God's Word For You is a free Bible Study site committed to bringing you studies firmly grounded in the Bible – the Word of God. Holding a reformed, conservative, evangelical perspective this site affirms that God has provided in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, a way of salvation in which we can live in his presence guilt free, acquitted and at peace.



© Rosemary Bardsley 2007


Note: The term ‘the rest of the New Testament’ in this study, refers to all the New Testament letters [except 1 Corinthians] and Revelation.


Miracles [dunamis] in the rest of the New Testament

[1] There is no mention of miracles [dunamis] in the Greek text of Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1,2 & 3 John, Jude and Revelation.

[2] Miracles [dunamis] are included with signs and wonders as the things that were the mark [‘sign’] of an apostle and indicated the Lord’s confirmation of the apostolic message:

‘The things that mark an apostle – signs, wonders and miracles – were done among you with great perseverance’ [2 Corinthians 12:12 ] [Greek: ‘the signs of the apostle … signs, wonders and miracles’].

‘This salvation was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.’ [Hebrews 2:3,4]

Both of these references speak of something that happened in the past, not of something that was still currently occurring, nor as something that was expected to continue in the future. The Hebrews reference in particular clearly refers back to the signs and miracles as something that accompanied the preaching of the apostles. If miracles continued as a common thing this original confirmatory significance would be rendered impotent.

[3] Paul refers to God giving his Spirit and working miracles [dunamis] among the Galatians [3:5], drawing their attention to the grace that is behind the miracles. This statement outlaws any suggestion that God’s miracles are given on the basis of human merit or performance.

[4] 2 Thessalonians 2:9 refers to counterfeit miracles [dunamis] done by the ‘lawless one’ and deceiving unbelievers.


Signs and wonders in the rest of the New Testament

The only references to signs and wonders in the rest of the New Testament are:

[1] Signs and wonders are referred to as the things that mark an apostle and confirm the apostolic message in Romans 15:17-19, 2 Corinthians 12:12 and Hebrews 2:3,4. See note [2] above re miracles. The Romans passage indicates that this supernatural confirmation contributed to the work that Christ accomplished through Paul.

[2] Counterfeit signs and wonders are performed by the lawless one [2 Thessalonians 2:9], and signs are performed by ‘the beast’ [Revelation 13:13 -15], ‘spirits of demons’ [Revelation 16:14 ], and ‘the false prophet’ [Revelation 19:20 ]. These counterfeit signs and wonders, done by the power of Satan, deceive and delude the people.


‘Works’ in the rest of the New Testament

As we have seen, Jesus’ miracles were sometimes referred to as ‘works’ [Greek: ergon]. Paul uses the same word in Romans 15:17-19, but it is not clear in the context whether or not he is using the word to refer to miraculous things he did or not.


Spiritual gifts in the rest of the New Testament

[1] There is only one place in the Greek text of the entire New Testament where the word ‘spiritual’ and the word ‘gift’ or ‘gifts’ are put together. This is in Romans 1:11, where Paul says that he longs to see the Roman Christians so that ‘I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong’. He is clearly not talking about ‘spiritual gifts’ in the modern way of understanding the term, but about some spiritual benefit, most likely further instruction in the truth of God. Remember that the word ‘gift’ simply means ‘gift’ – something given to another. It does not refer exclusively to spiritual gifts.

We need also to notice the way Paul speaks here:

      • It is he who wants to impart this gift – not the Holy Spirit. Spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, not by another believer.
      • The meaning of the word ‘impart’ [metadidomi] is to share or give something of what one has. One does not give another a ‘share’ of one’s spiritual gift. One does, however, share or give to others, the truth that God has given to one.

