Do We Have a Divine RIGHT to Health and Healing?
Do I believe God heals? Yes. The Bible is absolutely clear on God’s ability to heal and even gives instances where He healed persons who were sick with various illnesses and diseases. But I don’t have to appeal to the Bible as evidence only. My life is a testament of the healing power of God.
I was born 3-months premature. While spending an extensive amount of time in the NIC unit, the doctors had given my parents a pretty bleak diagnosis, stating that the odds were fairly high that I would have a disability or life-altering condition of some sort. Fast forward a bit and here I am 36 years later with a wife, a daughter, and two degrees, sitting in front of a computer screen typing this blog post in great health with no complications stemming from my premature birth, contrary to the professional opinion of those assigned to my care in 1977.
God can and does heal.
But the question on the table is this: do we as believers have a divine right to health and healing? According to the teachings of some pastors and preachers in certain sectors of Christianity, the answer to that question is in the affirmative. Many of them read and interpret such passages like 1 Peter 2:24 as proof positive for their convictions on this matter (of which I took issue with here in this previous post). Another text that is customarily used to support this “Divine Right To Health and Healing” belief is that of 3 John 2, which says, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (ESV) This is where I want to land and disembark our hermeneutical helicopter and explore the biblical grounds to see if in fact their claim is true. Don’t worry though. Our exploration won’t be long – we will hit three way points to be exact – because the truth of this passage is not hidden or buried but is instead readily accessible on the surface. You ready? Let’s go.
Way Point #1 – Genre
In reading the heading of 3 John in our English Bibles and its content, we discover that this particular book of the Bible is one of many New Testament epistles or letters. Hear John in his own words, “I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” (3 John 13-14, emphasis mine; ESV) This fact might seem elementary to point out, but you will see in a minute how crucial it is to a proper understanding of the focus verse of this blog post.
Way Point #2 – Greeting
Within this New Testament genre, it was typical for the writer to include a greeting at the beginning of his correspondence to whomever was his audience – which is what we find in 3 John 1-4. Who is John’s audience? On to our final way point.
Way Point #3 – Gaius
The person to whom John writes is named Gaius. It is obvious that John had a fatherly affection for him, as he pens, “The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.” (3 John 1; cf. also to verse 4)
The reason for briefly taking the time to journey to these way points was to set the context for our focus verse. We cannot arrive at a proper understanding of a passage of Scripture without first seeking to establish its proper context. 3 John 2 is part of a greeting that John extends to his beloved child in the Lord, Gaius, who, according to verse 3, is continuing to mature in relationship to God in Christ, His Gospel, and His Word (i.e., “walking in the truth”). When we consider all of this together, John’s intent in writing 3 John 2 becomes evident, and here it is: he was not writing to inform Gaius (or any other reader beyond him) of a divine right to health and healing given to all believers in which he [Gaius] could confidently put before God, obligating Him to comply, but rather to express his prayerful desire to God for Gaius’ well-being. This verse is about one man’s heartfelt entreaty to God for another. It has nothing to do with a “divinely sanctioned” entitlement before God.
So, if there is something that we can extrapolate from this verse it is that we should desire that all things go well with our brothers and sisters in the Lord and pray to that end; not seek to lay claim to some supposedly universal divine right to health and healing in this life, which by the way is nowhere to be found in the written statutes and declarations (i.e., the Bible) of our King.
By all means, feel free to request health and healing from our God. In many cases, as our loving Heavenly Father, He will oblige us for His glory. But we must keep in mind that in other instances, as our Sovereign God, He may choose to let the “thorn” of sickness remain for our growth, to keep us grounded, to create opportunities to share the Gospel, and/or to display His sustaining grace, all for His glory in Christ Jesus.