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Miracles, Signs, and Wonders: Similar But Different

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Miracles, Signs and Wonders

Do you know what a miracle is? Do you know what a sign is? Do you what a wonder is? Do you know the difference? Miracles, signs, and wonders happen around us all the time. However, most people fail to recognize them and to know the differences.

Even though all three of those words are found separately in many places in the New Testament, they are not used together in many places in the Bible. They are found in Acts 2:22 and Hebrews 2:4, but they are not listed in the same order.

"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." (Acts 2:22)

"God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." (Hebrews 2:4)

Similar But Different

All three of the words are related, but they are different. Even though miracles were a great part of the work of Jesus in the Gospels, the words were never used together.

Most of the times, people general­ize and lumped all three words together and call everything miracles. While miracle is the common term, some things are signs, and some things are wonders.


What Is a Miracle?

The dictionary definition says a miracle is a phenomenon that cannot be explained by known laws of nature. According to the Bible, a miracle is a supernatural occurrence that goes against the laws of nature. There are many miracles in the Bible. Even though Jesus performed a lot of miracles in the Gospels, His disciples went on to perform miracles after His death as recorded in The Acts of the Apostles. The Old Testament prophets also performed miracles.

For example, Jesus walking on water was a miracle. The law of nature says that if you try to walk on water, you will sink. Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding of Cana when he changed water into wine (John 2:1-11). The law of nature says water is not wine until it is processed into such.

Three Tpes of Miracles

St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest church fathers and theologians, divided miracles into three types going from the highest to the lowest.

  1. Highest degree of miracles: God does something that nature can never do. For instance, God made the sun stand still. He divided the sea for people to pass through on dry land.
  2. Middle degree of miracles: God does something that nature can do, but can't do in the same order. It is not a miracle for a person to live, see and walk. God caused Lazarus who was dead to live again, see and walk. Nature could not do that, but God could and He did.
  3. Lowest degree of miracles: Nature can do something but doesn't do it, and God does it without nature's help. For instance, when God cures a fever instantly that nature is able to cure, but it takes a lot longer.

What Is a Sign?

A sign is whatever points to a deeper revelation. The sign is not the revelation itself. A sign indicates that something greater will soon develop. A sign is a mark, an indication, or a token. It is not the sign itself that will get the greatest attention. The focus will eventually be on what was pointed to.

Signs are intended to let the observer know something out of the ordinary will come.

Examples of signs that pointed to a deeper revelation:

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  • John the Baptist's death was a sign that Jesus' death was approaching. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus in birth, baptizing, and preaching. Therefore, it is not hard to see John's death as a sign that Jesus' death would soon follow.
  • The rainbow in the sky is a sign of God's promise that the world will not be destroyed again by rain.
  • The star in the sky was a sign that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem. The star was what the Magi followed to find Jesus.

Keep in mind that it is NOT the sign that gets the attention. It is what the sign points to that deserves the recognition. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that signs are sort pointers to something much greater.


What Is a Wonder?

A wonder is "something strange, caus­ing the beholder to marvel." The supernatural act itself is looked upon as something that startles and produces amazement. The "wonder" itself is the center of attention and doesn't point to anything else like a sign does. The wonder is what it is, and the wonder is what the onlooker does.

A wonder is anything that causes us to be in awe. It evokes amazement and most times of the time great joy. It is something wonderful that makes us wonder.

Which is it: Miracle, Sign, or Wonder?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which is it that gives you awe because it is so exciting to be true?
    • Miracle
    • Sign
    • Wonder
    • All of the above
  2. Which is it that goes against nature?
    • Miracle
    • Sign
    • Wonder
    • All of the above
  3. Which is it that points to a deeper revelation?
    • Miracle
    • Sign
    • Wonder
    • All of the above
  4. What can God do that nature can never do?
    • Highest degree of miracles
    • Middle degree of miracles
    • Lowest degree of miracle

Answer Key

  1. Wonder
  2. Miracle
  3. Sign
  4. Highest degree of miracles


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on February 04, 2018:

Mr. Happy, thank you so much for reading and providing a positive comment.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on February 04, 2018:

I guess You could see signs as part of prophecies.

"Keep in mind that it is NOT the sign that gets the attention. It is what the sign points to that deserves the recognition." - Wise words here. : )

I did not know that "supernatural acts" are categorised as "wonders". Learn something every day.

Interesting article - thank You for putting it together.

All the best!

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