Handkerchiefs And Aprons

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Hi Dan,
Thank you for your question. Here is the section of scripture about which you are asking:

Act 19:11  And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
Act 19:12  So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

What was sent by Paul “from his body” was clothing. It was “handkerchiefs and aprons.” Here is what Strong’s Concordance says about handkerchiefs:
soo- dar’- ee- on
Of Latin origin; a sudarium ( sweat cloth), that is, towel (for wiping the perspiration from the face, or binding the face of a corpse): – handkerchief, napkin.
This word is used but four times in the New Testament according to the King James Concordance:
Total KJV Occurrences: 4
napkin, 3
Luke19:20, Joh 11:44, Joh 20:7

, 1
Let’s look at how this word is used in God’s Word. The first place this word is used is in reference to “laying up a pound in a napkin:”

Luk 19:20  And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

Here is Matthew’s version of this parable:

Mat 25:18  But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

The next two times this word is used is in reference to the deaths of  Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead, and to Christ when he was risen from the dead:

Joh 11:44  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

The third time this word appears is in reference to Christ Himself. But notice the details we are given in this case:

Joh 20:7  And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Why is not the napkin lying with the linen clothes? The commentaries all see the outward meaning which is obvious. If his disciples had indeed stolen His body, they certainly would not have taken time to fold his grave clothes at all, let alone to fold and place the face cloth in a separate place. But is that all we are to get from the fact that we are told specifically: “the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself?”
No, the outward is never the primary message in the words of our Lord.

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, t hey are spirit, and they are life.

So what is the “spirit” behind this word ‘handkerchief?’ The only way we will know is to look at how this word is used. When we do this we see that the Greek is ‘soudarion.’ It is translated ‘napkin’ in all of it’s other three entries and in every case it is used to hide what would otherwise be seen. It was a napkin which was used to hide the pound or talent. It was a napkin which hid the faces of both Christ and Lazarus. And for most who are “called to be saints,” napkins and aprons are used to hide the true healings and works  which are “greater than these” physical healings.

Joh 14:12  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Why is the napkin, the handkerchief “ not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself?” Why are we told that this piece of clothing is to be kept separate from the linen clothes? The reason is, as you have attested to in this letter, gifts of the spirit are not to be mixed with or confused with the fruit of the spirit. What is so sad in your case and in a million others identical to yours, is that there is no gift of the spirit to even abuse or confuse with the linen cloths. What are the linen cloths in their spiritual significance?:

Rev 19:8 (b) … The fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Gifts of the spirit and righteousness of saints must never be equated with one another. Paul says that we can indeed have all the gifts of the spirit operating in our life and still have no agape love.

1Co 12:4  Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

God is love and love is the fruit of God’s spirit. So while “God wrought special miracles [ Greek- dunamis-1411] by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them,” this same means of using miracles  ‘Is, Was and Will Be’ used to keep babes in Christ from maturing into tried and proven Sons of God who have to leave Trophemus sick at Miletum:

2Ti 4:20  Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.

Or Epaphroditus sick unto death:

Phi 2:25  Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
Phi 2:26  For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
Phi 2:27  For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

Why didn’t Paul just pray for these men and for Timothy’s oft infirmities:

1Ti 5:23  Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

Look at what was happening at Corinth even in Paul’s day:

1Co 1:1  Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
1Co 1:2  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,

An what gifts of the spirit did these “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” Corinthians possess?

1Co 1:7 … Ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

These carnal babes in Christ had it all. Or at least they thought they did, because they “came behind in no gift.” But the Truth is they were “yet carnal.” Their faith had yet to be tried. They had yet to ask God to heal Trophemus, Epaphroditus or Timothy and not see that prayer answered. And so it is today. Those who are so concerned with gifts are always the ones who are the least concerned with the fruit of the Giver. It is those who concentrate on ‘gifts’ who are always wanting you to send them a ‘love gift’ for some trinket or tape or CD or DVD, etc. Rod Parsley promises three healings for a gift of $10,000. That is over $3,000 per healing! The gospel and healings should never be connected with requests for money:

Mat 10:8  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

The promise is that you will then be blessed with a greater ‘gift.’  So they promise, and so do many desperate people believe. These poor souls are like so many desperate people who are willing to give away their entire paycheck in hope of winning the lottery.
Now with this far more mature “trial of your faith” attitude let’s look at the one entry where this word ‘handkerchief’ or napkin’ is used in reference to Christ.

Joh 20:7  And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Where Christ is involved, the napkin is kept separated from the linen cloths. Christ’s glory is not in His physical miracles. Rather His glory is in His spiritual miracles. The multitudes followed Christ for the physical bread and Christ said ‘no more physical bread.’ When He said this and told them what was the bread they really needed to hunger after, they no longer followed Him:

Joh 6:26  Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Joh 6:27  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Joh 6:57  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
Joh 6:58  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
Joh 6:59  These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
Joh 6:60  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard [ this], said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

Joh 6:66  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Physical healings are “meat which perishes.” Physical healings are wonderful for a very little while. But here is what Christ said about what should be our perspective concerning physical healings and physically casting out demons:

Luk 10:9  And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luk 10:17  And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
Luk 10:20  Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Our joy is to be in the things of the spirit, not the flesh. Not even in the healing of the flesh. The “greater things” are the things of the spirit which are accomplished in the hearts and minds of God’s people. The napkin and the apron are there, but even in the Old Testament, the napkin served in the same way. It was used to hide the glory in Moses’s face. Hiding the glory of the Old Testament is but a type of those things which are used today to hide the glory of the New Testament. And there is “to this day” a veil which keeps us from seeing the glory of Christ. That veil is the very obsession with physical healings which to this day hide the true glory of what is accomplished in the realm of the spirit.

2Co 3:13  And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
2Co 3:14  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
2Co 3:15  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

In every case where we see this face napkin, it is being used to hide the true glory. Act 19 is no exception to this rule. Physical miracles are fine so long as they are not used as the criteria for “trying the spirits to see whether they be of God.” That is where we look more to the fruit of the spirit:

Mat 7:16  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Mat 7:17  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Joh 11:44  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

“Loose him and let him go” includes removing that napkin from his face and keeping that napkin separate from the linen cloths. I hope this helps to give you a better perspective of what is the spiritual significance of aprons and napkins going out from the body of Paul, and physically healing and casting out demons in those who received them. As was always the significance of this napkin, and so it is with the aprons, they were used to hide the true glory of Christ.  The napkin is always to be kept separate from the linen cloths so as not to be led astray by ministers who place more emphasis on the gifts than on the Giver of the gifts.

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