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And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)

Does this verse say that Jesus was given power by God to work miracles? If so, how can we say that Christ's miracles are proof of his deity if Christ wasn't doing miracles by virtue of a power inherent to him by virtue of his divine nature, but rather by the power given to him by God?

Further reading (specifically commentaries) on this issue would be appreciated, thanks!

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The Bible's own testimony is usually better than any commentary. Here are scriptures that address your question.

6But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7And he arose, and departed to his house. 8But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. (Matthew 9:6-8, KJV)

Evidently, it was clear to the observers where the power had come from.

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. (Matthew 10:1, KJV; cf. Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1)

The disciples also received power that would not normally be theirs. Demons are not cast out by mere human power, yet the disciples were not to be thought of as Gods by virtue of having used God's power to do this.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18, KJV)

Jesus himself acknowledges that his power had been given to him.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. (Luke 4:14, KJV)

The text says Jesus returned "in the power of the Spirit." It does not say he returned in his own power. That Jesus was not Spirit himself is clear in Luke 24:39:

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:39, KJV)

42And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. 43And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, . . . (Luke 9:42-43, KJV)

The people knew that humans do not have power to cast out the demons.

1These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:1-3, KJV)

Jesus acknowledges that his Father, whom he calls "the only true God," is the one who gave the Son his power.

Conclusion

The Bible is clear that God had given Jesus his power. Jesus himself attests to this.

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    1. Most of the verses you sent aren't relevant whatsoever. Those verses aren't speaking about the power to perform miracles but rather the power to forgive sins, which is best translated as authority. It's interesting how you leave out v. 3 where the Pharisees accuse Jesus of blasphemy since they believed Christ was carrying out a divine prerogative (they explicitly say this in Mark's account). Matthew 28:18 and John 17:2 are likewise referring to authority, not the power to perform miracles, which is what I was asking about.
    – Bob
    Jul 22, 2023 at 2:04
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    The thing to remember, @bob, is that Bible verses don't exist in a void. You can't take one verse, make a doctrine out of your own interpretation of it, and then throw away the rest of the Bible; rather, you cross-reference it with other verses to make sure that you understand correctly. In this case, you should indeed look at other verses about Jesus receiving power, to learn how and why He received power. You can't divorce Acts 10:38 from the rest of the Bible, and demand that people only look at that one verse and nothing else to explain that one verse. [To be continued.] Jul 22, 2023 at 18:32
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    [Continuation, @bob.] And even if you wish to throw away as much of the Bible as possible, then you have to look at the context of the verse to understand the verse. In this case, Peter is witnessing to Gentiles about Jesus, and then goes on to say that the apostles are witnesses of everything Jesus did (which includes the works mentioned in Acts 10:38). Since the topic of the discussion is proof of Jesus' divinity, you may want to look at the witnesses... so go to John 8:18, where Jesus says that the Father, God, bears witness that His claims are true. Who did the power come from, again? Jul 22, 2023 at 18:37
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    @RevelationLad Peter is the one teaching Cornelius, not the other way around. Therefore, one would not expect that Cornelius would have, or even need, the additional context you seem to require. The one who needs that context in this conversation is Peter himself--and he certainly had it. Jesus had taught the disciples quite plainly that everything he did was through the Father's power. Consider: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).
    – Biblasia
    Jul 23, 2023 at 17:13
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    @RevelationLad God was involved in the whole process, as you know and I believe would agree. But God has never been seen, nor heard, by men. See John 5:37. Neither Peter nor Cornelius could possibly have seen or heard God Himself. God's Spirit is His representative to us, and Jesus is our Mediator, the Word--the spokesperson/messenger for God. I really don't understand what you are disagreeing with, nor what you are claiming that I am ignoring. You aren't making much sense to me.
    – Biblasia
    Jul 23, 2023 at 22:10
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Anyone who claims that Jesus' miracles were evidence of His divinity is making a serious theological mistake - there were plenty of others who worked miracles who did not claim to be divine such as, The Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, many of the OT prophets, etc.

Thus, miracles are no evidence, and cannot be used as evidence of divinity of the miracle worker. At best, miracles are evidence of a divine power, but none of the people above claimed to be divine, just that they had God working through them. Matt 10:8, Mark 16:17, 20, Acts 2:22, 43, 4:30, 5:12, 6:8, 8:6, 13, 14:3, 15:12, 19:11, Rom 15:18, 19, 2 Cor 12:12, Heb 2:4 speak of the signs and wonders accompanying the apostles’ ministry.

Indeed, it was Jesus Himself who said this about the miracles He performed:

John 14:12 - Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

If one seeks evidence of Christ's divinity (or otherwise) one must seek it elsewhere. Jesus had the gift of the Holy Spirit, but so does every Christian. 1 Cor 12, 14, etc.

