And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. — Mark 5:29
By Rick Renner
Do you know anyone that has ever been subjected to a plague? Have you ever had a plague afflict you? Technically, what is a plague?
We tend to use this word “plague” to describe worldwide pandemic outbreaks, but that is not the way it is used in Mark 5:29, which tells of a woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years. Specifically, Mark 5:29 says that when this woman touched Jesus, she was healed of her “plague.” Yet this woman’s sickness was not contagious, nor was it imminently life-threatening, since she had been sick with it for 12 years. So today I want to tell you about how I discovered the meaning of the word “plague” in the New Testament and why this was such an important discovery to me.
As a university student, I suffered tremendously from allergic reactions. In fact, a simple change in the weather could affect my whole body. To combat the pollens in the air and my body’s reaction to them, I went to the university infirmary twice a week to receive allergy injections in both arms. As I had grown older, my allergies had progressively gotten worse and worse until they nearly controlled my life. One day when I was praying for an answer to these debilitating allergies, I began to delve into the story of the woman with an issue of blood in Mark 5, whom the Bible says had a “plague.”
When I picked up my Greek New Testament to study this story in depth, I was quite struck to see the Greek meaning of the word “plague” used in Mark 5:29. It really gave me insight that helped me know how to pray more effectively for myself — and through this insight, I ultimately received healing and have never had an allergic reaction since! I believe this Greek word study will help you, as it helped me, to be more effective when you are praying about ailments that afflict you or others whom you know and love. At the very least, it will give you something to think about!
Before we delve into Mark 5:29 and the meaning of this word “plague,” let’s first briefly review the story of this woman with the issue of blood.
According to Mark 5, this woman was sick for 12 years, and she had spent all her money on physicians. However, instead of getting better, she only grew worse (see Mark 5:25,26). Then one day she heard of Jesus and set out to find Him. She came up from behind him in the crowd and reached out and touched the hem of His garment. Immediately, power flowed out of Jesus into her — “and straightway [immediately] the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.” According to these verses, this was a 12-year affliction that simply wouldn’t go away or permanently respond to any type of medical treatment. Perhaps this woman would get better temporarily, but then it would recur again — much like the allergies that afflicted me for many years earlier in my life.
When I looked up the word “plague” in my Greek New Testament, I was shocked. I ran every reference to make sure I was understanding it correctly. I studied the historical usage of the Greek word for “plague” to be certain I was seeing this accurately. And I found that this word did not describe a pandemic disease at all. It was the Greek word mastigos — a very unusual word to be translated “plague.” But once I studied it out and carefully thought through its usage, it made perfect sense, as I believe it will to you too. The word mastigos — translated “plague” — is a word that is borrowed from the world of torture.
Specifically, the word mastigos denoted the act of recurrently beating a prisoner or victim. Once the person’s wounds had mended, the torturers would bring them back to the whipping post, where they were struck again and again and again. These beatings were sporadic but constant, and although they were not serious enough to kill the victim, it kept them in constant pain and misery. It was torment and abuse — a scourge that caused great suffering and prolonged anguish.
I’m sure you can see why this word was used to describe the condition of the woman with the issue of blood, for her ailment struck her again and again for 12 long years. She experienced a sporadic, regular attack of this condition all those years. It was a physical torment that would not go away but just kept coming back again and again and again.
I found it extremely interesting that this was the original meaning of the word mastigos — the word “plague” — that was used to describe this woman’s long, protracted ailment. Let’s think about this scenario for a moment. This woman didn’t die from her affliction; it simply kept her life torn up for years. This was a “plague” that struck this woman over and over and over again. She’d feel better — and then suddenly that affliction would reappear to strike her again.
By the time we read of this poor woman in Mark’s gospel, she had been afflicted with this recurring ailment for 12 long years. Physicians tried to help, but there was simply nothing they could do to permanently relieve the misery that this woman had lived with for more than a decade of her life. It wasn’t serious enough to kill her, but it made her life continually miserable. But when she touched Jesus with her faith, she was instantly made well of that torturous, recurring affliction!
So what is a “plague” as it is referred to in Mark 5:29? It is an ailment, sickness, or affliction that regularly strikes an individual again and again. It is a recurring condition that is not serious enough to kill but that continually keeps the individual sick and miserable. It is a sick, demented, elongated devilish attack upon an individual’s physical body that causes discomfort and pain. Thus, this word mastigos, translated “plague,” would describe chronic conditions such as migraine headaches, rashes, allergic reactions, high blood pressure, foot fungus, and so on. These are conditions that come and go, can last for years, and rarely permanently respond to medication or the treatment of physicians.
When I saw how the word mastigos was used to describe the woman with the issue of blood and then compared it to my own allergic condition, which had gone on for years with no relief, I understood that I was being victimized by the devil’s multiple, recurring attacks against my body. When I understood that this was more than a medical condition — it was a premeditated spiritual attack — I took authority over it in Jesus’ name and broke its power over my life. And I have never had another allergic episode since that moment!
Medicine is an important tool in administering aid to physical suffering. However, throwing medicine at a spiritual attack can at best bring only temporary relief; the symptoms will inevitably come back again because you are dealing with an attack and not an entirely physical problem. This was a great revelation for me, and it resulted in my physical healing. I stood up to each attack and resisted it in Jesus’ name until those recurring allergic reactions stopped. The power of Satan that was attacking me was literally broken, and I’ve been free ever since.
Today you can take that same revelation to stand against the enemy’s recurring attacks against your body. It’s time to live free! No weapon formed against you shall prosper in Jesus’ name — including every recurring physical condition that falls into this tormenting category called “plague”!
Rick Renner is a prolific author and a highly respected Bible teacher and leader in the international Christian community. He is the author of more than 30 books, including the bestsellers Dressed To Kill and Sparkling Gems From the Greek.
In 1992, Rick and his family moved to what is now the former Soviet Union. Two years later, he and his wife Denise founded the Riga Good News Church in Latvia before moving on to Moscow in 2000 to found the Moscow Good News Church. In 2007, the Renners also launched the Kiev Good News Church in the capital of Ukraine. Today, Rick serves as Bishop for this group of churches.
In addition, Rick and Denise pioneered a Bible school, and a ministerial association that serves thousands of Russian-speaking pastors throughout the former USSR as well as parts of the Middle East.
Rick also founded Media Mir, the first Christian television network established in the former USSR. Its broadcast capabilities via terrestrial stations in Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova, and as well by satellite means millions of people are reached with these messages. It has since expanded into book publishing and managing social media accounts.