Woman with Issue of Blood Is Healed

Passages: Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:24b-34; Luke 8:42b-48. The power of God flowed from Jesus to the woman. Can we expect the same power to flow through us, as the Spirit distributes the gifts of healings (1 Cor. 12:4-11)?

The woman was so desperate that she weaved her way through a crowd and touched the hem of his garment. How desperate are we for our healing?

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

Let’s begin.

Jesus Heals Woman with Issue of Blood

Matthew 9:20-22

Mark 5:24b-34

Luke 8:42b-48

20 Then another unexpected thing! A woman discharging blood for twelve years approached from behind and touched the tassels of his garment, 21 for she was saying to herself, “If only I might touch his garment, I’ll be healed.” 22 Then Jesus, turning and seeing her, said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has healed you.” The woman was healed from that very moment on. 24b A huge crowd was following him and pressing him. 25 A woman, having an issue of blood for twelve years, 26 suffering greatly by many physicians, spending everything she had but in spite of this not benefiting at all, but instead getting worse, 27 hearing about Jesus, she, coming in the crowd, touched his garment from behind. 28 For she was saying, “If I just touch his cloak, I will be healed.” 29 Instantly her flow of blood dried up and she knew in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Instantly Jesus recognized in himself that power from him went out, and he turned around in the crowd and was saying, “Who touched my cloak?” 31 His disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing you and you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He was looking around to see who did this. 33 And the woman, frightened and trembling, knowing what happened to her, came and fell before him and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be healthy from your affliction.” 42b While he was leading the way, the crowd was smothering him. 43 And a woman having a flow of blood for twelve years, who, although spending excessively all her living on doctors, was unable to be healed by anyone. 44 When she came up from behind, she touched the edge of his garment, and instantly her flow of blood stopped. 45 And Jesus said, “Who touched me?” While everyone was denying it, Peter said, “Master, the crowd presses in on you and crowds you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive power has gone out from me.” 47 When the woman saw that she did not escape notice, she came trembling and fell before him and announced in front of all the people the reason she touched him, and how she was instantly healed. 48 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
20 Καὶ ἰδοὺ γυνὴ αἱμορροοῦσα δώδεκα ἔτη προσελθοῦσα ὄπισθεν ἥψατο τοῦ κρασπέδου τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ· 21 ἔλεγεν γὰρ ἐν ἑαυτῇ· ἐὰν μόνον ἅψωμαι τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ σωθήσομαι. 22 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς στραφεὶς καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὴν εἶπεν· θάρσει, θύγατερ· ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε. καὶ ἐσώθη ἡ γυνὴ ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκείνης. καὶ ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολὺς καὶ συνέθλιβον αὐτόν.

25 Καὶ γυνὴ οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος δώδεκα ἔτη 26 καὶ πολλὰ παθοῦσα ὑπὸ πολλῶν ἰατρῶν καὶ δαπανήσασα τὰ παρ’ αὐτῆς πάντα καὶ μηδὲν ὠφεληθεῖσα ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εἰς τὸ χεῖρον ἐλθοῦσα, 27 ἀκούσασα περὶ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, ἐλθοῦσα ἐν τῷ ὄχλῳ ὄπισθεν ἥψατο τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ· 28 ἔλεγεν γὰρ ὅτι ἐὰν ἅψωμαι κἂν τῶν ἱματίων αὐτοῦ σωθήσομαι. 29 καὶ εὐθὺς ἐξηράνθη ἡ πηγὴ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτῆς καὶ ἔγνω τῷ σώματι ὅτι ἴαται ἀπὸ τῆς μάστιγος. 30 καὶ εὐθὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐπιγνοὺς ἐν ἑαυτῷ τὴν ἐξ αὐτοῦ δύναμιν ἐξελθοῦσαν ἐπιστραφεὶς ἐν τῷ ὄχλῳ ἔλεγεν· τίς μου ἥψατο τῶν ἱματίων; 31 καὶ ἔλεγον αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ· βλέπεις τὸν ὄχλον συνθλίβοντά σε καὶ λέγεις· τίς μου ἥψατο; 32 καὶ περιεβλέπετο ἰδεῖν τὴν τοῦτο ποιήσασαν. 33 ἡ δὲ γυνὴ φοβηθεῖσα καὶ τρέμουσα, εἰδυῖα ὃ γέγονεν αὐτῇ, ἦλθεν καὶ προσέπεσεν αὐτῷ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ πᾶσαν τὴν ἀλήθειαν. 34 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· θυγάτηρ, ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε· ὕπαγε εἰς εἰρήνην καὶ ἴσθι ὑγιὴς ἀπὸ τῆς μάστιγός σου.

