Friday, 3 December 2021
Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Acts 2:43
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
The previous verse noted that those who had believed and were added to the number continued resolutely in the Lord, in teaching, in fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers. With that noted, a word about those who had witnessed these things is given, saying, “Then fear came upon every soul.”
The word “fear” has various significations, such as terror, alarm, withdrawal (as in fleeing from something), etc. Here, it probably does not speak of terror, but of awe. It appears that this is referring to not only those who believed, but also those who merely saw what occurred, even if they were not added to the number of disciples.
Those who were added to the number would have been in awe at the events their eyes beheld and the enormity of what it meant that the Christ had come and fulfilled Scripture. Those who didn’t believe would still be in awe of the fact that so many people had suddenly been converted in their lives and conduct.
In all, there would be a sense of something major going on that they were being swept up in. Those inside would want to grow; those outside would want to know. And one of the major reasons for the intensity of the awe is connected to the next words, saying, “and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”
The words here are teras and sémeion. The teras, or wonder, is something that is done in order to bring about a reaction from those who see it. The effect upon those who witness it is intended to bring about a change in them. A wonder is a thing that is evident in itself. It is something that extends beyond what is normal and is thus considered miraculous. When it is done, it is to be attributed to the Lord because there is no other explanation for it to occur.
The sémeion, or sign, is a sign, a miracle, a token, and so on. It generally is given to authenticate, corroborate, or confirm a person or a matter. Whereas a wonder is the thing itself, the sign stands for, testifies to, or points to something else. A simple example of a sign would be the blood of the Passover applied to the doorposts of a house. It is a sign. Jesus’ miracles, at times, are noted as signs. Though they may be miraculous, like the changing of water to wine, they are signs that were given to authenticate Him as the Messiah and His ministry as approved by God.
These things, having been done through the apostles, were clear demonstrations of the power and effective working of the Lord, and they were given as confirmations of their office and of the approval by the Lord concerning their ministry.
The important thing, however, is that everything done by them and through them was ascribed not to their own abilities or capabilities, but to the effectual working of the Lord through them. Thus, even though these signs and wonders confirmed their office, and their approval by the Lord, they ultimately point back to the Lord Himself, acknowledging that He and His ministry among Israel was exactly what was claimed. Jesus is the Messiah.
Life application: Despite it being as common as coins in a slot machine among churches and individuals in the church today, the claim that people are still exhibiting signs and wonders is both unnecessary and contradictory to the word itself. It is the apostles who had this power. There are no more apostles. The signs and wonders were given to testify to the church of the authority and office of the apostles who represented Jesus. The Bible now does this.
Those in the church are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). If we are expecting signs and wonders, we are not adhering to this precept. And so on. The purpose of the Bible is to be a witness to the workings of God in Christ. As it is given by the Holy Spirit, and as we are to accept it as such after doing our personal evaluation of it, then what do we need signs and wonders for? They are completely superfluous to our walk.
This does not mean that we should not pray for, or hope for, healing. We are specifically told to do so. But we are not to expect it or claim it. That is presumptuous. Should our prayers be answered, we should give God the glory for what has occurred. Let us be sound in our doctrine, reasonable in our walk, and understand the difference in what is merely descriptive and what is prescriptive in Scripture. In this, we will be in the sweet spot.
Lord God, how wonderful it is to have the written testimony of those things that occurred in order to confirm Your workings in redemptive history. Now, we can read about the signs and wonders that were given to establish the faith of early believers, and we can then more readily accept that the message we have is true. Thank You for Your precious word! Amen.