[2] The various lists of ‘spiritual gifts’ in the Greek text of the rest of the New Testament simply refer to ‘gifts’. The word ‘spiritual’ does not occur. There are three gift lists in the rest of the New Testament:

Romans 12:6-8 charisma

Ephesians 4:7-11 – dorea & doma; Also charis – grace, free gift

1 Peter 4:8-10 - charisma
















Contributing to needs of others





Showing mercy



Date: cAD56-57

Date: cAD60

Date: cAD63-64

About these gift lists the following is evident:

      • None of these lists contain any mention of the ‘sign gifts’ – speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles and healing.
      • None of these lists contain any mention of discerning the spirits.
      • None of these lists contain any mention of exorcism or ‘deliverance’ ministry.
      • Ephesians mentions only those gifts that are speaking or teaching gifts. The purpose of these gifts is clearly stated in 4:12 -16 in a cumulative sequence of outcomes:
        • ‘… to prepare God’s people for works of service,
        • so that the body of Christ may be built up
        • until we all reach unity I the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
        • and become mature,
        • attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
        • Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by every wind of teaching and by the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
        • Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’
      • The purpose of the exercise of the Ephesian gift list is focused on the equipping, strengthening and maturity of the church in the presence of false doctrines by teaching and preaching the true doctrines of the faith.
      • The exercise of the gifts in Peter’s list must be with the purpose of serving others. Peter sees the exercise of the gifts as a means of ‘administering God’s grace in its various forms’ [ 4:10 ]. In other words, the gifts are not given to an individual for his/her benefit, but so that through that person God’s grace can be expressed to others.
      • In addition, Peter sees the outcome of this other-centred use of the gifts as resulting in God being praised [ 4:11 ]
      • Peter also distinguishes between exercising one’s gift in one’s own strength, and exercising one’s gift ‘with the strength God provides’ [ 4:11 ]. This is interesting, as one would assume that spiritual gifts would automatically be done by the power of the Spirit. Obviously this is not the case, or Peter’s command here would be not be needed.
      • Similarly, it is apparent in the Romans’ list that God’s gifts can be exercised with a godless attitude. Paul sees it necessary to tell the Romans to exercise their gifts ‘generously’ or ‘diligently’ or ‘cheerfully’ [12:8].
      • In both the Romans and 1 Peter gift lists the gifts also involve commands. Whatever gift a person has there is a command to actually use that gift, and to use it appropriately. This gift/command connection is instructive on a number of counts: [1] it assumes that a person can have a gift and not use it; [2] it infers that the use of the God-given gifts is neither spontaneous nor automatic, but is subject to the choice and will of the person with the gift; [3] it infers that a person can have God-given gifts and use them in a way that is neither honouring to God nor edifying or helpful to other believers.
      • Some of the ‘gifts’ are actually actions that are elsewhere clear commands. From the Romans list, teaching, serving, giving, encouraging, and showing mercy are all things that every believer is commanded to do; and in the Peter list, every one of the gifts listed are elsewhere commands given to every believer.
      • The lists are not consistent. As we saw with the three lists in 1 Corinthians 12 there is no fixed gift list.

[3] Putting all the gift lists side by side:

1 Corinthians 12:8-12, 27-29

Romans 12:6-8

Ephesians 4:11

1 Peter 4:8-10









Prophets, wisdom, knowledge










Gifts of healings


Workings of miracles


Distinguishing between spirits


Diversity of languages


Interpretation of languages





Those able to help others

Showing mercy









Date: cAD55

Date: cAD56-57

Date: cAD60

Date: cAD63-64

Do these lists demonstrate anything conclusive about whether the ‘sign gifts’ were never meant to continue beyond the confirmation of the apostles and their message? We can say without fear of contradiction:

      • It is only the earliest list [1 Corinthians 12] that contains the sign gifts.
      • The sign gifts only appear in the list written nearest to the Council of Jerusalem [AD 48] at which the apostolic gospel was confirmed as relevant for both Jew and Gentile.

Beyond this any conclusion based on these lists can only be an inferred conclusion.

