Are Apostles the Only Ones Who Healed and Did Miracles?

There is a popular teaching among many Christians that during the New Testament era only the apostles healed people and worked miracles.

This is surprising because the Bible teaches the apostles are not the only ones who healed people and worked miracles. The Bible records that many people other than apostles did both.

Let’s look at the biblical record.

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Jesus Gave Seventy Preachers Power to Heal the Sick and Cast Out Demons

We know Jesus had twelve apostles whom He empowered to heal the sick and cast out demons while He was still among them. Here’s a record of this empowering:

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease” (Matthew 10:1).

Then we see the results here:

So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:12).

Generally, we have no problem accepting this as fact if we are Christians. It is assumed Jesus gave special power to these guys for a special purpose. Again, it is assumed that special purpose was to set them apart as God’s special spokesmen.

That is a true, yet incomplete statement.

The Apostles Had Special Power Because of the Message They Preached

It is critical to understand Jesus did not give the apostles unlimited, unregulated power that was linked to their person. It was supernatural power directly linked to their message.

The apostles were special, but only because of their message. As long as they preached their special message, special power would be available to prove the truth of their special message.

We can see the truth of this principle as it played out in the lives of two other later apostles, Paul and Barnabas. They were preaching in a place called Iconium:

Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Acts 14:3

What was God bearing witness to, the apostles? No. Had God borne witness to the apostles, they could have preached about the ancient Olympic games or some chariot race or any message and signs and wonders would have occurred.

What made Paul and Barnabas special was the special message they preached. When they preached that message, God “was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Similarly, Jesus made special power available to His original twelve apostles as they preached the special message of the gospel. Understanding this principle helps us understand how shared special power with people other than apostles.

Jesus Gave Special Power to Seventy Men Who Preached the Special Message of the Gospel

Compare the Gospels and you’ll see that shortly after Jesus commissioned the twelve apostles with special power to preach their special message, He did the same with seventy other men!

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before his face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go…

Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”

Luke 10:1, 8-9, 17

First, Jesus.

Then the twelve apostles.

Now seventy no-names.

Eighty-two people other than Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons. And seventy of them are not apostles. I love it!

Jesus Gives Special Power to an Unknown Disciple

I love it that Jesus gave special power to the Seventy. But I am fascinated by this next example where He gives special power to a guy I like to say was hiding in the bushes listening in on Jesus and the apostles. You’ll see why I say this.

Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”

But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side.”

Mark 9:38-40

Okay, so Jesus widened the circle of miracle-workers to include the Seventy. But it’s understood from the context these guys were regular followers of Christ even if they weren’t on the front row. Everyone can’t be on the front row.

But who was this no-name? The apostles didn’t recognize him. And as turf-protecting preachers are prone to do, they condemned his ministry.

When Did Jesus Give Power to the Unnamed Disciple?

The Bible does not discuss when Jesus gave the unnamed disciple power to heal the sick and cast out demons. So, I can’t be dogmatic about it. But we know of two ways in which people in the Gospels receive power from God.

First, Jesus can talk to you face to face and give you power. It’s not a stretch to say it’s possible the Lord did this with this guy.

Second, a person can believe and apply the general word of God to himself. How many of us received salvation by talking to Him face to face? I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say few people came to salvation because of a face to face conversation with Jesus Christ.

I think this unnamed disciple received his anointing to heal the sick and cast out demons the same way I did. I think he heard Jesus talking to other people and applied that conversation to himself.

Let me stop you in mid scoff and remind you that this is exactly what you and I do every time we apply the Bible to ourselves. There is not one verse in that Bible with your or my name on it.

We routinely and regularly take a discussion the Holy Spirit had through Paul with the church at Corinth or Ephesus or Colossae or wherever and we apply it to ourselves just as if it were written to us.

That is exactly how I received my “call” to supernatural ministry. I read, believed, and acted upon what I read in the Bible. Among other Scriptures, I acted upon Mark 16:15-18 just as though Jesus were speaking to me:

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Mark 16:15-18

Of course, the seminary guys have come up with creative and convoluted ways to explain away the modern relevance of these Scriptures, even to the point of saying they shouldn’t be in the Bible. But the Holy Spirit continues to ignore them and to bear witness to His word with supernatural signs following.

So phooey on the professional doubters.

The Holy Spirit Gives Special Power to Two Guys Who Worked at the Food Bank

I’ll be healing the sick and casting out demons as soon as I pass out my last food bag.
Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

The early church selected seven men to administer the food bank of the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:1-6). One of these men was Stephen:

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

Acts 6:8

The other guy’s name is Philip:

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.

Acts 8:5-7

This is explicit biblical testimony that Stephen and Philip both had miracle ministries in the first-century church.

Notice that I said the Holy Spirit gave them this power and not Jesus. Jesus had long ago ascended to heaven after His resurrection from the dead. But not before telling the disciples the following:

Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.

