When we think about miracles in the New Testament, we often consider the miracles of Christ in the Gospel accounts. There are, however, many miracles recorded in the book of Acts. A survey of these miraculous works is worthy of our reflection.
Remember, Jesus Christ revealed to his disciples that they would have the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, after the Lord returned to heaven (John 14:26). Their teaching was to be inerrant and sufficient, and they would have the divine corroboration of supernatural works. Thereby, hearers of the apostolic message could have confidence in what they heard; they relied upon the apostolic preaching as being from God. The miracles provided objective, indisputable testimony concerning the gospel message (cf. Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:4).
Let us note the miracles that are recorded in the book of Acts.
Luke refers to the visible appearance of Jesus after his resurrection (1:3). The inspired historian records the miraculous ascension of Christ into heaven (1:9). We read, in Acts 2, of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the twelve apostles, accompanied by the miraculous wind, fire, and speaking in tongues (i.e., speaking in languages that were unknown by the apostles; cf. 2:6).
Many miracles were performed by the apostles (2:43). Peter healed the lame man at the Temple (3:7-11). God answered Peter in a miraculous earthquake (4:31). Ananias and Sapphira were slain by the Lord (5:5-10). Signs and wonders continued to be done by the apostles (5:12). Peter healed many from various cities (5:12-16). The prison doors were opened by an angel (5:19). Stephen wrought great wonders and signs (6:8). In Samaria, Philip did great miracles and signs (8:6,7,13).
The Lord appeared to Saul, but Saul is unsaved until he responds to the preaching of the gospel by Ananias (9:3-9). Ananias healed Saul’s blindness (9:17-18). Peter healed Aeneas (9:32-35). In Joppa, Peter raised Dorcus from the dead (9:39-42).
Cornelius saw an angel. He and his family spoke in tongues, but he was saved by responding to the preaching of the gospel by Peter (10:4,46; cf. v. 48; 11:14). Peter saw the vision on the roof and spoke with the Lord (10:9-22).
A prison gate was miraculously opened (12:10). Paul blinded Elymus (13:11-12). Paul performed miracles in Iconium (14:3,4). At Lystra, Paul healed a crippled man (14:8-18). Paul healed a woman possessed by an evil spirit (16:18). The miraculous earthquake unloosed all the chains and doors in the Philippian prison (16:26). In Ephesus, twelve men spoke in tongues, and prophesied (19:6). Paul performed other miracles in Ephesus (19:11,12). In Troas, Paul raised Eutychus from the dead (20:8-12). Paul was not affected by the viper at Melita (28:3-6). He also healed those on the island who were diseased (28:8-9).
As we can see, if one were to “demythologize” the book of Acts, as those of a liberal bent are wont to do, much would be missing concerning the amazing growth and development of the early church. In fact, we would have a difficult time explaining how so many Greeks, Romans, and “barbarians” (i.e., non-Greeks), obeyed the gospel. Is it rational to think that Paul is going to walk onto some island in the Mediterranean and convert many people simply because he is convincing, or friendly —or was there some other reason? To the contrary, they observed indisputable deeds that confirmed the message of the apostle. In case after case, many believed the message that was confirmed by the miracles. This is one reason for the amazing success that the gospel enjoyed in the first century.
The confirmation that goes along with our preaching today is the completed revelation of God (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-10). Now, we appeal to the written record of these events (John 20:30-31), and we are privileged to possess the completed, final revelation of God’s will.