[4] There are two other references to a spiritual ‘gift’ in the rest of the New Testament. Both are in Paul’s letters to Timothy, and in both Paul encourages Timothy to be sure to use his gift, which from the context would appear to be the gift of teaching [1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6]. From these verses we understand:

      • This particular gift was given to Timothy ‘through a prophetic message’ [Greek text: dia propheteias; refer also to 1 Timothy 1:18 ]. These are the only references to such a thing happening in the New Testament.
      • This gift was given to Timothy when a group of elders laid hands on him. Again, this is the only occurrence of its kind in the New Testament. [The only possible exception relative to this and the previous point, is Ananias laying hands on and reporting God’s message to Saul - see Acts 9 and 22. This was not by way of gift, but by way of commission.]
      • Timothy is commanded not to neglect his gift.
      • Timothy was to apply himself diligently to the exercise of the gift.
      • Timothy was to apply himself diligently to the cultivation and improvement of the gift.
      • The primary gift [teaching – 1 Timothy 4:13 -16] also included secondary gifts [power, love, self-discipline – 2 Timothy 1:6-7] which were part of and necessary for the exercise of the primary gift.

These references highlight the human responsibility associated with spiritual gifts.

      • In Timothy’s case, the church elders were involved at the original reception and recognition of the gift. They obviously neither determined nor gave the gift, but God, in this case, used them – their spiritual insight and their laying on of hands – as the vehicle through which he gave this gift to Timothy.
      • There is no evidence that Timothy himself had to either seek a gift or discover what his gift was.
      • Timothy’s responsibility was to not neglect the gift but to use the gift diligently and to persevere in the cultivation and improvement of the gift.
      • The gift is also the responsibility and the commission [compare the Ananias/Saul references in Acts].

[5] Commission as ‘gift’

As an appendix to the above, and particularly to the last dot point, note the following references made by Paul to his commission to preach the Gospel. He sees this commission, this responsibility, as ‘grace’ – charis = a benefit, a free favour, a free gift, a generous gift.

      • ‘we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith’ [Romans 1:5]
      • ‘For by the grace given me I say to every one of you …’ [Romans 12:3]
      • ‘I have written you quite boldly on some points … because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God …’ [Romans 15:15,16]
      • ‘By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder …’ [1 Corinthians 3:10 ]
      • ‘ … they recognized the grace given to me’ [Galatians 2:9]
      • ‘Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you’ [Ephesians 3:2]
      • ‘I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power … this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ …’ [Ephesians 3:7,8]

Paul also uses the word ‘grace’ in reference to:

      • the teaching gifts in the church: ‘to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it’ [Ephesians 4:7]
      • the gift of giving/generosity evident in the Macedonian Christians: ‘the grace God has given the Macedonian churches’, ‘see that you excel in the grace of giving’ [2 Corinthians 8:1,7].

[6] Statistics [all New Testament letters]

Thus we find four different words used to refer to what are commonly spiritual gifts today: charisma [in the lists in 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12 and 1 Peter 4, and the references to Timothy’s gift]; dorea, doma (and charis) [in the Ephesians 4 passage]; and charis [used at least eight times by Paul to refer to his own teaching/preaching commission, and also to the gift of giving exercised by the Macedonians].

Statistically, in the New Testament letters, what we commonly call ‘spiritual gifts’ today are referred to by:

      • charisma – 9 definite references [5 of these in 1 Corinthians 12] plus 2 possible references
      • dorea - 1 definite reference; plus 1 further possible reference
      • doma - 1 reference
      • charis – 11 definite references; plus 2 possible references

Leaving aside the additional possible references, the breakdown of this usage is:

Reference to:





Gifts in general




















The single most common use of any of these words to refer to spiritual gifts in general, or to a specific gift in particular, is Paul’s use of charis to refer to his preaching/teaching commission as a ‘grace’ or ‘gift’, and in that reference to include the sheer and awesome responsibility involved in having been given that gift .


‘Speaking in tongues’ in the rest of the New Testament

There is no reference to ‘speaking in tongues’ or ‘interpretation of tongues’ in the rest of the New Testament.

From this absence we can come to one of two conclusions:

[1] That speaking in tongues was so common that it was not even worthy of a mention. Against this conclusion is the gross misuse of this gift in the church in Corinth – a clear evidence of what sinful, ego-centric human beings do with this gift. To assume that the use of this gift was common in the New Testament churches, means that we have to also assume that everywhere except Corinth the gift was used so decently and so in order that none of the New Testament writers had any reason to correct its abuse. Such an assumption would be extremely optimistic.

