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PALSY (παραλυτικός, G4166). Palsy means loss of motor function, and sometimes of sensory ability. It is an abbreviation of “paralysis.” In modern Eng. it is used much less frequently than “paralysis,” but palsy is still a well-recognized medical term.

Palsy—or paralysis—occurs in scores of different forms. It may be limited to a local area of the body, or be generalized. It may be temporary or permanent. Almost everyone has experienced the temporary rigidity of ischemic palsy, due to interference with the flow of blood to the muscles involved. Progressive, or wasting palsy, is seen in muscular dystrophy with its gradual loss of muscular tissue. A striking example of generalized and usually permanent paralysis is seen in some cases of polio meningitis.

The causes of palsy are many and varied. The condition may be inherited. It may be due to injury at birth. Sicknesses, such as polio or syphilis, may be responsible. A common cause is injury to a major nerve, or to the spinal cord. Paralysis due to hysteria is seen occasionally. In Biblical days sins of an individual were blamed for his paralysis, and this thought must have added greatly to the patient’s misery.

Jesus cured people with paralysis (Matt 4:24; 8:6; Mark 2:3). So also Peter (Acts 9:33, 34) and Philip, who cured “many who were paralyzed” (Acts 8:7). See Diseases.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

pol’-zi, pa-ral’-i-sis (paralusis): The English word "palsy" is derived from the Old French paralesie, which in Middle English was shortened into palesie, the form in which it appears in Wycliff’s version. In the 16th century it appears as "palsy," the form used in the King James Version. This, however, is seldom used at the present day, the Latinized Greek form "paralysis" being more frequently employed, both in modern literature and in colloquial English "Sick of the palsy" is the translation either of the adjective paralutikos or of the participle of the verb paraluomai. The disease is one characterized by extreme loss of the power of motion dependent on some affection either of the motor centers of the brain or of the spinal cord. It is always serious, usually intractable, and generally sudden in onset (1 Macc 9:55 f). Miraculous cures by our Lord are related in general terms, as in Mt 4:24; Ac 8:7. Aeneas (Ac 9:33) was probably a paralytic eight years bedridden. Though the Lord addressed the paralytic let down through the roof (Mt 9:6; Mr 2:3; Lu 5:18) as "son," it was not necessarily a proof that he was young, and though He prefaces the cure by declaring the forgiveness of sin, we need not infer that the disease was the result of an evil life, although it may have been. Bennett conjectures that the centurion’s palsied servant grievously tormented was suffering from progressive paralysis with respiratory spasms (see Pain). The substantive paralusis is only once used in the Septuagint in Eze 21:10, but here it refers to the loosing of the sword, not to the disease.

See also

  • Diseases