An Introduction to Miracles in the New Testament
What do the miracles teach us about what Christians believe is possible?
Miracles in the gospels
The New Testament Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, describe 35 occasions when Jesus performed miracles and tell us that there were also many more than these. As John writes at the end of his gospel,
‘Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.’ (John 20:30)
In the Gospels Jesus’ miracles are seen as signs, or indicators, of who Jesus really is and the power that he has. There were many eye witnesses to the miracles as they we often performed with crowds present. More than half of the 35 miracle accounts tell about Jesus healing the sick. In other cases he cast demons out of people. On three occasions we read that he raised people from the dead. The remaining stories show Jesus’ power over nature – changing water into wine, feeding a great crowd with very little food, walking on water, calming a storm, etc
Miracles in the book of Acts
The book of Acts was written by Luke, the writer of the gospel, and it continues the story from where Luke’s gospel ends. Acts begins with an account of Jesus returning to heaven and then about his followers receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. The book goes onto retell how Christianity spread throughout the world and about the growth of the early Church.
Before Jesus died he made this promise to his followers:
‘The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. ‘ (John 14:12)
Acts therefore also recounts these ‘greater things’ (miracles) that the early Christians performed. These included Peter healing a lame man at the Temple (Acts 3:1-7) and in Samaria, Philip did great miracles and signs (8:6,7,13). At Lystra, Paul healed a crippled man (Acts 14:8-18). And in Troas, he raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:1-12).