[2] That speaking in tongues was actually as minimal as the New Testament references to it indicate.


Healing in the rest of the New Testament

There is no reference to the gift of healing or miracles of healing in the rest of the New Testament.

The only other references to ‘healing’ are found in:

      • Hebrews 12:13 , where it does not refer to physical healing at all, but to a healing a weak spiritual condition;
      • James 5:14-16, where elders are to pray for a sick person’s healing, having anointed him with oil;
      • 1 Peter 2:24 ‘by his stripes ye were healed’ – where the reference is clearly to spiritual healing. [The verse alludes to Isaiah 53:5, where there are four parallel statements about the impact of the substitutionary death of Christ. The first three statements are obviously about our spiritual condition, the fourth statement ‘by his wounds we are healed’ must therefore, in the context of Hebrew poetry, also be about our spiritual condition. Hebrew parallelism requires that each parallel statement is saying the same thing, but in different words.
      • Revelation 13:3 and 12 relate to ‘the beast’ being ‘healed’ – obviously nothing to do with God’s gift of healing, but still miraculous – and an indication that miraculous healing does not necessarily mean that God did it.
      • Revelation 22:2 refers to the ‘tree of life’ whose leaves ‘are for the healing of the nations’. This is a reference to the final state, beyond the judgment, and therefore not directly relevant to the question of contemporary healings. It does, however, have some relevance: it refers symbolically to the final removal of the curse [22:3], and indicates that it is by the final victory of Christ and in that final state that all sickness and suffering is removed, rather than by the death of Christ and in this present church age, as taught by those who believe that there is ‘healing in the atonement’. [See also Revelation 21:4].

Looking at the question of healing from the viewpoint of its absence, we also find the following:

      • In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul refers to his ‘thorn’ in his flesh, which the Lord refused to heal, even though he pleaded three times for healing, and even though he himself was used to heal others.
      • Philippians 2:25-30 contains Paul’s report about Epaphroditus who had been so sick he had nearly died, and about whom people had been very concerned. There is no mention that his sickness was caused by sin in his life or lack of faith; indeed he is commended for his Christian commitment. There is also no mention that anyone either healed him or tried to heal him. There is actually clear evidence that Paul and the Philippians had thought he would die. Had ‘healing’ been a common or automatic thing to do, such anguish would not have occurred; Paul and the others would have confidently and automatically expected his healing.
      • In 2 Timothy 4:20 Paul reports that ‘I left Trophimus sick in Miletus ’. Had healing been common and expected, if healing was ‘in the atonement’, surely Paul, who had healed others, would have healed this companion, rather than leaving him behind.
      • In 1Timothy 5:23 Paul tells Timothy: ‘stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.’ Here is Timothy, the pastor of a church, a co-labourer of Paul, and all Paul does is give him medical advice!

These obvious absences of miraculous healing expose the fallacy of several contemporary teachings. We can conclude from them that the following teachings are not biblical:

      • The teaching that there is physical healing in the atonement.
      • The teaching that all Christians should enjoy perfect health.
      • The teaching that all we have to do to get healing is to demand, name, proclaim, declare, or confess healing, or to speak healing into our bodies.
      • The teaching that the presence of sickness or disability means there is hidden or unconfessed sin is our lives.
      • The teaching that disability, failure in health, or failure to be healed, is an indication that there is a failure of some sort in one’s faith.

These absences of miraculous healing also expose the fallacy of the perception that miraculous healing was part of normal Christian life in the New Testament era. In none of the above cases of sickness is there any evidence of surprise or dismay at the absence of miraculous healing, as if there were something wrong or unusual in these strong and committed Christians being sick. There is simply no record of anyone trying to heal them or expecting them to be healed miraculously.


