A brother in Mississippi says that Acts relates the Greek word dynamis (“power”) only to Apostles or persons upon whom they laid their hands. He concludes that God has not exerted such “miracle” power since then. He rejects contrary testimony by later church fathers, since we are not to “discard revelation for perception.”
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It should not surprise us that the book called “Acts of the Apostles” reports the acts of the Apostles (including apostle-extraordinaire Paul) and those with whom they had first-hand contact. However, Luke suggests a somewhat deeper focus in his opening verse. His first treatise, he says (The Gospel of Luke) told the things Jesus “began” to do and to teach. This second volume (Acts), Luke implies, will recite what Jesus continued to do and to teach — through his Spirit — following his own ascension into heaven (Acts 1:1).
I see no reason to limit that divine activity to texts which use the word dynamis. God’s empowerment of “miraculous acts” on the earth is not limited to the application of Jesus’ specific promise of “power” in Acts 1:8. Nor does it follow that God works “miracles” only through the individuals Jesus addressed there, as the New Testament elsewhere makes plain.
Even using the word dynamis as a guide, the Spirit directly bestows the gift of effecting “works of powers” or “miracles,” without human intervention or mediation (1 Cor. 12:10-11). God “provides with the Spirit and works miracles among you” based on “hearing with faith” (Gal. 3:5). Paul uses the same word dynamis (“power”) for God’s working among Christians, with no regard for our artificial distinction between “miraculous” and “non-miraculous” deeds of divine power (Eph. 1:19; 3:16; Col. 1:11). The author of Hebrews also believed that her/his readers had “tasted the ‘powers’ dynamis of the Age to Come (Heb. 6:5).
Actually, the choice is not between Scripture and the testimony of the church fathers, but between 19th and 20th century interpretations of Scripture and the testimony of the church fathers. The church fathers I mentioned all believed that God’s miraculous activities among them were completely according to the Scriptures. The notion was not yet invented that God had retired from the miracle business.
The same God who gave the Scriptures is the one at work among his people through the centuries and to this present time. According to the New Testament, God’s ongoing activity in the world actually helps us rightly interpret the Scriptures (John 5:39-40; Acts 15:5-21). The person who denies that God does miracles today because she or has never seen one is relying on experience rather than Scripture, and is seeking to walk by “sight” and not by “faith.”