What Does The Bible Say About Viruses?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Although the word “virus” is not found in the Bible, are things similar to viruses mentioned in the Bible

Hygienic Laws

The Bible, or really, God has always been far ahead of humans, and especially with respect to medicine and hygiene. I remember at one time in medical science that doctors tried to cure people by “bloodletting,” or by cutting people open so that they would bleed and somehow, the problem (disease, sickness, etc.) would bleed out of the body. Clearly that was wrong, but the Bible’s Old Testament Laws were beneficial in many ways, particularly when it came to hygiene. Here are some examples:

Sanitation: “You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement” (Deut 23:12-13).

Quarantines: “He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp” (Lev 13:46). Also, see Numbers 5:2.

Personal Hygiene: “And he who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean. And after that he may come into the camp, but live outside his tent seven days” (Lev 14:8).

Obviously God’s intent for these laws was to try and prevent disease from spreading into the Israelite camps, thereby saving thousands of lives, so the Bible may not specifically mention viruses, but the insinuation is that they exist, and as Creator, God always knew about these viruses, diseases, cancers, and other human maladies. You will not find the word “virus” in the Bible; what you will find is a lot about preventing the spread of such things.

You won’t find the word “virus” in the Bible but you will find a lot about preventing their spread.

Death and Disease

After the fall in the Garden, the land was cursed. Now thorns and thistles, death and disease would enter into the picture of human history. Christians, we live in a fallen world and bad things are going to happen, both to lost people and saved. The cursed earth was a consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, although Adam had no excuse because Eve was deceived; the man went in with his eyes wide open, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12). Death includes accidental deaths, disease, and murder, but can the earth actually be affected by humans who are sinning on it? Yes in the sense of being bad stewards of the earth. We’ve raped, pillaged, stripped, dug, slashed, tunneled, and burned our way through the earth, and often with little thought of the aftermath. Today there are plagues or armies of locusts in Africa, there are extreme weather patterns, earthquakes in various places, unprecedented flooding, widespread pandemics (i.e. the Coronavirus), active volcanic movements and eruptions, and large areas of drought, which bring massive fires, devastating the landscape, and leaving precious little plant or animal life.

Perilous Times

Somehow, the Apostle Paul knew that “that in the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Tim 3:1), and when a crisis would come, men would only think about themselves (2 Tim 3:2). We can see what’s happening around us with the recent pandemic. Are these “but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matt 24:8)? Is this a judgment of God? I cannot speak for God and cannot know for certain, so I will not say. God knows. That’s enough. The Apostle John wrote about a time of human judgment when he wrote, “I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth” (Rev 6:8). Does the coronavirus have anything to do with the pale horse? I don’t believe the context of this chapter precisely fits the coronavirus that’s plaguing us today. For one thing, the church is not supposed to be on the earth when these seals or woes are poured out. Even so, it is food for thought. As far as we know, it could be the beginning of the sorrows to come that will lead up to the return of Jesus Christ. As for this being a judgment of God and part of the pale horse, there is not sufficient Scripture and context to make that conclusion. Again I say, God knows and that’s enough for me.

“A fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth” (Rev 6:8).

A Crisis and Christ

We can use these perilous times to share the gospel with the lost. Since the mortality of those around us is becoming more apparent these days, we can share the good news that there is hope beyond the grave…there is life beyond death. God can use this or any suffering to bring people to Christ. If it brings some people to their knees for the very first time; if it humbles them for the very first time in their lives, and if it causes them to pray to God and seek forgiveness, then the evil of this virus would have brought about much good (Gen 50:20).


I feel in my heart that many have already come to repent of their sins and place their trust in Christ. They found out that they can’t trust the world…especially the way it looks now, but they can trust the promises of God, like Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)? You must ask yourself that question: “Do you believe this?” If so, even if you die, you will live again!

Here is some related reading for you: Was the Coronavirus Prophesied in the Bible?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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