Being filled with the Spirit in the rest of the New Testament

The only reference to being filled with or full of the Holy Spirit in the rest of the New Testament is Ephesians 5:18:

‘… be filled with the Spirit’

The verb used in pleroo – the verb used in Acts to refer to a condition of life that is dominated by the Spirit. Here in Ephesians it is present tense and passive voice: it is thus commanding us to continually keep on being filled by the Holy Spirit. It is very definitely neither a momentary, nor an inceptive/initiatory, nor a one-off occurrence. It is a constant condition of life. It is evident, not in the presence of spiritual gifts, but in a life in which we speak to each other about spiritual truths, in which our hearts are full of joy, in which we give thanks to God through Jesus Christ, and in which we consider the others needs before even thinking of fulfilling our own [Ephesians 5:19-21].


Dealing with demons in the rest of the New Testament

The only references to ‘demons’ or ‘spirits’ in the rest of the New Testament are:

      • The fact that some people will desert the faith and follow doctrines of demons [1 Timothy 4:1]
      • The reference to ‘spirits’ in 1 John 4:1-6
      • Various references to demons and spirits in the events referred to Revelation.

Some see 1 John 4:1-3 as a reference to dealing with demon possession and use these verses as a mandate for a certain line of approach in ‘deliverance ministry’, which addresses the spirits believed to be possessing the individual, and challenges them to acknowledge Jesus Christ.

It is far more likely that the reference to ‘spirits’ in these verses is to the spirit(s) behind false teaching and false belief rather than to spirits demonizing humans. From the context we learn:

      • In verse 1 ‘the spirits’ are identified or associated with the ‘many false prophets’ who have gone out into the world. From this we can understand that John is talking about ‘the spirits’ as the source of the false messages and the movers behind the false prophets.
      • If we understand ‘spirit’ to be speaking of individual spirit beings inhabiting people, then, to be consistent, we must logically understand from verses 2 and 3 that there are individual spirit beings from God that occupy people, in the same way that individual spirit beings from the antichrist that occupy people. Such an idea has no support anywhere in the scripture.
      • Note that this spirit is described as being ‘in the world’, not as being in individual people.
      • The denial of the incarnate Christ expresses ‘the spirit of the antichrist which … even now is already in the world’. This statement indicates that the ‘spirits’ and the ‘false prophets’ mentioned in verse 1, along with those who believe them, express the same denial of the incarnation as the antichrist does.
      • In verses 2 to 6 John contrasts the genuine believers with the people who deny the incarnation: [1] you are from God: they are not from God, but from the antichrist; [2] you are from God: they are from the world and speak the viewpoint of the world; [3] we are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us: they are not from God, and they do not listen to us; [4] our message is from the Spirit of truth: their message is from the spirit of falsehood. In this John is clearly not talking about demonic spirits, but about people – influenced by the Christ-denying spirit of the antichrist, they speak from the viewpoint of the world.

John’s first letter is an exposure of false teaching. Right through this letter he contrasts true believers and the truth with false believers and error. He does this in terms of how people live and what people believe. He repeatedly points to the origin of our actions and our statements of belief. They are either from God or not from God. Here in 4:1-6 he points out the origin of defective belief regarding the real incarnation of Christ, and affirms that such a denial originates with the antichrist, not with God [indeed in 2:18-10 he identifies those with fake faith as ‘antichrists’.] Thus the basis for determining the rightness of a person’s faith or teaching is: what do they say about the incarnation? Was Jesus Christ both real God and real man?

There are, then, apart from the Revelation verses which have no relevance to the question, only these two references in Timothy and 1 John. Neither of them gives instructions about how to deal with demons; neither of them speaks of demon possession; neither speaks of exorcism or deliverance. Both, on the other hand, warn us to be alert. They point out the inroads false teaching makes in the church and the impact that false teaching has in causing people to defect from the church and from the true Gospel.



