Most translations say something like:

"And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul"

δυνάμεις τε οὐ τὰς τυχούσας ἐποίει ὁ Θεὸς διὰ τῶν χειρῶν Παύλου,

But the NKJV says:

"Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,

so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them." Acts 19:11-12

Is "special" or "unusual" a more appropriate translation of οὐ τὰς τυχούσας?

  • Can you specify what you think is the difference between "special" and "unusual" in this context? Obviously "unusual" is the more formal rendering (cf. 28:2), but I don't really see how "special" means anything much different here.
    – Susan
    Aug 19 '16 at 12:22
  • Thanks @Susan. In English, special means "a distinct or particular kind". Unusual means "strange" or "weird". I was just wondering if this clause usually denotes something that is different or "extraordinary" (like some translations say), or does it explain something that is weird and a little creepy?
    – Cannabijoy
    Aug 19 '16 at 12:38
  • Unusual: not usual, common, or ordinary; uncommon in amount or degree; exceptional. Special: distinct / particular / peculiar / extraordinary, exceptional / distinguished or different from what is ordinary or usual. Strange: unusual, extraordinary, or curious; odd. Weird: involving or suggesting the supernatural; unearthly or uncanny / fantastic, bizarre.
    – user6503
    Aug 19 '16 at 13:18
  • Thank you @Bʀɪᴀɴ. Would this suggest that "strange" is the proper meaning of this phrase? Strange seems to be a middle ground between "unusual" and "extraordinary", because I definitely see a difference between these two words. That which is "not usual" cannot be "extra usual", right?
    – Cannabijoy
    Aug 19 '16 at 14:22
  • @anonymouswho - Is English not your native language? Because contrary to how it is spelled, 'extraordinary' does not mean "extra usual" as in "more common than other common things," it means beyond what is usual or ordinary, as in unusual/special/strange. And yes, you could use 'strange' here because it is a synonym of 'unusual/special/extraordinary.' Taking a handkerchief that had touched Paul's body to a sick person and curing him is a very strange miracle indeed.
    – user6503
    Aug 19 '16 at 14:53

τυχουσας is actually a participle, from the verb τυγχάνω, which can mean "obtain", "receive", "attain", "experience". The phrase οὐχ ὁ τυχών occurs here as well as in Acts 28:2 -

Acts 28:2 (NKJV)

And the natives showed us unusual [οὐ τὴν τυχοῦσαν] kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.

A more literal translation from the Greek might be:

And by the hands of Paul God kept on performing works of power - [works] not happening [before] ...

Most versions try to capture the sense of οὐχ ὁ τυχών in a single word, as you observe:

Acts 19:11 (KJV 1900)

And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:

Acts 19:11 (NKJV)

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,

Acts 19:11 (RSV)

And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,

Acts 19:11 (NASB95)

God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,

Acts 19:11 (NIV)

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul,

Young's Literal Translation reduces οὐχ ὁ τυχών to "not common".

The only translation I am aware of that attempts to preserve the participial form is the The Orthodox New Testament, published by Holy Apostles Convent (2000):

And by the hands of Paul, God kept on performing works of power - not the ordinary ones which happen

  • Great answer! So these were works of miraculous power that were not ordinarily done. That's all I was wanting to know. Thank you NonTheologian.
    – Cannabijoy
    Aug 19 '16 at 15:33

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