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About the word…
“lunatic” in the King James Version

Greek: σεληνιάζομαι —transliteration: seléniazomai —meaning: to be moonstruck

also known as: lunatick or moonstruck

The meaning of this word has changed over many years. Today, it is used sometimes carelessly to refer to a person with a mental illness or someone was is unpredictable and dangerous, or foolish. It is generally synonymous with “crazy.” However, in ancient times, this term referred to one with epileptic seizures/convulsions (a symptom of a physical disorder in the brain).

In ancient time, some thought that the symptoms of epilepsy or seizures were aggravated by moon’s increase [luna = moon].

The Greek word seléniazomai appears in 2 verses in Matthew’s gospel. This word is translated in the King James Version as “lunatick.”

The OLD King James Version of Matthew 4:24 reads,

…they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. —Matthew 4:24 KJV excerpt

Thus, Matthew 4:24 clearly makes a distinction between epileptics and demoniacs (“possessed with devils”).

Other Bible translations use the word “epileptics” (NKJV, NASB) or “seizures” (ESV, NIV).

However, some hate-filled fallen angels (devils/demons) have many abilities, and it is evidently possible for them to produce seizure-like manifesations in a person, thus delighting in their suffering. A single such case is mentioned in Scripture where a father wrongly applies the term to his son’s condition, not realizing that the son is actually demon possessed, which Christ immediately recognized.

In Matthew 17, the New King James Version reads…

…a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “…Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” —Matthew 17:14-19 NKJV excerpt

Matthew 17:14-19 OLD King James Version reads,

…there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick [seléniazomai], and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, “…bring him hither to me.” And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

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Article Version: October 2, 2019