Three New Testament Words for Healing

Mark Virkler's picture

Even though the following three Greek words have all been translated "healing" in the New Testament, they have three distinct and different meanings. That is a bit shocking and challenging to come to grips with. So let's explore the basic Greek meanings of each of these words, and then we will explore the two major words in depth, by providing you a list of each time they show up.

Greek Word

Main Definition

Number of Uses in KJV

Sozo (Strong’s number is G4982)

Salvation – Restoring spirit, soul and body
94 times translated as salvation

120 times total and of these, only
3 times it is translated “healed”

Therapeuo (G2323 and G2322)

Therapeutic – To cure through various ways
God provides “Gifts of Healings

48 times total and of these,
38 times translated “heal”

Iaomai (G2390) & Iama (G2386)

One way of healing
Instantaneous miraculous healing

32 times total and of these,
28 times translated “heal”

Sozo (Salvation) includes healing of the entire man, spirit, soul and body, and although salvation does include physical healing (Isa. 53:5), sozo seldom speaks directly of physical healing. Main meaning: “save, deliver, protect, heal, preserve, make whole.”

Therapeuo may be viewed as a sub-component of sozo. It involves a host of therapies which can be effective in healing the body and therefore I believe I would put “Gifts of Healings (1 Cor. 12:28) in this category.

  • Defined from Kittle (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament) – “to heal, serve, to care for the sick, to treat, to cure.”
  • A Working Definition of TherapeuoTherapeua is the wisdom of God which releases cures and provides healing. Therapeua offers a number of approaches for curing a sickness, which include miraculous healing and casting out demons, but is not limited to just these two approaches.
  • Every verse with Therapeuo can be downloaded from here.

Iaomai was the healing approach Jesus used almost exclusively. It is instantaneous miracle healing which involves a release of divine healing power, and is often coupled with casting out demons, thus overcoming the forces of darkness and manifesting the kingdom of God. I would view Iaomai (instant miracles) as a sub-category within Therapeua.

  • Defined from Kittle (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament) – “to heal, healing, healer.”
  • A Working Definition of IaomaiIaomai is the power of God which releases miraculous healing and casting out of demons.
  • Every verse with Iaomai can be downloaded from here.

Two of the above Greek words for healing are used by Paul below:

And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed (Iaomai) him. After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured (Therapeuo) – Acts 28:8,9 NASB.

By Dr. Mark Virkler and Dr. Patti Virkler (2014)
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Go Deeper - Get Healthy!

Check out this entire blog series on Vibrant Health! - Miracles PLUS Gifts of Healings. Working through this series on health is ideal for both individuals and groups. The more we take responsibility for ourselves - spirit, soul and body - the healthier we become! Won't you join me in living to at least 100 in vibrant health?