42b Ἐν δὲ τῷ ὑπάγειν αὐτὸν οἱ ὄχλοι συνέπνιγον αὐτόν. 43 Καὶ γυνὴ οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος ἀπὸ ἐτῶν δώδεκα, ἥτις [ἰατροῖς προσαναλώσασα ὅλον τὸν βίον] οὐκ ἴσχυσεν ἀπ’ οὐδενὸς θεραπευθῆναι, 44 προσελθοῦσα ὄπισθεν ἥψατο τοῦ κρασπέδου τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ καὶ παραχρῆμα ἔστη ἡ ῥύσις τοῦ αἵματος αὐτῆς. 45 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς· τίς ὁ ἁψάμενός μου; ἀρνουμένων δὲ πάντων εἶπεν ὁ Πέτρος· ἐπιστάτα, οἱ ὄχλοι συνέχουσίν σε καὶ ἀποθλίβουσιν. 46 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· ἥψατό μού τις, ἐγὼ γὰρ ἔγνων δύναμιν ἐξεληλυθυῖαν ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ. 47 ἰδοῦσα δὲ ἡ γυνὴ ὅτι οὐκ ἔλαθεν, τρέμουσα ἦλθεν καὶ προσπεσοῦσα αὐτῷ δι’ ἣν αἰτίαν ἥψατο αὐτοῦ ἀπήγγειλεν ἐνώπιον παντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ ὡς ἰάθη παραχρῆμα. 48 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· θυγάτηρ, ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε· πορεύου εἰς εἰρήνην.


For those interested in a literary feature, the placement of this pericope in the middle of the synagogue ruler’s story (not included here) is called intercalation (“sandwiching”). It adds vivid storytelling (and I believe it happened this way too). In his ministry, Jesus had to pivot quickly to meet the hungry people’s needs—those hungry for God and his Son.

I have nicknamed Matthew “the Trimmer” because he trims out many details that Mark and Luke include.

“unexpected thing”: It is the verb “behold!” It is a surprising development in the narrative. I usually translate it as “look!”

“blood”: what caused her inability to stop the blood flow for twelve years? A cyst? A lesion? We don’t know, but God did. Read the laws in Lev. 15:19-30 at my post:

Childbirth, Bodily Discharges in Leviticus 12, 15 from a NT Perspective

She herself was unclean. Anything she sat on was unclean. Anyone who touched her was unclean. If anyone touches her or anything she touched, then he will have to rinse his hands, but if he does not, then he has to take a bath and wash his clothes. The rituals go on. I can understand the law from a sanitation point of view. Bodily fluids from a man (Lev. 15:3-6, 16-17) or woman can spread disease, without proper washing. Good law. Yet it is still remarkable that Jesus did not mind one bit about her touching him. He was clean, and she was unclean. When the story finishes, she was made clean.

Mark informs his readers of the background. The crowd was pressing him. Mark’s readers were asking themselves: Why is this fact important? They are about to find out that everyone near him was touching him, but only one woman touched him with faith and got her healing.

“Touching a hem was an ancient symbol for deep trust and prayer, thus highlighting her faith” (commentator Grant R. Osborne, p. 349, note 9).

In Mark’s version, the verb is mastigoō (pronounced ma-stee-go-oh), and it literally means “whip, flog, scourge” (Matt 10:17; 20:19; 23:34; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:33; John 19:1); figuratively it means “punish” or “chastise” (Heb 12:6). Those are all the times this verb appears in the NT. (Shorter Lexicon). The disease flogged her.

In the context of diseases, the noun mastix means to be afflicted and tormented with diseases and bodily ailments. Anyone who has suffered from a disease, as common as a strong flu, feels afflicted or tormented in body.

She must have squeezed and forced her way through the crowd. But would she, an unclean woman, allow people to touch her and themselves become unclean? Was she that desperate to withhold this information from them? Or did she wait until an opening came up in the crowd? Then she must have knelt down behind him and reached out her hand to touch the edge of his garment. The edge probably refers to the four tassels that hung from the garment, two in front and two in back, to remember God’s command (Num. 15:37-40; Deut. 22:12). Or it may refer to the edge of his garment, as it literally says in Greek. She sneaked up behind him because she was afraid, in her own mind, that he would not heal or touch her in her unclean condition. Then she withdrew from his presence and was absorbed back in the crowd. She may have been walking away by now.

Her humility and fear and trembling are very moving to me. She had sneaked up to him, from behind, unseen by him. She must have asked herself: Is he going to scold me? She fell before him. Wow.

In his comments on vv. 30-33, Richard France writes:

Jesus’ sudden challenge takes everyone by surprise. The commonsense response of the disciples (to which Jesus does not even deign to reply) serves to heighten the peculiarity of his question; how can one ‘touch’ be singled out among a jostling crowd? The effect is again to set Jesus apart as one with supernatural insight, who can perceive the special situation of the one among the many. That supernatural insight does not, however, apparently extend to an instant recognition of the culprit, and the woman, who has already begun to make her escape, is obliged to return … and own up to her temerity. Her fear may derive not only from her awe in the presence of the miraculous healer and the general embarrassment of the situation, but also from the awareness that in touching Jesus without permission she has made him ritually unclean; if that is the case, however, neither Jesus nor Mark mentions the point.

