Jesus Rebukes Fever Attacking Peter’s Mother-in-Law

Passages: Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:30-31; Luke 4:38-39. We also look at Matthew 816-17, which says that the Messiah fulfills Isaiah 53:4, which further clarifies that he took our diseases and carried our sicknesses.

Before the healing incident, Jesus had taught the people in the synagogue service, according to Mark’s and Luke’s versions. He had expelled a demon, right in the middle of the synagogue. Peter, James, John (James and John were brothers), and Andrew (Peter and Andrew were brothers) and Jesus left the synagogue service. When they got to Peter’s house, his mother-in-law was sick with a fever. It never ends in his ministry!

The translations are mine, but if you would like to see many other translations, please go to I include the Greek text to bring out the nuances, but readers may scroll past it, if they wish.

Let’s begin.

Jesus Rebukes Fever in Peter’s Mother-in-Law

Matthew 8:14-15

Mark 1:30-31

Luke 4:38-39

14 When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law laid up and having a fever. 15 Then he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. 29 Afterwards, leaving the synagogue, they went into Simon and Andrew’s house, with James and John. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was laid up with a fever, and then they spoke to him about her. 31 He came up to her and raised her up, taking hold of her hand. The fever left her, and she was serving them. 38 Leaving the synagogue, he entered Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. 39 He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.
14 Καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Πέτρου εἶδεν τὴν πενθερὰν αὐτοῦ βεβλημένην καὶ πυρέσσουσαν· 15 καὶ ἥψατο τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῆς, καὶ ἀφῆκεν αὐτὴν ὁ πυρετός, καὶ ἠγέρθη καὶ διηκόνει αὐτῷ. 29 Καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆς ἐξελθόντες ἦλθον εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Σίμωνος καὶ Ἀνδρέου μετὰ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωάννου. 30 ἡ δὲ πενθερὰ Σίμωνος κατέκειτο πυρέσσουσα, καὶ εὐθὺς λέγουσιν αὐτῷ περὶ αὐτῆς. 31 καὶ προσελθὼν ἤγειρεν αὐτὴν κρατήσας τῆς χειρός· καὶ ἀφῆκεν αὐτὴν ὁ πυρετός, καὶ διηκόνει αὐτοῖς. 38 Ἀναστὰς δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς συναγωγῆς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Σίμωνος. πενθερὰ δὲ τοῦ Σίμωνος ἦν συνεχομένη πυρετῷ μεγάλῳ καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτὸν περὶ αὐτῆς. 39 καὶ ἐπιστὰς ἐπάνω αὐτῆς ἐπετίμησεν τῷ πυρετῷ καὶ ἀφῆκεν αὐτήν· παραχρῆμα δὲ ἀναστᾶσα διηκόνει αὐτοῖς.


Evidently, Jesus, along with Peter, Andrew, James and John, left the synagogue and walked over to Peter’s and Andrew’s house. That must have been a silent walk, after they saw a demon manifest and expelled. They too must have been astonished, since they were new to all of it.

In Mark’s Gospel, “taking hold of” could probably be translated as “gripping,” for the verb is very strong. I get the impression that he raised her up with his hand. And one can only lift a person with a strong grip.

Jesus again touched the sick person. Luke says Jesus rebuked the fever. Merely touching or rebuking or doing both resulted in healing. The healing was instant. Sometimes you just have to touch the sick person in a discreet way. One thing no one should do is push the forehead back, so the person feels pressure to fall. I have seen this foolishness over and over again. This appears manipulative and fake. It is wrong. Let the power of God fall, sovereignly (1 Kings 8:10-11).

“left”: it is the verb meaning to “release” or “let go.” As he took hold of or gripped her hand, the fever loosed its grip on her, so to speak.

In Luke’s Gospel:

“suffering”: the verb is sunechō (pronounced soon-ekh-oh), and it can mean “close by holding, stop” (Acts 7:57); “press hard, crowd” (Luke 8:45; 19:43); “hold in custody” (Luke 22:63); passive voice: “be tormented by, suffering from” (Matt. 4:24; Luke 4:38; Acts 28:8); “be distressed, be hard, pressed” (Luke 12:50; Phil. 1:23); passive voice: “be occupied with, be absorbed in” (Acts 18:5); “urge on, impel, or hold within bounds, control” (2 Cor. 5:14; Acts 18:5). Those are the only verses where this verb appears, and Luke uses this verb more often than the other NT authors.

“high fever”: it literally reads “great fever,” but in English it is best to go with “high fever.” Whatever the case, Peter’s mother-in-law was suffering from this fever.

“they asked him about her”: We have to supply the idea, “They asked him to help her.” Who were they? Either Peter and his wife, or the disciples? The Gospel of Mark says Peter, James, John and Andrew (Peter’s brother) were there. All of the above asked him. Luke shows Jesus calling Peter with a miraculous catch of fish n the next chapter, so this is a prolepsis or foreshadowing of Peter’s calling. Luke is an inspired author, and he is allowed, by the Spirit, to reshape and sequence his story as he sees fit. Or perhaps Peter was not paying attention when his mother-in-law was healed.

It is unclear why Jesus stood over her, so it may not have a method behind it. It’s just the way the house was constructed and where she was lying. But I can’t escape the feeling that it may indicate his authority over diseases, but let’s not overwork simple words. And sure enough, the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark say that Jesus touched her hand (Matthew) or took her by the hand and lifted her up (Mark). So Jesus had to be near her and stand over her to touch her. “The Jesus touch” transfers power and shows his identity with and love for the sick.

