Because of the recent events in Lakeland, Florida, I was forced to rethink my position on Isaiah 53:5. You see, over the years, many of my brothers and sisters—especially among the Pentecostals—have turned to Isaiah 53:5 to claim physical healing in their lives.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5, TNIV, emphasis added)
Here’s the grind: before I could even read and formulate my own position on Isaiah 53:5, I was taught that “by his wounds we are healed” was all about spiritual healing, and not physical. And over the years biblical commenters have only reaffirmed that position. For example in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, we find this:
Ironically His wounds, inflicted by the soldiers’ scourging and which were followed by His death, are the means of healing believers’ spiritual wounds in salvation.” (p. 1108, emphasis added).
It is true that the Hebrew word behind “healed,” râphâ, could be taken either figuratively or literally. But when we find Peter—a New Testament writer—applying Isaiah 53:5 figuratively in reference to the death of Christ on the cross (1 Peter 2:24), we know exactly how the prophet Isaiah wished for us to understand “by his wounds we are healed.”
But this understanding of Isaiah 53:5 in no way denies physical healing in our lives today.