In answering a question about kenosis, I said that Jesus emptied himself of his divinity, essentially, "giving up the perks of being God." Hammar replied, "but he still performed miracles, didn't he?"

In response, I said, "yes, but other humans performed miracles, too." which got me thinking - Do humans actually perform miracles or does God perform a miracle through people in order that people might know that God approves.

Biblically speaking, there are several instances of Jesus and other people performing miracles. Is there, however, any indication that the power by which they were performed "flowed differently" between the prophets of the past and the Jesus that is believed to be a part of the Godhead himself? What proof texts would speak to the issue on either side, and how have these been interpreted by significant theologians in the past?

  • "free will" implies that you do. However God may enable you to do it.
    – user1054
    Jan 23, 2012 at 17:57
  • 2
    Try doing some miracles on your own - let us know how it works out. :) Feb 1, 2012 at 21:16
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    @Wikis interestingly, perhaps equally important, you would then need: "Try doing some miracles with God, and empirically compare the results to the original (on your own) experiment" Feb 27, 2012 at 14:27
  • I feel like this is somewhere between primarily opinion based and general philosophical question. I think I'm going to vote to leave open though.
    – user3961
    Jul 16, 2014 at 23:31
  • I'm voting to close as opinion-based. If anyone on the site can edit this into something less truthy and get it reopened, it's Affable. Affable, if you get this edited, flag me. That would be quite helpful. ;-) Jul 17, 2014 at 3:49

3 Answers 3


In healing the woman who had been bleeding for many years (Mark 5:24 - 30), Jesus has an interesting reaction:

25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

It is interesting, a miracle was performed without Jesus doing it. This seems to imply that miracles could occur without Jesus' explicit doing. If Jesus was unaware of the miracle being performed through him, who was doing the miracle?

The obvious answer is that God the Father poured out power in a way that bypassed Jesus' human consciousness. Jesus could thus empty himself of his divinity (the kenosis), and yet still perform miracles.

This would also explain the story in Acts 8, when Simon, a former magician turned new believer, asked the disciples the secret of how to perform miracles. He was even willing to pay for the privilege, a dubious practice called simony (the selling of power) ever since.

But, in seeking to perform these miracles, he was rebuked. Even if he wanted to perform these miracles for god's kingdom, it was clear he didn't realize that miracles were performed for God's glory, not his own.

Finally, Jesus is explicit that miracles are not magic tricks - they are signs that are to accompany a message. They are not to relieve suffering but rather to authenticate God's will. In Mark 2, Jesus forgives the paralytic, which incenses the Pharisees. It isn't until after the Pharisees get angry at this blasphemy (Who can forgive sins but God alone?), that Jesus performs the miracle, explcitly saying "in order that you might believe."

Miracles, are thus a sign of God's power. As such, I don't think its a stretch to say if the purpose of a miracle is to prove God's hand in a thing, that he would also be the source of it.

  • Did you ask this question just so you could answer it? Or did you just find the answer after asking it? Either way, it's a good answer.
    – styfle
    Jan 23, 2012 at 6:05
  • What is a knol?
    – Steve
    Jul 12, 2013 at 13:19
  • You should have accepted your own answer - it's significantly better Jun 14, 2014 at 12:13
  • @styfle I don't think he searched, went through different sources, analysed and wrote the answer within 10 minutes.
    – Red fx
    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:43

Joh 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Act 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. Act 3:7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

From the Word of Faith perspective: Christ performed no miracles as God. He worked on the earth as a man anointed by the Holy Spirit without measure during His ministry (John 3:34, Acts 10:38). It was all the Father working through Him according to John 5:30. For certain theologies to hold true Christ had to do things of His own accord but the Bible never says that He did. It commonly is said how can God stop being God? People have trouble with the idea of God being God in character, substance, living and being human flesh but without being God in power. Jesus asked questions and was informed of events (Mark 5:30,Mat 14:13). Jesus existed in a single place during His time on the earth.(Matthew 8:7) Jesus could not do things sometimes. (Mark 6:5) What makes Christ special isn't the miracles, supernatural knowledge or other gifts of the Spirit. After His ascension the disciples performed greater works in His Name like the conversions of Jews and Gentiles in Acts. (Act 2:38) His deity is an abstract and would be true even had the Father not willed Him to work miracles.

2Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

There will at some point in the future be those who work false signs and wonders. These will not be good and will lead to unrighteousness. Many will follow those "signs" to their destruction.


Perhaps we should define what a miracle is. I have always understood it to be an act which can only be accomplished with supernatural power (that is, above the nature of a human to perform). In the case of Jesus it's simple: He is God and can perform acts with the abilities proper to either His Divine (supernatural) or human natures (natural). In the case of anyone else performing a miracle they would be exercising power given to them by God but which is above their natural abilities. So Saint Paul performed miracles, but the power to effect the miracles came from God, not Saul of Tarsus.


A side note: you refer to Jesus "emptying Himself of His Divinity." In Jesus there is one person and two natures. The person answers the question who is doing something; the nature answers the question "what can the person do." The person of Jesus is a Divine person, the second person of the Blessed Trinity; that person has two natures and is capable of exercising all of the powers of either nature: human and divine. Nevertheless, the person of Jesus is a Divine person. If this weren't the case then we would have a real dilemma with regard to salvation because we couldn't be sure who died on the Cross. Only an infinite sacrifice can repair the infinite offenses made to God by the sins of men, and only a Divine person is capable of an infinite sacrifice. Jesus only died in His human nature on the cross, but it's a real death (separation of body and soul) nevertheless. The point being that any acts performed by Jesus were performed by a divine person; He wasn't unaware of who touched his garment... as God he was sustaining that woman in existence and giving her the capability to touch his garment in the first place!

  • "Only an infinite sacrifice can repair the infinite offenses." Just to clarify: the penalty for sin was death, and His one sacrificial death was enough to pay for all sins.
    – Steve
    Jul 12, 2013 at 13:19

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