If the apostle Paul still had the power to heal why would he leave a friend and companion sick? In Philippians 2:27 Epaphroditus was sick to the point of death? Timothy was encouraged to use a little wine for his stomach and frequent ailments. (1Timothy 5:23)?
2 Timothy 4:20
ESV - 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.
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Why did Paul not heal Trophimus? Honestly, because the power to heal didn't originate from within Paul. It came from God, and God could and apparently did choose to slowly withdraw the gift of miraculous healing from the Early Church. It wasn't Paul's lack of compassion for his friend. As we move from Acts (the first transitional period of the Church, when the Church was in its infancy and even some Jewish rituals were still being performed) into the Epistle period, we begin to see that miraculous healings become less common. By the end of the Apostolic Period, Christian leaders writing in extra-biblical documents generally seem to believe that the time for most miracles like that had passed. By miraculous I mean healings that are instantaneous and clearly violate the laws of nature, such as healing a blind person or raising the dead. This type of healing was granted to the 12 Disciples (and apparently also Paul) as a sign that their message was from God. Apparently some church leaders may also have had this gift in the Early Church: healer was an office in the Early Church. It is NOT clear that even the Apostles healed absolutely everyone miraculously; the power from the healing still came from God himself. Yet as the Church matured and doctrine was established, God chose (and chooses today) to usually work by more low-key, providential means: medicine, prayer, surgery, doctors, and the body's natural healing ability. (Even laying on of hands may affect the body's natural electricity.) In NO WAY is this less God's work than the former. Like the blessing of rain, our technological progress is proof that God loves both the just and the unjust, although natural healing IS less sensational. Like all false doctrines, the idea that every Christian should be physically healed miraculously leads to serious emotional/spiritual consequences. Lies, even pious ones, are NOT innocent things. The false teaching of immediate physical healing for everyone leads many to judge others or to despair over their own "lack of faith." It causes some not to give their children needed medical attention, and the the World is outraged when the children die. Sometimes when a loved one dies or the individual himself is not healed, the person may become so disillusioned with God "not keeping His promises" that he leaves the faith entirely. God DOES heal, but it is ultimately according to His Will, not ours. (In the same way that God chose to release the Apostles from prison at times, yet ultimately allowed most of them to be martyred.) God is not like a trained dog who performs on command (which honestly some false prophets teach) NOR does He need a special stage with mood music, low lighting, training in Eastern mystical techniques, and careful voice cadence to induce a feeling of euphoria or a temporary "healing" of a headache or arthritis. Jesus' and the Apostles' miracles were often in the open and very concrete. The truth is that our Father has a plan for us, even in sickness or death. Many Christians' illnesses, disabilities, and even deaths have led to hymns, books, speeches, movies, and they have been a great witness to the world because they understood what it was to suffer and still trust God. Even Paul himself apparently suffered eye trouble as a way to keep him humble after being granted incredible revelations. In the interests of honestly, I will say there are some verses in the New Testament (James 5) that are very difficult to explain and seem to promise immediate healing to ANYONE who follows a certain ritual. Yet we know from experience that this passage does not always work the way some have promised, and it could be we're misinterpreting the wording or the context in which these instructions were given. So, in conclusion, Paul was not insensitive to his friend's needs. God may have simply had other plans.
