From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [1]

In its original sense, is a word of the same import with wonder; but, in its usual and more appropriate signification, it denotes "an effect contrary to the established constitution and course of things, or a sensible deviation from the known laws of nature." "That the visible world, " says Dr. Gleig, "is governed by stated general rules, or that there is an order of causes and effects established in every part of the system of nature which falls under our observation, is a fact which cannot be controverted. If the Supreme Being, as some have supposed, be the only real agent in the universe, we have the evidence of experience, that in the particular system to which we belong he acts by stated rules. If he employs inferior agents to conduct the various motions from which the phenomena result, we have the same evidence that he has subjected those agents to certain fixed laws, commonly called the laws of nature. On either hypothesis, effects which are produced by the regular operation of these laws, or which are conformable to the established course of events, are properly called natural; and every contradiction to this contitution of the natural system, and the correspondent course of events in it, is called a miracle.

"If this definition of a miracle be just, no event can be deemed miraculous merely because it is strange, or even to us unaccountable: since it may be nothing more than a regular effect of some unknown law of nature. In this country earthquakes are rare; and for monstrous births, perhaps, no particular and satisfactory account can be given: yet an earthquake is as regular an effect of the established laws of nature as any of those with which we are most intimately acquainted: and, under circumstances in which there would always be the same kind of production, the monster is nature's genuine issue. It is therefore necessary, before we can pronounce any effect to be a true miracle, that the circumstances under which it is produced be known, and that the common course of nature be in some degree understood; for in all those cases in which we are totally ignorant of nature, it is impossible to determine what is, or what is not, a deviation from its course. Miracles, therefore, are not, as some have represented them, appeals to our ignorance. They suppose some antecedent knowledge of the course of nature, without which no proper judgment can be formed concerning them; though with it their reality may be so apparent as to prevent all possibility of a dispute.

"Thus, were a physician to cure a blind man of a cataract, by anointing his eyes with a chemical preparation which we had never before seen, and to the nature and effects of which we are absolute strangers, the cure would undoubtedly be wonderful; but we could not pronounce it miraculous, because, for any thing known to us, it might be the natural effect of the operation of the unguent on the eye. But were he to recover his patient merely by commanding him to see, or by anointing his eyes with spittle, we should with the utmost confidence pronounce the cure to be a miracle; because we know perfectly that neither the human voice nor human spittle have, by the established constitution of things, any such power over the diseases of the eye. "If miracles be effects contrary to the established constitution of things, we are certain that they will never be performed on trivial occasions. The constitution of things was established by the Creator and Governor of the universe, and is undoubtedly the offspring of infinite wisdom, pursuing a plan for the best of purposes. From this plan no deviation can be made but by God himself, or by some powerful being acting with his permission. The proportion to their perfection, and the plans of infinite wisdom must be absolutely perfect. From this consideration, some men have ventured to conclude that no miracle was ever wrought, or can rationally be expected; but maturer reflection must soon satisfy us that all such conclusions are hasty.

"Man is unquestionably the principal creature in this world, and apparently the only one in it who is capable of being made acquainted with the relation in which he stands to his Creator. We cannot, therefore, doubt, but that such of the laws of nature as extend not their operation beyond the limits of this earth were established chiefly, if not solely, for the good of mankind; and if, in any particular circumstances, that good can be more effectually promoted by an occasional deviation from those laws, such a deviation may be reasonably expected. "We know from history, that almost all mankind were once sunk into the grossest ignorance of the most important truths; that they knew not the Being by whom they were created and supported; that they paid divine adoration to stocks, stones, and the vilest reptiles; and that they were slaves to the most impious, cruel, and degrading superstitions. : From this depraved state it was surely not unworthy of the Divine Being to rescue his helpless creatures, to enlighten their understandings that they might perceive what is right, and to present to them motives of sufficient force to engage them in the practice of it. But the understandings of ignorant barbarians cannot be enlightened by arguments; because of the force of such arguments as regard moral science they are not qualified to judge.

The philosophers of Athens and Rome inculcated, indeed, many excellent moral precepts, and they sometimes ventured to expose the absurdities of the reigning superstitions; but their lectures had no influence upon the multitude; and they had themselves imbibed such erroneous notions respecting the attributes of the Supreme Being, and the nature of the human soul, and converted those notions into first principles, of which they would not permit an examination, that even among them a thorough reformation was not to be expected from the powers of reasoning. It is likewise to be observed, that there are many truths of the utmost importance to mankind, which unassisted reason could never have discovered. Amongst these, we may confidently reckon the immortality of the soul, the terms upon which God will save sinners, and the manner in which that all perfect Being may be acceptably worshipped; about all of which philosophers were in such uncertainty, that, according to Plato, 'Whatever is set right, and as it should be, in the present evil state of the world, can be so only by the particular interposition of God. "an immediate revelation from heaven, therefore, was the only method by which infinite wisdom and perfect goodness could reform a bewildered and vicious race.

But this revelation, at whatever time we suppose it given, must have been made directly either to some chosen individuals commissioned to instruct others, or to every man and woman for whose benefit it was ultimately intended. Were every person instructed in the knowledge of his duty by immediate inspiration, and were the motives to practise it brought home to his mind by God himself, human nature would be wholly changed; men would not be moral agents, nor by consequence be capable either of reward or of punishment. It remains, therefore that, if God has been graciously pleased to enlighten and reform mankind, without destroying that moral nature which man possesses, he can have done it only by revealing his truth to certain chosen instruments, who were the immediate instructors of their contemporaries, and through them have been the instructors of succeeding ages. "Let us suppose this to have been actually the case, and consider how those inspired teachers could communicate to others every truth which had been revealed to themselves. They might easily, if it were part of their duty, to deliver a sublime divine system of natural and moral science, and establish it upon the common basis of experiment and demonstration: but what foundation could they lay for those truths which unassisted reason cannot discover, and which, when they are revealed, appear to have no necessary relation to any thing previously known? To a bare affirmation that they had been immediately received from God, no rational being could be expected to assent.

The teachers might be men of known veracity, whose simple assertion would be admitted as sufficient evidence for any fact in conformity with the laws of nature; but as every man has the evidence of his own consciousness and experience that revelations from heaven are deviations from these laws, an assertion so apparently extravagant would be rejected as false, unless supported by some better proof than the mere affirmation of the teacher. In this state of things we can conceive no evidence sufficient to make such doctrines be received as the truths of God, but the power of working miracles committed to him who taught them. This would, indeed, be fully adequate to the purpose: for if there were nothing in the doctrines themselves impious, immoral, or contrary to truths already known, the only thing which could render the teacher's assertion incredible, would be its implying such an intimate communion with God as is contrary to the established course of things, by which men are left to acquire all their knowledge by the exercise of their own faculties. Let us now suppose one of those inspired teachers to tell his countrymen, that he did not desire them, on his ipse dixit, to believe that he had any preternatural communion with the Deity, but that, for the truth of his assertion, he would give them the evidence of their own senses; and after this declaration, let us suppose him immediately to raise a person from the dead in their presence, merely by calling upon him to come out of his grave.

Would not the only possible objection to the man's veracity be removed by this miracle? and his assertion that he had received such and such doctrines from God be as fully credited as if it related to the most common occurrence? Undoubtedly it would; for when so much preternatural power was visibly communicated to this person, no one could have reason to question his having received an equal portion of preternatural knowledge. A palpable deviation from the known laws of nature in one instance, is a sensible proof that such a deviation is possible in another; and in such a case as this, it is the witness of God to the truth of a man. "Miracles, then, under which we include prophecy, are the only direct evidence which can be given of divine inspiration. When a religion, or any religious truth, is to be revealed from heaven, they appear to be absolutely necessary to enforce its reception among men; and this is the only case in which we can suppose them necessary, or believe for a moment that they ever have been or will be performed. "The history of almost every religion abounds with relations of prodigies and wonders, and of the intercourse of men with the gods; but we know of no religious system, those of the Jews and Christians excepted, which appealed to miracles as the sole evidence of its truth and divinity. The pretended miracles mentioned by Pagan historians and poets, are not said to have been publicly wrought to enforce the truth of a new religion, contrary to the reigning idolatry.

Many of them may be clearly shown to have been mere natural events; others of them are represented as having been performed in secret on the most trivial occasions, and in obscure and fabulous ages long prior to the era of the writers by whom they are recorded; and such of them as at first view appear to be best attested, are evidently tricks contrived for interested purposes, to flatter power, or to promote the prevailing superstitions. For these reasons, as well as on account of the immoral character of the divinities by whom they are said to have been wrought, they are altogether unworthy of examination, and carry in the very nature of them the completest proofs of falsehood and imposture. "But the miracles recorded of Moses and of Christ bear a very different character. None of them are represented as wrought on trivial occasions. The writers who mention them were eye-witnesses of the facts; which they affirm to have been performed publicly, in attestation of the truth of their respective systems. They are, indeed, so incorporated with these systems, that the miracles cannot be separated from the doctrines; and if the miracles be not really performed, the doctrines cannot possibly be true.

