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Should Christians Expect Miracles Today? Objections and Answers from the Bible, Part 1, by Wayne A. Grudem


1. See John Wimber Power Evangelism (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1986); Power Healing (San Francisco, CA. HarperSanFrancisco 1987); Power Healing (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991); C. Peter Wagner, The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant, 1988); John White, When the Spirit Comes with Power (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988).

2. All Scripture quotations in this series are taken from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

3. This objection is made by D.A. Carson, “The Purpose of Signs and Wonders in the New Testament,” in Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?, edited by Michael Scott Horton (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1992), pp. 89-118; see esp. p. 97.

4. Acts 3:6, 12ff.; 5:12-16, 20, 21, 28, 42; 9:34, 35 10:44-46

5. Acts 14:3, 8-10, 15ff.; 15:12, 36; 16:13, 14, 16-18; 18:5, 11 (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 2:4,5); 19:8-12; Romans 15:18,19; 1 Corinthians 1:6, 7; 2:4, 5; 2 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

6. Matthew 4:23; 9:35, 9:36; (cf. 10:1, 7, 8); 11:5; 12:15, 18; 15:30; 19:2 (cf. Mark 10:1); 21:14 (cf. Luke 21:37; Mark 1:38, 39; 2:2, 11; 3:14, 15; 6:12, 13; 10:1 (cf. Matthew 19:2); Luke 4:18; 5:17, 24; 6:6-11, 17 18; 7:22; (cf. 9:1, 2; 10:9, 13); 13:10-13, 22, 32; 14:4, 7ff.; 21:37 (cf. Matthew 21:14; 16:15-18, 20; John 3:2; 7:14, 15, 21-23, 31, 38; 10:25, 32, 38, 12:37, 49; 14:10.

7. James Montgomery Boice, “A Better Way: The Power of the Word and Spirit,” in Horton, ed., Power Religion, pp. 127-128.

8. In neither case should these events be thought of as some kind of “magic” that came automatically through Peter’s shadow or handkerchiefs Paul had touched. But rather as an indication that the Holy Spirit was pleased to give such a full and remarkable empowering to the ministry of these men that on occasion He extended His work beyond their individual bodily presence even to things they came near or touched.

9. The manuscript evidence and considerations of style suggest that these verses were not originally part of the Gospel that Mark wrote.

10. It is included in several manuscripts of Tateno’s Diatessaron (A.D. 170), and is quoted by Irenaeus (died A.D. 202) and Tertullian (died A.D. 220).

11. Though it is not found in many of the earliest and best Greek manuscripts, the longer ending of Mark 16:9-20 is nevertheless found in a majority of the extant Greek manuscripts of the New Testament (K. Aland and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament. An Introduction to the Critical Editions [Grand Rapids, Nil and Leiden, Netherlands: Eerdmans and E. J. Brill, 1989, p. 292-293; W. L. Lane, Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, NICNT [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974], pp. 603-604).

12. I am grateful to Professor Harold Hoehner of Dallas Theological Seminary for suggesting some of the arguments here regarding 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Mark 16:17-18 (though he may disagree with my conclusion in this section).

13. See Walter J. Chantry, Signs of the Apostles: Observations on Pentecostalism Old and New (Edinburgh, Scotland: Banner of Truth, 1976), pp. 19-21.

14. See question 7, below, on the phrase “signs of an apostle” in 2 Corinthians 12:12.

15. The word “true” is not actually in the Greek text, which simply says, “the signs of an apostle.” The RSV (which is quoted here) and NASB have added “true” to give the sense: Paul is contrasting his ministry with that of the false apostles.

16. See Chantry, Signs of the Apostles, especially pages 17-21; B. B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles (London, England: Banner of Truth, 1972; first published 1918); Norman Geisler, Signs and Wonders (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1988).

17. Colin Kruse, The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, TNTC (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, and Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), p. 209; Jean Hering, The Second Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, trans. by A. W. Heathoote and P. L. Allcock (London, England: Epworth, 1967), pp. 95-96; and Murray Harris, “2 Corinthians,” EBC, vol. 10, p. 398. Harris notes an alternative view where the “signs” are the changed lives of the Corinthians and the Christlike character of Paul.

18. The most extensive discussion in support of this view is found in Ralph P. Martin, II Corinthians, WSC (Dallas, TX: WORD, 1986), pp. 434-438; see also Philip E. Hughes, Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians, NIC (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), pp. 456-458 (following Chrysostom and Calvin); Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, ICC (Edinburgh, Scotland: T. & T. Clark, 1915), p. 359; R. V. G. Tasker, 2 Corinthians, TNTC (London, England: Tyndale Press, 1958), p. 180; Charles Hodge, An Exposition of 1 and 2 Corinthians (Wilmington, DE: Sovereign Grace, 1972 [reprint]), pp. 359-360; John Calvin, The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, trans. by T. A. Smail, edited by D. W. Torrance and T. F. Torrance (Edinburgh, Scotland: Oliver and Boyd, and Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), pp. 163-164; see also J. B. Lightfoot, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1957), p. 99.

19. The grammar of the Greek text forces us to this distinction, since “the signs of an apostle” is in the nominative case, while “signs and wonders and mighty works” is in the dative, and cannot therefore be simply a restatement of “signs of an apostle” in apposition to it: Nouns in apposition in Greek must be in the same case. (The NIV ignores the grammar here and translates the two phrases as if they were in apposition; the RSV and NASB are more precise.)

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Winter 2000

About the Author: Wayne A. Grudem is Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona. He has authored over twenty books, including Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (1994), Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (2010), The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution (2013), The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, and "Free Grace" Theology: 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel (2016). He was also the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Book of the Year, 2009).

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