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We read in Lk 8:42-46:

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

By human standards, when something goes out of a container say, water from a tank, it leaves a deficit. But Jesus being the Son of God, power going out from him does not create a deficit. Did he make the remark to alert the disciples who were too busy handling the crowd to remember their mission with Jesus ? Or, was Jesus simply taunting the disciples for 'letting his healing power stolen' by someone in the crowd ? Or, was he acknowledging the deep-rooted faith of the woman who was able to 'extract' a miracle from the busy Lord ? My question is : According to Bible scholars, what was the intent of Jesus' question : " Who touched me " ?

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  • I guess two things: (1) Jesus did not want to be a "self-service healing station" where you simply have to touch him to get healed (2) He wanted to point out to the crowd that something had happened; maybe to avoid (1)
    – U. Windl
    Feb 7 at 11:00
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    How is '… power going out from the Son of God does not create a deficit…' not your own conclusion? How might the remark have alerted the disciples… to remember their mission? Whence comes the idea he was taunting the disciples for letting his power be stolen? How could they have prevented that, but by keeping back the crowd? If he wanted, why did he not say so? Acknowledging the deep-rooted faith of the woman who extracted a miracle goes up, down and sideways and how does it fit here? My question to you is, why must 'Who touched me?' need more meaning than exactly that wording? Feb 9 at 18:56
  • Good observations, Robbie Goodwin. I have from my side made one statement, and proposed some possibilities. Jesus could have simply stated: "A lady has touched me and got healed right now ". But in spite of Peter's failure to pinpoint who, Jesus insists that the person be identified from the crowd. I refuse to believe that the Lord did so without a purpose. Hence the question. Feb 10 at 11:33
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    This question is based on opinion. The question does not explain why more meaning is needed than the verse's exact wording. The body of the question appears to be the opinion of the asker. Feb 15 at 3:07

8 Answers 8

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There is a scholarly debate as to whether Jesus healed by His own power or by that of the Father's power. Good arguments can be made both ways and I have a definite view that is not germane to this question.

In any case, the power available for healing was as infinite as God's creative power that created the cosmos with a word. Thus, the power that healed the woman certainly did not create any deficit! Infinity minus anything is still infinity.

Jesus' point in His statement recorded in Luke 8:46 is significant:

But Jesus said, "Someone touched Me, for I know power has gone out from Me."

Jesus is simply stating a fact, not that a deficit was created, but that He knew that power had been used to heal. The significance of this statement is the important difference that Jesus implies between:

  • the casual (faithless) touch and press of the crowd
  • the touch of faith

Jesus, commenting on this precise difference then said:

Luke 8:48 - And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you; go in peace."

The answer to the OP's question is important by simply asking, "What if Jesus had not recognized the touch of faith? Several things might have ensued:

  • the woman may have thought that her healing was obtained by stealth and that Jesus would not have wanted to heal her. Jesus quickly denied this possibility.
  • Jesus wanted to emphasize the centrality of faith and trust in Himself for all aspects of salvation
  • it was an implied rebuke to the crowd that such a difference in touch was even possible - I presume that others in that crowd may not have enjoyed perfect health but it was the touch of faith that healed one person that day
  • Jesus further reinforced this idea when He resurrected Jairus' daughter by touching her: He "took her by the hand" Luke 8:54.

Thus, Jesus' question, "Who touched Me?" was an essential part of what Jesus taught that day. We read in Heb 11:6 -

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

This was the essential difference between the woman and those in the crowd that day.

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  • What an absolutely excellent answer. I loved the points about "What if Jesus had not recognized the touch of faith"
    – JonH
    Feb 6 at 15:25
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    And it is important to note that the disciples also said, "there were many that were touching you", and we can assume that those other faithless masses didn't get healed like this specific woman, regardless of the severity of their ailments.
    – Nelson
    Feb 7 at 8:10
  • Very well "delineated" (my new favorite word) for sure. + 1. Feb 15 at 17:40
  • +1. Love this answer. Looking at it through the lens of a negation can teach a lot!
    – Jason_
    Feb 20 at 17:57
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The answer may be "none of the above." As Prof. Amy-Jill Levine notes in the Jewish Annotated New Testament, the passage could relate to Jewish purity laws, specifically those related to touching or being touched by a menstruating woman:

Leviticus 15

Whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. 20 And everything upon which she lies during her impurity shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean. 21 And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. 22 And whoever touches anything upon which she sits shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening; 23 whether it is the bed or anything upon which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening.