Luke 24:49

Luke includes in Acts more of that conversation Jesus had with the disciples before He ascended to heaven:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:8

This enlargement provided by Luke is important in that it reveals the purpose of saints being baptized in the Holy Spirit. It was to give them special power to preach their special message to the world.

Since the original twelve apostles were not the only ones commissioned by God to preach the special message, they were not the only ones to receive special power.

The power goes with the message.

Jesus Gives Special Power to an Ordinary Disciple

I describe Ananias as an ordinary disciple solely because he was apparently not a preacher. To save time I’ll summarize what happened to him.

Ananias saw a vision of the risen Lord and had a conversation with Him. He was given supernatural knowledge about Saul of Tarsus, a madman who was violently persecuting the church.

God revealed that He had big, surprising plans for this enemy of the church. He also had big and surprising plans for Ananias. God wanted him to go pray for this killer!

Read the whole story in Acts 9:1-19.

Here is the biblical narrative about Ananias’s limited healing ministry:

So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas [not the traitor] for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.

And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.

Acts 9:11-12

The occasion for this healing was that Jesus appeared to the killer in a blinding light as he was in route to grab some more Christians.

We won’t know until we reach heaven whether Ananias ever healed anyone else. But we do know this non-apostle healed at least one person. And that one person just happened to be a guy who would become the greatest apostle ever.

How’s that for hitting a home run your first time at bat!

The Holy Spirit Gives Special Power to the Corinthian Church

I’m cute. I have all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And I have poopy pants.
Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

I won’t stop dumping on the Corinthian church until I get to heaven. They were a mess! But Paul did say to them, “…you come behind in no gift…” (1 Corinthians 1:7).

So mess or no mess, they were gifted.

Part of the mess was they had a lot of gifts, but little Christian character. But character’s not our topic; gifts are the topic. Specifically, healing and casting out demons.

In his first letter to them, he wrote three chapters describing gifts of the Spirit and how they should be administered within the congregation. He lists healings and miracles as part of these gifts:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same god who works all in all.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all…for to one is given the word of wisdom…to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles…

1 Corinthians 12:4-10

Our earlier examples identified individuals other than apostles who healed the sick and cast out demons and who performed other miracles. This example is different in that it lists the entire church at Corinth, a large and important city in the Roman empire.

Paul obviously taught there are gifts of healings distributed by the Holy Spirit to individual members of the body of Christ. There is no mention of apostles.

The Holy Spirit Works Miracles Among the Galatian Churches

Paul wrote a scolding letter to the churches of Galatia (a large region in modern Turkey). The reason is in his absence they had quickly reverted back to trying to work their work into heaven by keeping portions of the law of Moses.

In Paul’s anger, he asked them questions designed to show the foolishness of their actions. Included is a reference to miracles being worked among them:

Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Galatians 3:5

This reference is similar to Paul telling the Corinthians that the Holy Spirit was gifting some Christians in Corinth with gifts of healings and working of miracles.

He reminds the Galatians that Jesus was baptizing people with the Holy Spirit and working miracles among them not through keeping the law of Moses, but by having faith in Christ.

We know these baptisms of the Holy Spirit and miracles weren’t being mysteriously poured out on people in inexplicable ways, leaving people blessed, but confounded at their good fortune.

How do we know this?

We know it because Paul said this supernatural ministry was occurring “by the hearing of faith.” This means not everyone in Galatia had backslidden into dead works.

There was at least one person, hopefully more, who was preaching faith. And it wasn’t some kind of general anemic faith that is a mainstay of our modern churches.

This was the kind of faith preaching that caused the Holy Ghost to partner with the preacher in granting signs, miracles, and wonders.

A Final Word About Miracles

The necessity for articles like this one is sad. Pathetic actually.

The question of whether the apostles were the only ones working miracles comes from a scarcity of the manifest power of God in our churches. No one would ask this question if pastors were not so committed to spiritual impotence and stamping out the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The worn out lie that only the apostles performed miracles has been exposed in this article as I’ve pointed you to the Scriptures. Now let remind you of one of the article’s main points.

The apostles were special because of their message. The power of God goes with the message of God. Remember this verse:

Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

Acts 14:3
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If the message is compromised, so is the power. And that, my brother and sister, is why our churches aren’t filled with the power of God as was the first-century church.

Our preachers preach a different message than that of the apostles or the Seventy or of Stephen or of Philip. Their Jesus was alive and active and His Spirit was there with them to confirm the word they preached with miraculous signs.

Conversely, the message of the modern church is one whose success rests not upon the Holy Spirit, but upon human intellect.

The Lord does not grant signs and wonders and miracles to attest to the legitimacy of our message because our message is illegitimate and we are content to go it alone.

Eric has written a bunch of books. You can check them out on Amazon.

Eric M Hill

Eric M Hill is an author, blogger, YouTuber, and Bible teacher. He has written sixteen books. He is a member of the Authors Guild and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

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