WHAT IS “PALSY?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
We read of the condition in six different passages (half are the same miracle described from three perspectives).
- Matthew 4:24: “And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.”
- Matthew 8:6: “And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.”
- Matthew chapter 9: “ And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee….  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”
- Mark chapter 2: “ And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.  And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee….  Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)….”
- Luke chapter 5: “ And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him….  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.”
- Acts 9:33: “And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.”
Using context clues, we can surmise “palsy” is a physical illness the Lord Jesus healed; sufferers were bedridden or incapacitated. “Palsy” is simply paralysis, and it is actually not an archaic word. The medical community today uses “Bell’s palsy” to delineate slight weakness to total paralysis of facial muscles, a condition that leads to one side of the face drooping. In the Bible, as with other sicknesses, palsy is a picture of sin and its devastating effects. Sin weakens and debilitates the soul, to the point of helplessness and inability to function as the Lord planned. Christ healed physical palsy to show He could raise up Israel from her failure to be His people functionally, causing them to walk normally spiritually (Matthew 9:2,6; Mark 2:5,10; Luke 5:24; cf. Ezekiel 36:27).