By Rick Renner
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul….— Acts 19:11
All miracles are extraordinary, but every once in a while, God performs miracles that are truly out of the ordinary. A great example of these exceptional miracles is found in Acts 19:11, where the Bible says, “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.” This verse provides great insight into the subject of miracles, but in order to grasp its full significance, it is important to understand the historical context in which these miracles occurred.
At the time these miracles took place, the apostle Paul was ministering in the city of Ephesus in the Roman province of Asia. This major metropolis was famous throughout the ancient world as a center of paganism and was home to approximately 250,000 people who were consumed with paganism, idolatry, and witchcraft. In fact, the cults in this city were so renowned that people journeyed from every corner of the Roman Empire to experience the dark supernatural forces in the city’s temples.
For example, on the outskirts of Ephesus stood the great Temple of Artemis, a structure so magnificent that it was listed as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. At the center of this enormous complex stood a gargantuan statue of Artemis, the Ephesian goddess of fertility, and behind these temple walls, her worshipers engaged in dark, perverse rituals.
Other prominent pagan religions existed in Ephesus as well. The temples of Gaius Julius Caesar and Dea Roma sat side by side on a high point in the city. These twin structures were constructed at the order of the Emperor Augustus and served as a hub for emperor worship in Ephesus during the First Century AD. Pagan priests swarmed these temple grounds, offering sacrifices to the gods and serving as chosen vehicles of mystical power — those who uttered dark secrets and spoke prophetic declarations as mediums between the spirit world and man.
The massive Temple of Serapis — the Egyptian god of the heavens, the underworld, and medicine — was another center of pagan worship in Ephesus. Even in the spiritually charged atmosphere of Ephesus, the cult of Serapis was famous for its supernatural activity. It attracted people who were especially driven to know the dark secrets of the underworld and participate in the rituals that transpired in this temple around the clock.
However, it was in this wicked, spiritually charged city that the apostle Paul experienced some of the most extraordinary miracles of his ministry. If he was to capture the attention of the Ephesians so they would open their hearts to the message of the Gospel, a special miracle-working power would be required. That is why Acts 19:11 tells us that “…God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.”
I want to draw your attention to the word “wrought” in this verse. It is from the Greek word poieo, which denotes creativity. Because the word poieo is used in this context, we know that the miracles taking place in Ephesus were miracles of a creative nature. Furthermore, the tense of this Greek word conveys the idea of continuous action. This means that when this unique demonstration of miracles began, it was not just one or two miracles that occurred at the hands of the apostle Paul, but rather a practically unending flow of miracles.
In the Greek text, two words are used to express the type of miracles that were being wrought at the hands of Paul. First, the word “miracles” is the Greek word dunamis, which refers to explosive, dynamic power. This tells us that explosive, phenomenal power was flowing through Paul’s hands. In fact, this power was so out of the ordinary that the Bible describes it as “special,” which is a translation of the Greek word tugchano. This Greek word means to hit upon, to happen upon, or to fall upon. It implies something unique that overtakes someone or a power that falls on someone as if to take him or her by surprise.
Paul literally hit upon, happened upon, or fell into a level of power that was without equal in his experience. He found himself suddenly operating in a realm of miracles that was extraordinary and powerful beyond his wildest expectations. Of course, all miracles are uncommon, but there was something about these miracles in particular that transcended every miracle that Paul had previously experienced during his ministry. From the usage of this Greek word tugchano, it seems that Paul himself was surprised by the exceptional assortment of miracles that were occurring at his own hands.
This is the only record we have in the book of Acts where “special miracles” occurred at the hands of the apostle Paul. Certainly miracles occurred frequently throughout his ministry, but not miracles of this magnitude and quality. In fact, a better rendering of the phrase “special miracles” would be “mighty, exceptional, out-of-the-ordinary deeds.” These were acts of a supernatural phenomenon of the highest order! Although God performed many miracles through Paul at different times in his ministry, it seems that these particular manifestations of His power may have occurred only in one particular season of Paul’s ministry, as it is recorded in Acts 19:11.
God knows how to reach people in every unique situation. In Ephesus — a city obsessed with supernatural activity — normal miracles would never have been enough to hold the attention of the local population. Therefore, God unleashed His power and performed special miracles at the hands of Paul that were truly out of the ordinary. These were rare, unusual, unique, extraordinary, incomparable works of God. Because the word poieo (“wrought”) is used in this verse, it suggests these were creative miracles — such as the sudden, miraculous replacement of limbs or body parts. Certainly that kind of supernatural demonstration is above and beyond normal healing power and would fall into the category of “special miracles”!
The supernatural power operating through Paul was so great that it caused a multitude of Ephesians to turn to the Lord. Acts 19:18,19 tells us that those who had previously been involved in occult practices repented before Christ and burned their books of sorcery and witchcraft. As a result of God working “special miracles” through the hands of Paul, one of the most powerful churches of the New Testament was established in the city of Ephesus.
Never forget that God knows how to reach every group of people. He knows exactly what kind of power you need to fulfill your assignment and what kind of powerful demonstrations are needed to reach the unique group of people you are called to influence in your life. If you will allow the Lord to have His way and to use you as He wishes, you may find yourself surprised at the level of power He allows to flow through you!
Rather than say, “Oh, this person is hard to reach,” or, “This city is dark and very hard to penetrate with the Gospel,” why don’t you open up your heart and let the Holy Spirit unleash His powerful, creative abilities to work through you? If He did it through Paul, He can do it through you! If you’ll just open up your heart and become a willing vessel, you may be surprised to see a special, out-of-the-ordinary kind of power begin to flow through you!
Rick Renner is a prolific author and a highly respected Bible teacher and leader in the international Christian community. He is the author of more than 30 books, including the bestsellers Dressed To Kill and Sparkling Gems From the Greek. In 1991, Rick and his family moved to what is now the former Soviet Union. Two years later, he and his wife Denise founded the Riga Good News Church in Latvia before moving on to Moscow in 2000 to found the Moscow Good News Church. In 2007, the Renners also launched the Kiev Good News Church in the capital of Ukraine. Both the Riga and Kiev churches continue to thrive and grow.
Today, Rick is the senior pastor of the Moscow Good News Church, as well as the founder and director of the Good News Association of Pastors and Churches with nearly 800 member churches. In addition, Rick is the founder of Media Mir, the first Christian television network established in the former USSR that today broadcasts the Gospel to a potential audience of 110 million people. Rick resides in Moscow with his wife Denise and their three sons and families. Visit: RENNER Ministries and watch on YouTube