Handkerchiefs, Aprons and Healing
The Bible tells us, “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11,12). This clause may also read, “handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick” (RSV). The Greek words for both “handkerchiefs” and “aprons” are transliterations from the Latin. The “handkerchiefs” (sudaria) were used to wipe sweat from the face; the “aprons” (semicinctia) were short aprons worn by artisans.
Here, the apostle Luke, who was also a physician, included these details to stress on the supernatural aspect of these healings. He wrote how sincere persons came to the apostle and used their personal items – the handkerchiefs or aprons – for their own healing through their faith.
It is clear that these items had no healing power whatsoever. They only served to aid faith. We have similar stories in the Bible where different objects were used to show faith. When the bleeding woman “heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well” (Mark 5:27, 28)
Also, Jesus used clay to heal a blind man: “When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay” (John 9:6). Jesus used clay to strengthen the blind man’s faith because the ancients believed that saliva contained some healing properties.
The Bible teaches that there are only two conditions required in supernatural acts of divine healing: divine power and faith. Material things that may bridge the gap between divine power and human faith are only modes for the exercise of the faith. But God did the work. The apostles were the instruments. But it was the faith of the sick that made them recipients of the actual healing. To the sick, Jesus affirmed, “your faith has made you whole” (Mark 5:34).
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In His service,