A study of Romans reveals very limited reference to the miraculous:

      • There is no mention of ‘miracles’ (dunamis) in this letter.
      • Apart from 15:17 -19 there is no mention of ‘signs and wonders’ (semeion and teras) in Romans.
      • Romans contains the only reference in the New Testament where the Greek text contains the phrase ‘spiritual gift’. In context is does not refer to ‘spiritual gifts’ in the modern sense, but simply to some spiritual benefit that Paul wishes to give them to encourage them.
      • There is no mention of ‘speaking in tongues’.
      • There is no mention of healing.
      • There is no use of the phrase ‘spiritual gifts’; there is no command to seek ‘spiritual gifts’ or even to find out what our ‘spiritual gift’ is; rather there is a command to humbly and diligently use whatever God-given ability we have for the good of our fellow believers.
      • There is no mention of being filled with the Spirit or receiving the Spirit. There is no direct reference to being baptised with the Spirit, although this is probably what is referred to in the Romans 6 references to the baptism by which the believer is united to Christ in his death and resurrection.
      • Given that Romans is considered to be a comprehensive statement of the Christian faith these omissions are instructive.
      • What is clearly taught is being the indwelt by the Spirit.
      • Romans 12:3-8 refers to a list of gifts, which modern Christianity understands to be spiritual gifts. Their use is clearly neither automatic nor automatically appropriate. Paul gives instructions about their appropriate use. He also stresses, in this context, the corporate function of these gifts and the mutual interdependence of believers.
      • In Romans 15:17-19 Paul refers to the signs and wonders, and the power of the Spirit, that accompanied his preaching.


Romans 1:11

‘I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong’. It is not clear exactly what he means by ‘some spiritual gift’, but in verse 12 he explains ‘that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.’ Given that charisma simply means ‘free gift’ there need not be anything miraculous or spectacular meant here. It is used in the ‘gift of God is eternal life’ [Rom 6:23 ] – so can refer to salvation or any benefit given by God. It does not automatically mean ‘spiritual gift’ in the modern sense of some God-given supernatural spiritual ability. Paul simply wants to give them some spiritual benefit or encouragement.

Romans 8:26

‘The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express’

Gk text: ‘… with groans unexpressed/inexpressible’

[The word is alaletois – ‘a’ indicating a negation, ‘laletois’ – derived from laleo – I speak.]

[The context of this verse is that of suffering [ 8:17 -39]. Sometimes the suffering becomes so intense that we don’t even know what to say or how to pray. It is good to know that in these times the holy Spirit is groaning on our behalf.]

Some people understand this to refer to the ‘prayer language’ – a supposed variety of speaking in tongues. There is nothing in the context to validate this view. Indeed, the text itself indicates that this intercession is [1] done by the Holy Spirit, not by us, and [2] unexpressed or inexpressible or unutterable. Both of these descriptions rule out the interpretation that this refers to the believer speaking [that is, expressing, uttering] in tongues.

Romans 11:29


‘for God’s gifts and his calling are irrevocable’

The reference in context is to God’s election of the descendants of the patriarchs.

Romans 12:6-8


Paul refers to the different ‘gifts’ that members of the body of Christ have: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to needs of others, leadership, showing mercy. If we understand ‘prophesying’ to mean proclaiming the word of God, and not specifically foretelling the future, then all of the gifts mentioned in this list are not miraculous, spectacular gifts. They are not exclusively apostolic gifts, but the abilities that God gives to different individuals within the church. They are not in this passage called spiritual gifts. Nor do they function automatically – Paul commands the Romans to get on with the business of doing whatever it is that this gracious gift of God has equipped each of them to do, and to do it to their utmost.

Not apostolic or miraculous gifts

There is nothing in the text to indicate that these ‘gifts’ have to be classed as ‘spiritual gifts’. They could well be simply God-given natural talents, temperaments and abilities, or even learned abilities developed by God’s provision of environment, education and training, and refined for use in the church by the Holy Spirit.

There is nothing about seeking for these gifts, or preconditions that have to be met to get these gifts; rather we are commanded to use what we are and have by God’s grace. The context is offering our bodies as living sacrifices because of God’s mercy.

Romans 15:17-19


[ergon - ?]


Paul refers to what Christ has accomplished through him in leading Gentiles to faith – ‘by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit’

[Greek text reads ‘by word and deed, in power of signs and wonders’; ‘ergon’ may or may not be a reference to miraculous works; Paul does not use it in that sense anywhere else.]

