The Life and Teachings
of Jesus
A Restatement of the Gospels

66. Jesus Heals the Epileptic Boy

        14And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. 15And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and ran up to him and greeted him.
        16And he asked them, “What are you discussing with them?”
        17And one of the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has an evil spirit; 18and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid;a and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
        19And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to me.”
        20And they brought the boy to him; and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
        21And Jesus asked his father, “How long has he been like this?”
        And he said, “From childhood. 22And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.”
        23Jesus said to him, “All things are possible to him who believes.”
        24Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe. Help my unbelief!”b
        25And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.”
        26And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, “He is dead.”
        27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
        (Mk. 9:14–27)

a   “he has an evil spirit; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid”—On the surface this appears to be a case of simple epilepsy. As the Oxford Bible notes, “the symptoms point to an epileptic seizure.” (Oxford Bible, p. 1226) However, a little later in the passage Jesus clearly casts out a demon. Perhaps this was a case of both epilepsy and demon possession.

b   “I believe. Help my unbelief!”—This statement of commingled faith and doubt presents an accurate and revealing picture of the human condition. We have faith but we must also reckon with our doubts. There is but one great struggle the believer must face, and that is to “fight the good fight of faith” over doubt.

Mk. 9:17  has an evil spirit; (Rieu) / has a dumb spirit; (RSV)
Mk. 9:19  long shall I bear (ASV) / long am I to bear (RSV)
Mk. 9:20  and / when the spirit saw him immediately it convulsed the boy and (RSV)
Mk. 9:21  he been like this? (Gspd) / he had this? (RSV)
Mk. 9:23  Jesus / And Jesus (RSV) • him, "All / him, “If you can! All (RSV)
Mk. 9:25  And Jesus rebuked / And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked (RSV) • it, "I / it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I (RSV)   (158:4–5/1755–8)