Philippians 2:25—If Paul had the gift of healing, why couldn’t he heal his coworker, Epaphroditus?
Problem: In the Book of Acts, Paul healed the sick and even raised the dead (Acts 20:9–10). On one occasion he even healed everyone in an entire city (Acts 28:9). But here, he apparently could not even heal a needed coworker.
Solution: There are two possible responses to this.
Some believe that possessing the gift of healing did not guarantee that one could always heal everyone. On one occasion the disciples could not heal a demon-possessed young man (Matt. 17:16). They insist that the gift of healing did not make a person 100 percent successful, any more than the gift of teaching made one infallible.
Others insist that the gift of healing was always successful, noting that Jesus healed the young man (in Matt. 17) and rebuked the disciples for not exercising their God-given power to do it (vv. 17–18). They claim that the gift of healing was 100 percent successful, just as no one with the gift of prophecy ever uttered a false prophecy with it. For a false prophecy was a proof that someone was not exercising the gift of prophecy (cf. Deut. 18:22).
The reason Epaphroditus was not healed is not stated in the text. But neither does it say Paul attempted to heal him and failed. Since no exercise of the gift of healing is recorded past about ?._. 61 (Acts 28:8), it may be that the special apostolic gift of healing (cf. 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4) had passed away by this time. It is not listed in the much briefer list of gifts in Ephesians 4 (ca. a.d. 60), as it was earlier in 1 Cor. 12:30.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.