God Confirming Paul's Message by Miracles Part 1 of 2

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

July 8, 2015

Acts of the Apostles

Acts 11-12 (KJV)

11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.


What a victorious ministry! It appears that everyone knew what Paul was saying and doing. For example, the news of Paul’s encounter with the seven sons of Sceva quickly spread and became common knowledge: “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified . . . So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (19:17, 20). Even Paul’s enemies had to admit that the Word was spreading and people were being saved: “Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands” (Acts 19:26). Two factors made this possible; the witness of the believers as they went from place to place, and the “special miracles” God enabled Paul to perform in Ephesus.

In Bible history, you will find three special periods of miracles: (1) the time of Moses; (2) the time of Elijah and Elisha; and (3) the time of Jesus and His Apostles. Each period lasted less than 100 years. Depending on how some of these events are classified, the total number of miracles for all three periods is less than 100. Of course, not all the miracles were recorded: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20: 30-31).

When our Lord performed miracles He usually had at least three purposes in mind: (1) to show His compassion and meet human needs; (2) to teach a spiritual truth; and (3) to present His credentials as the Messiah. The Apostles followed this same pattern in their miracles. In fact, the ability to do miracles was one of the truths of apostolic authority (Mark 16:20; Romans 15:18-19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:1-4). Miracles of themselves do not save lost sinners (Luke 16:27-31; John 2:23-25). Miracles must be tied to the message of the Word of God.

11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Luke tells us very little about Paul’s years at Ephesus, but the little he does tell shows how great an impact Paul had on the city; at the same time, it portrays accurately the religious and moral atmosphere of the place. At Ephesus, Hellenistic culture and philosophies had made a disastrous union with oriental superstition. The result was a city preoccupied with magic. Paul must have deplored their superstitions, and yet the very interest of the Ephesians in magic gave the gospel an entry point. As elsewhere, Paul’s preaching in Ephesus was accompanied by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit (Romans 15:19; Acts 13:11; 14:3, 10; 16:18; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4), only here the miracles may have been unusually frequent and appear to have been extraordinary in character. It was God, of course, who was doing them; Paul was simply the agent (literally, “BY THE HANDS OF PAUL,”). But the ordinary people were not concerned with these theological details. As far as they were concerned, it was Paul who worked the miracles, and so he became a center of attention.

AND GOD WROUGHT SPECIAL MIRACLES BY THE HANDS OF PAUL. God enabled Paul to perform “SPECIAL MIRACLES” for two reasons: (1) because Ephesus was a center for the occult (Acts 19:18-19), and Paul was demonstrating God’s power right in Satan’s territory; and (2) to show that Paul was God’s messenger, since there was no completed New Testament in use to determine the truth of his message—“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2 Corinthians 12:12; also read Hebrews 2:3-4). But keep in mind that wherever God’s people minister the truth, Satan sends a counterfeit to oppose the work. Jesus taught this truth in His Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43); Peter experience it in Samaria (Acts 8:9); and Paul experienced it at Paphos (Acts 13:4-12). Satan imitates whatever God’s people are doing, because he knows that the unsaved world cannot tell the difference—“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11: 13-15).

The “SPECIAL MIRACLES” that Paul performed were unique. In other words, these “SPECIAL” MIRACLES were no ordinary or chance happenings. The word the Holy Spirit uses for “MIRACLES” is “dunamis,”—meaning “mighty works,” mighty manifestations of power—it is the word from which we get our word dynamite. God wrought SPECIAL MIRACLES by the hands of Paul. He was exercising the gifts of an apostle. Calling these particular miracles “SPECIAL” implies that Paul was not accustomed to such work.

There was evidently something unusual and extraordinary about these miracles. They were intended, no doubt, to emulate the healing power of the Lords own garments (Mark 5:27; 6:56) and to parallel the influence of Peter’s shadow, as well as to enhance the authority of Paul’s evangelistic efforts at Ephesus. Modern “healers” who offer to send healing “prayer cloths” through the mail to those who support their “ministry” should be treated with the skepticism they deserve. This was a special miracle, special in every sense of the word, and not a miracle to be duplicated by others.

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