Besides all this, they were wrought in support of revelations which opposed all the religious systems, superstitions, and prejudices, of the age in which they were given; a circumstance which of itself sets them in point of authority, infinitely above the Pagan prodigies, as well as the lying wonders of the Romish church. "It is indeed, we believe, universally admitted that the miracles mentioned in the book of Exodus, and in the four Gospels, might, to those who saw them performed, be sufficient evidence of the divine inspiration of Moses and of Christ; but to us it may be thought that they are no evidence whatever, as we must believe in the miracles themselves, if we believe in them at all, upon the bare authority of human testimony. Why, it has been sometimes asked, are not miracles wrought in all ages and countries? If the religion of Christ was to be of perpetual duration, every generation of men ought to have complete evidence of its truth and divinity. "To the performance of miracles in every age and in every country, perhaps the same objections lie, as to the immediate inspiration of every individual. Were those miracles universally received as such, men would be so overwhelmed with the number rather than with the force of their authority, as hardly to remain masters of their own conduct; and in that case the very end of all miracles would be defeated by their frequency.

The truth, however, seems to be, that miracles so frequently repeated would not be received as such, and of course would have no authority; because it would be difficult, and in many cases impossible, to distinguish them from natural events. If they recurred regularly at certain intervals, we could not prove them to be deviations from the known laws of nature, because we should have the same experience for one series of events as for the other; for the regular succession of preternatural effects, as for the established constitution and course of things. "Be this, however, as it may, we shall take the liberty to affirm, that for the reality of the Gospel miracles, we have evidence as convincing to the reflecting mind, though not so striking to vulgar apprehension, as those had who were contemporary with Christ and his apostles, and actually saw the mighty works which he performed. Me. Hume, indeed, endeavoured to prove, that 'no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle? and the reasoning employed for this purpose is, that 'a miracle being a violation of the laws of nature, which a firm and unalterable experience has established, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience' can be: whereas our experience of human veracity, which (according to him) is the sole foundation of the evidence of testimony, as far from being uniform, and can therefore never preponderate against that experience which admits of no exception.'

This boasted and plausible argument has with equal candour and acuteness been examined by Dr. Campbell, in his Dissertation on Miracles, who justly observes, that so far is experience from being the sole foundation of the evidence of testimony, that, on the contrary, testimony is the sole foundation of by far the greater part of what Mr. Hume calls firm and unalterable experience; and that it, in certain circumstances, we did not give an implicit faith to testimony, our knowledge of events would be confined to those which had fallen under the immediate observation of our own senses. "We need not waste time here in proving that the miracles, as they are presented in the writings of the New Testament, were of such a nature, and performed before so many witnesses, that no imposition could possibly be practised on the senses of those who affirm that they were present. From every page of the Gospel this is so evident, that the philosophical adversaries of the Christian faith never suppose the apostles to have been themselves deceived, but boldly accuse them of bearing false witness. But if this accusation be well founded, their testimony itself is as great a miracle as any which they record of themselves, or of their Master. For if they sat down to fabricate their pretended revelation, and to contrive a series of miracles to which they were unanimously to appeal for its truth, it is plain, since they proved successful in their daring enterprise, that they must have clearly foreseen every possible circumstance in which they could be placed, and have prepared consistent answers to every question that could be put to them by their most inveterate and most enlightened enemies; by the statesman, the lawyer, the philosopher, and the priest.

That such foreknowledge as this would have been miraculous, will not surely be denied: since it forms the very attribute which we find it the most difficult to allow even to God himself. It is not, however, the only miracle which this supposition would compel us to swallow. The very resolution of the apostles to propagate the belief of false miracles in support of such a religion as that which is taught in the New Testament, is as great a miracle as human imagination can easily conceive. "When they formed this design, either they must have hoped to succeed, or they must have foreseen that they should fail in their undertaking; and, in either case, they chose evil for its own sake. They could not, if they foresaw that they should fail, look for any thing but that contempt, disgrace, and persecution, which were then the inevitable consequences of an unsuccessful endeavour to overthrow the established religion. Nor could their prospects be brighter upon the supposition of their success. As they knew themselves to be false witnesses, and impious deceivers, they could have no hopes beyond the grave; and by determining to oppose all the religious systems, superstitions, and prejudices of the age in which they lived, they wilfully exposed themselves to inevitable misery in the present life, to insult and imprisonment, to stripes and death. Nor can it be said that they might look forward to power and affluence, when they should through sufferings have converted their countrymen; for so desirous were they of obtaining nothing but misery, as the end of their mission, that they made their own persecution a test of the truth of their doctrines.

They introduced the Master from whom they pretended to have received these doctrines as telling them, that 'they were sent forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: that they should be delivered up to councils, and scourged in synagogues; that they should be hated of all men for his name's sake; that the brother should deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and that he who took not up his cross, and followed after him, was not worthy of him.' The very system of religion, therefore, which they invented and resolved to impose upon mankind, was so contrived, that the worldly prosperity of its first preachers, and even their exemption from persecution, was incompatible with its success. Had these clear predictions of the Author of that religion, under whom the apostles acted only as ministers not been verified, all mankind must have instantly perceived that their pretence to inspiration was false, and that Christianity was a scandalous and impudent imposture. All this the apostles could not but foresee when they formed their plan for deluding the world. Whence it follows, that when they resolved to support their pretended revelation by an appeal to forged miracles, they wilfully, and with their eyes open, exposed themselves to inevitable misery, whether they should succeed or fail in their enterprise; and that they concerted their measures so as not to admit of a possibility of recompence to themselves, either in this life or in that which is to come.

But if there be a law of nature, for the reality of which we have better evidence than we have for others, it is, that 'no man can choose misery for its own sake, ' or make the acquisition of it the ultimate end of his pursuit. The existence of other laws of nature we know by testimony, and our own observation of the regularity of their effects. The existence of this law is made known to us not only by these means, but also by the still clearer and more conclusive evidence of our own consciousness. "Thus, then, do miracles force themselves upon our assent in every possible view which we can take of this interesting subject. If the testimony of the first preachers of Christianity were true, the miracles recorded in the Gospel were certainly performed, and the doctrines of our religion are derived from heaven. On the other hand, if that testimony were false, either God must have miraculously effaced from the minds of those by whom it was given, all the associations formed between their sensible ideas and the words of language, or he must have endowed those men with the gift of prescience, and have impelled them to fabricate a pretended revelation for the purpose of deceiving the world, and involving themselves in certain and foreseen destruction. "

The power necessary to perform the one series of these miracles may, for any thing known to us, be as great as that which would be requisite for the performance of the other; and, considered merely as exertions of preternatural power, they may seem to balance each other, and to hold the mind in a state of suspense; but when we take into consideration the different purposes for which these opposite and contending miracles were wrought, the balance is instantly destroyed. The miracles recorded in the Gospels, if real, were wrought in support of a revelation which, in the opinion of all by whom it is received, has brought to light many important truths which could not otherwise have been made known to men; and which, by the confession of its adversaries, contains the purest moral precepts by which the conduct of mankind was ever directed. The opposite series of miracles, if real, was performed to enable, and even to compel, a company of Jews, of the lowest rank and of the narrowest education, to fabricate, with the view of inevitable destruction to themselves, a consistent scheme of falsehood, and by an appeal to forged miracles to impose it upon the world as a revelation from heaven. The object of the former miracles is worthy of a God of infinite wisdom, goodness, and power; the object of the latter is absolutely inconsistent with wisdom and goodness, which are demonstrably attributes of that Being by whom alone it follows, that the supposition of the apostles bearing false testimony to the miracles of their Master, implies a series of deviations from the laws of nature infinitely less probable in themselves than those miracles: and therefore, by Mr. Hume's maxim, we must necessarily reject the supposition of falsehood in the testimony, and admit the reality of the miracles.

So true it is, that for the reality of the Gospel miracles we have evidence as convincing to the reflecting mind as those had who were contemporary with Christ and his apostles, and were actual witnesses to their mighty works." The power of working miracles is supposed by some to have been continued no longer than the apostles' days. Others think that it was continued long after. It seems pretty clear, however, that miracles universally ceased before Chrysostom's time. As for what Augustine says of those wrought at the tombs of the martyrs, and some other places, in his time, the evidence is not always so convincing as might be desired in facts of importance. the controversy concerning the time when miraculous powers ceased was carried on by Dr. Middleton, in his Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers, &c. by Mr. Yate, Mr. Toll, and others, who suppose that miracles ceased with the apostles. On the contrary side appeared Dr. Stebbing, Dr. Chapman, Mr. Parker, Mr. Brooke, and others. As to the miracles of the Romish church, it is evident, as Doddridge observes, that many of them were ridiculous tales, according to their own historians; others were performed without any credible witnesses, or in circumstances where the performer had the greatest opportunity of juggling; and it is particularly remarkable, that they were hardly ever wrought where they seem most necessary, 1: e. in countries where those doctrines are renounced which that church esteems of the highest importance.

See Fleetwood, Clarapede, Conybeare, Campbell, Lardner, Farmer, Adams, and Weston, on Miracles, article Miracle, Enc. Brit. Doddridge's Lect. lec. 101 and 135; Leland's View of Deistical Writers, letter 3, 4, 7; Hurrion on the Spirit, p. 299. &c.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

Although English speakers regularly use "miracle" to refer to a broad range of wondrous events, the biblical concept is limited to those not explainable solely by natural processes but which require the direct causal agency of a supernatural being, usually God. These occur throughout all major eras of history but do appear with greater frequency at key periods of God's self-revelation.