Paul’s ‘signs and wonders’ accompanied his messages; together with the message they were used by the Holy Spirit to bring people to faith.

Paul does not say anything to indicate every believer should do the same as he did.

2 Corinthians

  • Significant references to the indwelling Holy Spirit
  • References to poverty, suffering and weakness, with no expectation of health and wealth.
  • The only mention of miracles is a significant statement about signs, miracles and wonders as ‘the things that mark an apostle’.
  • No mention of speaking in languages
  • No mention of spiritual gifts


2 Cor 1:22

Indwelling Holy Spirit is God’s ‘seal of ownership’ and ‘a deposit guaranteeing what is to come’

True of every believer.

2 Cor 3:18

Transforming work of indwelling Spirit

2 Cor 4:7 – 5:4

Continuing presence of physical suffering and weakness in this life

Obvious that Paul does not expect physical perfection in this life

2 Cor 5:5

Indwelling Holy Spirit a deposit and guarantee of what is yet to come

True of every believer

2 Cor 6:6,10

Reference to hunger and poverty

No expectation of prosperity as the Christian’s right

2 Cor 8:1

‘the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches’ [grace = charis]

Reference to the ‘grace’ of generous, sacrificial giving

2 Cor 12:1-7

Paul refers to the visions and revelations he received directly from Christ.

This put him on a par with the apostles who were taught by Christ in person. This is a reference to his vision of Christ on the Damascus Road , and also to Christ personally revealing the truth to him. See Galatians 1:12. Paul never teaches that others should expect similar visions and revelations.

2 Cor 12:7-10

Paul refers to his physical ‘thorn in the flesh’ as a ‘messenger of Satan’; he also refers to his physical ‘weakness’.

Obvious that he does not expect physical perfection in this life. Nor does he expect to gain healing from someone with the gift of healing. He prayed for healing; when it was not granted he accepted it.

2 Cor 12:12


semeion x 2


The things that mark an apostle – signs, wonders and miracles – were done among you with great perseverance’ [by Paul in Corinth ].

Greek: ‘the signs of the apostle … signs, wonders and miracles’

Significant statement!

Miracles, signs and wonders were put forth by Paul to confirm his apostleship. If they were done by everyone they would not have this significance!

Part of Paul’s defence of his apostleship which was necessary because of the presence of false apostles [a large section of this letter – 10:1 – 12:13]


      • Reference to the indwelling Holy Spirit
      • No reference to speaking in languages
      • No reference to spiritual gifts
      • Only one reference to miracles


Galatians 1:8

Rejection of messages of angels if they contain teaching different from the already revealed truth.


Galatians 1:11-12

‘I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ’

Paul was taught the truth directly by Jesus Christ. See 2 Cor. 12:1-7. Paul never indicates that others should seek such revelation. It is part of Christ’s commissioning him as an apostle.

Galatians 3:5

‘Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, …’

Greek: ‘the one who gives to you the Spirit and who works miracles among you, out of works of law or out of the hearing of faith’

Paul’s purpose in this reference is to indicate that not only salvation, but all of God’s gifts, including the gift of his Spirit and the presence of miracles among the Galatians, are on the basis of grace, not works.

From the context Paul appears to be referring to what happened when the Galatians first believed – they received the Spirit [verse 2], they began with the Spirit [verse 3]. That giving of the Spirit [verse 5] was on the basis of faith, not law.

Galatians 4:6

Indwelling Spirit


Galatians 4:13-14

Reference to Paul’s illness.

No expectation of miraculous healing. Sickness not inconsistent with faith.

Galatians 5:22-25

‘Fruit of the Spirit’, ‘we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit’

Impact and evidence of indwelling Spirit in the Christian life


      • Significant references to the gift of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of the Spirit
      • No mention of speaking in languages
      • No mention of miracles
      • No mention of sign gifts
      • Significant mention of teaching gifts


Ephes 1;13,14

Holy Spirit given to all who believe as a seal, guarantee, deposit – part of the gift of salvation in Christ.


