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Did Jesus perform a single miracle before his 40 day fast and temptation by the Devil?

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None of the four Gospels record Jesus performing a miracle prior to his temptation in the wilderness. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record Jesus' baptism and immediately follow it with his temptation in the wilderness. John does not mention the temptation: after Jesus's baptism, he begins calling his disciples and then performs "the first of his signs" – the replacing of water with wine (John 2:1–12).

On its face, this may seem conclusive, but we must remember that (1) the gospels are not exhaustive accounts of all the things Jesus did (see John 21:25) and (2) the gospels do not necessarily record all the events of the narrative in strict chronological order. Here, it's particularly relevant to compare Luke 4:1–5:11 with John 1:35–2:12. Luke records several miracles taking place before the first disciples are called, while John puts the first miracle after Peter and others have joined him.

Despite these caveats, it still seems quite unlikely that the miracle of the wine or any other miracle took place before the temptation of Jesus. Thus, while a dogmatic statement appears risky, concluding that Jesus performed no miracles before his temptation stands to reason.

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If one uses the Bible alone, the answer would be no; there are no recordings of any miracles. Indeed the Bible refers to Christ's "beginnings of miracles" at the wedding of Cana. This is three days after His baptism upon which He is revealed (John 1). To argue otherwise from silence or supposition is basically not a valid argument.

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed ) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, Luke 3:21-23

Luke describes Jesus' baptism and John picks up the baptism story with the events at Cana three days later (motif of death/baptism and life/miracles); this was the beginning of miracles.

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. John 2:11

Vines explains the word this way.

"Begin, Beginning, Beginner: means "a beginning." The root arch-- primarily indicated what was of worth. Hence the verb archo meant "to be first," and archon denoted "a ruler." So also arose the idea of "a beginning," the origin, the active cause, whether a person or thing" -source-

And Strongs says this of the word "beginning".

ἀρχή archḗ, ar-khay'; from G756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concretely) chief (in various applications of order, time, place, or rank):—beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule. -ibid-

Thayer's says this.

  1. beginning, origin; a. used absolutely, of the beginning of all things: b. in a relative sense, of the beginning of the thing spoken of: -source-

Now, some may think John's beginning of miracles refers only to the seven recorded in his book, but at the end thereof he provides a clear indication that this was, as he says, the beginning of all miracles Jesus did.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: John 20:11

The key, the point is that Jesus did other signs (miracles) and in the presence of disciples. In John 1, before John 2 and the wedding, is when Jesus called His disciples. In other words, Jesus didn't simply go around working miracles for no reason before He reached the age of 30 (baptism age). So when John says this was the beginning of miracles, it would in fact have been the beginning of miracles, not just as a literary device to introduce seven, but for all of them. This is the sense of the word "beginning", the start, even the start of all miracles even though not mentioned as the end of John indicates.

If, however, one uses apocryphal sources, then the answer would be yes. What is interesting is the actual contradiction between the Bible and these stories, yet some prefer tradition. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas records a number of miracles ostensibly performed by Jesus before the age of 30 (the age at which He was baptized, began His ministry, and performed miracles as shown in the Bible). This is one example out of 12 recorded in manuscripts.

  1. This child Jesus, when five years old, was playing in the ford of a mountain stream; and He collected the flowing waters into pools, and made them clear immediately, and by a word alone He made them obey Him. And having made some soft clay, He fashioned out of it twelve sparrows. -source-

The Quran picks up that story.

The Syriac Infancy Gospel is another source of supposed miracles of Jesus under the age of 30.

The reason the Bible records no miracles before the age of 30 is that is when the actual work of building the temple of God could begin from a priest perspective.

Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers, From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation. Numbers 4:2-3

As well, the typing of certain king's reigns began at age thirty

And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. Gen 41:46

David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 2 Sam 5:4

So, did Jesus perform miracles before His fast and temptation? No, there wouldn't be any reason to do so and it wouldn't align to types and shadows given for our instruction (John 13:15, 1 Cor 10:11).

  • SLM, this is where the original Greek is a big help, or perhaps consulting multiple translations. What John 2:11 says more literally was "this was the first sign" that Jesus did. That's not a universal statement on miracles but a literary device because John is using a list of specific signs (usually considered to be 7) as evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. Changing water to wine is the first of the 7. However, it's a misinterpretation to see that as a definitive statement that John 2 was the "first miracle" that Jesus ever performed. The real answer is, we don' know. – P. TJ Mar 13 at 17:03
  • However, I do think your conclusion makes solid sense. What John does show is that the miracles of Jesus served a purpose of showing him to be the Messiah and it seems unlikely he would have done that prior to the Gospel narratives. – P. TJ Mar 13 at 17:05
  • Well, I provided the Vines view of the word "beginning". Strongs concurs. I've added this and what John says about this. – SLM Mar 14 at 13:51
  • With Vines you're starting with the English translation and that doesn't help you see other ways the Greek word can be translated. The Strong's does show this, however. It gets at the idea of a "commencement" and when you take that in the context of John 2 it becomes a "commencement" of the "signs Jesus did" so that his disciples would believe. And again, it's crucial to know that, in John, that refers to a series of specific events, and therefore does not rule out other miracles happening. – P. TJ Mar 14 at 19:45
  • Yes, "commencement" is the idea. Commencement as in beginning, starting, to be first, origin. That John provides 6 more examples and finishes his book by agreeing there were other examples not included does not in any way impact his usage of beginning, start, first of miracles. At this point, rather than rehash, perhaps you could show an example from John where he uses the same word "beginning", but means second or fifth or something besides start. I've added Thayer's commentary also. – SLM Mar 14 at 22:20
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A number of them... Immediately upon His conception is one, thus filling Old Testament prophecy of His virgin birth, Isa.9:6. That God became flesh and dwelt among us is another. That Jesus Christ created the universe and everything in it is another, Jn.1:1-3. That He appeared to Moses, and many, many times at that, is another. ( The Angel of the Lord means The Messenger of Lord )Ex.3. That He appeared face to face to with Abraham, Gen.12:7 as well as Moses is another,Ex.33:11. In fact, Jesus Christ felt the whip of the Egyptian taskmasters having appeared unrecognized as just another Hebrew slave, Ex.3:7 compare 3:16. There is but One God and He declares in Holy Scripture He is invisible, Col.1:15 context. How then do we ever see invisible God except by that of His becoming visible in Jesus Christ ? ... " God with us," Mt.1:23 Is it not a miracle that God merely speaks and the universe is created ? Thanks be to Jesus Christ, "Everlasting Father," Isa.9:6.

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