Genesis . The Bible begins with one of God's greatest miracles—the creation of the universe out of nothing. However literally the various details are taken,  Genesis 1-2 primarily describes not the "how" but the "who" of creation. Against somewhat similar stories in polytheistic religions, Genesis affirms the complete, cosmic sovereignty of the Lord God. All else is subordinate and never to be worshiped. Humanity is categorically distinct from the rest of creation by virtue of being created in the image of God (  Genesis 1:26-28 ). The fall, followed by an increase in evil, begins to thwart God's creative purposes. The next major miracle, the flood, thus affirms both God's judgment on extreme wickedness and his grace in promising never again to destroy humanity so completely (6:3; 9:15-16). The promise does not preclude judgments of a lesser nature, though, such as Babel (11:1-9) or Sodom and Gomorrah (19:1-29). Miracles throughout the rest of Genesis deal primarily with God's preservation of his chosen line, when his promises to Abraham ( Genesis 12:1-3 ) seem about to be broken, most notably Sarah's conception of Isaac at an advanced age (21:1-7). A seemingly miraculous provision of water in the desert preserves Hagar and Ishmael (21:14-21), reminding us of God's care for other peoples as well.

Exodus-Deuteronomy . The first major cluster of biblical miracles surrounds the central Old Testament act of redemptionthe exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Here too appear thirteen of the eighteen Old Testament uses of "signs and wonders, " an expression that focuses on the miracles' redemptive significance. In the burning bush, God reveals his name (Yahweh) to Moses as the eternally existing one and promises his presence with his servant who is terrified of what God is asking him to do ( Exodus 3 ). Further signs are promised to encourage him that he can overcome Pharaoh and the Egyptians (4:1-17). Ten plagues ensue, from which the Israelites are miraculously protected (7:14-11:10). None of the plagues itself is necessarily supernatural; in fact, their sequence is often scientifically logical. But their timing and geographical limitations point to God's sovereign intervention on Israel's behalf. The climactic plague of the death of firstborn sons finally motivates Pharaoh to let Moses and his people go.

Pharaoh quickly changes his mind, though, and it seems that his armies will obliterate Israel. The miraculous crossing of the Sea of Reeds (14:21-31), therefore, becomes the prototypical Old Testament miracle of the deliverance of God's people and the destruction of his enemies (15:1-2). It also discloses God's merciful initiatives prior to his giving of the law (20:1-2); in the Old Testament as in the New Testament, salvation by grace precedes God's demands for good works. The Israelites' wandering in the wilderness is punctuated by various miracles of preservation and judgmentrescue when it seems they will perish (by the ongoing provision of manna and quail chap. 16 and special provisions at key moments, most notably water from the rock 17:1-7;  Numbers 10:1-13 ) and destruction of those who disobey God and challenge his appointed leaders (most notably the sudden deaths of Nadab and Abihu  Leviticus 10:1-7; and the earthquake that swallows Korah and his fellow rebels  Numbers 16 ). Plagues, too, require divine intervention to be stopped and Aaron's rod buds to authenticate him as the legitimate priest (chap. 17). In short, God's mighty Acts intend to foster dependence of his people on him, that they might not trust in themselves or any other gods. And, as with Hagar, he occasionally reminds them that he can work to and through people outside the chosen line, even in humorous ways (Balaam's donkey  Numbers 22:21-35 ).

Joshua-2Samuel . With Moses' death, Joshua becomes his appointed successor to lead the Israelites into the promised land. A water crossing (of the Jordan) similar to the exodus initiates this period and authenticates Joshua's privileged role ( Joshua 3:7 ). Subsequent battles are often won or lost despite the relative strengths of the armies, to remind God's people that he alone is in charge (cf. esp. the conquest of Jericho versus the defeat at Aichaps. 6-7). Although no miracle, per se, occurs as Gideon fights the Midianites, the confusion that causes his enemies to slay each other, despite the small number of opposing forces, is equally attributed to the Lord's direct intervention ( Judges 7 ). The report of sun and moon standing still while Joshua fights the Amorites comes in a poetic passage and is perhaps not meant to be taken as literal cosmic upheaval ( Joshua 10:12-13 ). But it continues the theme of God's sovereign agency as the cause of victory. Subsequent miracles are also "borderline"Samson's superhuman strength when he is "filled with the Spirit" ( Judges 13-16 ) and the ark's "power" over Dagon ( 1 Samuel 5 ) and the cattle that return it to Beth Shemesh (chap. 6). These and many other passages highlight how the biblical world's divisions between natural and supernatural were far more fluid than today and how most momentous events were attributed to various divinities.

First Kings-Nehemiah . The next major cluster of miracles involves the prophets Elijah and Elisha. The faithful remnant of Israel is locked in a mortal, spiritual battle with idolatry, especially Baal worship. The predominant purpose behind the miracles of these two prophets is to demonstrate Yahweh's superiority over Baal and to call God's people back to worship him. The classic expression of this combat comes at Carmel, as fire from heaven consumes Elijah's sacrifice and the prophets of Baal are destroyed ( 1 Kings 18:16-40 ). But other mighty deeds also demonstrate the Lord's supremacy over the pagan god of water, fertility, and life: Elijah alone can predict drought and rain (chaps. 17-18), and God will nourish his people (17:1-6) and others (vv. 7-16) during the former. Elisha purifies poisoned water and causes an axhead sunk in the river to float ( 2 Kings 2:19-22;  6:1-7 ). Both prophets, too, work Scripture's first miraculous resuscitations ( 1 Kings 17:17-24;  2 Kings 4:8-37 ). Elijah appropriately becomes the second person in history never to die but to be taken directly to heaven ( 2 Kings 2:1-18; cf. Enoch in  Genesis 5:24 ).

Elijah's successor certifies his prophetic role with closely parallel miracles. In addition to those already noted, Elisha provides unfailing oil for a needy widow ( 2 Kings 4:1-7 ), purifies a pot of food, feeds a hundred men with twenty small loaves, and again demonstrates God's concern for foreigners in healing Naaman's leprosy (4:38- 5:27). The latter two miracles closely resemble Jesus' later feeding of the multitudes, cures of lepers, and concern for Gentiles. Indeed Jesus himself will liken parts of his ministry to God's choice in the days of Elijah and Elisha to favor those outside Israel ( Luke 4:25-27 ). Although Elisha dies a normal death, even his bones cause a corpse thrown into his grave to be resuscitated ( 2 Kings 13:20-21 ). The two other major miracles that occur in the Old Testament historical books involve the leprosy with which faithless Uzziah is afflicted and the sundial shadow's retreat as a sign to portend Hezekiah's recovery from illness ( 2 Kings 15:1-8;  20:1-11 ).

Job-Malachi . Two books whose genre is disputed contain major miracles: Job with his remarkable collection of afflictions and subsequent recovery and Jonah with his preservation by and expulsion from the great fish. Both teach of God's judgment and salvation, and of how even affliction is under his sovereign control for ultimately good purposes. The psalms frequently recount and reflect on God's past signs and wonders. The prophets speak of present and future signs, some more supernatural than others, to corroborate their message. Most famous is the prophecy of the virginal conception in  Isaiah 7:14 . The only other major cluster of Old Testament miracles centers on the life of Daniel and his friends in exile in Babylon. Once again Yahweh proves his supremacy over foreign gods and rulers. Thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship Nebuchadnezzar's image, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are miraculously spared, while the great heat burns up their captors ( Daniel 3 ). Thrown into the lion's den for praying to the Lord, Daniel too escapes harm (chap. 6). Other miracles give Daniel the ability to interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream (chap. 2), and the miraculous writing on Belshazzar's wall (chap. 5).

Matthew-John . The greatest of all biblical miracles is the incarnationGod becoming human ( John 1:1-18 ). Foreshadowed by the birth of John the Baptist to the previously barren Elizabeth ( Luke 1:5-25 ), the virginal conception of Jesus, the God-man, fulfills prophecy ( Matthew 1-2 ) and demonstrates the Spirit's parentage ( Luke 1:26-38 ). Jesus' adult ministry regularly features miracles for a variety of purposes. Sometimes they respond to individuals' faith in Christ (e.g., Jairus  Matthew 9:18; and the hemorrhaging woman 9:22) or are hindered by their lack thereof (the disbelief in Nazareth  Mark 6:4-6 a). On other occasions they seem more designed to instill faith where it has been lacking (e.g., the stilling of the storm  Mark 4:40; or the healing of the nobleman's son  John 4:48 ).

Other important motifs include Jesus' compassion for the needy (e.g., in feeding the five thousand  Mark 6:34; or in restoring the two blind men's sight  Matthew 20:34 ) and breaking down social barriers in preparation for the universal offer of the gospel (e.g., in cleansing the ritually impure lepers  Mark 1:40-45;  Luke 17:11-19; [where the thankful one is explicitly a Samaritan] healing the Syrophoenician woman's daughter  Mark 7:24-30; or feeding the four thousand in Gentile territory  Matthew 15:29-39 ). Frequently Jesus challenges the prevailing sabbath traditions (e.g., the man with the withered hand  Mark 3:1-6; or the closely parallel healings of cripples in  Luke 13:10-17;  14:1-6 ) and exposes Israel's predominant faithlessness (e.g., in praising the great faith of the centurion whose servant was sick  Matthew 8:5-13 ), including the periodic lack of faith of his own disciples (e.g., with the epileptic they could not cure  Matthew 17:14-21 ). In still other instances, Jesus wants to teach a lesson about sin. Sickness may be the result of one's own wickedness; its healing, therefore, an incentive to repent ( John 5:1-15 ). In other cases, though, it is wrong to blame anyone; God's greater glory is what is involved ( John 9:1-5 ).

