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What is a miracle, according to the Bible?


pcstratman | Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 08/02/19

Miracles are works of God that reveal something particular about his plan for us.

Miracles permeate the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and continue to be witnessed in our world today.

However, we sometimes get confused about what a miracle truly is and what its purpose is for us and our salvation.


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The author of the Psalms often laments how Israel became blind to the miracles of God and how they eventually grew cold to his miraculous intervention.

They forgot what he had done,and the miracles that he had shown them.In the sight of their fathers he wrought marvelsin the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zo′an.He divided the sea and let them pass through it,and made the waters stand like a heap.Yet they sinned still more against him,rebelling against the Most High in the desert. (Psalm 78:11-13,17)

In the Old Testament, it appears that God’s miracles, such as the parting of the Red Sea, were meant to show God’s care for his children and lead them back to him. They were supposed to be a visible sign of God’s presence in the world.

Similarly, in the New Testament, Jesus is incarnate and his public ministry is full of miracles. He heals the sick, walks on water and casts out demons. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how Jesus’ miracles served a similar purpose.

Jesus accompanies his words with many “mighty works and wonders and signs,” which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah.The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him. To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask. So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God. (CCC 547-548)

Furthermore, miracles in both the Old and New Testaments are supernatural occurrences that only God can accomplish. This is most clearly expressed in the “showdown” between Moses and the magicians of Pharaoh, as well as Elijah and the priests of Baal. Both times it was proven that God was the one behind the miracles and that he alone possess supreme power.

Sometimes miracles are dismissed by modern historians as a literary device used by the biblical authors that expresses a naive understanding of science. They see a natural explanation for all the reported “miracles” in the Bible and believe that God was not behind any of it.

Yet, for Catholics, miracles found in the Bible and miracles that happen today are true signs of God’s presence in the world. Catholics believe that miracles do exist and that God performs these miracles for our spiritual benefit. He does so to invite belief in him and to remind us that we are not alone in this world.


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