Miracles are one of the most awe-inspiring acts described in the Bible. From the parting of the Red Sea to healing the sick, biblical miracles reveal God’s power and care for His people. But what exactly does the Bible say about miracles? In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll explore the biblical foundation for miracles, their purpose, different types of miracles, and more.
The Bible is full of miraculous events, from the creation story in Genesis to Jesus’ resurrection in the New Testament. According to the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, a miracle is “an event in nature brought about by the power of God that cannot be explained by the natural forces at work in the world.” In other words, miracles are supernatural occurrences that demonstrate God’s ability to act and intervene in earthly affairs.
For Christians, miracles are more than just amazing events – they reveal God’s character and carry spiritual significance. As Norman Geisler explains, “Miracles have a doctrinal use; they induce people to faith. They have a doxological use; they glorify God. They also have a love use; they show mercy.” In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the purpose and nature of biblical miracles.
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- Miracles in the Bible demonstrate God’s power and authority over creation.
- They reveal God’s mercy, care for His people, and desire to draw people to faith.
- While supernatural, miracles are not contrary to nature, but above and beyond nature.
- The greatest miracle is Jesus Christ – His incarnation, sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection.
- All believers can experience God’s miraculous power through faith and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
- What are Miracles According to the Bible?
- Miracles Demonstrate God's Power Over Creation
- Miracles Reveal God's Mercy and Care for His People
- Miracles Draw People to Faith in God
- Miracles Are Not Contrary to Nature, But Above and Beyond It
- Miracles in the Old Testament
- Types of Miracles in the New Testament
- Jesus Christ – The Greatest Miracle and Miracle Worker
- The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts Like Healings and Miracles Today
- Miracles Still Occur Today
- Conclusion – Miracles Reveal a Faithful, Loving God
What are Miracles According to the Bible?
The Bible presents a supernatural worldview – one in which God regularly performs wondrous acts for His purposes and glory. Theologian Wayne Grudem defines a miracle as “a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.” According to the Bible, miracles:
- Originate from God and His power (Jeremiah 32:27)
- Are able to override natural laws (Joshua 10:12-14)
- Are sometimes performed through human instruments (Acts 3:1-10)
- Authenticate God’s messengers and message (Hebrews 2:3-4)
- Manifest God’s glory and goodness (John 11:4, 40)
At the same time, the Bible makes it clear that miracles are not magic tricks or illusions. Jesus refused to perform miracles just to impress people (Matthew 12:38-39). Miracles are not merely supernatural but have a specific spiritual purpose – to exalt God, proclaim divine truth, and demonstrate God’s love and power.
Miracles Demonstrate God’s Power Over Creation
One key purpose of miracles in Scripture is to demonstrate God’s supreme power and sovereignty over the natural world and universe. The Bible reveals God as the Creator who formed the cosmos by His word and sustains it by His power (Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 1:3). Miracles display God’s complete lordship over nature and ability to suspend or override normal physical laws.
For example, when the Israelites escaped captivity in Egypt, God parted the Red Sea for them to cross over on dry land (Exodus 14:21-22). This magnificent miracle showed that nature itself obeys God’s command. Jesus’ miracles over storms (Mark 4:35-41), fish (Luke 5:1-11), and broken bodies (Luke 13:10-17) all revealed His divine authority over creation and that “all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
Miracles Reveal God’s Mercy and Care for His People
Another purpose of miracles in the Bible is to make God’s mercy and care for His people tangible. From the Old Testament onwards, miracles are closely associated with God’s covenant relationship with Israel. The plagues against Egypt, for example, represented judgment against Pharaoh’s defiance of God, while sparing the Israelites to demonstrate God’s faithfulness (Exodus 7-12). Elijah was miraculously sustained during famine as a display of God’s provision (1 Kings 17).
In the New Testament, Jesus’ miracles continued this covenantal tradition – affirming that God’s promises remained for those who trusted in Christ. Many of Jesus’ miracles met desperate human needs – giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, healing the sick, and even raising the dead. These miracles revealed Jesus as the merciful Messiah who came to rescue people from sin, sickness, and the powers of evil. As Peter proclaimed, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38).
Miracles Draw People to Faith in God
Miracles do not just display God’s power, but are intended to evoke wonder, awe, and faith. Scripture often connects miracles with spurring belief in God or the gospel message. After Jesus miraculously fed over 5,000 people, the crowds declared, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14). When Peter healed a lame beggar, the astonished crowds “were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” Peter proclaimed that it was faith in Christ that had caused this man to be made well (Acts 3:1-10).
Jesus Himself saw miracles as “signs” that pointed people to God and the spiritual truths of His kingdom (John 3:2). He rebuked those who constantly demanded miracles out of mere curiosity, since miracles alone cannot compel faith (John 4:48). Even in His hometown Nazareth, few believed in Him despite His miracles, due to the hardness of their hearts (Mark 6:5-6). Still, miracles give evidence of God’s presence and power in a manner that invites people to put their trust in Him.
