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The Purpose of Signs and Wonders in the New Testament: What Terms for Miraculous Power Denote and Their Relationship to the Gospel, Part 2, by Gary S. Greig

53 Armstrong, in Horton, ed., Power Religion, p. 83.

54 So Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 95, n. 2. The context of “weakness” in I Cor. 1-2 which Fee mentions does not make it less likely that I Cor. 2:4b refers to the “signs, wonders, and miracles” of II Cor. 12:12 than the spiritual gifts mentioned in I Cor. 1:6-7, since it is in the very context of mentioning his own weakness that Paul alludes to the signs and wonders of his ministry in II Cor. 12:12 (compare II Cor. 12:7-10, 21; 13:4b, 8 and II Cor. 12:12).

55 Several facts indicate that the “demonstration of the Spirit’s power” in I Cor. 2:4-5 refers to signs, wonders, miracles, and spiritual gifts, as many scholars have interpreted it (Gatzweiler, “Der Paulinische Wunderbegriff,” pp. 403-405, n. 52; Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity: New Testament Essays, pp. 64-65; Schweizer, TDNT, vol. 6, p. 423 and n. 600; O. Hofius, in C. Brown, ed., NIDNTT, vol. II, pp. 632-633; E. Preuschen, Greichisch-deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur [rev. by W. Bauer, Giessen, 1928], sub apodeixis; Powell, The Biblical Concept of Power, pp. 139-140; J. Ruef, Paul’s First Letter to Corinth [Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1971], pp. 16-17):

  1. Elsewhere where Paul couples pneuma “Spirit” with dunamis “power,” dunamis denotes “miracle” (e.g., Gal. 3:5) or is explicitly associated with “signs and wonders” (Rom. 15:19).
  2. Paul explicitly states that not only were signs, wonders, and miracles a regular part of his ministry in general, according to Rom. 15:18-19, but that they were a regular part of his ministry to the Corinthians according II Cor. 12:12.
  3. Wherever Acts describes the deeds accompanying Paul’s preaching, they are clearly signs and wonders of healing and deliverance as well as manifestations of spiritual gifts (Acts 13:7, 10-11; 14:3, 9-10; 16:14, 16-18, 26, 32; 19: 3-6, 8-12; 20:7, 9-10).
  4. The noun apodeixis “demonstration” is paralleled in Acts 2:22 by the related verb from the same root apodeiknumi, “attest, show forth, display,” which is used of the God’s attesting to Jesus through the signs, wonders, and miracles of Jesus’ healing ministry.
  5. The same noun, apodeixis “demonstration,” is used of proof through signs and wonders in contrast to the spoken word (cf. BAGD, p. 89) in Philo’s Life of Moses, 1, 95, dating from the first half of the first century A.D., just prior to the date of I Corinthians: apodeixesi tais dia sēmeiōn kai teratōn “by the demonstrations with signs and wonders” in contrast to ta dia tōn logōn prostattomena “the orders (given) with words” in Moses and Aaron’s confrontations with the Egyptian Pharaoh (F. H. Colson, Philo, vol 6 [Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1935], p. 324).

56 Gatzweiler, “Der Paulinische Wunderbegriff,” pp. 403-405, n. 52: “Als Belege … zitieren wir 1 Thess. 1, 5; 2, 13; I Kor. 2, 4-5; 2 Kor 6, 7; 13, 3; Kol. 1, 29; 2 Tim. 1, 8. An all diesen Stellen spricht Paulus von der Verkündigung des Evangeliums, die von göttlicher Kraft, von der Macht des Geistes begleitet war. Das Evangelium ist Gottes Macht, die sich unter den Menschen entfaltet. Für den Leser, der schon weiss, dass der Apostel bei der Verkündigung des Evangeliums Wunder gewirkt hat (vgl. 2 Kor. 12, 12; Röm. 15, 18-19), liegt es nahe, wie selbstverständlich unter den begriffen ‘Macht’ und ‘Kraft,’ die die Verkündigung des Evangeliums begleiten, auch Wunderereignisse zu verstehen.”