But none of these themes proves as prominent as the most central one: Jesus works miracles to demonstrate that the kingdom of God has been inaugurated, the messianic age has arrived, and he is the Christ who will fulfill all of God's previous Scriptures. In explaining the significance of his exorcisms, Jesus makes this claim explicit ( Matthew 12:28 ). In replying to John the Baptist about his identity, the claim is more implicit but equally clear ( Matthew 11:4-5 ). Once he heals a paralytic to demonstrate his authority to forgive sins ( Mark 2:9-10 ). His transfiguration is introduced as God's kingly reign come in power ( Mark 9:1 ). Lazarus' revivification grounds Jesus' subsequent claim to be the resurrection and the life ( John 11:25 ). And the evangelists' summaries regularly link his mighty deeds with his teachings so that the former legitimate the latter.

These direct statements give clues how to interpret some of the more unusual of Jesus' miracles that often have parabolic or symbolic elements. Turning water into wine probably demonstrates the joy attached to the arrival of the new age ( John 2:1-11 ). Cursing the fig tree symbolizes the impending destruction of Israel just as much as the temple cleansing it sandwiches ( Mark 11:12-25 ). Feeding the five thousand recalls the manna in the wilderness and sets up Jesus' bread of life discourse ( John 6:1-15,25-59 ). Walking on the water is a theophany; Jesus' words of self-revelation echo  Exodus 3:14 literally, "I am" ( Mark 6:50 ). Healing the deaf-mute effects a rare miracle predicted to herald the messianic age ( Mark 7:31-37; cf.  Isaiah 35:6 ). Raising the son of the Nain widow closely resembles the reanimations by Elijah and Elisha ( Luke 7:11-17 ) and occurs on virtually the identical site as one of them (Old Testament Shunem). The two great fish catches point to the disciples' call to be spiritual fishers of people and to Peter's reinstatement after his denial for this continued ministry ( Luke 5:1-11;  John 21:1-14 ).

The greatest miracle of Jesus' life, of course, is his resurrection. Immediately following his death, nature heralds its unusual significance with an earthquake, the rending of the temple veil, and the opening of tombs of certain Old Testament saints, who would then be raised following Jesus' resurrection ( Matthew 27:51-54 ). God's resurrection of Jesus vindicates his claims, gives atoning meaning to his death, serves as a prelude to his ascension and exaltation, and makes eternal life and bodily resurrection available to all who trust in him. The best theological commentary on this event is  1 Corinthians 15 .

Each evangelist has his own thematic emphases concerning Jesus' miracles. Mark sharply contrasts the glory of Jesus' public ministry and its preponderance of wonders with the road to the cross and his teaching on suffering (1:1-8:30; 8:31-16:8). Mark, too, introduces the so-called messianic secret motif following several miracles (e.g., 1:34; 3:12; 5:43). Matthew's miracle-stories fit his overall narrative progression from Jesus' particularism to universalism (with chap. 13 as the hinge) and his stress on the fulfillment of Scripture (8:17; 11:4-5). Luke highlights Jesus' compassion for the outcasts of society (4:18; 17:11-19) and his role as a new Moses (9:28-36) and Elijah/Elisha (7:1-28). John's views prove the most distinctive. Whereas the Synoptics use "signs" in a negative sense as that which unbelieving skeptics demand but do not receive save for the resurrection as the "sign of Jonah" ( Matthew 12:38-42 ), John consistently speaks of Jesus' miracles as "signs" meant to lead people to faith in Christ (2:11; 4:54; cf. 20:31). But he encourages a maturity that does not require dependence on miraculous proofs (4:48; 20:29). John also pairs seven signs with seven discourses to form the first major half of his Gospel (1:19-11:57). The signs require interpretive teaching even as they legitimate Jesus' claims.

Acts . Jesus' ascension ends his resurrection appearances, marks his return to the Father, and enables him to bestow the Spirit permanently on all believers ( Acts 1:1-11 ). The Spirit comes with miraculous confirmation at Pentecost (2:1-3). Apostolic preaching picks up the Old Testament phrase "signs and wonders" to stress the redemptive significance of Christ's ministry (2:22) and to describe how the first Christians continued that work (4:30; 5:12), as commissioned earlier by Jesus himself. Many different believers perform miracles, not just the twelve (Stephen and Philip in  Acts 6:8 and   Acts 8:13 ), and they continue with about the same frequency throughout the book. Peter and Paul, as the two protagonists of the two halves of Acts (chaps. 1-12,13-28), each work a specially large number, several pairs of which are remarkably parallel (earthquakes to get out of jail 12:5-10; 16:22-34; healings of the lame 3:1-10; 14:8-10; raising the dead 9:36-43; 20:7-12). The apostolic miracles often closely parallel Jesus' mighty works, too (cf. 9:32-35; and  Mark 2:1-12;  9:36-42; and  Mark 5:35-42 ). Luke thus stresses that the disciples are the authorized successors of Jesus, and that Peter's Jewish-oriented ministry and Paul's Gentile-centered work equally fulfill Christ's commission. As in other periods, occasional miracles also reflect God's judgment on his enemies (13:6-12) or his rebellious children (5:1-11).

Romans-Revelation . For Paul, healings and miracles are spiritual gifts ( 1 Corinthians 12:9-10 ) God gives to those whom he chooses (vv. 29-30) throughout the entire period of history until Christ's return (1:7; 13:10-12). But he often withholds miraculous healing because of the remedial value of suffering ( 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 ). Miracles further certify apostolic credentials (12:12), characterize Paul's ministry ( Romans 15:19 ), and attest the truth of Christian life in the Spirit ( Galatians 3:5 ). Counterfeit miracles will proliferate in the end times ( 2 Thessalonians 2:9 ), as Jesus himself had prophesied ( Matthew 24:24 ), and as Revelation will describe in greater detail (e.g., 13:13-14a). James attributes a ministry of anointing with oil and prayer for healing to the eldership of the local church (5:14-16).

Conclusion . Throughout the Bible, miracles consistently serve to point people to the one true God, ultimately revealed in Jesus Christ. Their primary purpose is not to meet human need, although that is an important spinoff blessing. But they are first of all theocentric and Christocentric, demonstrating the God of Israel and of Jesus to be supreme over all rivals. Contemporary experience suggests that this pattern continues; miracles today seem most frequent in regions where Satan has long held sway and where people require "power evangelism" to be converted. But God's sovereignty warns against trying to predict when they may occur and refutes the "name it and claim it" heresy that tries to force God to work miracles upon demand, if only one exercises adequate faith.

Craig L. Blomberg

Bibliography . B. Blackburn, Theios Aner and the Markan Miracle Traditions  ; L. Bronner, The Stories of Elijah and Elisha  ; C. Brown, Miracles and the Critical Mind  ; R. T. Fortna, The Fourth Gospel and Its Predecessor  ; B. Gerhardsson, The Mighty Acts of Jesus according to Matthew  ; J. Green, S. McKnight, and I. H. Marshall, eds., Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, pp. 299-307,549-60; M. J. Harris, From Grave to Glory  ; C. Hyers, The Meaning of Creation  ; R. Latourelle, The Miracles of Jesus and the Theology of Miracles; ISBE, 3:371-81; 4:505-8,1100-1101; H. Lockyer, All the Miracles of the Bible  ; L. O'Reilly, Word and Sign in the Acts iof the Apostles  ; L. Sabourin, The Divine Miracles Discussed and Defended  ; G. Theissen, Miracle Stories of the Early Christian Tradition  ; H. van der Loos, The Miracles of Jesus  ; D. Wenham and C. Blomberg, eds., Gospel Perspectives, vol. 6.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

Also called a sign, wonder, or mighty work,  Acts 2:32; a work so superseding in its higher forms the established laws of nature as to evince the special interposition of God. A miracle is to be distinguished from wonders wrought by designing men through artful deceptions, occult sciences, or laws of nature unknown except to adepts. The miracles wrought by Christ, for example, were such as God only could perform; were wrought in public, before numerous witnesses, both friends and foes; were open to the most perfect scrutiny; had an end in view worthy of divine sanction; were attested by witnesses whose character and conduct establish their claim to our belief; and are further confirmed by institutions still existing, intended to commemorate them, and dating from the period of the miracles. Christ appealed to his mighty works as undeniable proofs of his divinity and Messiahship,  Matthew 9:6   11:4,5,23,24   John 10:24-27   20:29,31 . The deceptions of the magicians in Egypt, and of false prophets in ancient and in modern times,  Deuteronomy 13:1   Matthew 24:24   2 Thessalonians 2:9   Revelation 13:13,14 , would not bear the above tests. By granting to any man the power to work a miracle, God gave the highest attestation to the truth he should teach and the message he should bring,  1 Kings 18:38,39; this is God's own seal, not to be affixed to false hoods; and though the lying wonders of Satan and his agents were so plausible as to "deceive if possible the very elect," no one who truly sought to know and do the will of God could be deluded by them.

The chief object of miracles having been to authenticate the revelation God has made of his will, these mighty words ceased when the Scripture canon was completed and settled, and Christianity was fairly established. Since the close of the first century from the ascension of Christ, few or no undoubted miracles have been wrought; and whether a sufficient occasion for new miracles will ever arise is known only to God.

The following list comprises most of the miracles on record in the Bible, not including the supernatural visions and revelations of himself which God vouch-safed to his ancient servants, nor those numerous wonders of his providence which manifest his hand almost as indisputable as miracles themselves. See also Prophecy . Old Testament Miracles

The creation of all things,  Genesis 1:1-31 .

