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What Does the Bible Say About Pandemics?

The Bible’s answer

The Bible foretold that pestilences (widespread diseases, including pandemics) would occur during the last days. (Luke 21:11) Such pandemics are not divine retribution or punishment from God. In fact, by means of his Kingdom, God will soon put an end to all health problems, including pandemics.

 Did the Bible foretell pandemics?

The Bible does not foretell specific pandemics or diseases, such as COVID-19, AIDS, or the Spanish flu. But it does foretell “pestilences” and “deadly plague.” (Luke 21:11; Revelation 6:8) These events are part of the sign of “the last days,” also referred to as “the conclusion of the system of things.”—2 Timothy 3:1; Matthew 24:3.

 Has God ever punished people with sickness?

The Bible reports a few occasions when God used sickness to punish people. For example, he caused some individuals to have leprosy. (Numbers 12:1-16; 2 Kings 5:20-27; 2 Chronicles 26:16-21) However, these isolated incidents were not indiscriminate pandemics that spread to innocent people. Rather, such events were specific judgments on individuals who had clearly rebelled against God.

 Are today’s pandemics punishment from God?

No. Some people claim that God is using pandemics and other sicknesses to punish people today. However, the Bible does not support that claim. Why not?

For one thing, some of God’s worshippers—both past and present—have been plagued with sickness. The faithful man Timothy, for example, suffered “frequent cases of sickness.” (1 Timothy 5:23) But the Bible does not say that this was a sign of God’s disfavor. Likewise today, some faithful servants of God become sick or contract diseases. Oftentimes, these individuals were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.—Ecclesiastes 9:11.

Moreover, the Bible teaches that God’s time to punish the wicked has not yet arrived. Rather, we are living “in a day of salvation”​—that is, a time when God is extending a warm invitation to all humans to draw close to him and be saved. (2 Corinthians 6:2) One way he extends that invitation is by means of a global preaching work with a positive message​—the “good news of the Kingdom.”​—Matthew 24:14.

 Will pandemics ever end?

Yes. The Bible foretells a time in the near future when no one will be sick. Under the rule of his Kingdom, God will cure all health problems. (Isaiah 33:24; 35:5, 6) He will do away with suffering, pain, and death. (Revelation 21:4) And he will bring back to life those who have died so that they can enjoy good health here on earth under perfect conditions.—Psalm 37:29; Acts 24:15.

 Bible verses about sickness

Matthew 4:23: “[Jesus] went throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the Kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people.”

Meaning: Jesus’ miracles demonstrated on a small scale what God’s Kingdom will soon do for all humankind.

Luke 21:11: “There will be . . . pestilences.”

Meaning: Widespread health problems are part of the sign of the last days.

Revelation 6:8: “Look! a pale horse, and the one seated on it had the name Death. And the Grave was closely following him. And authority was given them . . . to kill with . . . deadly plague.”

Meaning: The prophecy about the four horsemen of the Apocalypse indicates that pandemics would happen in our time.