“rebuked”: the verb is epitimaō. Sometimes you simply have to rebuke a disease. Was it a spirit? No, and not even the parallel passages say it was a spirit. The whole point of the verb is authority has to be used even for diseases. This is another example of releasing a captive, announced in Luke 4:18.

“began to serve”: the phrase comes from the one verb diakoneō (pronounced dee-ah-koh-neh-oh); some translations have “waited on.” She probably served them food and drinks. We should not see the verb here indicating a formal office, even though we get the word deacon from the related Greek noun. “began” is added from the form of the verb, but the word itself does not appear in this verse.

Application for Ministry Today

We can learn how to “do the stuff” when we follow the resurrected and ascended Jesus and what he did while he was ministering on earth. Today I take great comfort to learn that he still heals today, from his ascended status (Acts 3:12-16). In this section, I number the points for clarity and order.

1.. The people in Peter’s house asked him about Peter’s mother-in-law.  It was clear that she was suffering from a high fever. People have to let you know they have a problem. Then they request prayer.

2.. Jesus stood over her. It is not clear why Luke includes this clause, unless it is just his way of saying that Jesus was not afraid of contagion. He had to get close to her in order to do what he was about to do.

3.. He took her hand and lifted her out of bed. There were witnesses around, so evidently, it was appropriate for him to touch her. In general, with all the scandals hitting the churches nowadays, a man should never pray for a woman alone, particularly in an intimate stetting when a woman is sick in bed. No doubt other women–certainly the mother’s daughter, Peter’s wife, was right there and perhaps other women as well.

4.. Sometimes those who minister healing have to ask the sick person to do something, like getting up. But once again, they must listen to the Spirit. Don’t make someone do something if the Spirit checks your own plan.

5.. Yes, those with a healing ministry can rebuke a sickness. We can also pray to the Father for him to send his gifts of healings through the Spirit in Jesus’s name (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Here is where it is important to live life in the Spirit, so those who minister healing can listen to the leading of the Spirit, to ensure that the sick and demonized find their answer.

6. It is not shown above, but Jesus continues his healing and deliverance ministry after sundown, when the Sabbath ended. Here are the verses, without the Greek this time:

Jesus Heals and Delivers Many People in Capernaum

Matthew 8:16-17

Mark 1:32-34

Luke 4:40-41

16 When evening came, they brought to him many demonized people, and he expelled the spirits with a word, and he healed all those having sicknesses, 17 so that the word spoken through the prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled:

He took our diseases,
And he carried our sicknesses [Is. 53:4]

32 As evening came, when the sun was set, they were bringing to him everyone having illnesses and who were demonized. 33 Now the whole town was gathered at the door. 34 He healed many having illnesses and various diseases and expelled many demons and did not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 40 As the sun was going down, everyone who had those weakened with various diseases brought them to him. Placing his hands on each one of them, he was healing them. 41 Also, demons came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Son of God!” Rebuking them, he would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.

Matthew connects Jesus’s healing ministry with the promise in Isaiah that healing will be part of the Messiah’s life and ministry. He took their diseases and carried their sicknesses. I see no reason why this ministry would stop while he hung on the cross. The healing promise in Isaiah 53:4 is therefore in the atonement. But guaranteeing healing of everyone is not possible for us puny humans. We now live in community after the cross, and the Spirit distributes the nine gifts, including the gifts of healings, as he wills, not was we will. Therefore, though healing is in the atonement, the application of Isaiah 53:4 is therefore up to the Father through the Spirit distributing healing as he determines (not as we decree and declare). (See point no. 9.)

7.. I like that Jesus placed his hands on each one of them. Ministers of healing today should also do this, but only when witnesses are around, so no false accusations of inappropriate touching can be leveled at the minister. In any case, laying on of hands is perfectly biblical.

8.. It is amazing to me that Jesus took the time and energy to pray for many people in the town, which had as many as a few thousand inhabitants. Plus, they came from outside the town. He did all this into the night. May the Lord grant those with the gifts of healings the same stamina and heart to pray as he did.

9.. As I write in all the healing posts:

Let it be noted that Jesus never went in for “decree and declare.” (Name one time he used such verbiage during his prayer for the sick. Nor did the disciples use those formulaic words in Acts).

Instead, God the Father through his Son who was anointed by the Spirit performed miracles of healing. Jesus clarified that he does only what he sees his Father doing (John 5:19). He lives because of the Father (John 6:57). He speaks only what the Father taught him (John 8:28). He does what he sees the Father do (John 10:37).  What Jesus says is just what the Father told him to say (John 12:49-50, 57). Perhaps the most important verse about miracles: “Many good works I have shown you from My Father” (John 10:32). (In John’s Gospel, “good works” = miracles, at a minimum.)

And so the Father through his Son who was anointed by the Spirit, performed all miracles during his Son’s ministry (Acts 10:38). The Son obeyed and followed his Father.

10..We too should develop life in the Spirit (Gal. 5), so we can hear from the Father through the Spirit, in Jesus’s name and authority granted to us. We will never heal as Jesus did, because he is the Anointed One without limits (John 3:34). But after the cross and the Son’s ascension, the Spirit can distribute the gifts of healings (plural) as he determines (1 Cor. 12:11), not as we “name and claim” or “decree and declare.” Let the Spirit work, and you listen and obey, and then rebuke a disease (not the person) or pray for healing.

4. Gifts of the Spirit: Gifts of Healings

Kenneth Copeland Gets a Pacemaker

Is ‘Decreeing’ Biblical for Christians?

What Is Biblical Confession?

Here are the chapters with more commentary.

Matthew 8

Mark 1

Luke 4

Scroll down to the right verses:

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