SHOULD IT BE “VIRTUE” OR “POWER” IN MARK 5:30, LUKE 6:19, AND LUKE 8:46?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Mark 5:30 says in the King James Bible: “And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?” The parallel passage is Luke 8:45-46: “ And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?  And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”
Also, Luke 6:17-19 says: “ And he [Jesus] came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;  And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.  And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.”
Our Authorized Version says “virtue” in these places where the modern English versions (including NKJV) simply read “power.” Is there a difference? Yes, there certainly is! While the Greek word “dynamis” can and has been rendered “power” elsewhere in the King James Bible (Matthew 6:13, Matthew 22:29, Matthew 24:30, et cetera), we believe the 1611 scholars correctly translated it as “virtue” in Mark 5:30, Luke 6:19, and Luke 8:46. Removing the word “virtue” from the English Bible text waters it down and robs us of valuable spiritual insight.
Mark 5:25-30 is a full picture of the account of the hemorrhaging woman: “ And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,  And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,  When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.  For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.  And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?”
Luke 8:43-46 is the parallel account: “ And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,  Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched [stopped, dried up].  And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?  And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”
Matthew 9:20-22 is the companion account, although the Holy Spirit does not emphasize the “virtue” aspect. We will read it for sake of comparison nonetheless: “ And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:  For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.  But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.”
To reiterate, Mark 5:30 and Luke 8:46 in the King James Bible use “virtue,” whereas the modern versions simply have “power.” Modern English versions are linguistically and theologically deficient here. The Authorized Version is superior and precise. Something much greater than mere “power” issued from Christ: from Christ came “virtue.” Depending on the context, power can be negative or positive; virtue, on the other hand, is always positive. Virtue is His moral excellence, righteousness, or uprightness.
Remember, this ill woman lacks bodily healing just as spiritually-sick Israel is without righteousness. God’s righteousness must heal her (both the woman and the nation Israel’s Little Flock). Righteousness, not self-righteousness, will rectify Israel’s sin problem. A spiritual healing accompanied the woman’s physical healing. When Israel is nationally converted, not only will she be spiritually healed but physically healed. “And the inhabitant shall say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity” (Isaiah 33:24).
Since “virtue”—and not just “power”—came forth from Christ, the hemorrhaging woman was delivered from her physical affliction. The same will be true of national Israel, her Little Flock, and her spiritual affliction (sin). Now redeemed, justified, and restored, Israel can enjoy life as God intended in the Millennial Kingdom. She can at last become His kingdom of priests.
By the way, virtue and power can issue from Almighty God today concerning our sin problem too. Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, like Israel of the future, we can be saved from our sins. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Romans 3:21-28: “ But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
» How was there healing in touching Jesus’ garment hem?
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?