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Q: #570. How many times does Luke emphasize the amount of time that a person was sick, lame, or possessed?

     A: In preparing an expository study of Acts Chapter 9, I came across this verse in (Acts 9:33)(NKJV): “There he (Peter) found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.” For some reason, this led me to think of the “woman with the issue of blood” in the Gospel of Luke, who had struggled with that infirmity for “12 years.” Then, I wondered, “How many times did Luke emphasize the amount of time that a person was sick, lame, or possessed?” I also wondered if any of the other New Testament authors did this too. So, off I went to study this, and here are the results.

     It turns out that other than the “woman with the issue of blood,” which is also found in (Mt 9:20)(Mk 5:5), no other author did this in the New Testament except for John. Luke did this 6 times, twice as much as John who did it 2 (perhaps 3) times. Following is a list of these:

Time Period EmphasizedVerses Where Found
“A certain man…who had demons for a long time”(Lk 8:27 – NKJV) (Mt & Mk mention this, but not the time.)
“A woman having an issue of blood twelve years”(Lk 8:43)(Mt 9:20)(Mk 5:25)
“A woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years”(Lk 13:11)
“A certain man lame from his mother’s womb”(Acts 3:2)
“Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years”(Acts 9:33 – NKJV)
“A cripple from his mother’s womb”(Acts 14:8)
“A certain man… which had an infirmity thirty and eight years”(Jn 5:5)
“A man which was blind from his birth”(Jn 9:1)

***Note: (Jn 11:17) mentions that Lazarus had been in the grave for 4 days, but to me this doesn’t fit with our topic.

     So, why did Luke (and to a lesser extent John) put an emphasis on the “amount of time” that a person had been sick, lame, or possessed? I believe there are two primary reasons, both related:

1. To emphasize that because of the length of the infirmity (or possession), almost everyone would have known about the person, and the infirmity (or possession) they had. Therefore, when the healed person was later seen, almost everyone would have recognized that a miracle had been done.

2. Because the person had been sick or possessed for so long, most would have thought they were beyond hope. Therefore, when the person was healed after such a long time, it made the miracle even greater.

***Note: I also believe that the “attention to detail” and “precision” of Luke as a physician (Col 4:14) likely played a part in this.

Copyright: © Steve Shirley

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