57 Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity: New Testament Essays, pp. 64-65. Similarly, Schweizer, TDNT, vol. 6, p. 423 and n. 600: “In I Cor. 2:4f. the ‘demonstration of the Spirit and of power’ is differentiated from the ‘words of wisdom’ and ‘the wisdom of men’ and indeed from the ‘word’ generally in I Thes. 1:5… In Rom. 15:19 ‘the power of the Spirit’ is parallel to ‘the power of signs and wonders’, … and ‘Spirit’ to ‘miracles’ in Gal. 3:5. The ‘Spirit’ is thus everywhere understood as something whose reception may be verified. Paul, e.g., can list glossolalia, gifts of healing and miraculous powers among the works of the Spirit, I Cor. 12:9f., 28-30; 14:18-26…”

58 K. Barth, Die Kirchliche Dogmatik (Zollikon-Zurich, 1947-1959), vol 4.2, pp. 263ff.; cited by van der Loos, The Miracles of Jesus, p. 270, n. 1.

59 Hendrickx, The Miracle Stories of the Synoptic Gospels, p. 18.

60 Van der Loos, The Miracles of Jesus, p. 270. Similarly, Oepke, “iaomai,” TDNT, vol. 3, pp. 213-214: “The essential thing for the community [the Early Church in Acts] is never healing alone. The acts of power (dunamis) are signs. If they confer benefits on individuals, in this very quality they awaken faith and further the progress of preaching (sēmeion, teras, Rom. 15:18f.; [I Cor. 2:4f.; I Thes. 1:5?]; 2 Cor. 12:12; also Acts 2:43; 5:12; 6:8; 14:3; 15:12: with iasis [“healing”] 4:22, 30). The gift of healing is an operation of the name of the exalted Christ (Acts 13:6)… It is an operation of the ascended Lord through the Spirit (Acts 9:34; Rom. 15:18f.).”

61 Boice in Horton, ed., Power Religion, p. 133.

62 Ibid., p. 134.

63 On the “signs of an apostle” in II Cor. 12:12 including more than miraculous signs and wonders, see Wayne Grudem’s Wayne Grudem’s chapter in this book, objection no. 7.

64 Powell, The Biblical Concept of Power, p. 136; Justin Martyr similarly argued in the second century A.D. that Jesus’ healings are a witness of how Jesus would restore the whole body at the resurrection of all those who are in Christ (van der Loos, The Miracles of Jesus, p. 248, n. 1).

65 Boice in Horton, ed., Power Religion, p. 126.

66 Richardson, The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels, p. 17.

67 Grundmann, “dunamai/dunamis,” TDNT, vol. 2, pp. 309-311.

68 BAGD, pp. 670ff.

69 The use of pleroō “bring (the gospel) to full expression” in Rom. 15:19 cannot mean that Paul finished preaching the gospel, because he was still planning to visit Rome and preach the gospel further in Spain (Rom. 1:13, 15; 15:23f.). Nor can it mean that he said everything there was to say about the gospel, as Murray points out: “He says he ‘fully preached’ the gospel. This means that he had ‘fulfilled’ the gospel (cf. Col. 1:25) and does not reflect on the fulness with which he set forth the gospel (cf. Acts 20:20, 27)… Neither does ‘fully preached’ imply that he had preached the gospel in every locality and to every person in these territories” (J. Murray, The Epistle to the Romans [NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968], vol. 2, p. 214).

But, as G. Friedrich points out, it means that Paul proclaimed the gospel in the way he described in Rom. 15:18-19, “in word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit”: “Again, Rom. 15:19 … does not mean that Paul has concluded his missionary work, but that the Gospel is fulfilled when it has taken full effect. In the preaching of Paul Christ has shown Himself effective in word and sign and miracle (v. 18). Hence the Gospel has been brought to fulfilment from Jerusalem to Illyricum and Christ is named in the communities (v. 20)” (Friedrich, TDNT, vol. 2, p. 732).

