Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb ιαομαι (iaomai) means to heal or repair and is used 28 times (see full concordance). It's one of two main verbs that mean to heal; the other one being θεραπευω (therapeuo), which is used 44 times. There's no paint-by-number correlation but the difference between our two verbs ties into the two main categories of infirmity, namely: (1) failing to properly obtain data, and (2) failing to properly react to data. These two categories are poetically summarized in the colloquial term "the lame and the blind" (עור ופסח, 'iwwer wa piseah), in which the word for blind comes from the word for skin (where it shouldn't be), and the word for lame from the idea of lacking support (where it should be).
The mental cosmos of humanity (our common world of symbols, words, ideas, rules, principles, knowledge, certainties, even skills, hopes and dreams: the whole of human reality) is very much like a planet with its own climate zones, seasons and weather. The habitable zone of this mental planet is bordered by the great liquid unknown of the western sea — the east is the past, which we know and thus continuously face and regard; see קדם (qedem) — and a healthy mental life is signified by a kind of hydrological cycle of chatting, exploring, learning, forgetting, growing and self-organizing human minds. An ascent into pride or legalism (in stories often signified by winter, or a trip north or up a high mountain) freezes these waters and life stops.
Blindness, in all its many guises, comes down to an insensitivity to light and thus heat, and coincides with coldness of heart and pride. Leprosy is essentially a form of "blindness of the skin", which ultimately causes the necrosis (and going cold) of the tissues beneath. In Tolkien, "dragon sickness" is a lust for security at all cost, even at the cost of love, friendship and sanity. Ultimately, any kind of fire from heaven will restore the balance and drive survivors back into the warm habitable zone.
Blindness is a winter sickness but lameness is a summer sickness, when life erupts and paths that are not carefully maintained become overgrown and are lost. A society that additionally fails to properly discard its wastes will become drunk and infested with flies (the name Beelzebub means Lord of the Flies), which in turn prompts the proliferation of spiders: addictions and other forms of forced bondage that bind the over-indulgent and lazy, and ultimately sucks the life out of them.
Lameness is signified by any loss of direction and thus progression, and is often brought about or accompanied by fear. A lame person is unable to relocate, which means that people who can't change their minds or who can't image some other point of view, are lame too. A lame person who can find friends to carry him around, has effectively overcome his lameness by means of his network. A more common cure for this "spider-sickness" is a bout of sobriety, a cleaning up of the environment and perhaps a sturdy trip north into training and discipline.
There is of course considerable overlap — a blind person may shuffle around but still can't change his point of view (since he has no view), and a lame person may choose to close his eyes so as not to see what he can't reach — but on average and in general, the verb θεραπευω (therapeuo) mostly describes a removing of what shouldn't be there, whereas our verb ιαομαι (iaomai) mostly describes a supplying of what should be there. The verb θεραπευω (therapeuo) mostly speaks of supplying warmth (a purifying fire, physical fever or simply comfort and emotional warmth) and thus mostly cures all forms of blindness. Our verb ιαομαι (iaomai) mostly speaks of supplying inner strength and order and thus mostly cures lameness. Note that all people are born lame (babies can't walk) and restoring a person may also describe raising them up like one would a child. Likewise, many blind people are old, and curing a blind person may also describe rejuvenating them: restoring a person's curiosity and sense of adventure.
From our verb ιαομαι (iaomai) derive:
- The noun ιαμα (iama), meaning a healing, a repair, a cure (1 Corinthians 12:9, 12:28 and 12:30 only). Note that this word occurs only in plural, and only in the phrase "the gift of healings", which does not denote some kind of spiritual magic but rather simply a medicine. The gift of healings, like so many other gifts, start with a talent (or an opportunity) and is developed into something useful through years of study.
- The noun ιασις (iasis), meaning the act or process of healing (Luke 13:32, Acts 4:22 and 4:30 only).
- The noun ιατρος (iatros), meaning a healer, repairer or strengthener. Note that the familiar proverb "healer cure thyself" (Luke 4:23) comes with a double pun, as it combines our noun ιατρος (iatros) with the verb θεραπευω (therapeuo), suggesting that some folks who desire to heal and repair their brethren actually do so because they themselves suffer from an excess of something that shouldn't be there. Sometimes a person with very little inner strength is simply supposed to be like that (Zechariah 4:6, 2 Corinthians 12:9), and insisting on supplying someone like that with the strength that comes from exposure to one's blazing insights may have a detrimental effect on the patient (who wasn't a patient to begin with). The world's troubles began when Eve famously ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And that was not a cognition thing but an ethical thing. Eve began to make a distinction between good and evil, which means she began to judge, which means that she pronounced judgement on herself and ultimately succumbed to the evil she now could identify (Matthew 7:1, Romans 2:1). The law reveals sin (Romans 3:20) and sin kills (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:1). Innocence in evil (Romans 16:19) means that you don't see it, and being able to see an evil means that you are intimately familiar with it, and thus that you derive your own identity from it. The art of healing begins with the art of being intimately familiar with someone's proper functioning within the larger community. Without that knowledge, a healer will certainly do more harm than good. Our noun is used 7 times; see full concordance