It cannot be argued that the woman was not menstruating, because the text indicates that if she continues to bleed beyond the normal period:

she shall continue in uncleanness; as in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean.

"Whoever touches her" could certainly mean "whoever is touched by her" as well. So by being touched by this woman, Jesus might be rendered ritually unclean. Observant Jews would be extra careful about this. This was not a sin on his part, of course, but it did mean that he was required the bathe himself and be ritually unclean until evening. Whether Jesus honored such requirements is a matter of opinion. For the most part he seems to have followed OT laws (especially in Matthew's account) but he engaged in arguments with various schools of the Pharisees about how these rules should be applied. His teaching that his disciples must be "even more righteous than the Pharisees" (Mt. 5:22) can be interpreted to mean that he was very strict about such matters.

Conclusion: If Jesus followed the OT Law, the intent of his asking "who touched me?" might be that he was concerned that he had been rendered ritually impure and would be required to take steps to remedy this.

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  • You have a point, Dan Fefferman. The physical disorder she was suffering from may have been the reason for her touching Jesus by stealth. But then, Jesus would not disclose the disorder to the public . She may have touched many more people including the disciples on her way to Jesus. Like in the case of Covid 19, all of them would have to clean themselves . And mind that they were on the way to Jairus house to heal the dying child . Jesus would never allow that journey to be broken for the sake of ritualistic scrupulosity. So, he heals the woman without naming the disorder. Feb 6 at 0:02
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    This may give us an insight as to why Matthew does not tell this story, but Mark and Luke do. It is in Matthew alone that Jesus says "not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished." Feb 6 at 1:26
  • Dan Fefferman, one doubts if Jesus was scrupulous in obeying the burdensome details of law, like those relating to observance of Sabbath. He sort of defended the disciples who plucked grains on Sabbath. He also referred to the Pharisees willing to go down the well to save a child or a donkey on Sabbath. Feb 6 at 2:58
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    Sabbath observance traditions were not clearly delineated in the OT. They are still debated today, in fact. Some rabbis were more strict than others. Jesus was on the "liberal" side on most rabbinic debates, but on others (divorce for example) he was conservative. There is also a question as to whether he held to a strict standard at this time but intended to relax some regulations once "all is accomplished." Feb 6 at 23:38
  • Thanks, Dan Fefferman, for the clarification. Feb 7 at 0:53
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I am not a scholar, but I have noticed that Jesus often asks questions which he would surely already know the answers to (see e.g. Matt 5:13, Matt 16:13, Matt 20:22, Matt 20:32, Matt 27:46, Luke 10:26). It seems He does this to draw attention to His human nature rather than His divine nature, and to create conditions where he can make examples such that God would be glorified.

In this case, I can only speculate as to the exact reason why He wanted the woman to freely admit that she touched Him. It seems that the woman in question had to conquer her fear in order to take a step towards Jesus (Luke 8:47). Put in other words, she had to "draw near to Him so that He would draw near to her" or "knock so that the door would be opened unto her". The dramatic nature of her total surrender to Jesus (trembling / falling at His feet) was clear for the crowd to see, in a way that I posit it would not have been if Jesus had confronted her without provocation. This emphasis is interesting to me. It indicates that the proper response to a spiritual blessing is to press into God and get closer to Him. We must not simply take the blessing and go, but instead we must respond in some way.

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We see in scripture every time, Jesus healed somebody or set somebody free from demons or raised somebody from the dead, that there is at least a twofold purpose behind His action. One is for the individual who is healed or set free, and the other is to teach the crowd something about His Father, themselves, or Himself.

We see He was anointed by God for healing the broken hearted.

The spirit of the Lord is on Me, to heal the crushed heart. Luke 4:18

We see that there is healing power that is present for him to perform healing in Luke 5:17

The power of the Lord was present for him to perform healing. Luke 5:17

In this particular instance, Jesus is headed to heal a 12 year old daughter, of an official of the synagogue who was dying. They had to of been in a hurry. But they were stopped in his their tracks because Jesus was aware that healing power had gone out of him.