70 E.g., Mat. 12:28; Mk. 5:30; Lk. 5:17; 6:18-19; 8:46; Acts 3:12; 10:38; Rom. 15:19; I Cor. 12:4, 9-10; Gal. 3:5; Heb. 2:4; etc.; See Grundmann, “dunamai/dunamis,” TDNT, vol. 2, p. 311 and n. 91: “Paul fits the same pattern [of Jesus and the disciples]. His work is done ‘in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit’ (Rom. 15:19)… This power is expressed on the one side in miracles: ‘in the power of signs and wonders’. There are many references to these in the epistles: ‘the signs of an apostle … signs, wonders, and miracles’, II Cor. 12:12; God ‘working miracles among you’, Gal. 3:5; his activity in Thessalonica did not take place ‘in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit’, I Thes. 1:5… Alongside the power of miracles is the power of proclamation and edification… Here we see the connexion between Spirit and power, which we have already seen everywhere in Luke. The Spirit is the One who dispenses and mediates power.”

See also Schweizer, TDNT, vol. 6, p. 398: “The distinctiveness of the saying [Mat. 12:28] lies in the fact that the presence of the Spirit … is interpreted as the presence of the basileia [“kingdom”]. Similarly, the promise that God will lay His Spirit on the Servant is seen to be fulfilled in the healings [italics his] of Jesus according to Mat. 12:18 [cf. 12:15]. This is in keeping with the view of the [early Christian] community, which perceives the dawn of the last time in the coming of the miracle-working Spirit [italics his].”

On the “Spirit” and “power” associated with healing signs, wonders, and miracles in the New Testament, see also Hofius, NIDNTT, vol. II, pp. 632-633; Ellis, “Christ and Spirit in I Corinthians,” Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity: New Testament Essays, pp. 63ff.; Oepke, “iaomai,” TDNT, vol. 3, pp. 213-214; Lampe, in Moule, ed., Miracles. Cambridge Studies, p. 171; Gatzweiler, “Der Paulinische Wunderbegriff,” p. 401; Powell, The Biblical Concept of Power, p. 139; O. Schmitz, Der Begriff dunamis bei Paulus (1927), p. 145; E. Sokolewski, Die Begriffe Geist und Leben bei Paulus (1903), pp. 1ff.

71 So Gatzweiler, “Der Paulinische Wunderbegriff,” p. 403 and n. 52; Grundmann, TDNT, vol. 2, p. 311; Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity: New Testament Essays, p. 65; Hofius, NIDNTT, vol. II, p. 632.

72 Hiebert, Wonders and the Word, p. 126.

73 See references in note 71.

74 Gatzweiler, “Der Paulinische Wunderbegriff,” pp. 403-405, n. 52: “Als Belege … zitieren wir 1 Thess. 1, 5; 2, 13; I Kor. 2, 4-5; 2 Kor 6, 7; 13, 3; Kol. 1, 29; 2 Tim. 1, 8. An all diesen Stellen spricht Paulus von der Verkündigung des Evangeliums, die von göttlicher Kraft, von der Macht des Geistes begleitet war. Das Evangelium ist Gottes Macht, die sich unter den Menschen entfaltet. Für den Leser, der schon weiss, dass der Apostel bei der Verkündigung des Evangeliums Wunder gewirkt hat (vgl. 2 Kor. 12, 12; Röm. 15, 18-19), liegt es nahe, wie selbstverständlich unter den begriffen ‘Macht’ und ‘Kraft,’ die die Verkündigung des Evangeliums begleiten, auch Wunderereignisse zu verstehen.”

75 Richardson, The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels, pp. 61-62. For similar remarks about Jesus’ healing ministry illustrating the gospel and His victory over Satan, sin, sickness and death, see E. Thurneysen, Die Lehre von der Seelsorge (Zürich, 1946), p. 230: “[Die heilungen] sind … Zeichen, die den Sieg des Christus über Sünde und Tod anzeigen” ([The healings] are … signs which show the victory of Christ over sin and death”); Grundmann, TDNT, vol. II, p.303; van der Loos, The Miracles of Jesus, p. 252: “As evidential power it identifies Jesus as the Messiah-King and reveals His divine mission. As militant power it reveals Jesus as the adversary of all the forces of ruin. For Jesus has come to smash the forces of disease, sin and death, to dethrone Satan. This dual nature of the power function finds striking expression in Jesus’ important pronouncement: “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you,” Mt. 12:28, and cf. Lk. 11:20.”