The deluge, comprising many miracles,  Genesis 6:1-22 .

The destruction of Sodom, etc.,  Genesis 19:1-38 .

The healing of Abimelech,  Genesis 20:17,18 .

The burning bush,  Exodus 3:2-4 .

Moses' rod made a serpent, and restored,  Exodus 4:3-4   7:10 .

Moses' hand made leprous, and healed,  Exodus 4.6-7 .

Water turned into blood,  Exodus 4:9,30 .

The Nile turned to blood,  Exodus 7:20 .

Frogs brought and removed,  Exodus 8:6,13 .

Lice brought,  Exodus 8:17 .

Flies brought, and removed,  Exodus 8:21-31 .

Murrain of beasts,  Exodus 9:3-6 .

Boils and blains brought,  Exodus 9:10,11 .

Hail brought, and removed,  Exodus 9:23,33 .

Locusts brought, and removed,  Exodus 10:13,19 .

Darkness brought,  Exodus 10:22 .

First-born destroyed,  Exodus 10:29 .

The Red Sea divided,  Exodus 14:21-22 .

Egyptians overwhelmed,  Exodus 14:26-28 .

Waters of Marah sweetened,  Exodus 15:27 .

Quails and manna sent,  Exodus 16:1-36 .

Water from the rock, in Horeb,  Exodus 17:6 .

Amalek vanquished,  Exodus 17:11-13 .

Pillar of cloud and fire,  Numbers 9:15-23 .

Leprosy of Miriam,  Numbers 12:10 .

Destruction of Korah, etc.,  Numbers 16:28-35,46-50 .

Aaron's rod budding,  Numbers 17:8 .

Water from the rock, in Kadesh,  Numbers 20:11 .

Healing by the brazen serpent,  Numbers 21:8,9 .

Balaam's ass speaks,  Numbers 22:28 .

Plague in the desert,  Numbers 25:1,9 .

Water of Jordan divided,  Joshua 3:10-17 .

Jordan restored to its course,  Joshua 4:18 .

Jericho taken,  Joshua 6:6-20 .

Achan discovered,  Joshua 7:14-21 .

Sun and moon stand still,  Joshua 10:12-14 .

Gideon's fleece wet,  Judges 6:36-40 .

Midianites destroyed,  Judges 7:16-22 .

Exploits of Samson,  Judges 14:1-16:31 .

House of Dagon destroyed,  Judges 16:30 .

Dagon falls before the ark, etc.,  1 Samuel 5:1-12 .

Return of the ark,  1 Samuel 6:12 .

Thunder and rain in harvest,  1 Samuel 12:18 .

Jeroboam's hand withered, etc.,  1 Kings 13:4,6 .

The altar rent,  1 Kings 13:5 .

Drought caused,  1 Kings 17:6 .

Elijah fed by ravens,  1 Kings 17:6 .

Meal and oil supplied,  1 Kings 17:14-16 .

Child restored to life,  1 Kings 17:22-23 .

Sacrifice consumed by fire,  1 Kings 18:36,38 .

Rain brought,  1 Kings 18:41-45 .

Men destroyed by fire,  2 Kings 1:10-12 .

Waters of Jordan divided,  2 Kings 2:14 .

Oil supplied,  2 Kings 4:1-7 .

Child restored to life,  2 Kings 4:32-35 .

Naaman healed,  2 Kings 5:10,14 .

Gehazi's leprosy,  2 Kings 5:27 .

Iron caused to swim,  2 Kings 6:6 .

Syrians smitten blind, etc.,  2 Kings 19:35 .

Hezekiah healed,  2 Kings 20:7 .

Shadow put back,  2 Kings 20:11 .

Pestilence in Israel,  1 Chronicles 21:14 .

Jonah preserved by a fish,  Jonah 1:17   2:10 .

New Testament Miracles.

The star in the east,  Matthew 2:3 .

The Spirit like a dove,  Matthew 3:16 .

Christ's fast and temptations,  Matthew 4:1-11 .

Many miracles of Christ,  Matthew 4:23-24   8:16   14:14,36   15:30   Mark 1:34   Luke 6:17-19 .

Lepers cleansed,  Matthew 8:3-4   Luke 17:14 .

Centurion's servant healed,  Matthew 8:5-13 .

Peter's wife's mother healed,  Matthew 8:14 .

Tempests stilled,  Matthew 8:23-26   14:32 .

Devils cast out,  Matthew 8:28-32   9:32-33   15:22-28   17:14-18 .

Paralytics healed,  Matthew 9:2-6   Mark 2:3-12 .

Issue of blood healed,  Matthew 9:20-22 .

Jairus' daughter raised to life,  Matthew 9:18,25 .

Sight given to the blind,  Matthew 9:27-30   20:34   Mark 8:22-25   John 9:17 .

The dumb restored,  Matthew 9:32-33   12:22   Mark 7:33-35 .

Miracles by the disciples,  Matthew 10:1-8 .

Multitudes fed,  Matthew 14:15-21   15:35-38 .

Christ walking on the sea,  Matthew 14:25-27 .

Peter walking on the sea,  Matthew 14:29 .

Christ's transfiguration, etc.,  Matthew 17:1-8 .

Tribute from a fish's mouth,  Matthew 17:27 .

The fig tree withered,  Matthew 21:19 .

Miracles at the crucifixion,  Matthew 27:51-53 .

Miracles at the resurrection,  Matthew 28:1-7   Luke 24:6 .

Draught of fishes,  Luke 5:4-6   John 21:6 .

Widow's son raised to life,  Luke 7:14,15 .

Miracles before John's messengers,  Luke 7:21-22 .

Miracles by the seventy,  Luke 10:9,17 .

Woman healed of infirmity,  Luke 13:11-13 .

Dropsy cured,  Luke 14:2-4 .

Malchus' ear restored,  Luke 22:50-51 .

Water turned to wine,  John 2:6-10 .

Nobleman's son healed,  John 4:46-53 .

Impotent man healed,  John 5:5-9 .

Sudden crossing of the sea,  John 6:21 .

Lazarus raised from the dead,  John 11:43-44 .

Christ's coming to his disciples,  John 20:19,26 .

Wonders at the Pentecost,  Acts 2:1-11 .

Miracles by the apostles,  Acts 2:43   5:12 .

Lame man cured,  Acts 3:7 .

Death of Ananias and Sapphira,  Acts 5:5,10 .

Many sick healed,  Acts 5:15-16 .

Apostles delivered from prison,  Acts 5:19 .

Miracles by Stephen,  Acts 6:8 .

Miracles by Philip,  Acts 8:6,7,13 .

Eneas made whole,  Acts 9:34 .

Dorcas restored to life,  Acts 9:40 .

Peter delivered from prison,  Acts 12:6-10 .

Elymas struck blind,  Acts 13:11 .

Miracles by Paul and Barnabas,  Acts 14:3 .

Lame man cured,  Acts 14:10 .

Unclean spirit cast out,  Acts 16:18 .

Paul and Silas delivered,  Acts 16:25-26 .

Special miracles,  Acts 19:11-12 .

Eutchus restored to life,  Acts 20:10-12 .

Viper's bite made harmless,  Acts 28:5 .

Father of Publius, etc., healed,  Acts 28:8,9 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Miracle, in the A. V., represents three Greek words: 1. Semeion, sign, by which a divine power is made known and a divine messenger attested.  Matthew 12:38-39;  Matthew 16:1;  Matthew 16:6;  Mark 8:11;  Luke 11:16;  Luke 23:8;  John 2:11;  John 2:18;  John 2:23, etc.;  Acts 6:8;  1 Corinthians 1:22. 2. Teras, wonder or portent, with regard to their astounding character.  John 4:48;  Acts 2:22;  Acts 2:43;  Acts 7:36;  Romans 15:19; usually in connection with "signs." 3. Dunamis, power or powers, mighty deeds, with reference to their effect.  Matthew 7:22;  Matthew 11:20-21;  Matthew 11:23;  Luke 10:13;  Romans 15:19. A miracle is not, philosophically speaking, a violation of the ordinary laws of nature, nor does it necessarily require a suspension of those laws, as some have imagined; but is either a manifestation of divine power, superior to natural causes, or an increase of the action of some existing law, accomplishing a new result. Such were the miracles which God wrought by the prophets; and those wrought by Christ and by the apostles and disciples in his name. Though miracles are supernatural facts, in one sense they are also natural facts. They belong to a superior order of things, to a superior world; and they are perfectly conformed with the supreme law which governs them. They belong to the vast plan of Jehovah, which contains at once both the natural course of events and these supernatural manifestations. And when, on remarkable occasions, his plans and purposes have required preternatural interposition of his power, it has always been exerted; but, with the unusual occasion, the unusual agency has ceased, and the extraordinary result has no longer occurred. Such interferences are not required in the established course and usual sequences of nature. The miracles of Christ as reported in the gospels present many noticeable features. They were numerous: a multitude more having been performed than are described in detail.  John 20:30;  John 21:25. They exhibit great variety; they were wrought almost always instantaneously, by a word of power, without the use or auxiliary means, sometimes taking their effect at a distance from the place in which Christ personally was. They were permanent in their results, were subjected at the time to keen investigation, and convinced a hostile people of the truth of them, to such an extent that, though there were persons who concealed or resisted their convictions, very many in consequence attached themselves, to the great detriment of their worldly interests, in several cases with the sacrifice of their lives, to the person and doctrine of this extraordinary Teacher. They were miracles, too, of mercy, intended to relieve human suffering, and to promote the well-being of those on whom or for whom they were wrought. And the power of working miracles was conveyed by our Lord to his followers, was repeatedly exercised by them, and was continued for a while in the church.  Acts 19:11;  1 Corinthians 12:10;  1 Corinthians 12:28-29. For list of miracles in the Bible, see Appendix.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [5]

