5. Gifts of the Spirit: Workings of Miracles

This gift is available to all, today, not just a special few. God will give it to you when you need it most.

Let’s begin with my (tentative) translation.

4 There are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are a variety of services, and the same Lord. 6 And there are a variety of workings, but the same God who works everything in everyone. 7 To each the manifestation of the Spirit is given towards the common benefit. 8 For to one person is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom; to another person a message of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To a different person faith by the same Spirit; to a different person the gifts of healings by the one Spirit; 10 To a different person workings of miracles; to a different person prophecy; to a different person discernings of spirits; to a different person kinds of (prayer and praise) languages; to another person an interpretation of (prayer and praise) languages; 11 The one same Spirit works and distributes all these things to each particular individual as he wills. (1 Cor. 12:4-11)

For more translations, please click on biblegateway.com.

For a commentary on how to organize these gifts, please click on this post:

Gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and 12:28

Exegetical Commentary

Some theology: Above are three great verses on the activity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Triunity is not an abstract doctrine, but the three persons want to invade your space and gift you, so that you can reach and help people.

Click here The Trinity: What Does He Mean to Me? and at the end of that linked ten-point post, you can click on other articles on the Trinuity.

“workings”: it comes from the noun energēma. Yes, it is related our word energy (though the Greek noun energeia is the real source of our English word). Adding the suffix ma– means “the result of,” so the result of working, operating or acting. It means the works of something as in results of working. But as usual, let’s not over-analyze the parts of the word. To a first-century Corinthian it is a sure thing that he just heard it as “workings.” BDAG is considered by many to be the authoritative lexicon of the Greek NT, and days the Greek noun means: it is an activity that impacts on another.

“miracles”: it comes from the Greek word dunamis (pronounced doo-nah-meess), and it too is in the plural. In other contexts, it is often translated as “miracle” or “miraculous power” or “power.” It means power in action, not static, but kinetic. It moves. Yes, we get our word dynamite from it, but God is never out of control, like dynamite is. Its purpose is to usher in the kingdom of God and repair and restore broken humanity, both in body and soul. This is why the power of God in many of the verses below reside and work within humankind. In this case, the Spirit operates through the individual person to work miracles and miraculous powers—signs and wonders.

RELATED

What Are Signs and Wonders and Miracles?

Defining and Describing This Gift

Let’s appeal to these theologians and other Bible interpreters.

J.. Rodman Williams

Note again the plural of words: workings of miracles. The person is one—“to another”—but the gift is multiple. Since the Word “workings” is plural, a miracle may be wrought by many ways or methods. Since the words “miracles” is plural, many kinds of miracles may take place … In a broad sense miracles as powers include all demonstrations of supernatural power. (vol. 2, p. 375)

Williams links the manifestation of faith and miracles. First, we must have ongoing trust in Christ who is active among his people. He has not changed (Heb. 13:8). Second, we must act in faith. Christ performed miracles only when there was a readiness to step out for him. “A miracle does not happen by sitting back and waiting for it to occur” (p. 377). But be careful you don’t act in presumption; note that Peter waited for Christ to call him out of the boat before he walked on water (Matt. 14:28-32),

There must be a need for the miracle to occur. It is not designed for a display of power, a sign from heaven.

Next, he lists three things miracles are not. (1) It is not magic, which comes from psychic and demonic sources. The man of lawlessness will be able to work miracles. (2) Miracles are not associated with exhibitionism. Satan tempted Jesus to throw himself off the temple, but Jesus refused (Matt. 4; Luke 4). The Pharisees demanded a sign, probably like the ones Moses performed, but there was no need for such signs in Jesus’s day as there was in Moses’s times. The only sign from heaven that Jesus’s generation would get is his resurrection. (3) Miracles cannot be programmed; but God acts according to his will.

