprimi potest. Nota ferre et offere. Primo dicere voluit Petrus, Christum portasse peccata nostra, in quantum illa ipsi erant imposita. Secundo ita tulisse peccata nostra, ut ea secum obtulerit in altari), while drawing, indeed, a distinction between the two meanings, thinks that Peter had both of them in his mind, which of course is impossible.
Hofmann explains ἀναφέρειν … ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον on the analogy of the phrase: ἀναφέρειν τι ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον, without, however, understanding the cross as the altar; the meaning then would be: “He lifted up His body on to the cross, thereby bearing up thither our sins, that is to say, atoning for our sins.” Although Hofmann admits that Peter had in his mind the passage in Isaiah, he nevertheless denies that ἀνήνεγκε has here the same meaning as there. In his Schriftbeweis, 1st ed., he gives a similar interpretation, only that there he says: “He took up our sins with Him, and so took them away from us.” He, however, justly adds that ἀναφέρειν has the same meaning here as in Hebrews 9:28. Wiesinger has adopted this interpretation, as also, in substance, Delitzsch, Hebraerbrief, p. 442 f. In the 2d edition of the Schriftbeweis, Hofmann has withdrawn this explanation; but, on the other hand, he erroneously asserts that ἀναφέρειν here is “the ἀναφέρειν of Hebrews 7:27.”
Schott justly combats Hofmann’s view, that the sufferings of Christ for our sins consisted essentially only in what befell Him as the result of our sins, and maintains, in opposition to it, the substitution of Christ. His own interpretation, however, of our passage is equally inadmissible, since he attributes to ἀναφέρειν the meaning: “to bring up or present in offering;” yet adding to the idea of “offering” an object other than ἁμαρτίας which stands with ἀνήνεγκεν, thus giving to the one word two quite different references. Schott makes σῶμα χριστοῦ the object of “offering,” taking it out of the supplementary clause: ἐν τῷ σώματι αὐτοῦ; but this he is the less justified in doing, that he explains these words by “in His earthly corporeal life.”
This is not the place to enter fully into Schott’s conception of the propitiation wrought by Christ’s death on the cross. Though it contains many points worthy of notice, it is of much too artificial a nature, ever to be considered a just representation of the views of the apostle.
Luthardt interprets: “He bore His body away from the earth up to God. No doubt it was not an altar to which Christ brought His body up; but the peculiarity lies precisely in this, that His body should at the same time hang on the accursed tree.” “Away from the earth to God” is evidently an addition; and had Peter wished to emphasize the cross as the accursed tree, he would have added τῆς καταρᾶς.(162)
This interpretation agrees substantially with that given by de Wette-Brückner and Weiss; yet de Wette’s reference to Colossians 2:14 is inappropriate, inasmuch as that passage has a character entirely different, both in thought and expression, from the one here under consideration. Weiss is wanting in accuracy when he says that “Christ ascended the cross, and there bore the punishment of our sins,” since already in the sufferings which preceded the crucifixion, the bearing of our sins took place.
Nor can it be conceded to these commentators that the idea of sacrifice was absent from the conception of the apostle. Its existence is erroneously disputed also in Isaiah 53, in spite of the אָשָׁמ, 1 Peter 2:10. No doubt prominence is given, in the first instance, to the idea of substitution; but Weiss ought not to have denied that this thought is connected in the mind of the prophet, as in that of the apostle, with the idea of sacrifice, especially as he himself says that the idea of substitution is that upon which the sin-offering is based, Leviticus 17:11. And was there any other substitutionary bearing of sin than in the sacrifice? It must not, however, be concluded that each word in the expression, and especially ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον, must have a particular reference to the idea of sacrifice.
ἵνα ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ἀπογενόμενοι] Oecumenius: ἀπογενόμενοι· ἀντὶ τοῦ, ἀποθαυόντες; cf. Romans 6:2; Romans 6:11 (Galatians 2:19). Bengel’s rendering: γίνεσθαι τινός fieri alicujus dicitur servus, ἀπὸ dicit sejunctionem; Germ. “to become without,” which Weiss (p. 284) supports, is inappropriate here, since ἀπογίγνεσθαι in this sense is construed with the genitive. For the dative, see Winer, p. 398 [E. T. 532]. ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις corresponds to the foregoing τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν. The use of the aor. part, shows that the being dead unto sin is the condition into which we are introduced by the fact that Christ τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν αὐτὸς ἀνήνεγκεν κ. τ. λ. The actions of the Christians should correspond with this condition; this the apostle expresses by ἵνα … τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ ζήσωμεν; cf. Romans 6.
δικαιοσύνη means here not: justification or righteousness, as a condition of him whose sins are forgiven, but it is the opposite of ἁμαρτία: righteousness which consists in obedience towards God and in the fulfilling of His will. The clause, introduced here by the final particle ἵνα (as in 1 Peter 1:18), does not give the primary aim of Christ’s substitutionary death: that, namely, of reconciliation, but further the design: that of making free from the power of sin. Weiss (p. 285) is wrong in thinking that Peter “did not here conceive the redemption as already completed in principle by the blood of Christ,” but “accomplished in a purely physiological way, by the impression produced by the preaching of His death and the incitement to imitation which(163) it gave.” Thus Pfleiderer also. The refutation of this is to be found in what follows.
οὗ τῷ μώλωπι [ αὐτοῦ] ἰάθητε] Isaiah 53:5, LXX.; return to the direct form of address: μώλωψ is, properly speaking, marks left by scourging (Sirach 28:17, πληγὴ μάστιγος ποιεῖ μώλωπας); therefore, taken strictly, the expression has reference to the flagellation of Christ only; but here it stands as a pars pro toto (Steiger) to denote the whole of Christ’s sufferings, of which His death was the culminating point.
By ἰάθητε the apostle declares that, through the suffering of Christ (of course by the instrumentality of faith), the Christians are translated from the sickness of a sinful nature into the health of a life of righteousness.