In the last two weeks, I have read the book of Acts paying careful attention to instances of healing and miracles, specifically looking at who performed them. I will present all the verses on healing and miracles in this post and then offer my observations and thoughts.
“And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” Acts 2:43 ESV
“But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” Acts 3:6-8 ESV
“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.” Acts 5:12 ESV
“And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose.
“But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.”
Acts 9:34, 40 ESV
“So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their (Paul and Barnabas) hands.”
Acts 14:3 ESV
“He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.” Acts 14:9-10 ESV
“And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.” Acts 15:12 ESV
“But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” Acts 20:10 ESV
“It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.” Acts 28:8-9 ESV
THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
In all instances, it is the Apostles doing the healing and miracles, not individual believers.
The gospel was preached and the healing confirmed the message. Although there was no New Testament, signs and wonders validated the message that Jesus is The Christ.
John 20:30-31 ESV “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
If you continue throughout the New Testament, you see that the frequency of healing begins to wean. For example, Paul, the preeminent Apostle, left Trophimus sick at Miletus.
I am not implying that God no longer heals; He is sovereign and can do what He sees is best. These two observations debunk the hyper-charismatic view that God heals everyone all the time and that all Christians can go out and heal. In Acts, we see that the Apostles did the miraculous to validate the gospel message. We don’t need the same kind of validation today for precisely the reason given John 20:30-31. As far as all Christians healing people, we need to look no further than Paul’s rhetorical questions about do all have each gift; the implied answer is no.
A casual reading of the book of Acts gives a much different narrative of the early church than what I was taught in the Charismatic Movement. Consulting a commentary on passages like First Corinthians twelve and fourteen will also give a different perspective on the application of the text.
The bottom line is this, whatever we’re taught, we need to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so. We have a responsibility to study the Scriptures ourselves as well as be under good Bible teaching. It is not wrong to ask questions, and we should search the Scriptures.