1: Δύναμις (Strong'S #1411 — Noun Feminine — dunamis — doo'-nam-is )

"power, inherent ability," is used of works of a supernatural origin and character, such as could not be produced by natural agents and means. It is translated "miracles" in the RV and AV in  Acts 8:13 (where variant readings give the words in different order); 19:11;   1—Corinthians 12:10,28,29;  Galatians 3:5; AV only, in  Acts 2:22 (RV, "mighty works");   Hebrews 2:4 (RV, "powers"). In   Galatians 3:5 , the word may be taken in its widest sense, to include "miracles" both physical and moral. See Might , A, No. 1, Power, Work

2: Σημεῖον (Strong'S #4592 — Noun Neuter — semeion — say-mi'-on )

"a sign, mark, token" (akin to semaino, "to give a sign;" sema, "a sign"), is used of "miracles" and wonders as signs of Divine authority; it is translated "miracles" in the RV and AV of  Luke 23:8;  Acts 4:16,22; most usually it is given its more appropriate meaning "sign," "signs," e.g.,  Matthew 12:38,39 , and in every occurrence in the Synoptists, except  Luke 23:8; in the following passages in John's Gospel the RV substitutes "sign" or "signs" for the AV, "miracle or miracles;"  John 2:11,23;  3:2;  4:54;  6:2,14,26;  7:31;  9:16;  10:41;  11:47;  12:18,37; the AV also has "signs" elsewhere in this Gospel; in Acts, RV, "signs," AV, "miracles," in  Acts 6:8;  8:6;  15:12; elsewhere only in  Revelation 13:14;  16:14;  19:20 . See Sign , Token , Wonder.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [6]

Miracles in Scripture are designed, for the most part, as so many, testimonies in proof of the doctrine delivered at the same time. Thus the Lord Jesus saith, "The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me." ( John 10:25) And when in concurrence with miracles, the word of God, and the works of God are joined together, these establish and seal the truth as it is in Jesus. There were certain particularities in the miracles of the Lord Jesus, which marked his divine nature in the performance of them in a way and manner different from all his servants. They performed all the miracles they wrought by the appointment and in the name of the Lord Jesus wrought his in his own name. It is true indeed, in the instance of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, the Lord Jesus first addressed his Father: but then he assigned the special reason for so doing; because"of them, said Jesus, that stood by, that they might know and believe that the Father had sent me."At the same time proclaiming himself as the resurrection and the life, and giving proof of it by becoming so to Lazarus. (See  John 11:23-44) In addition to this, it should be farther remarked, that the miracles of the Lord Jesus were many of them of a personal kind, and not unfrequeuuy wrought without any immediate cause in confirmation of his doctrine, but to set forth his gracious character of Redeemer. In those acts of Christ in which he manifested forth the sovereignty of his power, he might be said to act in common with the other persons of the GODHEAD: and the Father, and the Holy Ghost, had a joint interest in these things with himself. But in those actions of the Lord Jesus peculiar to the Mediator as Mediator, and where, from having as Son of God abased himself for the purposes of salvation, he manifested forth the miracles he wrought, here the glory of the work became personal, and belonged wholly to Jesus as Mediator, I need not particularize instances, else I might observe, that the healed paralytic, the cleansed leper, the centurion's son, the water turned into wine; these and the tike are all of the personal kind. And perhaps it is not among the smallest instances of Christ's personal glory and grace, from the actions of miracles, that the Lord Jesus in all he wrought testified his personal love and mercy to his people. The evangelist John is careful to inform the church, that "the beginning of miracles in Cana of Galilee" was shewn in converting water into wine; as if to say, such are the blessings of the gospel, Our common mercies will be made rich mercies; and the nether springs in Jesus, if for his personal glory, shall become upper springs in Jesus. And this is still the more striking, because under the law the first miracle of his servant Moses was manifested in converting water into blood; but Jesus's first miracle shall be converting water into wine. Sweet thought to the believer! Jesus's person, and Jesus's grace, give a softening and a I converting blessing to all our states and circumstances. And what an argument of the most persuasive nature ariseth therefrom to look unto him under every exercise, and to wait his grace in every dispensation. Here it is, as in Cana of Galilee, Jesus manifesteth forth his glory, and his disciples believe on him. ( John 2:11)

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

  • Erga, "works;" the works of Him who is "wonderful in working" ( John 5:20,36 ).

    Miracles are seals of a divine mission. The sacred writers appealed to them as proofs that they were messengers of God. Our Lord also appealed to miracles as a conclusive proof of his divine mission ( John 5:20,36;  10:25,38 ). Thus, being out of the common course of nature and beyond the power of man, they are fitted to convey the impression of the presence and power of God. Where miracles are there certainly God is. The man, therefore, who works a miracle affords thereby clear proof that he comes with the authority of God; they are his credentials that he is God's messenger. The teacher points to these credentials, and they are a proof that he speaks with the authority of God. He boldly says, "God bears me witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles."

    The credibility of miracles is established by the evidence of the senses on the part of those who are witnesses of them, and to all others by the testimony of such witnesses. The witnesses were competent, and their testimony is trustworthy. Unbelievers, following Hume, deny that any testimony can prove a miracle, because they say miracles are impossible. We have shown that miracles are possible, and surely they can be borne witness to. Surely they are credible when we have abundant and trustworthy evidence of their occurrence. They are credible just as any facts of history well authenticated are credible. Miracles, it is said, are contrary to experience. Of course they are contrary to our experience, but that does not prove that they were contrary to the experience of those who witnessed them. We believe a thousand facts, both of history and of science, that are contrary to our experience, but we believe them on the ground of competent testimony. An atheist or a pantheist must, as a matter of course, deny the possibility of miracles; but to one who believes in a personal God, who in his wisdom may see fit to interfere with the ordinary processes of nature, miracles are not impossible, nor are they incredible. (See List Of Miracles Appendix.)

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Miracle'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/m/miracle.html. 1897.

  • King James Dictionary [8]

    MIR'ACLE, n. L. miraculum, from miror, to wonder.

    1. Literally, a wonder or wonderful thing but appropriately, 2. In theology, an event or effect contrary to the established constitution and course of things, or a deviation from the known laws of nature a supernatural event. Miracles can be wrought only by Almighty power, as when Christ healed lepers, saying, "I will, be thou clean," or calmed the tempest, "Peace, be still."

    They considered not the miracle of the loaves.  Mark 6 .

    A man approved of God by miracles and signs.  Acts 2

    3. Anciently, a spectacle or dramatic representation exhibiting the lives of the saints.

    MIR'ACLE, To make wonderful. Not used.

    Webster's Dictionary [9]

    (1): ( v. t.) To make wonderful.

    (2): ( n.) A wonder or wonderful thing.

    (3): ( n.) Specifically: An event or effect contrary to the established constitution and course of things, or a deviation from the known laws of nature; a supernatural event, or one transcending the ordinary laws by which the universe is governed.

    (4): ( n.) A miracle play.

    (5): ( n.) A story or legend abounding in miracles.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

    mir´a - k ' 50  :

    I. The Nature Of Miracles

    1. General Idea

    2. Biblical Terms Employed

    II. Miracle In The New Testament

    1. Miracles in Gospel History

    2. Special Testimony of Luke

    3. Trustworthiness of Evidence in Gospels and Acts

    III. Miracle And Laws Of Nature

    1. Projudgment of Negative Criticism

    2. Sir George Stokes Quoted

    3. Effects on Nature of New Agencies

    4. Agreement with Biblical Idea and Terms

    5. J.S. Mill on Miracle

    6. Miracle as Connected with Command

    IV. Evidential Value Of Miracle

    1. Miracles as Proofs of Revelation

    2. Miracles of Christ in This Relation

    3. Miracles Part of Revelation

    V. Miracles In The Old Testament

    1. Analogy with New Testament Miracles

    2. The Mosaic Miracles

    3. Subsequent Miracles

    4. Prophecy as Miracle

    VI. Ecclesiastical Miracles

    1. Probability of Such Miracles

    2. Pascal Quoted

    VII. Miracle In Works Or Grace

    Literature .

    I. Nature of Miracle.

    1. General Idea:

    "Miracle" is the general term for the wonderful phenomena which accompanied the Jewish and Christian revelation, especially at critical moments, and which are alleged to have been continued, under certain conditions, in the history of the Christian church. The miracle proper is a work of God ( Exodus 7:3 ff;   Deuteronomy 4:34 ,  Deuteronomy 4:35 , etc.;  John 3:2;  John 9:32 ,  John 9:33;  John 10:38;  Acts 10:38 , etc.); but as supernatural acts miracles are recognized as possible to evil agencies ( Matthew 24:24;  2 Thessalonians 2:9;  Revelation 13:14;  Revelation 16:14 , etc.).

