Sickness among Ministers in the New Testament
Many who deny divine healing to be part of the Atonement, have pointed out sickness among the
New Testament ministers as reason for their skepticism. As we look closer at the cases of sickness
among the early saints, may God who gives a sound mind dispel all doubt and unbelief.
Phil. 2: 25-27 “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in
labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you
all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh
unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”
Epaphroditus’ sickness was caused by overwork. Verse 30 says, “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh
unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me”. Helping Paul in the ministry,
Epaphroditus had been doing the work of many people single-handedly, not caring for his own health.
As a result, he was ill and that too for a short period. God in His mercy, restored his health.
I Tim. 5 : 23 “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.”
Paul was like a father to young Timothy. Paul’s letters to Timothy are full of personal advice to him and this verse
is Paul’s health advice to Timothy. Would we not tell many today to drink less of coffee or soft drinks? Does not
the excess of these beverages and drinks cause health disorders?
Would we not exhort others to drink fresh fruit juices and milk instead of fizzy
drinks? I know several people who simply do not drink more than a glass of water
a day but continue to work in humid conditions. Over a period of time this would
cause conditions of malnutrition and stomach disorders. A very common but
unknown problem today is that people get dehydrated without their knowledge!
Very soon they have frequent stomach disorders.
Timothy was a young man with huge responsibilities. His faith and love for
God made him an ideal co-runner with Paul in church work. Many who have the zeal
but not the stamina for arduous work can end up with stomach disorders that lead
to infirmity. Thus, Paul was simply giving a natural health tip to help him
overcome malnutrition and infirmities.
II Timothy 4: 20 “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.”
Trophimus may have been ill and unfit for the journey, when Paul set out on his journey, . But this does not mean
he remained sick. Sickness may come, but it need not overcome. Is it possible for Paul to have withheld divine
knowledge which would have helped Trophimus. Is it not possible for Trophimus to have recovered? Why do
we choose to think that Trophimus remained sick?
In all this, we need to remember that these early saints did not have the fully compiled written New Testament
as we do today. God’s provision of healing and health through Calvary is fully revealed in the New Testament
or the New Covenant. The saints of the NT days did not have the written word of God with which we are blessed.
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