The Greek word teras is often translated “wonder.” It is a word that is never used by itself in reference to miracles (See At 2:22,43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 15:12; Hb 2:4). It is a term that emphasizes the actual reaction of the people to the particular miraculous happening that was witnessed (See Mt 9:26; Mk 2:12; 6:51; 7:37; Lk 8:56; 13:17).
The use of this word defines a true miracle as an event that causes some type of reaction on the part of those who behold the miracle. Acts 4:14-16 records the reaction of unbelievers who witnessed the miracle that Peter and John worked in healing the lame beggar at the temple. The beholders said, “For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it” (At 4:16).
Though Simon the sorcerer “astonished” the people with his magical tricks for years, he himself was “amazed” when he beheld the true miracles that were worked by Philip (At 8:11,13). The action of a true miracle is so strong, therefore, that it must stimulate a response in those who behold it. A valid and true miracle, therefore, cannot be denied even by those who are unbelievers.
The fact is that a confirming miracle is not defined as such unless it does cause wonder on the part of those who behold it. Miracles were to confirm both the spoken word of God and the messengers who preached the word of the gospel (Mk 16:20; Hb 2:3,4). God’s work of confirmation was not meant to be carried out before believers. The work of confirmation of the message of the gospel was to take place before unbelievers. Therefore, the miracle must be of such a nature that unbelievers have to admit that something above nature occurred in the event of the miracle.
The judge of whether or not a miracle occurs must be the unbelievers, for it was before the unbelievers that confirming miracles occurred in order to confirm both the message and messenger of the gospel. This vital truth is affirmed by the use of the word teras in reference to the miraculous work of God as recorded in the Bible. Therefore, a miracle is a miracle only when it causes wonder on the part of the unbelievers. This is what we would define as a “confirming” miracle.
[Next in series: May 23]