76 Ibid., p. 66.

77 A. M. Hunter, The Work and the Words of Jesus (London, 1950), p. 55; cited by Powell, The Biblical Concept of Power, p. 114, n. 35. Similarly, Powell, The Biblical Concept of Power, p. 82: “The Kingdom comes chiefly, not as claim and decision, but as saving dynamis, as redeeming power, to set free a world lying in the clutches of Satan…”

78 Richardson, The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels, p. 38. Similarly, van der Loos, The Miracles of Jesus, pp. 223-224; Hendrickx, The Miracle Stories of the Synoptic Gospels, p. 12.

79 Hendrickx, The Miracle Stories of the Synoptic Gospels, pp. 11-12.

80 Richardson, The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels, pp. 41-42.

81 Ibid., pp. 44-45.

82 E.g., Mat. 4:23; 9:35-36; 10:1, 7-8; 11:5; 12:15, 18; 15:30; 19:2 (cf. Mk. 10:1); 21:14 (cf. Lk. 21:37) Mk. 1: 38-39; 2:2, 11; 3:14-15; 6:12-13; 10:1 (cf. Mat. 19:2) Lk. 4:18; 5:17, 24; 6:6-11, 17-18; 7:22; 9:1-2; 10:9, 13; 13:10-13, 22, 32; 14:4, 7ff.; 21:37 (cf. Mat. 21:14); 16:15-18, 20 Jn. 3:2; 7:14-15, 21-23, 31, 38; 10:25, 32, 38; 12:37, 49; 14:10, 12; Acts 1:1; 2:22; 10:38.

83 E.g., Acts 3:6, 12; 4:29-30; 5:12-16, 20-21, 28, 42; 6:8, 10; 8:4-7, 12; 9:17-18 (cf. 22:13), 34-35; 14:3, 8-10, 15ff.; 15:12, 36; 18:5, 11 (cf. II Cor. 12:12; I Cor. 2:4-5); 19:8-12. Rom. 15:18-19; I Cor. 2:4-5; 11:1; 12:1-11, 28-31; II Cor. 12:12; Gal. 3:5; Phil. 4:9; I Thes. 1:5-6; Heb. 2:3-4; 6:1-2; Jas. 5:13-16.

84 Hendrickx, The Miracle Stories of the Synoptic Gospels, pp. 14-15.

85 In Eph. 5:18 Paul commands us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (cf. I Thes. 5:17; Col. 4:2). Yet, Paul was ill in Galatia for a long enough period that it “was a trial” to the Galatians (Gal. 4:14); Epaphroditus did not experience immediate healing from illness and almost died according to Phil. 2:27; Timothy had chronic illnesses involving his stomach which were not completely healed according to I Tim. 5:23; and Paul had to leave Trophimus sick in Miletus, apparently seeing no healing in response to prayer (II Tim. 4:20).

86 On experiencing healing of illness as a “gift of grace” (I Cor. 12:9, 28, 29) experienced only in part in the Early Church according to the New Testament, see Oepke, “iaomai,” TDNT, vol. 3, p. 214; on experiencing spiritual gifts in this age only “in part (ek merous I Cor. 13:9),” see Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 644 and n. 21; Schneider, TDNT, vol. 4, p. 596.

87 Boice, Power Religion, p. 129.

88 BAGD, pp. 207-208; Grundmann, “dunamai/dunamis,” TDNT, vol. 2, pp. 309-311; Trench, Synonyms, p. 343: “But the miracles are also ‘powers’ (dunameis … ), outcomings of that mighty power of God, which was inherent in Christ …; these powers being by Him lent to those who were his witnesses and ambassadors”; id., Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1953), p. 5; cf. McCasland’s rendering of dunamis, “manifestation of divine power,” JBL 76 (1957): 149.