Now they are stopped, and Jesus said;

"someone did touch me, f or I was aware that power had gone out of me." Luke 8:46

Jesus knew this anointing went out from Him to somebody.

He wanted to know who received the healing power that had gone out of him. In times past, He was the one that usually laid hands on people and they were healed. He knew who they were. This time somebody touched him in faith. He probably wanted to not only see who it was, but recognize someone who had faith in Him.

There was a woman who had had a hemorrhage for 12 years, and could not be healed by anyone. She had come up from behind him, and just touched the fringe of his cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage was stopped. She had hoped to escape without notice, but discovered she could not leave in secret.
After all, she was probably a "nobody" that people would notice.

When the woman came forth, she was trembling and fell down before Him and told her story in the presence of all the people that were there with him.

He called her "Daughter" your faith has made you well, go in peace.

The name "daughter" must've met the world to her. She was being recognized as a daughter, probably a daughter of Abraham because of the faith she displayed, and by touching the hem of Jesus cloak, she was actually touching by faith her Messiah.

Her heart had been healed by the love Jesus had shown to her as well as healing her body.

There is even more to the story that this plays into.

Jairus was just now informed that his daughter had died and not trouble the teacher anymore. Can you imagine what he was feeling toward that woman who stopped Jesus in his tracts. Maybe she had taken his daughter's healing. He had to have been devastated and all his hope was now gone. He was in a similar state like that of the who woman who had just been healed by Jesus.

But Jesus told him don't be afraid any longer, just believe, and she shall be made well. This woman who was just healed could've been a stepping stone to help the father to believe in Jesus even more so.

It was even a greater miracle that Jesus brought his daughter back to life. Now these parents were told not to tell anybody what happened. They had to keep quiet, while the other lady had to tell her story to others.

Two daughters were both loved, and power from Jesus, went out to both daughters, one that brought healing to an older woman, and also brought life to a young one that had died.

Op, question; What was the intent of the question "who touched me?"

It was to bring forth a woman, out in the open of for all to see and hear, someone who had lost all faith in anybody to heal her body. Undoubtedly she was broken in spirit. Not only did she get her body healed by touching the hem of His garment, something else was needed. Her heart needed to be healed of her brokenness. When He called forth, asking, who touched me, she knew she could not hide and had to come forward. Doing that, and humbling herself before all, she was recognized as a daughter of Abraham. One who had faith.

The official Jairus, was somebody that had entreated Jesus to come heal his daughter. Perhaps it was through this woman, who is nobody in many peoples eyes, gave him faith to believe in Jesus ability to bring his daughter back to life.

Even though she only touched the hem of his garment, she actually touched him in faith and power went out of him to heal her. She believed in him, and he recognized her as a daughter of faith. Her faith from her humble heart might have been a good lesson to teach the ruler of the synagogue to believe as well.

What's interesting is that this was not the first time people were being healed as they tried to touch Him because power was coming forth from him and healing all,

All came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And those troubled with unclean spirits were healed. And the whole multitude were seeking to touch Him, because power was going out from Him and healing all. Luke 6:19

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  • Nicely done! + 1. Feb 15 at 17:32
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    @Olde English thanks, appreciate your kind words.
    – Sherrie
    Feb 16 at 3:21
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It is noteworthy that the healing of a woman with menstrual issue is a singular instance of "Passive Healing" in the gospel. This narrative, embedded within the larger story of "Raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead" , underscores the unintentional nature of Jesus' healing.

The woman's healing undoubtedly stemmed from her faith, as affirmed by Jesus' response to her (Matt 9:22; Mark 5:34, Luke 8:48).

The question posed by Jesus, "Who touch me" may have a spiritual significance. It suggests that those who have faith in Jesus are called to shine before the others. The woman's faith should not remain concealed; rather, it must be openly displayed. Jesus' intention in unveiling her faith serves as a significant teaching within the gospel narrative, emphasizing the important of visible demonstrations of faith.

