What Does Afflicted Mean In The Bible

Afflicted is a term that is used in the Bible. It can mean a lot of things and there are many different types of afflictions. There are three different Hebrew words that are translated as afflicted in the Old Testament (which is from hundreds and hundreds of years ago). They were often translated as the English word afflict because they all mean “to be pressed down and oppressed.” These Hebrew words shub, harag and sard all come from the idea of oppression or pressure.

Afflicted is a term used in the Bible and it’s one that you might hear often around Easter. So, what does afflicted mean in the bible? The first thing to do when working with a foreign word is to look up the definition of the word. This can be found online or on a site like Bible Hub.

The Bible makes many references to affliction. However, in the Christian community there can be confusion surrounding its meaning, as well as its role in our lives. This article aims to rectify this by demystifying affliction and looking at what it means in Scriptures.

Afflicted isn’t a word you see every day, and there’s a good reason for that. It is a word that belongs specifically to the Old Testament, not the New Testament. But understanding the difference between afflicted and afflicted is essential in being able to properly interpret Scripture without introducing doctrinal error or misunderstanding its true meaning.

What Does Afflicted Mean In The Bible

This idea is summarized in Deuteronomy 28:58-59. 

If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD your God, then the LORD will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. 

However, Psalm 34 provides a balance to this perspective. We can also suffer times of affliction due to other people’s sin. Though David was righteous, he was exiled from his home and hunted by King Saul. Saul’s anger and jealousy led to David’s suffering. 

During this terrible time, David wrote, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17). David had experienced other difficult times so he knew that God would deliver him and rescue him. 

In the New Testament, Jesus provided another perspective on the idea that affliction was always a sign of God’s punishment for sin. After seeing a blind man, Jesus’ disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1). 

The consensus during this time was that being born blind was a result of being unrighteous. So just before healing the man, Jesus explained that the man’s suffering was not a result of sin “but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). 

Jesus is our model for understanding suffering and righteousness. Jesus was righteous and did not sin, yet he experienced great suffering for God’s glory and humanity’s benefit (1 Peter 4:12-13). He was afflicted, persecuted, harassed, spit on, whipped, and crucified. 

John 19:36 explains, “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’” and connects Jesus’ crucifixion to Psalm 34:20, “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

God often allows believers to suffer so that they become more like Jesus in their character and so that they can connect to others in their suffering. 

What Does Afflicted Mean In The Bible

Affliction is that which causes pain and suffering through physical infirmity and/or mental distress. Individuals and nations can be afflicted, and that affliction is often attributed to the Lord and His punishment (Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6). There are at least 14 Hebrew and Greek words that are translated “affliction” in our English Bibles, and that is because affliction can have several causes and applications with subtle differences not reflected by our English vocabulary.

Individuals can be afflicted for a number of reasons:

1. Affliction can be a direct consequence of sin (Galatians 6:8; Proverbs 11:18).

2. Affliction can be a judgment from God (Ezekiel 36:18–19; 39:24; Romans 1:18–32; 2:6; 6:23).

3. Affliction can purify us and help us develop endurance (Daniel 12:10; James 1:3; 1 Peter 4:12–13).

4. Affliction can occur for God’s divine purposes (Job 2:7; Isaiah 53:7; Psalm 119:75).

5. Affliction is part of living in a fallen world (Psalm 25:16; 1 Peter 1:6; John 16:33).

6. Affliction can be the result of persecution for Jesus’ sake (2 Timothy 3:11–12; Psalm 69:6–7; 1 John 3:13).

7. Affliction can be the result of a direct attack from Satan (Luke 22:31; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8).

Nations can experience affliction for many of the same reasons. In the Old Testament, God often afflicted whole nations for their disobedience and wickedness. The plagues in Egypt at the time of the exodus caused great affliction (e.g., Exodus 8:24; 9:10–11). One reason God brought affliction upon the nations was to purge the earth of the contamination of their wickedness. Another reason was to teach Israel the grave necessity of following the Lord (Deuteronomy 28:58–60). God also quickly judged Israelites who defied Him or His appointed leaders (Numbers 12: 1–4, 10; 16:28–33). It was critical that Israel learn to thrive as a community set apart from the world, and insurrection would quickly destroy that unity.

Affliction is part of living in this world. We will all suffer heartaches, injuries, disappointments, lack, rejection, and sickness. We must remember Paul’s encouragement in 2 Corinthians 4:16–17: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Afflictions remind the Christian that this world is not our home. First Corinthians 2:9 reminds us that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” When we keep our focus on that truth, we can endure any affliction.

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