The verb for healing could be translated as “saved.” The verb is sōzō (pronounced soh-zoh and used 106 times in the NT), and is passive (“be saved”). Since the theology of salvation (soteriology) is so critical for our lives, let’s look more closely at the noun salvation, which is sōtēria (pronounced soh-tay-ree-ah and used 46 times) and at the verb sōzō (pronounced soh-zoh and used 106 times).

The verb sōzō means “save, rescue, heal” in a variety of contexts, but mostly it is used of saving the soul. BDAG, a thick lexicon which many consider authoritative, says that the verb means, depending on the context: (1) “to preserve or rescue from natural dangers and afflictions, save, keep from harm, preserve,” and the sub-definitions under no. 1 are as follows: save from death; bring out safely; save from disease; keep, preserve in good condition; thrive, prosper, get on well; (2) “to save or preserve from transcendent danger or destruction, save or preserve from ‘eternal’ death … “bring Messianic salvation, bring to salvation,” and in the passive voice it means “be saved, attain salvation”; (3) some passages in the NT say we fit under the first and second definition at the same time (Mark 8:5; Luke 9:24; Rom. 9:27; 1 Cor. 3:15).

Clearly the first definition fits here: “saved from disease.”

Word Study on Salvation

What Does ‘Salvation’ Mean?

What Is the Work of Salvation?

“from that very moment on”: the people back then did not have clocks, so it is best to translate the phrase by instantaneous healing.

In this pericope (pronounced puh-RIH-koh-pea) or unit or section of Scripture, both physical and spiritual healing or salvation is in mind. Her affliction excluded her from participation in Israel’s worship, but not in God’s new family. Further, for all we know, she either had been married but her husband divorced her, or she was never married because of her affliction. The text is silent, but let’s face it. She was not marriageable or worthy to remain happily married, by the standards of society back then. But Jesus made her “undamaged” goods. Keener suggests that her condition rendered her unmarriageable or divorceable (p. 304).

Practical Application for Ministry Today

We can learn many things from Jesus about ministry practice–how we can do ministry today. I like to number my points for clarity and order, in this section.

1.. First a little word study: “power”: it is the noun dunamis (pronounced doo-nah-mees): It is often translated as “power,” but also “miracle” or “miraculous power.” It means power in action, not static, but kinetic. It moves. Yes, we get our word dynamite from it, but God is never out of control, like dynamite is. Its purpose is to usher in the kingdom of God and repair and restore broken humanity, both in body and soul. For nearly all the references of that word and a developed theology, please click on my post here:

What Are Signs and Wonders and Miracles?

Those who regularly pray for the sick can expect miraculous healings to flow by the power of the Spirit, who distributes the nine gifts of the Spirit as he wills (1 Cor. 12:4-11). One of the nine gifts is the gifts of healings.

2.. Renewalists believe that the healing power of God can flow out of a person. They can sense information in their body. Jesus was walking through another crowd, and when they touched him, healing came from him, and the people were healed (Luke 6:19). That is a remarkable phenomenon. Here the people do not seem to have the same level of faith in him. But she did.

Luke 5:17: “The power of the Lord was present for him to heal.”

3.. Mark uses the imperfect tense, which means Jesus “was saying,” as if the action had a continuous quality to it. It is perfectly legit to keep praying for people, during prayer time. Some prayer warriors with the gifts of healings pray several hours, calling the time spent “soaking prayer.” They must build this practice on passages like this. If this is what it takes to see people healed, then go for it.

4.. Her humility and fear and trembling are very moving to me. She fell before him. Wow. She had sneaked up to him, from behind, unseen by him. She must have asked herself: Is he going to scold me? “You! You made me unclean! Shame on you! Now I withdraw your healing! Leave my presence, woman!” She told him the whole truth. He found out about her uncleanness and desperation. Jesus values active faith. O ye people who read these words in this post! Let your faith be active as it reaches out to Jesus!

5.. One interesting side note: Neither Jesus nor Luke nor Mark denounced her for going to doctors. She spent too much money because she was desperate, but that doesn’t mean visiting doctors was wrong then or now. Prayer warriors with the gifts of healings or any other prayer warrior can encourage going to the doctor for those seeking prayer for their sickness.

6.. He also called her by the encouraging name “daughter.” This expresses a desire to relate to her. He used a kind term here. Let’s say she reached puberty at age twelve. When did she get her blood flow that did not stop for twelve years? At fourteen or fifteen years old? Twenty? Whatever her age, we have to add twelve years on to it. So she was at least in her mid-twenties, maybe in her thirties. So when Jesus called her “daughter,” he was showing, yes, authority, but also compassion. He sees himself as a minister-Rabbi, not an older brother. Further, Jesus wanted to invite her into his new kingdom; she was part of his new and true family. She had been disqualified from fully participating in Israel’s religion, but not in Jesus’s family.

We should always honor those who are being “whipped” or afflicted with disease. They should be included in the church, so we can pray for them.

7..  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.

8..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?

For fuller commentary, click on the chapters:

Matthew 9

Mark 5

Luke 8

Scroll down to find the right verses.

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