Healing the centurion's servant

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from The Centurion's Servant)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Healing the Centurion's servant by Paolo Veronese, 16th century.

Healing the centurion's servant is one of the miracles said to have been performed by Jesus of Nazareth as related in the Gospels of Matthew[1] and Luke. The story is not recounted by either John or Mark.[2]

According to these accounts, a Roman centurion asked Jesus for his help because his boy servant was ill. Jesus offered to go to the centurion's house to perform a healing, but the centurion demurred and suggested that Jesus' word of authority from where he was at that moment would be sufficient. Impressed, Jesus commented approvingly of the strong religious faith displayed by the soldier and granted the request, which resulted in the servant being healed the same day.


Matthew 8:5–13 (TNIV)

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly." Jesus said to him, "Shall I come and heal him?" The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.

Luke 7:1–10 (TNIV)

When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.


The story of the Centurion does not exist in the Gospel of Mark. The accepted theory is that material not in Mark but found in both Matthew and Luke came from a now lost source known as Q. This passage is an anomaly as Q is believed to have been a sayings gospel, a list of sermons and quotations from Jesus with no other material, but this story includes background details. It would also be the only miracle story that originated in Q. One possibility is that only the dialogue was in Q, and both Matthew and Luke added the background details from a shared oral history.[3]

The Gospel of John narrates a similar account of Jesus healing the son of a royal official at Capernaum at a distance in John 4:46–54. Some, such as in Fred Craddock in his commentary on Luke,[4] treats them as the same miracle. However, in his analysis of Matthew, R. T. France presents linguistic arguments against the equivalence of pais and son and considers these two separate miracles.[5] Merrill C. Tenney in his commentary on John[6] and Orville Daniel in his Gospel harmony[7] also consider them two different incidents.


Luke 7:2 and 7:10 refer to the person to be healed as doulos, unambiguously meaning "servant" but has the centurion himself call him "pais" <Stephens 1550> - which has a number of more ambiguous meanings including "child" (e.g., Matt 2:16; Luke 2:43,8:51-54 where it refers to a girl), "son" (John 4:51), "servant" (Luke 15:26, Acts 4:25), "male concubine", or be unclear.[8]

Homo-erotic connotations[edit]

According to James Neill, the Greek term "pais" used for the servant in Matthew's account almost always had a sexual connotation.[9] In support of this view, he remarks that the word pais, along with the word "erasthai" (to love) is the root of the English word "pederasty".[9] He sees in the fact that, in Luke's parallel account, the centurion's servant is described as "valued highly"[10] by the centurion an indication of a homosexual relationship between the two, and says that the Greek word "doulos" used of him in Luke's account suggests he may even have been a sex slave.[9] Daniel A. Helminiak agrees that the word pais could have a sexual meaning.[11] Theodore W. Jennings Jr. and Tat-Siong Benny Liew further write that Roman historical data about patron-client relationships and about same-sex relations among soldiers support the view that the pais in Matthew's account is the centurion's "boy-lover", and that the centurion therefore did not want Jesus to enter his house for fear perhaps that the boy would be enamoured of Jesus instead. D.B. Saddington writes that while he does not exclude the possibility, the evidence the two put forward supports "neither of these interpretations".[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Biblegateway Matthew 8:5–13". Biblegateway.com. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  2. ^ "Biblegateway Luke 7:1–10". Biblegateway.com. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  3. ^ Craig S. Keener (1999). A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 264. ISBN 978-0-8028-3821-6. 
  4. ^ Fred Craddock: Luke, 2009 ISBN 0-664-23435-6, page 94
  5. ^ The Gospel according to Matthew: an introduction and commentary by R. T. France 1987 ISBN 0-8028-0063-7 page 154
  6. ^ Merrill Tenney: John, Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 9, Zondervan.
  7. ^ Orville Daniel: A Harmony of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed, Baker Books Pub.
  8. ^ Marston, Paul (2003). Christians, Gays and Gay Christians. Free Methodists. Archived from the original on 2006-04-27. 
  9. ^ a b c Neill, James (2009). The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations In Human Societies. McFarland. p. 216. 
  10. ^ Luke 7:2
  11. ^ Daniel A. Helminiak, Sex and the Sacred (Routledge 2012 ISBN 978-1-13657075-9), p. 192. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  12. ^ "The Centurion in Matthew 8:5–13: Consideration of the Proposal of Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., and Tat-Siong Benny Liew". JSTOR 27638351.