Miracles (Part 2)

There are different words used in the Bible to describe super-natural work: (1) “Miracle” (e.g. Luke 23:8; Acts 2:22).  The word is from the Greek, “dunamis” (it is from this word we derive our word “dynamite”).  The word refers to “power” (Vine’s).  It refers to the cause of the act, super-natural power.  Such power is from God.  (2) “Work” or “deed” (e.g. Luke 10:13; 24:19; Acts 2:11; 2 Corinthians 12:12).  The original word, “ergon,” has reference to the deed or work itself.  (3) “Wonder” (e.g. Acts 4:29-30; 5:12).  The Greek word is “teras.”  It refers to “something so strange as to cause it to be ‘watched’ or ‘observed’…” (Thayer).  The word has reference to the wonderment and amazement of those who witnessed the super-natural work (cf. Matthew 15:31; Acts 3:7-10; 7:30-31; 8:13).  (4) “Sign” (e.g. John 2:11; 4:54; 6:14; 12:18; Acts 2:22).  The word, “semeion,” though sometimes translated “miracle” by the KJV, should be rendered “sign.”  It refers to “a sign, mark, indication, token” (Vine’s).  In other words, the design of the miracle was to lead man to a truth beyond the miracle itself (cf. John 3:2).

We are studying the subject of miracles.  In this part, we will consider the specific miraculous gifts given in the New Testament.

Specific Gifts

The following lists are composed from the three chapters (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4):

Gifts of Revelation: (1) The word of wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8 cf. 2:6-7).  This refers to the receiving and revealing of God’s hidden wisdom.  (2) The word of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8, cf. 1:4-5; 13:2; 13:8; 14:6).  This refers to knowing and teaching God’s will.  The distinction may be that the first gift had to do with revealing God’s word (his was done by the apostles and the New Testament prophets); While, the second gift had to do with the inspired ability to teach what had already been revealed by the apostles and the prophets.

Gifts of confirmation: (1) Faith (1 Corinthians 12:9 cf. 13:2; Matthew 17:20; 21:21; Mark 9:23; 11:22-23). It is true that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 cf. Luke 8:11-12; John 5:45-47;; 17:20; 20:30-31; Acts 8:12; 17:11-12; 18:8; Ephesians 1:13-14). This, however, refers to super-natural works designed to build faith in others, and were accomplished through the faith of the workers (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:2; Matthew 17:20; 21:21; Mark 9:23; 11:22-23). We now move from the general to some specific kinds of miracles as the list continues – (2) Gifts of healings (1 Corinthians 12:9). This includes the ability to super-naturally heal various diseases and illnesses, and demon possession (cf. Acts 8:4-8; 28:8-9). (3) The working of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10). David Lipscomb commented, “The word here translated ‘working’ literally means ‘inworking’ of powers. That is… the ability to impart power of working miracles others.” The apostles had this ability (Acts 8:14-18; 19:6-7; Romans 1:11; 1 Corinthians 1:7 cf. 2 Corinthians 12:12-13; Galatians 3:2-5; 2 Timothy 1:6). (4) Prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:10 cf. 13:2; 13:8). The term “prophecy” means “to speak forth” (see Vine’s). It does not necessarily mean to foretell the future. It can mean simply “the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God” (Vine’s). However, since this is in the grouping of gifts of confirmation, this seems to refer to predictive prophecy (cf. Acts 11:27-28; 21:10-11). Note: 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 is divided into three groupings, each group being separated by the word “heterous” (another of a different kind). (5) Discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10). This refers to the super-natural ability to discern what is in man, his thoughts, and if he is speaking the truth (cf. John 2:25; Matthew 9:3-4; Acts 5:1-3; 1 John 2:19-20; 2:26-27).

Gifts of communication: (1) Kinds of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10 cf. 13:2; 13:8; 14:8-11; 14:18-19; 14:27; 14:39). This is the super-natural ability to speak in a foreign language without studying it [(cf. Acts 2:4-11). Note: For more information see article – Tongue Speaking: What Was It? By Bryan Hodge]. (2) The interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10 cf. 14:27-28). This is the super-natural ability to interpret. Note: This grouping – gifts of communication – helped in both revelation and confirmation.