89 BAGD, pp. 798ff.: sōzō “save, heal” denoting salvation from sin (Lk. 7:48, 50); healing of the woman with hemorraging (Mat. 9:21, 22; Mk. 5:28, 34; Lk. 8:48); resuscitation of Jairus’ daughter from death (Mk. 5:23; Lk. 8:50); healing of the sick in market places (Mk. 6:56); healing the blind (Mk. 10:52; Lk. 18:42); healing the demonized Gadarene (Lk. 8:36); healing leprosy (Lk. 17:19); of Lazarus being restored to health (Jn. 11:12).

Richardson, The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels, pp. 61-62: “The connexion between healing and salvation (in the religious sense) is a characteristic feature of the Gospel tradition. Miracles of healing are, as it were, symbolic demonstrations of God’s forgiveness in action… The verb sōzein [“save, heal”] is itself ambiguous, meaning, on the one hand, to heal to rescue from danger, to keep safe and sound, and on the other hand, to “save” in the technical biblical-religious sense. The same is true of iasthai [“heal, restore”] .”

90 Carson in Horton, ed., Power Religion, p. 97. Similarly, Boice in Horton, ed., Power Religion, pp. 125-126, quoting John Woodhouse; Horton, Power Religion, p. 332.

91 The grammatical structure of I Cor. 14:22 cannot be understood any other way: the elliptical clause hē de prophēteia ou tois apistois alla tois pisteuousin depends on the preceding clause for its full grammatical and lexical meaning; see Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 682 and n. 38; Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in I Corinthians, pp. 193-194; id., The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, pp. 173f. and n. 68.

92 Rengstorf, TDNT, vol. 7, p. 246.

93 For erga denoting “miraculous works” when referring to Jesus and God in the Gospel of John: BAGD, p. 308; Bertram, “ergon,” TDNT, vol. 2, p. 642; Rengstorf, “sēmeion,” TDNT, vol. 7, pp. 247-248; Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord, p. 6: “That his erga [‘works’] are his miracles, the following passages, v. 36; x. 25, 32, 38; xiv. 10-11; xv. 24; … decisively prove.”

94 Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, pp. 94-97. Similarly, Hendrickx, The Miracle Stories of the Synoptic Gospels, p. 17: “Jesus looks for a faith that allows itself to be carried further by the sign. His opponents did not have this openness. To them the miracles were not signs. They wanted proofs. Therefore, Jesus said, ‘No sign shall be given to this generation’ (Mk. 8:12)”; Richardson, The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels, p. 47: “St. Mark leaves us in no doubt that, although He refused to show a sign to the Pharisees, Jesus nevertheless regarded His miracles as ‘signs.’”

95 Carson in Horton, ed., Power Religion, p. 93.

96 Boice in Horton, ed., Power Religion, p. 128; similarly, Ibid., p. 125.

97 A point made by Rengstorf, TDNT, vol. 7, p. 241.

98 Lampe, in Moule, ed., Miracles. Cambridge Studies, pp. 173-174.

99 Roe, ed., Dream Big, p. 68.

 

Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NIV®.

This chapter is from Gary S. Greig and Kevin N. Springer, eds., The Kingdom and the Power: Are Healing and the Spiritual Gifts Used by Jesus and the Early Church Meant for the Church Today? A Biblical Look at How to Bring the Gospel to the World with Power (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1993). Used with permission.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Spring 2007

About the Author: Gary S. Greig, Ph.D. (University of Chicago), is Vice President for Content, Bible and Theology for Gospel Light Publications and Regal Books and an adjunct faculty mentor of United Theological Seminary (Dayton, Ohio) and of Dr. Randy Clark’s Global Awakening Ministries. He was an associate professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Regent University, School of Divinity from 1995–1998, and before that an adjunct professor of Hebrew for Fuller Theological Seminary. He was co-editor with Kevin Springer of The Kingdom and the Power of the Cross: Are the Healing and Spiritual Gifts Used by Jesus and the Early Church Meant for the Church Today? A Biblical Look at How to Bring the Gospel to the World with Power (Regal, 1993), a compendium to lay out the biblical foundations of power evangelism and power ministry. LinkedIn

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