“God Wrought Special Miracles by the Hands of Paul”
11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
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.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
“Healings come by the power of faith; there is no healing virtue or power in any item of clothing, or other object, whether owned by Paul or Jesus or anyone. But rites and objects may be used to help increase faith. ‘When a man works by faith,’ the [Lectures on Faith say], ‘he works by mental exertion instead of physical force’ [Lectures on Faith (1985), 72]. [See Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:157–59.] In this connection there are occasions when ordinances or performances or objects may be used to help center the mental faculties of a person on those things which will cause faith to increase.
“Thus Jesus used spittle and clay to anoint the eyes of a blind man, not that there was any healing power in the mud paste spread on the sightless eyes, but the physical act aided the mental labor out of which faith grew [see DNTC, 1:379–80]. The same principle is seen in the healing of the woman who touched Jesus’s garments [see DNTC, 1:317–19], in the dead being raised by touching the bones of Elisha [see 2 Kings 13:20–21], and in the very ordinance of administering to the sick through the formalities of anointing with oil and laying on of hands.
“Similar miracles to those wrought through Paul have occurred in this dispensation. On that memorable July 22, 1839, at Montrose, Iowa, for instance, when the Prophet healed the sick in great numbers, he took a silk handkerchief from his pocket, gave it to Wilford Woodruff, and told him to go and use it in the healing of two children of a nonmember of the Church. Elder Woodruff, as instructed, used the handkerchief in wiping the faces of the sick children and they were healed [see Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (1979), 223–24].”
(Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 2:169.)