    2. Biblical Terms Employed:

    The Biblical idea of miracle as an extraordinary work of God, generally though not invariably ("providential" miracles - see below, II, 6), transcending the ordinary powers of Nature, wrought in connection with the ends of revelation, is illustrated by the terms used to describe miracles in the Old Testament and New Testament. One class of terms brings out the unusual, exceptional, and striking character of the works, as פּלא , pele' , נפלאות , niphlā'ōth (  Exodus 3:20;  Exodus 15:11 , etc.), τέρας , téras , literally, "a portent" (in plural  Matthew 24:24;  Acts 2:22 ,  Acts 2:43 , etc.); another lays stress on the power displayed in them, as גּבוּרה , gebhūrāh , δύναμις , dúnamis (in plural "mighty works," the Revised Version margin "powers,"  Matthew 11:20 ,  Matthew 11:21 ,  Matthew 11:23;  Matthew 13:54;  Matthew 14:2;  2 Corinthians 12:12 , etc.); a third gives prominence to their teleological significance - their character as "signs," as אות , 'ōth (plural the Revised Version (British and American) "signs,"  Numbers 14:22;  Deuteronomy 11:3 , etc.), σημεῖον , sēmeı́on (plural the Revised Version (British and American) "signs,"  John 2:11 ,  John 2:23 , and frequently;  Acts 4:16 ,  Acts 4:22;  Acts 6:8;  Revelation 13:14 , etc.). Another Old Testament word for "wonder" or "miracle" is מופת , mōphēth ( Exodus 7:9;  Deuteronomy 29:3 ). See, further, below, III, 4.

    II. Miracle in the New Testament.

    1. Miracles in Gospel History:

    The subject of miracles has given rise to much abstract discussion; but it is best approached by considering the actual facts involved, and it is best to begin with the facts nearest to us: those which are recorded in the New Testament. Our Lord's ministry was attended from first to last by events entirely beyond the ordinary course of Nature. He was born of a Virgin, and His birth was announced by angels, both to His mother, and to the man to whom she was betrothed (Matthew and Luke). He suffered death on the cross as an ordinary man, but on the third day after His crucifixion He rose from the tomb in which He was buried, and lived with His disciples for 40 days ( Acts 1:3 ), eating and drinking with them, but with a body superior to ordinary physical conditions. At length He ascended to the heavens, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. But besides these two great miracles of His birth and His resurrection, Jesus was continually performing miracles during His ministry. His own words furnish the best description of the facts. In reply to the question of John the Baptist, His predecessor, He said, "Go and tell John the things which ye hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good tidings preached to them" ( Matthew 11:4 ,  Matthew 11:5 ). Specimens of these miracles are given in detail in the Gospel narratives; but it is a mistake to consider the matter, as is too often done, as though these particular miracles were the only ones in question. Even if they could be explained away, as has often been attempted, there would remain reiterated statements of the evangelists, such as Matthew's that He "went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people" ( Matthew 4:23 ), or Luke's "And a great number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; and they that were troubled with unclean spirits were healed. And all the multitude sought to touch him; for power came forth from him, and healed them all" ( Luke 6:17-19 ).

    2. Special Testimony of Luke:

    It must be borne in mind that if there is any assured result of modern criticism, it is that these accounts proceed from contemporaries and eyewitnesses, and with respect to the third evangelist there is one unique consideration of great import. The researches of Dr. Hobart have proved to the satisfaction of a scholar like Harnack, that Luke was a trained physician. His testimony to the miracles is therefore the nearest thing possible to the evidence which has often been desired - that of a man of science. When Luke, e.g., tells us of the healing of a fever ( Luke 4:38 ,  Luke 4:39 ), he uses the technical term for a violent fever recognized in his time (compare Meyer, in the place cited); his testimony is therefore that of One who knew what fevers and the healing of them meant. This consideration is especially valuable in reference to the miracles recorded of Paul in the latter part of Acts. it should always be borne in mind that they are recorded by a physician, who was an eyewitness of them.

    3. Trustworthiness of Evidence in Gospels and Acts:

    It seems to follow from these considerations that the working of miracles by our Lord, and by Paul in innumerable cases, cannot be questioned without attributing to the evangelists a wholesale untrustworthiness, due either to willful, or to superstitious misrepresentation, and this is a supposition which will certainly never commend itself to a fair and competent judgment. It would involve, in fact, such a sweeping condemnation of the evangelists, that it could never be entertained at all except under one presupposition, namely, that such miraculous occurrences, as being incompatible with the established laws of Nature, could not possibly have happened, and that consequently any allegations of them must of necessity be attributed to illusion or fraud.

    III. Miracle and Laws of Nature.

    1. Pre-Judgment of Negative Criticism:

    This, in fact, is the prejudgment or prejudice which has prompted, either avowedly or tacitly, the great mass of negative criticism on this subject, and if it could be substantiated, we should be confronted, in the Gospels, with a problem of portentous difficulty. On this question of the abstract possibility of miracles, it seems sufficient to quote the following passage from the Gifford Lectures for 1891 of the late eminent man of science, Professor Sir George Stokes.

    2. Sir George Stokes Quoted:

    On page 23 Professor Stokes says: "We know very well that a man may in general act uniformly according to a certain rule, and yet for a special reason may on a particular occasion act quite differently. We cannot refuse to admit the possibility of something analogous taking place as regards the action of the Supreme Being. If we think of the laws of Nature as self-existent and uncaused, then we cannot admit any deviation from them. But if we think of them as designed by a Supreme Will, then we must allow the possibility of their being on some particular occasion suspended. Nor is it even necessary, in order that some result out of the ordinary course of Nature should be brought about, that they should even be suspended; it may be that some different law is brought into action, whereby the result in question is brought about, without any suspension whatever of the laws by which the ordinary course of Nature is regulated.... It may be that the event which we call a miracle was brought about, not by any suspension of the laws in ordinary operation, but by the superaddition of something not ordinarily in operation, or, if in operation, of such a nature that its operation is not perceived."

    3. Effects on Nature of New Agencies:

    Only one consideration need be added to this decisive scientific statement, namely, that if there be agencies and forces in existence outside the ordinary world of Nature, and if they can under certain circumstances interpose in it, they must necessarily produce effects inconsistent with the processes of that world when left to itself. Life under the surface of the water has a certain course of its own when undisturbed; but if a man standing on the bank of a river throws a stone into it, effects are produced which must be as unexpected and as unaccountable as a miracle to the creatures who live in the stream. The nearness of two worlds which are absolutely distinct from one another receives, indeed, a striking illustration from the juxtaposition of the world above the water and the world below its surface. There is no barrier between them; they are actually in contact; yet the life in them is perfectly distinct. The spiritual world may be as close to us as the air is to the water, and the angels, or other ministers of God's will, may as easily, at His word, interpose in it as a man can throw a stone into the water. When a stone is thus thrown, there is no suspension or modification of any law; it is simply that, as Sir George Stokes supposes in the case of a miracle, a new agency has interposed.

    4. Agreement with Biblical Idea and Terms:

    This, indeed, is the main fact of which miracles are irresistible evidence. They show that some power outside Nature, some super -natural power, has intervened. They are exactly described by the three words in the New Testament already mentioned. They are terata , "prodigies" or "wonders"; they are also dunameis , virtutes , "powers," or "manifestation of powers"; and finally they are sēmeia , "signs." The three conceptions are combined, and the source of such manifestations stated with them, in a pregnant verse of Hebrews: "God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will" (  Hebrews 2:4 ).

    5. J. S. Mill on Miracle:

    The words of J. S. Mill on the question of the possibility of miracles may also be quoted. Dealing with the objection of Hume in his Essay on Miracles , Mill observes: "In order that any alleged fact should be contradictory to a law of causation, the allegation must be, not simply that the cause existed without being followed by the effect, for that would be no uncommon occurrence; but that this happened in the absence of any adequate counteracting cause. Now in the case of an alleged miracle, the assertion is the exact opposite of this. It is that the effect was defeated, not in the absence, but in consequence, of a counteracting cause, namely, a direct interposition of an act of the will of some being who has power over Nature; and in particular of a Being, whose will being assumed to have endowed all the causes with the powers by which they produce their effects, may well be supposed able to counteract them. A miracle (as was justly remarked by Brown) is no contradiction to the law of cause and effect; it is a new effect, supposed to be produced by the introduction of a new cause. Of the adequacy of that cause, if present; there can be no doubt; and the only antecedent improbability which can be ascribed to the miracle is the improbability that any such cause existed" ( System of Logic , II, 161-62).

    6. Miracle as Connected with Command:

    There is, however, one other important characteristic of miracles - of those at least with which we are concerned - namely, that they occur at the command, or at the prayer, of the person to whom they are attributed. This is really their most significant feature, and the one upon which their whole evidential value depends. One critic has compared the fall of the fortifications of Jellalabad, on a critical occasion, with the fall of the walls of Jericho, as though the one was no more a miracle than the other. But the fall of the walls of Jericho, though it may well have been produced by some natural force such as an earthquake, bears the character of a miracle because it was predicted, and was thus commanded by God to occur in pursuance of the acts prescribed to Joshua. Similarly the whole significance of our Lord's miracles is that they occur at His word and in obedience to Him. "What manner of man is this," exclaimed the disciples, "that even the winds and the sea obey him?" ( Matthew 8:27 ).

    IV. Evidential Value of Miracle.

    1. Miracles as Proofs of Revelation:

    This leads us to the true view of the value of miracles as proofs of a revelation. This is one of the points which has been discussed in far too abstract a manner. Arguments have been, and still are, constructed to show that there can be no real revelation without miracles, that miracles are the proper proof of a revelation, and so on. It is always a perilous method of argument, perhaps a presumptuous one, to attempt to determine whether God could produce a given result in any other way than the one which He has actually adopted. The only safe, and the sufficient, method of proceeding is to consider whether as a matter of fact, and in what way, the miracles which are actually recorded do guarantee the particular revelation in question.