Ephesians 4:7-16




God placed apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in the church to prepare the church for works of service etc, so that the church will be mature and able to stand fast in the presence of false doctrines.

Emphasis on teaching God’s truth.

Three different words for ‘gift’ are used here: ’charis’,dorea’ and ‘doma’ not ‘charisma’. Note that they are not spoken of as miraculous or spiritual gifts, but as given for the edification of the church.

Ephes 5:18

‘be filled with the Spirit’

Same verb [pleroo] as used in Acts to refer to a continuing condition of life lived under the control and direction of the Spirit. Passive. Present continuous. Here in Ephesians it is a command. In Acts it was a description.

Letters to Thessalonians and Timothy

      • Only reference to miracles is to those done by the power of Satan
      • No references to speaking in languages
      • Only possible reference to spiritual gifts is to the gift of teaching and/or pasturing; this may, however, be a reference to Timothy’s commission rather than specifically to his gifting.


2 Thess 2:9




‘The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders ….’

Miracles done by power of evil

1 Timothy 4:14


Timothy urged not to neglect his gift which he received when the elders laid hands on him. The context is speaking about teaching [verses 11-16] and the broader context of the chapter is the presence of false teaching.

Most likely the ‘gift’ of teaching or pasturing, as both of these responsibilities were faced by Timothy and encouraged by Paul.

These are the only references in the NT to a ‘gift’ being received by the laying on of hands. In this context this could be a reference to Timothy’s commission or appointment, rather than to a ‘spiritual gift’. As we have seen in previous studies, Paul referred to his own commission as a ‘gift’ and as a ‘grace’. If they are speaking of Timothy’s calling, then they are similar to Ananias’ laying hands on Saul (Paul) in Acts 9:17, at which time not only was his sight restored, but he also was given Christ’s commission [Acts 22:14-15], and to the Antioch elders laying hands on Paul and Barnabas to commission them for the work [Acts 13:3].

2 Tim 1:6 charisma

A further reference to Timothy’s ‘gift’ – this time received when Paul laid hands on him. The context is that of knowledge of the scripture [verse 3-5] and teaching the truth boldly even in the context of persecution [8-13], and false teaching [rest of the letter.]

Hebrews to Revelation

  • No reference to speaking in languages
  • No reference to sign gifts
  • Reference to teaching and service gifts
  • One significant reference to miracles, signs and wonders as God’s confirmation of the apostolic message
  • All other references to miracles [‘signs’] are to those done by Satan and his servants.


Hebrews 2:3-4





‘This salvation was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.’

‘gifts’ = merismos , which means a dividing, hence ‘distribution’ [in NT only here & Heb 4:12 ]

Signs, wonders, miracles and ‘distributions’ of the Holy Spirit given to confirm the apostles’ message of salvation in Christ.

1 Peter 4:10


Everyone should use whatever charisma he has to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace – charis – in its various forms.

[Context refers to love, hospitality, serving, speaking; also in context is clear-mindedness and self-control.]

Context indicates commands to be obeyed, not ecstatic, spontaneous expressions.

Rev 11:3-6

Two faithful witnesses have miraculous power. [No use of the word ‘miraculous’].

Interpretation of this depends on one’s eschatological viewpoint.

Rev 12:1,3

Semeion x 2

‘A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven … then another sign appeared in heaven’

Symbolic passage. Not a reference to miracles.

Rev 13:13-15

semeion x 2

Beast performed great and miraculous signs …deceived the inhabitants of the earth

Miracles done by power of evil

[‘miraculous’ not in Greek text]

Rev 15:1


‘I saw in heaven another great and marvellous sign …’

Symbolic passage. Not a reference to miracles.

Rev 16:14


Spirits of the demons performing miraculous signs

[The word ‘miraculous’ is not in the Greek text.]

Miracles done by power of evil

Rev 19:20


Miraculous signs wrought by the false prophet – deluded people. [‘miraculous’ not in Greek text]

Miracles done by power of evil