Wayne Grudem

This is different from healing miracles, so he defines the workings of miracles as follows:

The term may refer to any kind of activity where God’s mighty power is evident. It may include answers to prayer for deliverance from physical danger (as in the deliverance of the apostles from prison in Acts 5:19-20 or 12:6-11), or powerful works of judgment on the enemies of the gospel or those who require discipline with the church (see Acts 5:1-11; 13:9-12), or miraculous deliverance from injury (as with Paul and the viper in Acts 28:3-6). But such acts of spiritual power may also include power to triumph over demonic oppression (as in Acts 16:18; cf. Luke 10:17). (p. 1062)

Craig Keener

“Miracles literally mean “demonstrations of power,” and the plural may signify diverse kinds of workings for different miracle workers, as in the case of healings (Gift Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today [Baker Academic, 2001], p. 118).

God sustains the universe by his power, so he can easily perform a miracle (Exod. 3:2; John 5:17, 21), but he chooses to perform them through his servants (1 Kings 13:1-6); 14:1-3). Miracles come from God’s command (1 Kings 18:36) or the prayer of someone close to him (2 Kings 1:10), not from our self-centered desire (compare James 1:1-4).  So naming and claiming a miracle is presumptuous. God is the only one who speaks things into existence or being.

David Lim

Here Paul combines two plurals of dynamis (deeds or mighty supernatural power) and energēma (effectual results). This gift may have to do with providing protections, giving provision, casting out demons, altering circumstances, or passing judgment. (Systematic Theology, ed. Stanley Horton, p. 466).

These manifestations are connected “the manifestation of the Messianic rule of King Jesus, the defeat of Satan, the power of God, and the presence and work of Jesus” (ibid).

Derek Prince

The Greek word translated “miracles” in these verses [1 Cor. 12 and Gal. 3:5] is the plural form of dunamis. Dunamis means “power,” and therefore, translated literally, the gift would be “workings of powers.” These workings refer to the God-given ability to demonstrate the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit at work. Each miracle is a working—a specific, definite manifestation of the gift. (The Gifts of the Spirit, [Whitaker House, 2007], p. 139).

Jack Hayford

After leading his readers through a Bible study in which they have to fill in the blanks, he writes: “The manifestation of the working or miracles, then, is God working to do what could not be done naturally. The working of miracles transcends the natural laws of the Earth; they are the result of Holy Spirit fullness in the life of earnestly seeking believers as they display power flowing out from them the Spirit within” (Gifts, Fruit, and Fullness of the Holy Spirit [Thomas Nelson, 1993], p. 137).

Paul Walker

It is (1) supernatural power to counteract earthly and evil forces; (2) a display of power going beyond the world of nature; (3) operates in conjunction with the gifts of faith and healings to bring authority over Satan, sickness and the forces of this age (The Spirit-Filled Study Bible [3rd ed. Thomas Nelson, 2018], p. 1947).

My Definition

The workings of miracles are the Spirit-inspired gifts to work extraordinary feats and signs and wonders, in order to bring about blessing and salvation to people and to accomplish his purposes.

Scriptural Examples

Jesus calmed the storm (Matt. 8:23-27).

Jesus faith the five thousand (Matt. 14:15-21).

Jesus fed the four thousand (Matt. 15:32-38).

Jesus walked on water (Matt. 14:25).

Jesus turned the water into wine (John 2:1-11).

Jesus ordered a large catch of fish (John 21:1-11).

Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter back to life (Matt. 9:18-19, 23-25)

He raised the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-15)

He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44)

RELATED

Signs, Wonders and Miracles

What Is the ‘Anointing’?

ARTICLES IN THE SERIES

1. Gifts of Spirit: Word of Wisdom

2. Gifts of the Spirit: Word of Knowledge

3. Gifts of the Spirit: Faith

4. Gifts of the Spirit: Gifts of Healings

5. Gifts of the Spirit: Workings of Miracles

6. Gifts of the Spirit: Prophecy

7. Gifts of the Spirit: Discernings of Spirits

8. Gifts of the Spirit: Spirit-Inspired Languages (‘Tongues’)

9. Gifts of the Spirit: Interpretation of Spirit-Inspired Languages

SOURCES

Works Cited

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