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  • Your last paragraph did it for me, although I think you could have done without the "ambiguous" statement. + 1. Feb 15 at 17:26
  • Thank you for your comment. In a moment, the thought crossed my mind that the healing power can either from Jesus or the Holy Spirit and therefore I use "ambiguous" without delving further into the matter. The last paragraph is the essence of my intended message. Feb 15 at 19:09
  • I will respect your decision not to delve further into the matter of the "healing power" source, lest we invoke "doctrinal" disputes, but still stand by my initial comment, in its entirety. Feb 15 at 20:17
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    @OldeEnglish - I take your advice. Feb 15 at 20:55
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If the woman would have been going away "hidden", she maybe would ask herself, if she is healed for lifetime or not.

So, i think, Jesus asks to start talking to her, and so her knowledge, because of his words "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour." could be rock-solid, that she was really healed at least for life.

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    – Community Bot
    Feb 8 at 14:45
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Let us read and examine the verse. Luke 8:45-46 (NASB) And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.”

The asker then adds,

By human standards, when something goes out of a container say, water from a tank, it leaves a deficit. But Jesus being the Son of God, power going out from him does not create a deficit. Did he make the remark to alert the disciples who were too busy handling the crowd to remember their mission with Jesus ? Or, was Jesus simply taunting the disciples for 'letting his healing power stolen' by someone in the crowd ? Or, was he acknowledging the deep-rooted faith of the woman who was able to 'extract' a miracle from the busy Lord ? My question is : According to Bible scholars, what was the intent of Jesus' question : " Who touched me " ?

Others claim that Jesus knew but verses like this showed Jesus ignorance of some things, thus he is not omniscient. Some try to resolve the inconsistencies by stating the Jesus knew but did this to "to draw attention to His human nature rather than His divine nature, and to create conditions where he can make examples such that God would be glorified" Such explanation makes Jesus disingenuous. There is nothing in the bible that clarify Jesus'statements as having been stated using his divine nature and sometimes his human nature.

Another answer states "Jesus' question, "Who touched Me?" was an essential part of what Jesus taught that day. We read in Heb 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

There is nothing in the context that support both explanations. Peter's reply does not that indicate Jesus knew. Others use Philippians 2:7 to resolve Jesus ignorance of certain information to mean that he emptied himself of some divine attributes and yet remained God. How can God empty Himself and remain God? Philippians 2:7 does not specify that Jesus himself of divine knowledge and attributes.

Let us examine further the asker's opinion laden question.

Asker stated "By human standards, when something goes out of a container say, water from a tank, it leaves a deficit. But Jesus being the Son of God, power going out from him does not create a deficit". Is this statement intended to prime and elicit answers that affirms Jesus knew who touched him?

Next, the asker asked, "Did he make the remark to alert the disciples who were too busy handling the crowd to remember their mission with Jesus"? There is nothing in the context that suggest the idea of this question.

Asker then asked "was Jesus simply taunting the disciples for 'letting his healing power stolen' by someone in the crowd? There is zero basis that hints this.

Or, was he acknowledging the deep-rooted faith of the woman who was able to 'extract' a miracle from the busy Lord ? The question is "who touched me". What does the will of the woman that she will be healed if she would touch Jesus cloak (Matthew 9:21), have to do with Jesus being ignorant of her identity? Recall too that Moses made a bronze serpent so people bitten by serpents can be healed. Numbers 29:9

Numbers 29:9 Literal Standard Version

So Moses made a bronze serpent and fastened it to a pole. If a person who had been bitten by a poisonous serpent looked to the serpent, he lived.

To say that Jesus knew, was he feigning ignorance when he asked who? Peter's reply clearly does not suggest that he knew that Jesus knew the woman. Others try to explain Jesus' ignorance of some things by saying that "Jesus did not possess perfect knowledge and was NOT omniscient - that ability had been laid aside (but still possessed) when He "emptied Himself" as per Phil 2:6-8. Jesus was no more omniscient that He was omnipresent.

Stating that Jesus sometimes acted in his human, and sometimes in his divine nature to explain verses that show Jesus to be ignorant of some things makes Jesus look like he is dishonest and equivocating sometimes. Consider, Jesus said that of himself he can nothing. Did Jesus mean that as a man he can do nothing, although as God he can do all things?

It is deceptive to say Jesus is ignorant of somethings in his human nature though he knew it in his divine nature. If those that heard Jesus knew that Jesus knew who was it that touched him, would they not suppose his words to be understood in their ordinary sense? thus Peter's response.

Jesus have always been truthful. Jesus would not have expressed something by dishonesty and equivocation. If Jesus always possessed all knowledge, it makes no sense that God has given him revelation knowledge in Revelation 1:1.