    2. Miracles of Christ in This Relation:

    Consider our Lord's miracles in this light. Assuming, on the grounds already indicated, that they actually occurred, they prove beyond doubt that He had supreme command over Nature; that not only the winds and the sea, but the human soul and body obeyed him, and in the striking words of the English service for the Visitation of the Sick, that He was "Lord of life and death, and of all things thereto pertaining, as youth, strength, health, age, weakness and sickness." This is the grand fact which the miracles establish. They are not like external evidence, performed in attestation of a doctrine. They are direct and eloquent evidence of the cardinal truth of our faith, that our Lord possessed powers which belong to God Himself. But they are not less direct evidence of the special office He claimed toward the human race - that of a Saviour. He did not merely work wonders in order that men might believe His assertions about Himself, but His wonderful works, His powers - virtutes - were direct evidence of their truth. He proved that He was a Saviour by doing the works of a Saviour, by healing men and women from their diseases of both body and soul. It is well known that salvation in the true sense, namely, saving men out of evils and corruptions into which they have fallen, is an idea which was actually introduced into the world by the gospel. There was no word for it in the Roman language. The ancients know of a servator , but not of a salvator . The essential message of the miracles is that they exhibit our Lord in this character - that of one who has alike the will and the power to save. Such is our Lord's own application of them in His answer, already quoted, to the disciples of John the Baptist (  Matthew 11:4 ,  Matthew 11:5 ).

    3. Miracles Part of Revelation:

    It is therefore an extraordinary mistake to suppose that the evidence for our faith would not be damaged if the miracles were set aside. We should lose the positive evidence we now possess of our Lord's saving power. In this view, the miracles are not the mere proofs of a revelation; they are themselves the revelation. They reveal a Saviour from all human ills, and there has been no other revelation in the world of such a power. The miracles recorded of the apostles have a like effect. They are wrought, like Peter's of the impotent man, as evidence of the living power of the Saviour ( Acts 3;  4 ). "Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in him doth this man stand here before you whole.... And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved" ( Acts 4:10 ,  Acts 4:12 ). In a word, the miracles of the New Testament, whether wrought by our Lord or by His apostles, reveal a new source of power, in the person of our Lord, for the salvation of men. Whatever interference they involve with the usual order of Nature is due, not to any modification of that order, but to the intervention of a new force in it. The nature of that force is revealed by them, and can only be ascertained by observation of them. A man is known by his words and by his deeds, and to these two sources of revelation, respecting His person and character, our Lord expressly appealed. "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do them, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father" ( John 10:37 ,  John 10:38 ).

    It is therefore a mistake to try to put the evidence of the miracles into a logically demonstrative argument. Paley stated the case too much in this almost anathematized form.

    "It is idle," he said, "to say that a future state had been discovered already. It had been discovered as the Copernican system was; it was one guess among many. He alone discovers who proves; and no man can prove this point but the teacher who testifies by miracles that his doctrine comes from God" ( Moral and Polit . Philosophy , book V, chapter ix, close).

    Coleridge, in the Aids to Reflection , criticizes the above and puts the argument in a more just and more human form.

    "Most fervently do I contend, that the miracles worked by Christ, both as miracles and as fulfillments of prophecy, both as signs and as wonders, made plain discovery, and gave unquestionable proof, of His Divine character and authority; that they were to the whole Jewish nation true and appropriate evidences, that He was indeed come who had promised and declared to their forefathers, Behold your God will come with vengeance, even God, with a recompense! He will come and save you . I receive them as proofs, therefore, of the truth of every word which He taught who was Himself the Word: and as sure evidences of the final victory over death and of the life to come, in that they were manifestations of Him who said: I am the resurrection and the life! " (note prefatory to Aphorism Cxxiii ).

    This seems the fittest manner in which to contemplate the evidence afforded by miracles.

    V. Miracles in the Old Testament.

    1. Analogy with New Testament Miracles:

    If the miracles ascribed to our Lord and His apostles are established on the grounds now stated, and are of the value just explained, there can be little difficulty in principle in accepting as credible and applying the miracles of the Old Testament. They also are obviously wrought as manifestations of a Divine Being, and as evidences of His character and will.

    2. The Mosaic Miracles:

    This, e.g., was the great purpose of the miracles wrought for the deliverance of the people of Israel out of Egypt. The critical theories which treat the narrative of those events as "unhistorical" are, I am convinced, unsound. If they could be established, they would deprive us of some of the most precious evidences we possess of the character of God. But, in any case, the purpose to which the alleged miracles are ascribed is of the same character as in the case of the New Testament miracles. "For ask now," says Moses, "of the days that are past ... whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that Yahweh your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that Yahweh he is God; there is none else besides him" ( Deuteronomy 4:32-35 ). The God of the Jews was, and is, the God manifested in those miraculous acts of deliverance. Accordingly, the Ten Commandments are introduced with the declaration: "I am Yahweh thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage," and on this follows: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" ( Exodus 20:2 ,  Exodus 20:3 ). Without these miracles, the God of the Jews would be an abstraction. As manifested in them, He is the living God, with a known character, "a just God and a Saviour" ( Isaiah 45:21 ), who can be loved with all the heart, and soul, and mind, and strength.

    3. Subsequent Miracles:

    The subsequent miracles of Jewish history, like those wrought by Elijah, serve the same great end, and reveal more and more both of the will and the power of God. They are not mere portents, wrought as an external testimony to a doctrine. They are the acts of a living Being wrought through His ministers, or with their cooperation, and He is revealed by them. If the miracles of the New Testament were possible, those of the Old Testament were possible, and as those of the New Testament reveal the nature and will of Christ, by word and deed, so those of the Old Testament reveal the existence, the nature, and the will of God. Nature, indeed, reveals God, but the miracles reveal new and momentous acts of God; and the whole religious life of the Jews, as the Psalms show, is indissolubly bound up with them. The evidence for them is, in fact, the historic consciousness of a great and tenacious nation.

    4. Prophecy as Miracle:

    It should be added that the Jewish Scriptures embody one of the greatest of miracles - that of prophecy. It is obvious that the destiny of the Jewish people is predicted from the commencement, in the narrative of the life of Abraham and onward. There can, moreover, be no question that the office of the Christ had been so distinctly foreshadowed in the Scriptures of the Old Testament that the people, as a whole, expected a Messiah before He appeared. our Lord did not, like Buddha or Mohammed, create a new office; He came to fill an office which had been described by the prophets, and of which they had predicted the functions and powers. We are told of the Saviour, "And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" ( Luke 24:27 ). That, again, is a revelation of God's nature, for it reveals Him as "knowing the end from the beginning," and as the Ruler of human life and history.

    VI. Ecclesiastical Miracles.

    1. Probability of Such Miracles:

    Some notice, finally, must be taken of the question of what are called ecclesiastical miracles. There seems no sufficient reason for assuming that miracles ceased with the apostles, and there is much evidence that in the early church miraculous cures, both of body and soul, were sometimes vouchsafed. There were occasions and circumstances when the manifestation of such miraculous power was as appropriate as testimony of the living power of Christ, as in the scenes in the Acts. But they were not recorded under inspired guidance, like the miracles of the Apostolic Age, and they have in many cases been overlaid by legend.

    2. Pascal Quoted:

    The observation in Pascal's Thoughts eminently applies to this class of miracles: "It has appeared to me that the real cause (that there are so many false miracles, false revelations, etc.) is that there are true ones, for it would not be possible that there should be so many false miracles unless there were true, nor so many false religions unless there were one that is true. For if all this had never been, it is impossible that so many others should have believed it.... Thus instead of concluding that there are no true miracles since there are so many false, we must on the contrary say that there are true miracles since there are so many false, and that false miracles exist only for the reason that there are true; so also that there are false religions only because there is one that is true" ( On Miracles ).

    VII. Miracle in Works of Grace.

    It has lately been argued with much earnestness and force in Germany, particularly by J. Wendland, in his Miracles and Christianity , that belief in miracles is indispensable to our apprehension of a real living God, and to our trust in His saving work in our own souls. The work of grace and salvation, indeed, is all so far miraculous that it requires the influence upon our nature of a living power above that nature. It is not strictly correct to call it miraculous, as these operations of God's Spirit are now an established part of His kingdom of grace. But they none the less involve the exercise of a like supernatural power to that exhibited in our Lord's miracles of healing and casting out of demons; and in proportion to the depths of man's Christian life will he be compelled to believe in the gracious operation on his soul of this Divine interposition.

    On the whole, it is perhaps increasingly realized that miracles, so far from being an excrescence on Christian faith, are indissolubly bound up with it, and that there is a complete unity in the manifestation of the Divine nature, which is recorded in the Scriptures.


    Trench, Notes on the Miracles  ; Mozley, Bampton Lectures (Mozley's argument is perhaps somewhat marred by its too positive and controversial tone, but, if the notes be read as well as the Lectures, the reader will obtain a comprehensive view of the main controversies on the subject); A.B. Bruce, The Miraculous Element in the Gospels . For modern German views see J. Wendland, Miracles and Christianity  ; Christlieb, Modern Doubt and Christian Belief . Paley's Evidences and Butler's Analogy may profitably be consulted. On continuance of miracles, see Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural , chapter xiv, and Christlieb, as above, Lecture V.