Question:

Do you think that Jesus was able to perform miracles after His baptism because the Holy Spirit came to Him and that Jesus was not able to perform miracles before this because He didn't have the Holy Spirit? This was presented in class and my gut feeling is that something is wrong with this assumption. Jesus as a spirit being was able to perform miracles because of John 1:1ff. I don't know if this can be fully answered as there are many assumptions and something we take by faith.

Also, the teacher was tying this into the apostles had the power to do miracles because of the Holy Spirit and miraculous ability was passed by laying on of hands by the apostles. And this miraculous power died out in the first century after the last living person died that had direct contact with the apostles. That miraculous power came only by the Holy Spirit.

Thanks for reading and I hope I have written clearly enough and restated the teacher's thoughts.


Answer:

You are correct that an assumption was made that is not a necessary conclusion: The teacher assumed that Jesus was unable to do miracles before his baptism. I know of no passage that states this is true. We have a tendency to assume that when something new happens, whatever immediately preceded it must have been the cause, but this is not always the case.

Yes, Jesus did not start doing miracles until after he began his ministry and he didn't start his ministry until after his baptism, but was the baptism the cause or something that which had to be done first? Jesus stated that his baptism was not necessary to wash away sins. Instead, he told John, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15).

One piece that many people overlook is that Jesus would do miracles on his own authority. "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" -- He said to the paralytic, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house"" (Mark 2:10-11). Or, "Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are--the Holy One of God!" But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him"" (Mark 1:23-27). Jesus had the power to perform miracles because he was God.

Contrast this to the miracles done by the apostles and you will see them praying to God or commanding in the name of Jesus. "Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk"" (Acts 3:6). Their authority was not their own. They were given the right to use the authority of God in carrying out their duties.

Another point overlooked is that the apostles did have the ability to do miracles before the Holy Spirit came upon them in Acts 2. "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:7-8). The seventy disciples were also granted this power: "And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you'" (Luke 10:9). The authority for doing this was by Christ's command.

I do agree with your teacher regarding the passing on of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to other Christians. There are a few verses which indicate that this ability was only granted to the apostles. Philip, who had the ability to do signs, had preached in Samaria, and the people there were baptized, we learn that the gifts of Holy Spirit were not yet granted. "Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:14-17). It was seeing this that prompted Simon to attempt to buy this ability for himself. "And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit"" (Acts 8:18-19).

Later Paul tells Timothy, "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (II Timothy 1:6). This is one of the evidences that Paul was an apostle; he had the ability to pass on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Miracles died out because God said they would end. "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (I Corinthians 13:8-10). Miracles were not done for miracles sake. They had a purpose in confirming the word being preached (Hebrews 2:3-4). Once the perfect law of liberty was delivered (Jude 3), the need for miracles ceased. When you add to this the means in which the gifts were imparted was by the laying on of the apostles hands (except in the case of Cornelius and his household, who received their gifts directly to prove a point), then when the apostles died out, the miracles would end shortly thereafter.