The woman was already healed after touching Jesus. She could have remained unidentified if she wanted to but she revealed herself as a response to Jesus" who touched me?" Thus, Peter and the woman's response to Jesus question show that Jesus did not know who touched him.

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  • Thanks, Alex for the hairsplit analysis of my question. But, you have not made me wiser with a conclusive answer ! Feb 15 at 12:24
  • There's a lot of critique of everyone else's answer here, but I'm still unclear what your answer is. My best guess is you're claiming Jesus didn't know and was just curious?
    – ojchase
    Feb 15 at 15:18
  • Your answer seemed to be leading up to a conclusion, but then it ended without the Conclusion. Nevertheless, some "noteworthy" points were made, particularly with regard to Phil, 2:6-8, + 1. Feb 15 at 17:20
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    @OldeEnglish. I thought you knew it already based on Peter's response. I edited my answer to include it. Thank you. Feb 16 at 1:29
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan. Sophistry is sometimes exposed using hair split analysis. Feb 16 at 1:41
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Jesus’ question and the context of his encounter with the woman provides insight into what happens when Jesus heals someone through touch. I believe the way he describes the woman’s action is important.

Luke 8:45 NKJV

And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?”

The word rendered as “touched” is hēpsato (haptomai/ἅπτομαι Strong’s G680 meaning to touch). While it is translated in English using the active voice, haptomai is the middle form of the verb haptó (ἅπτω Strong’s G681 meaning to fasten to, to lay hold of). Note that the middle voice is a verb form that does not exist in English.

The way Jesus’ question is translated in English makes it seem as though there is a straightforward relationship between the subject (who), verb (touched) and object (me). However, this relationship is not so clear when the Greek middle is taken into account. According to Daniel Wallace, the function of the middle voice is not always easy to ascertain.

The Basics of New Testament Syntax, p.184

Defining the function of the middle voice is not an easy task because it encompasses a large and amorphous group of nuances. But in general, in the middle voice the subject performs or experiences the action expressed by the verb in such a way that emphasizes the subject’s participation. It may be said that the subject acts “with a vested interest.”

The difference between the active and middle is one of emphasis. The active voice emphasizes the action of the verb; the middle emphasizes the actor [subject] of the verb.

While there is an inherent reciprocity in the act of touching someone, the function of the middle voice in Lk 8:45 does not neatly fall under any of the usual categories (Voice: Middle). Still, the use of haptomai makes sense in Lk 8:45 as a way of placing emphasis on the subject [agent] rather than on the action. In effect, it puts the spotlight on the woman herself rather than her action. What is it exactly about her that distinguishes her touch from that of others? Verse 48 provides the answer to this question.

Luke 8:48

Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”

The OP asks about the intent of Jesus’ question. “Was he acknowledging the deep-rooted faith of the woman who was able to 'extract' a miracle from the busy Lord?” Given the above discussion, I believe the answer is yes, this is the intent of Jesus’ question. Jesus did not ask because he didn’t know the identity of the person who touched him.

Gill’s commentary on Luke 8:45

And Jesus said, who touched me?.... This he said, not as ignorant of the person that had done it, but in order to discover her to the people, and the cure she had received, as well as her faith; See Gill on Mark 5:30.

When all denied; both the disciples and the multitude, as many as were near him, and who might be thought to have done it; all excepting the woman, who afterwards came and declared it; for it is very likely, that as soon as she had touched his garment, and got her cure, she drew further off:

The purpose of Jesus' question was therefore to draw the woman out from among the crowd so that he could acknowledge her faith. He does not heal us for our benefit alone but in order that we may become a light for others.

Luke 8:16

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light."

The word haptomai/ἅπτομαι is used extensively in situations where Jesus heals someone by touching them (Greek-English Concordance for ἅπτω), so much so that when Jesus is the subject of haptomai, his touch can be called the touch of healing. But what does haptomai signify when Jesus is the subject [agent] of the action? in other words, when he is the one who touches the other person? When the one who is healed is the subject, haptomai serves to emphasize their faith. It follows that when Jesus is the subject, haptomai serves to emphasize his power (cf Lk 8:46, Lk 6:19).

Luke 8:46

But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had left Me.”

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