Vol. 4, No. 9
~ Page 12 ~
A "miracle," says Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, p. 1147, is "an event or effect that apparently contradicts known scientific laws and is hence thought to be due to supernatural causes, especially to an act of God."
The New Testament uses the word semeion, a sign, to describe a miracle. The word is used "of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God's" (Thayer, p. 573). The New Testament uses the word "signs" (and so, "miracles") to validate the work of Jesus and of his apostles.
Jesus' first miracle was to replenish the supply of wine at a wedding in Cana (John 2:1). Six jars of water, each holding 20 or 30 gallons, Jesus instantly converted into "good wine" (John 2:10). This miracle was "the beginning of signs," proving that Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14; 2:11).
A list of some of Jesus' miracles, substantiating his deity, during his four to five years of preaching (25-30 A.D.), is given by the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The list is climaxed by Jesus' dead body coming to life again (Luke 24:44-48). "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. If each was written, I suppose the world itself would not have room for the books" (John 21:25).
The "all authority in heaven and in the earth" that the Father had given to Jesus before he left the earth (Thursday, May 18, A.D. 30, Matthew 28:18) Jesus exhibited in giving miraculous powers to the apostles: "after he had given orders through the Holy Spirit to his chosen apostles" (Acts 1:2).
Then "many wonders and signs [miracles] were done by the apostles" (Acts 2:43), beginning with their being baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) on Sunday, Pentecost Day, May 28, A.D. 30. "Tongues [various languages] like fire were distributed, and rested on each one of the [apostles]" (Acts 2:3). "All were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages as the Spirit empowered them" (Acts 2:3-4).
People visiting Jerusalem, from some 20 or more nations (Acts 2:7-11), exclaimed, "We hear them [the apostles] speaking in our languages the mighty acts of God" (Acts 2:11).
The apostles were the official representatives of Jesus, binding and loosing the guilt of sin (Matthew 16:18; 18:18; John 20:23): "what things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what things soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18, ASV, and other versions). The ASV translation gives the meaning that the binding and the loosing would follow the apostles' pronouncement. A more accurate translation says that the binding and the loosing spoken of by the apostles had already taken place in heaven: "whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on the earth will have been released in heaven" (FHV). The apostles' words were merely a ratification of what had already been done in heaven.
The apostles' miracles were associated with casting out demons, taking up serpents, drinking deadly beverages and healing the sick (Mark 16:17-18). The apostles "went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word of the "great" salvation "by signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts from the Holy Spirit, according to his will" (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4). The apostle Peter raised the dead body of Dorcas (Acts 9:26-41).
The apostles could transmit miraculous powers by laying their hands on people (Acts 8:16-17). The fact that "the Holy Spirit was given" miraculously "through the laying on of the apostles' hands" (Acts 8:18) very likely explains how Mark, James and Jude became empowered to write New Testament books, and Luke to write two New Testament books, and someone (we know not who) became empowered to write the book of Hebrews. Indeed, Christ "gave some to be apostles" (including Matthias, Acts 1:26; 2:1-4), and likely he gave some, through "the laying on of the apostles' hands" (Acts 8:18), "to be prophets, some evangelists, some shepherds and teachers" (Ephesians 4:11). "He did this to equip the saints for a work of service, for the building up of Christ's body, until we all [62 A.D.] reach the oneness of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God [96 A.D.], to become grown up, to have a measure of Christ's fulness" (Ephesians 4:12-13).
But the apostles did not live forever! The miraculous powers they had received from Jesus died with the apostles. Biblically, there was no successor for any apostle. Thus, when the last apostle died, and the last person on whom apostle's hands had been laid (Acts 8:18) died, miracles ceased.
The miraculous "gifts of prophecy and of knowledge," wrote Paul in 57 A.D., would "pass away, and the [miraculous] gift of languages" would "cease" (1 Corinthians 13:8). In the meantime (30-57 A.D.), the time Paul was writing: "Now we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when the whole arrives" [96 A.D.], when the 27th New Testament book would be written, "the part" (piece-meal) "will pass away" (1 Corinthians 13:9-10).
"Now we see indistinctly in a mirror; but, then face to face. Now [57 A.D.] I know in part, and then [96 A.D.] I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
The 27 New Testament books, completed with the writing of the book of Revelation about 96 A.D., were miraculously written (2 Timothy 3:16), and they have great power to save souls (1 Corinthians 1:21; James 5:19-20), but they have no miraculous power in them! In God's plan, all miracles have ceased!