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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 1, by Gary S. Greig

9 Ibid., p. 103.

10 S. V. McCasland, “Signs and Wonders,” JBL 76 (1957): 151.

11 J. Lyons, Semantics, vol. I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), pp. 250-261; R. H. Robins, General Linguistics. An Introductory Survey (Longman, 1980), chapter 2; P. Cotterell and M. Turner, Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1989), pp. 154f.

12 R. C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1894), p. 339.

13 P. G. Hiebert, in J.R. Coggins and P. G. Hiebert, eds., Wonders and the Word (Kindred Press, 1989), p. 126.

14 BAGD, pp. 207-208.

15 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 (Fifth ed. revised, London, 1856), p. 5: “Here the cause [the ‘power’ of God] gives its name to the effect [‘miracles, works of power’]. The ‘power’ dwells originally in the divine Messenger (Acts vi.8; x.38; Rom. xv.19); is one with which he is himself equipped of God… But then, by an easy transition, the word comes to signify the exertions and separate puttings forth of this power. These are ‘powers’ [dunameis] in the plural, although the same word is now translated … ‘miracles’”; cf. McCasland’s rendering of dunamis, “manifestation of divine power,” JBL 76 (1957): 149; W. Grundmann, “dunamai/dunamis,” TDNT, vol. 2, pp. 309-311.

16 A. Richardson, The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels (London: SCM Press, 1941), p. 10: “As in the N.T. generally the miracles (dunameis) of Jesus are manifestations of His dunamis [‘power’]…”

17 K. Gatzweiler, “Der Paulinische Wunderbegriff,” in A. Suhl, ed., Der Wunderbegriff im Neuen Testament (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1980) p. 401: “Während der Plural dunameis durchweg die Wunder bezeichnet, kann dagegen der Singular dunamis ebenso die Kraft bedeuten, die Wunder schafft und die der Geist ist, wie die Kraft und den Geist, den die Wunder offenbaren.”

18 Professor C.F.D. Moule of Cambridge referred to the group of words comprising this lexical field in NT Greek as “a vocabulary denoting significant manifestations of power … signs of God at work” (C. F. D. Moule, “The Vocabulary of Miracle,” in Moule, ed., Miracles. Cambridge Studies in Their Philosophy and History [London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., 1965], p. 238).

19 H. Hendrickx, The Miracle Stories of the Synoptic Gospels (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987), p. 10 and nn. 3-4.

20 For translating energeia as “energy,” see G. Bertram, “energeō,” TDNT, vol. 2, p. 652; C. H. Powell, The Biblical Concept of Power (London: Epworth Press, 1963), p. 136.

21 Richardson, The Miracle-Stories of the Gospels, pp. 6-7.

22 That the phrase “signs and wonders” and the word “sign” denote healing and deliverance from demons is noted by the German New Testament scholar, Prof. Karl H. Rengstorf, TDNT, VII, pp. 239-240.

23 The same lexical field (group of words) includes other terms denoting manifestations of God’s power in healing and deliverance, such as hugiēs “whole,” iasis “healing,” megaleios “mighty deed,” endoxos “glorious deed,” paradoxos “wonderful thing,” thaumasios “wonderful thing” according to Trench, Synonyms, p. 339.

24 That the word “sign (sēmeion)” and the phrase “signs and wonders (sēmeia kai terata)” are synonymous and interchangeable was noted in a linguistic study of the Greek terms by McCasland, “Signs and Wonders,” JBL 76 (1957): 151. The following passages demonstrate this point: Jn. 4:48, 54 (sēmeia kai terata = sēmeion); Acts 4: 16, 22, 30 (sēmeion = iasis “healing” = sēmeia kai terata); compare the phrase “signs and miracles (sēmeia kai dunameis) in Acts 8:13 with the phrase “miracles and wonders and signs (dunamesi kai terasi kai sēmeiois)” in Acts 2:22, “signs and wonders and miracles (sēmeiois te kai terasin kai dunamesin)” in II Cor. 12:12, and “signs and wonders and … miracles (sēmeiois te kai terasin kai … dunamesin)” in Heb. 2:4.

25 The long ending of Mark, Mk. 16:9-20, dates from the first half of the second century A. D. (K. Aland and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament. An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism [Grand Rapids and Leiden: Eerdmans and E. J. Brill, 1989], p. 293) and is therefore a later addition to the Gospel of Mark. Though it is not found in many of the earliest and best Greek manuscripts, the long ending is attested in 99% of the extant Greek manuscripts of the New Testament (Aland and Aland, The Text of the New Testament, p. 292; W. L. Lane, Commentary on the Gospel of Mark [The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974], pp. 603-604). This fact suggests that the long ending was widely accepted as authoritative in the Early Church. Lane has suggested the long ending perhaps originated in a second century catechism summarizing post-resurrection events (Lane, Mark, p. 604). The wide dissemination of the long ending, seen in the manuscript evidence, suggests that the Early Church readily agreed that Jesus’ commission to the disciples did include the expectation that supernatural signs would accompany the preaching of the gospel.

26 BAGD, p. 505.

27 Prophecy and tongues are both signs according to this passage. The grammatical structure of I Cor. 14:22 cannot be understood in any other way, since 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 G. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT, ed., F. F. Bruce; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), p. 682 and n. 38; Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in I Corinthians (Washington, 1982), pp. 193-194; id., The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Westchester: Crossway Books, 1988), pp. 173f. and n. 68.

28 See note 25 above.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 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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