Luke: Healing the Sick
Luke: Healing the Sick
Explore how the evidence of Luke’s medical knowledge and interest is sprinkled throughout his writing.
Buy the book
100 Stand Alone Bible Studies

Bible Passages

Colossians 4:14, KJV

Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

Luke 13:11–13, KJV

And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman,
thou art loosed from thine infirmity.

And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and
glorified God.

Luke 4:38–39 (compare Mark 1:30 and Matthew 8:14)

Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

Luke 8:43–44, KJV (compare Mark 5:25–29 and Matthew 9:20–22)

And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.


We know Luke was a doctor, because Paul says so in the greetings ending his letter to Colossae. This is the only direct mention of it, but evidence of Luke’s medical knowledge and interest is sprinkled throughout his writing. Our study passages contain only some of numerous examples. I have used the KJV here where particular words used are helpful in making this clear.

In the story of the woman who was bent double, the Greek word rendered
here as “infirmity” is astheneias, meaning “weakness” or “frailty”. Luke goes on to a more specific description, using the word sugkuptousa, a medical term, meaning curvature of the spine. When Jesus heals her, saying, “Thou art loosed,” this word “loosed” translates apolelusai, the ancient Greek medical term referring to relaxing tendons or tight skin, or removing bandages.

In the story about Peter’s mother-in-law, Luke’s account includes two medical terms we don’t see in Mark or Matthew. He describes her as “taken with a great fever” (sunechomene pureto megalo), a phrase we find in the works of Hippocrates and Galen and in other contemporary medical books, but only in Luke in the New Testament. From Galen we know that Greek physicians differentiated fevers as “high” (megas) or “slight” (mikros). Where Mark and Matthew use the generalized term, Luke is medically specific.

In the story of the woman with an issue of blood, we note a difference in
attitude to doctors between Mark and Luke! Mark notes that the woman had spent everything she had on medical care and instead of getting better had only got worse. Luke (characteristically kind and discreet – another doctor’s habit) describes the situation more gently, saying she had spent her living on doctors’ fees, but none of them had been able to heal her. He uses a precise medical term for the cessation of her bleeding, este, rightly given in the KJV as “stanched”.

Luke probably never met Jesus personally, but relied on information from
Mark’s Gospel and his own sources (it is thought that Mary the mother of Jesus was one source) to write his Gospel. The medical detail in his accounts reveals his physician’s discipline of careful questioning in taking a history.



O God our healer and our strength, you see us and know us. You understand our weakness and frailty; our vulnerability is never hidden from the kindness of your love. Where we are lost, please find us; where we are infirm or diseased, please heal us. Thank you for the compassion of your gaze, and for the touch of your love, which makes us whole. In Jesus’ holy name; Amen.