Posted by: chuckbumgardner | September 8, 2013

The Healings of Naaman and the Centurion’s Servant (2 Kgs 5; Luke 7)

Several have drawn parallels between the healing of the centurion’s servant in Luke 7 and the account of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-27. In his excellent commentary on Luke, David Garland sets forth both comparisons and contrasts between the two accounts.

Comparisions:

  • “Both accounts involve a highly respected Gentile officer regarded as worthy”
  • Both accounts involve a Jew who is able to work miracles
  • In both accounts, a Gentile’s request to the miracle-worker involves appeal to influential Israelite go-betweens
  • Both accounts involve healing without the afflicted person coming into direct contact with the healer
  • Luke Timothy Johnson notes, “A Gentile soldier seeking help from an Israelite prophet reminds us of Naaman the Syrian general who sought help from Elisha.” (The Gospel of Luke [Sacra Pagina; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1991], 117)

Contrasts (“the differences, however, are striking and highlight this centurion’s humility and faith”):

  • “Naaman had commanded army raids against Israel; the centurion did things demonstrating his love for Israel”
  • “Naaman comes to Elisha’s doorstep with ‘horses and chariots’ (2 Kgs 5:9); the centurion humbly sends intermediaries to Jesus”
  • “Elisha sends a message with instructions to Naaman (2 Kgs 5:10); Jesus leaves to go to the centurion”
  • “Naaman storms off in a pout when Elisha fails to meet his expectations, and he must be coaxed to obey Elisha’s instructions (2 Kgs 5:11-14); the centurion’s attitude is not one of entitlement and demand, and he sends messengers saying he is unworthy for Jesus to come under his roof”

(David E. Garland, Luke [ZECNT; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011], 295-96)

 

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