Ministries

Miraculous gifts are closely connected with certain positions and works in the early church. Consider:

Positions of Revelation and Teaching: (1) Apostles (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28). The word literally means, “one sent forth” on a mission (Vine’s). This is speaking of the apostles of Jesus Christ. They were selected eyewitnesses, commissioned to carry the gospel into all of the work (Acts 1:21-22 cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8). They evidently possessed all miraculous gifts (Acts 2:4; 3:6-7; 8:14-17; 9:40; 1 Corinthians 14:18; Acts 14:8-10; Acts 19:1-6; Acts 20:9-10, 12). (2) Prophets (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:6). The word literally means “one who speaks forth” (see Vine’s). Think of it this way – all apostles were prophets (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5, Granville Sharp Rule); but not all prophets were apostles (Acts 2:17-18; 11:27-28; 21:8-9; 21:10). (3) Evangelist (Ephesians 4:11). The word literally means “a bringer of good news” (Thayer) Philip is so-called (Acts 21:8). Timothy is so called (2 Timothy 4:5). They “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). (4) Teachers (1 Corinthians 12:29; Romans 12:7). The book of Ephesians speaks of pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). Think of it this way – all pastors are to be teachers [Ephesians 4:11 (notice these words are not divided with a “some” between them); 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9]; but not all teachers are pastors (2 Timothy 2:1-2). The term ‘pastor’ refers to an elder (Acts 20:17 cf. 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1 cf. 5:2-4).

Positions of miracle workers: (1) Workers of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:28-29). David Lipscomb commented, “The in-working of powers.” That is, the ability to confer miraculous abilities unto others. (2) Gifts of healings (1 Corinthians 12:28, 30). This is possibly the gifts used by “he who shows mercy” (Romans 12:8).

Position of communication: (1) Speakers of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28, 30). (2) Interpreters of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30).

Position of leadership: (1) Helps (1 Corinthians 12:28). This is perhaps the same as those who minister (Romans 12:7). This is possibly a reference to deacons. (2) Administrations (1 Corinthians 12:28). This is possibly a reference to elderships. Romans speaks of “he who leads” (Romans 12:8).

Miscellaneous works: (1) Exhorting (Romans 12:8). This can be done by preaching (2 Timothy 4:2). Such can also be done in daily conversation, and in the assembly of the church (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25). Barnabas was an exhorter (Acts 4:26). (2) Liberal giving (Romans 12:8). God evidently blessed some, so that they would be able to give liberally. The rich should understand the responsibility to properly use their money (1 Timothy 6:17-18 cf. Luke 12:48b; 2 Corinthians 8:12).

It should be kept in mind that while some of the listed ministries require miraculous gifts (e.g. apostle, prophet, workers of miracles, etc.), many of those listed do not require miraculous gifts. Apollos, for example, proclaimed Jesus from the scriptures without inspiration (Acts 18:24-28). However, the various positions and works are listed with the miraculous, because these positions and works were frequently accompanied by miraculous gifts in the early church.

Diversity of Gifts

A couple of things should be kept in mind. First, it was possible to be a Christian in the first century, and be without a miraculous gift (Acts 8:9-17; Romans 1:11), for at least a period of time, and maybe always. Second, the various gifts were distributed through the church. Not all Christians received the same gift or gifts (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-30; Ephesians 4:7-16).

Why didn’t God give all miraculous gifts to each and every member of the early church? The answer is that He wanted the members working together as members of the human body do (Romans 12:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:12-17; Ephesians 4:16).

There is an application for us, beyond the miraculous gifts context. Strengths and weaknesses differ from member to member. We each have innate and acquired abilities and skills. These abilities and skills are to be used in the body “for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:26b; 1 Peter 4:10). Let us work together to build up and strengthen the church. Let us work together to  reach the lost. Let us work together to the glory of God.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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