Miracles Are Not Contrary to Nature, But Above and Beyond It
An important clarification regarding biblical miracles is that they are supernatural, but not inherently “anti-natural” or contrary to nature per se. C.S. Lewis explains it this way: “If God annihilates or creates or deflects a unit of matter, He has created a new situation at that point. Immediately all nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in her realm, adapts all other events to it.”
In other words, miracles introduce new and heightened causes that nature then acts upon in extraordinary ways. For example, when Jesus turned water to wine, He accelerated and altered the natural process of fermentation (John 2:1-11). Walking on water worked with gravity, not against it (Matthew 14:22-33). Miracles transcend the ordinary workings of nature, but don’t fundamentally break or contradict them – since nature itself was created by God to serve His purposes in the first place. Augustine called them not “contrary to nature,” but “contrary to what we know as nature.”
Miracles in the Old Testament
The Bible records dozens of miracles throughout Israel’s history in the Old Testament period. Here are some of the key people and events associated with God’s miraculous works during this time:
Moses – God used Moses to unleash 10 plagues against Egypt and part the Red Sea (Exodus 7-14). Moses also encountered God miraculously through the burning bush (Exodus 3).
The Exodus and wilderness wanderings – God miraculously led Israel from Egypt by pillars of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21). He provided manna from heaven and water from rocks (Exodus 16-17).
Joshua – God stopped the flow of the Jordan River so Israel could cross over (Joshua 3). Joshua saw the walls of Jericho fall down miraculously (Joshua 6).
Elijah – God empowered Elijah to raise a widow’s son from death (1 Kings 17:17-24), call down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:36-39), and not see death (2 Kings 2:11-12).
Elisha – Elisha miraculously purified poisonous water (2 Kings 2:19-22), caused a floating ax head to reappear (2 Kings 6:5-7), and even raised the dead on two occasions (2 Kings 4:18-37).
Daniel – God miraculously spared Daniel’s friends unharmed in a blazing furnace (Daniel 3) and protected Daniel in a lions’ den (Daniel 6).
Jonah – God provided Jonah with a giant fish to swallow him, and then caused the fish to vomit Jonah out onto dry land three days later (Jonah 1:17).
These miraculous works showed that Israel’s God was all-powerful and committed to delivering His people time after time. As Nehemiah proclaimed, “You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on dry land…You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst…you performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers.” (Nehemiah 9:11, 20, 10-11).
Types of Miracles in the New Testament
The New Testament records at least 35 miracles performed by Jesus during His earthly ministry. When combined with miracles through the apostles and early church, the New Testament contains over 50 miracle accounts. Here are the main types or categories of miracles described:
Healing miracles – By far the most common miracles recorded in the Gospels and Acts are healings from physical infirmities – the blind, deaf, paralyzed, leprous, crippled or with withered limbs, demon-possessed, and more (Matthew 4:23-24). Peter summed it up: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
Exorcisms – Related to healing miracles are exorcisms where Jesus and the disciples drove out evil spirits that were possessing or tormenting people (Matthew 8:28-34; Acts 16:16-18). Jesus claimed to “drive out demons by the Spirit of God” (Matthew 12:28).
Resurrection – Jesus raised several people from the dead during His ministry, including Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43), the widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:11-16), and Lazarus (John 11:1-44). After His own resurrection, Jesus empowered disciples to raise people like Tabitha and Eutychus (Acts 9:36-42; 20:7-12).
Power over nature – Jesus and disciples showed their divine authority over creation through nature miracles – turning water to wine (John 2:1-11), walking on water (Mark 6:45-52), calming a storm (Mark 4:35-41), causing miraculous catches of fish (Luke 5:1-11; John 21:1-14), withering a fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22), and multiplying food (Matthew 14:13-21).
Supernatural knowledge – Jesus and the apostles occasionally revealed supernatural knowledge given them by God’s Spirit, like knowing people’s thoughts, past actions, or future events (John 1:45-51, 4:16-19; Acts 5:1-11).
This variety again shows that God is not limited – He has power over sickness, demons, death, nature, knowledge, and more. The diversity of miracles also allowed God to meet people where they were at and provide visible proof of His love and power tailored to their needs. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Hebrews 2:4).
Jesus Christ – The Greatest Miracle and Miracle Worker
The Bible story culminates in Jesus Christ – the central event of history and the greatest of all miracles. Jesus’ supernatural conception, sinless life, atoning death for sins, bodily resurrection and ascension to heaven are the culminating acts of God’s miraculous redemption.
Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of God’s power. He speaks God’s final word (Hebrews 1:1-2), reveals God’s nature (John 1:14), and wields God’s creative might (Colossians 1:16-17). During His ministry Jesus also performed more miracles than any other person in Scripture – giving visible displays of His divine identity and compassion. As Peter proclaimed to the crowds:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst…this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2:22-24)
Some key truths we learn about Jesus, the greatest miracle worker:
- His miracles revealed His divine nature as the Son of God (Mark 2:1-12)
- He performed them in the power and authority of God, not magic (Matthew 12:28)
- They displayed God’s mercy, goodness and desire to meet human needs (Matthew 14:14)
- Jesus’ main purpose was to proclaim the gospel and bring salvation (Luke 4:43)
- His greatest miracle was conquering sin and death through His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 54-57)
Jesus was far more than just a miracle worker – He was and is the divine Son of God and source of eternal life. As John writes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his 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” (John 20:30-31).
The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts Like Healings and Miracles Today
Do miracles still happen today? According to the Bible, God’s Spirit continues to empower His church with spiritual gifts, which can include supernatural healings, signs and wonders (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). But the purpose is centered on serving the church, preaching the gospel, and bringing glory to Christ – not flashy displays for their own sake.
Paul explained that spiritual gifts are given “for the common good” and should be used in orderly, edifying ways (1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:26). Healing gifts often operated through faith and prayer, not formulas or showmanship (James 5:14-15). Miracles served to demonstrate God’s kingdom breaking into people’s lives. But even in the New Testament, no gift or miracle was guaranteed to work on demand. Paul himself was not healed from his “thorn in the flesh” despite pleading with God three times (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Throughout church history, reported miracles have continued to appear consistently, especially in times of revival and evangelistic growth. Verifiable modern healings and supernatural phenomena should not be hastily dismissed. But the criteria of humility, order, faith, and focus on the gospel given in the Bible should govern any claims of the miraculous among Christians, with wisdom and discernment from church leaders.
Above all, Jesus and the apostles’ miracles found their primary purpose in salvation. They pointed to Christ Himself as the greatest miracle – the Holy One who died an atoning death according to God’s plan to offer eternal life and reconciliation with God to all who repent and believe. The central miracle of Christianity remains Jesus’ resurrection and the regeneration of sinful hearts by the Holy Spirit into new creations. All other gifts and miracles work in harmony with and point to this greatest miracle.
Miracles Still Occur Today
Miracles continue to be reported today as many Christians believe God still works wondrously. When understood correctly, the notion of modern-day miracles is not unbiblical. Wayne Grudem notes that nothing in Scripture excludes the possibility of miracles occurring even now. Their frequency may change in accord with God’s purposes, but He retains the ability to perform them according to His will.
Examining their spiritual fruit is key when assessing modern miracles. Do they seem consistent with God’s character and ways based on Scripture? Do they glorify God or the person through whom the miracle occurred? Is the main focus drawing people to Christ and building up faith? Does it align with God’s mission to redeem the world? Or does it appear manipulative, deceptive, or exploiting people’s desperation? God can act however He wants, but the Bible warns repeatedly of false signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9).
Here are some modern reports of miraculous healings and supernatural occurrences that show some alignment with biblical precedent and values when handled responsibly:
- Documented healings at revivals, crusades, conferences, and church services through prayer
- Carefully investigated hearings among Christian missionaries and evangelists
- Miraculous provision and protection for those suffering persecution or danger
- dreams, visions, prophetic words that reveal details impossible to know naturally
- Changed lives from sinful or broken pasts that defy psychological explanation
Approaching such reports with balanced discernment is wise. But one need not assume every extraordinary story is fabricated or dismiss the possibility of miracles in the present day. As theologian Wayne Grudem concludes, “On the basis of the Old and New Testament, I would say we should neither seek miracles today, nor refrain from prayer for God’s miraculous intervention in response to prayer when that seems to be his will in the circumstances.” Christians affirm that God remains powerful and can still work in extraordinary ways for His glory.
Conclusion – Miracles Reveal a Faithful, Loving God
The many miracles recorded in Scripture provide glimpses of a God who actively cares for His people and redeems their desperate situations. From deliverance in the Exodus to healings by Jesus and the apostles, miracles reveal both God’s awesome power over creation and His mercy and compassion. While limited today compared to biblical times, miracles still allow us to tangibly touch God’s work in the world.
Ultimately, miracles – whether past or present – point to the greatest miracle of all: God so loved the world that He sent His Son to die and rise again, so that whoever believes can experience salvation, adoption as God’s children, and eternal life despite our sin (John 3:16-17). The most miraculous change of all occurs when the Holy Spirit indwells sinful, broken, hurting lives and conforms people to the image of Christ. More than physical changes, this spiritual transformation brings wholeness, hope, meaning, and an eternal future secured by God’s grace.
In summary, key truths about miracles in the Bible:
- They display God’s power, love, and desire for relationship with His people
- Miracles reveal Jesus Christ as the greatest sign and wonder from God
- God is still able to work through miracles today, though less frequently and publicly
- Miracles point to the greatest miracle – God’s salvation available through Jesus’ death and resurrection
May all believers find renewed awe in our miraculous Savior and hope that His mighty acts continue even today. For with God, nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37).