Jesus' anointing by the Holy Spirit is recorded by all the Gospel accounts at His baptism, Acts 4:27, 10:38, Luke 4:18, Heb 1:9; and this anointing occurred at Jesus' water baptism when the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, Matt 3:16, 17, Mark 1:10, 11, Luke 3:21, 22, John 1:32.

As to whether Jesus' power to perform these miracles is bestowed or innate is a highly controversial subject and good cases have been made for both sides. However, because Jesus' life was supposed, despite His divinity, to be an example to us, I firmly believe that despite having the innate power to do much (eg, John 10:18), Jesus used only delegated power to do miracles as shown by John 14:12 quoted above.

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    +1 Well said--and I nearly added something similar to my response.
    – Biblasia
    Jul 22, 2023 at 7:30
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    Did any other make the blind to see ? Did any other still the waves of the sea ? Did any other rise from the dead without another influence ? Did ever men fall backwards at the word 'I am' other than at his word ? (I'm just asking . . . . . . )
    – Nigel J
    Jul 22, 2023 at 17:19
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    The response addresses evidence of Jesus's divinity. It doesn't address whether Jesus's power was received or not.
    – Austin
    Jul 22, 2023 at 21:54
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    @NigelJ - Peter raised someone from the dead; Paul healed people; etc. See • Matt 10:8, Mark 16:17, 20, Acts 2:22, 43, 4:30, 5:12, 6:8, 8:6, 13, 14:3, 15:12, 19:11, Rom 15:18, 19, 2 Cor 12:12, Heb 2:4
    – Dottard
    Jul 23, 2023 at 20:27
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It is a basic Christian belief that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. What is meant by 'fully human'? and did Jesus carries His divine power when He walked on earth? There are a few verses that might help to shed the light regrading to the question.

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8 NIV)

Paul wrote Jesus did not used His divine nature as His own advantage when Jesus walked on earth, and He made himself likeness of a human. A human cannot perform miracle without divine assist. In this sense, I agree that Jesus was given power by God thru the Holy Spirit to work miracles. For Jesus as a human, baptised with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is with Him at all time, until the moment He was on the cross, that the Holy Spirit left Him when He cried “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), then He died.

In John, there is a dialogue from Jesus

17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.

18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18 NIV)

The word 'life' in 10:17, or 'it' in 10:18 is generally referring to His crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Literally it is but there seems to have something not quite right. If 'life' means human life, at His resurrection 'it' is no longer human, for human will die again. Why would Jesus take 'a human life' up again? Certainly 'it' in John 10:18 means his divine nature. Then we can rewrite John 10:18 as this

No one takes my divine nature from me, but I lay my divine nature down of my own accord. I have authority to lay my divine nature down and authority to take my divine nature up again. This command I received from my Father.”

So when Jesus lay down His divine nature, He became fully human. Jesus performed miracles thru the assist of the Holy Spirit, for God is with Him. At His resurrection, He resumed His fully divine nature.

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    How do you reconcile these two statements of yours? --> "It is a basic Christian belief that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. " AND "So when Jesus lay down His divine nature, He became fully human."
    – Biblasia
    Jul 22, 2023 at 7:40
  • @Biblasia. Someone in my neighbourhood also happens to be the mayor of this city. Even though she is always fully my mayor, whenever we meet on the street or at community gatherings, she temporarily lays aside that position and is simply a normal member of the neighbourhood. Jul 22, 2023 at 14:23
  • It is not possible to 'lay down divine nature' nor did the Son of God 'become fully human'. Nor did he discard humanity and 'resume divine nature'. Taking humanity once, he dwells in humanity eternally - 'God manifest in flesh'. 'Basic Christian belief' (as you say) does not agree with you. See the Council of Nicaea.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 22, 2023 at 17:25
  • Thank you for all comments. Sin is a debt to God, a sinner cannot repay the debt of another sinner. Jesus has no sin, therefore his sacrifice on the cross repay the sin of mankind, for those who believe in Him. If Jesus died on the cross as God, then He didn't have to made human. Jesus was a human when He walked on earth, no difference to any human in terms of our emotion, needs and capability. He demonstrated to His disciples through faith, miracle will be given. Jesus healed the sick did not say because I am God, He said because of your faith. Jul 23, 2023 at 5:20
  • Jesus told His disciples if their faith was strong enough, they could walk on water and move mountains. Jesus must not be lying. So if His disciples could perform miracles and they were not God, it was Holy Spirit did for them. I am not saying Jesus is fully human and fully God at the same time. He was fully human only at time of His incarnation. Other time He is fully God. If the phrase 'divine nature' is not proper, please suggest a better one. I do have problem to make myself clear sometimes. Jul 23, 2023 at 5:31
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Miracle Worker
While the Bible describes God working miracle throughout history, it must be noted Jesus performed miracles which were never done by others:

Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. (John 9:32 ESV)

Two miracles during the Exodus involved crossing bodies of water: at the Red Sea and then at the Jordan River. In both, the water was parted. Jesus did something greater:

And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. (Matthew 14:25; also Mark 6:48 and John 6:19)

The Israelites walked on dry land. Jesus walked on water without getting wet. He also showed the power to get others across water without the need of dry land:

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. (Matthew 14)

Jesus was not just "another" miracle worker. Jesus worked unique miracles, setting Him apart from all others, before and after.

Isaiah 63
It is important to consider all Peter said about the miracles:

how 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)

Peter states the miracles Jesus did were done while being anointed with the Holy Spirit. So if miracles are going to be used as a "test" of deity, the correct use of miracles is to compare those done with the Holy Spirit. The OT has only one miracle which includes the Holy Spirit:

11 Then they remembered the ancient days, c-Him, who pulled his people-c out [of the water]: "Where is He who brought them up from the Sea along with the shepherdd of His flock? Where is He who put in their midst His holy spirit, 12 who made His glorious arm march at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make Himself a name for all time, 13 who led them through the deeps so that they did not stumble-as a horse in the desert, 14 like a beast descending to the plain?" 'Twas the Spirit of the LORD e-gave them rest;-e thus did You shepherd Your people to win for Yourself a glorious name (Isaiah 63 NJPS)
c-c Hebrew moshe 'ammo, a play on the name Moshe (Moses)
d. So many mss. and ancient versions; other texts "shepherds."
e-e Emendation yields "guided them."

The "test" of miracles done with the presence of the Holy Spirit limits the comparison to one: parting and crossing the Red Sea.

In the Jewish Study Bible, Benjamin D. Sommer explains how this passage may be understood in different ways:

11: They (Hebrew "he") remembered: The subject of this verb is not clear: "He" may refer to God or to the nation as a collective. It is also possible to translate, "He who pulled his people out [of the water] remembered the ancient days," but even then it is not clear whether "He who pulled..." refers to God or Moses. Where is He who brought... The identity of the speaker here through 14a is not clear. One possibility is that the Judeans speak, wondering where their savior is (so most rabbinic commentators). Alternatively, God may ask these questions, as if saying, "Long ago I saved Israel-whatever became of that side of Me?" In that case, vv. 11b-14 mark the beginning of God's movement from wrath to grace. Along with, alternatively, "Specifically." Shepherd of His flock: The flock is the nation Israel; the shepherd is either Moses or God. (If the translation "shepherds" found in the translator's note d is correct, then this word refers to Moses and Aaron and perhaps to Miriam).1

There are alternate ways to treat the passage but when the description in Exodus is considered, the miracle was done by God. The capitalization in the translation of the Jewish Publication Society reflects their belief the LORD, YHVH, performed the miracle.

In addition to parting the water Isaiah includes two additional terms, shepherd and glorious name. Both of these terms are used to describe God. These too describe Jesus: shepherd (John 10:11-16; Hebrew 13:20, 1 Peter 2:25, 5:4) and glorious name (Philippians 2:9-10; Hebrews 1:4).

Peter's Full Speech
There are other aspects of Peter's speech which should be taken into consideration:

  • Jesus is the Word (10:36)
  • Jesus is Lord of All (10:36)
  • The miracles of Jesus were specifically on those oppressed by the devil (10:38)
  • Ate and drank with Him after being raised from the dead (10:41)
  • The one appointed to judge the living and the dead (10:42)
  • His name brings forgiveness of sins (10:43)

How would a non-Jew understand these attributes Peter uses to describe Jesus? A Roman Centurion understands the title Lord as one of divinity. It is how they are to call Caesar, the God-man ruling the Empire. Forgiving sins and judging both the living and the dead are things only God can do.

Finally, no where does Peter make reference to the Father. He only speaks of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God. In fact, the verse in question implies the Holy Spirit is God:

how 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 [the Holy Spirit] was with him.

Summary
Isaiah 63 strongly suggests the deity of one who works miracles with the Holy Spirit. In his letter, Peter reinforces the connection to Isaiah:

For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25)
And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
(1 Peter 5:4)

In addition, a Roman Centurion would likely understand the other things Peter says about Jesus as indicating His position as God. Finally, as the Holy Spirit was given while Peter was speaking, the lack of "Father" in Peter's speech can only mean God is Son, Spirit, and Father.


1. Benjamin D. Sommer, The Jewish Study Bible, Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 929

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