Trophimus was not instantly healed because the plan of God was not to use him as a sign for unbelievers, but to strengthen the faith of Trophimus and the believers around him. There are many types of healing - emotional, physical, but most importantly spiritual (Ezek 34:4, Psalm 107:20, Psalm 34:17-20, Psalm 147:3, John 14:27, 1 Pet 2:24, etc). While we know God offers healing, it is not always in the way we personally expect. This is because physical healing is predominantly a sign and testimony to God's glory and veracity. It is also a blessing and a mercy. Emotional healing is important for unity in the church, and Spiritual healing is important for a right walk with God. Paul left Trophimus in Miletus when he was sick (II Tim 4:20), and Epaphroditus was sick to the point of death (Phil 2:27). Timothy was encouraged to use wine for his stomach ailments (1 Tim 5:23). God never removed Paul's thorn in the flesh (II Cor 12:1-10). Yet, Jesus, Paul, and the disciples healed the sick they came across (Matt 19:2, Luke 22:51, Luke 6:18, Mark 1:34, Matt 12:15, Matt 14:14, Acts 8:7, Mark 6:13, etc) From accounts given it seems that most of the sick trusted in Jesus' power to heal (even though many did not personally yet have faith in Jesus as Messiah). These healings were proof that Jesus was who He claimed to be. However, for believers, we already believe Jesus is who He claims, and we know that the physical is temporary in comparison to the eternal. Sometimes, the very physical trial we are going through and anxious to get out of is what will bring the emotional or spiritual healing we need. (1 Pet 5:10, Psalm 23:3, Psalm 34:19, Heb 12:1-3, etc). Physical trials, persecutions, and sufferings bring us closer to God, and are also a testimony to others. There are many times where God asks us neither to retreat or to advance, but merely to stand firm and let Him be our Dread Champion. Sometimes, we may not get physical healing in this life, but we know we will have complete restoration when God raises us to eternal life. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah told Nebuchadnezzar " “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” They were not lacking faith or doubting when they mentioned the possibility of God not saving them, rather they were exemplifying complete faith in God's sovereignty and power. It's not faith that "God's going to heal me and change my circumstances and make my life better" that God wants from us, but faith that God has the power and authority to heal. He wants us to trust in His eternal plan (Mark 14:32-36), even if it sometimes brings us sorrow to the point of death. Our circumstances, such as those of Paul or Trophimus or Epaphroditus, might not change on our own timetable [but that's ok!]. Faith in the power of God also places God in sovereign control, so that we know the results are for His glory. This is also a large reason there are more miraculous healings in third world countries and in areas hostile to the gospel than there are in America. When God has displayed ample evidence, further signs are not as necessary. At that point, people need to make a decision, not just crave signs (John 6:1-15 & John 6:25-59, Matt 26:4). God still heals (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) as He loves us and He is not going to keep from us what we need (Luke 11:11-13), and healings bring glory to God. However, it is not always physical healing that we need - sometimes it is repentance, sometimes the refined faith that comes through a physical trial, sometimes the stronger faith & community born in others when they see someone else enduring through a trial, etc.
Why didn’t Paul heal Trophimus? It was delightful reading the various answers. I especially liked Shanna Duck’s frank admission that some passages on healing are difficult to explain. They seem to promise instant healing, yet we know from experience it doesn’t always work that way. She suggests we may be misinterpreting the wording. Because Jesus had perfect faith, He healed ALL who asked for healing. The Apostles had little faith, but they healed ALMOST everyone. Jesus asked, “When I return, will I find ANY faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8) We say God heals if it’s His will. When it comes to salvation, the Bible tells us what His will is: “He is not willing that ANY should perish” (2 Pt 3:9; 1 Tm 2:4). But when it comes to health, we're not so sure. Where does sickness come from? Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy! Jesus came to give abundant life! (Jn 10:10). He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8). It’s the Lord’s WILL for you to have faith – without which it’s impossible to please God (He 11:6). If you have faith, you can ask for anything, and He will do it. This brings glory to the Father (Mk 11:24). We come up with many scriptural excuses for not having faith, i.e. pointing out Bible characters who lacked faith; apostles who couldn’t heal everyone, etc. Why couldn’t they? Not because it wasn’t God’s will, but “because of their unbelief” (Mt. 17:20). Why couldn’t Peter walk on water? Not because it wasn’t the Lord’s will (He had told him to “come”), but rather “Oh you of little faith; why did you doubt?” (Mt 14:31). Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23). We don’t need to second guess what God’s will is; exercising faith is His WILL. It’s as simple as that! “But that’s impractical!” Jesus never said, “Be practical.” He said, “Have faith in God” (Mk 11:22). That’s really being practical. Having faith is a MUST. How? By HEARING the Word of God (Rom 10:17). By reading, studying, meditating and praying the Word of God. Some say that miraculous healings ceased with the apostles, or shortly thereafter. That is historically incorrect. The ministries of Charles Wesley, Charles Finney, Dwight Moody, and A. B. Simpson were showered with healings, as were those of Aimee Simple McPherson, Kathryn Kuhlman, and more recently, Oral Roberts, Reinhard Bonnke, Daniel Kolenda and Peter Gammons. These last three have open air meeting with literally millions in attendance. Peter Gammons (PGMI) last month held a crusade in Asia in which over one million souls came to Christ in a single meeting! What attracts the crowds? Miracle healings! Thousands of Muslims are coming to Christ! What convinces them? Doctrinal dissertations? No. Miracles! Buddhists, Animists, Shintoists, and even American atheists are finding the Lord! Why? Miracles! Those who deny the miracle-working power of God today are either uninformed, or have their heads in the sand. I prefer to think they’re unaware, but with the internet, that seems unlikely. Others may admit that miracles are indeed taking place, but they’re not from God. “The devil comes as an angel of light,” they quote. Even Jesus’ disciples may have thought that way when they tried to stop someone casting out demons in the name of the Lord. But Jesus rebuked them: “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is for us” (Lk 9:50). What if some of these present-day evangelists happen to be true servants of the King? Attributing the work of God to the devil is standing on mighty dangerous ground. Jesus said that the Pharisees, who accused Him of working in cahoots with Beelzebub, were blaspheming the Holy Spirit, which is an unforgivable sin (Mt 12:31-32). Because you don’t personally agree with them in every doctrinal point is no basis for judging truth. That’s the Holy Spirit's job! My wife was instantaneously healed of a severe asthma condition when a group of believers prayed for her. She didn't even know they were praying.
This is a big contention in Christianity. Many Christians are in one of three places 1. They don't believe God heals today because of what they have heard from others or have had no teaching on healing 2. They believe it sometimes like when it happens otherwise because they have too much pride to say "I just don't know why but this is what the Word says" and say it must not be Gods will. 3. These are the people who believe healing is for today and that it is Gods will to heal everyone all the time. No matter what they see they still choose to walk by faith in what Gods word says. If we are going to believe the bible then we need to believe all of it and if we don't understand what it says then we should just say we don't understand and not decide what is Gods will or not. Let's take salvation for example, God can save anyone and when we get saved even though we are not in heaven by faith we patiently wait for that day. How is that any different than patiently waiting for healing. It is not, it is still done by faith. Lets look and the word saved in the Greek NT:4982NT:4982 sozo (sode'-zo); from a primary sos (contraction for obsolete saoz, "safe"); to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): KJV - heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. Now let's look at what scripture says about our healing Isa 53:4-5 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. NIV 1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. NIV Matt 8:17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." NIV Mark 16:17-18 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." NIV So lets talk about these. In Isaiah He is speaking about the future (Jesus to come) and He uses the present tense. In Matthew and I Peter He uses the past tense of healing. What this says to me is that it is already done. No matter what I believe Mark 16 does not refer to believers but to those who believe in healing not to mention to say anything contrary to this you would be calling Jesus a liar. Which many people have done. Just because Paul left and we did not see his manifested healing does not mean that he was not healed it just means he was sick when Paul left him. Since I Peter 2:24 says he was healed, and Paul being the man of faith that he was (opinion) he left him knowing the manifestation of Gods healing was yet to come. Paul loves his friend and mentions him in scripture and for some reason unknown to us God Himself has chosen to make account of this in scripture as well. Let's promote the Kingdom, if you don't believe in healing then keep it to yourself so that perhaps someone else may experience it. If you think that it may not be Gods will then keep it to yourself, how would you feel if you were sick and someone told you that? My thought is I would rather go out believing than just wondering. Then again I choose to follow the word in faith and be a victor not a victim in spite of what I see. IE It is a fact that my knees hurt, the truth is by His stripes I was healed. Fact, you are a sinner and sin, truth whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved Follow after truth it always trumps fact.
The reason Paul left Trophimus at Miletus is because Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem before Pentecost. (Acts 20:15,16) But later Trophimus joined Paul at Jerusalem. (Acts 21:29)
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