Cover Image: Signs and Wonders Then and Now

Signs and Wonders Then and Now:
Miracle-working, Commissioning and Discipleship

Lionel Hacking (Apollos, 2006)

Blurb Review by Rev. Graham Beynon


‘Signs and wonders', such as healing and exorcisms, are characteristic emphases associated with the ‘Third Wave' of contemporary charismatic renewal, which has been particularly influential in the church, across the denominations and around the world. Exponents of such emphases claim to reflect a model for Christian discipleship that they find presented in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts by Jesus and his followers, in which ‘signs and wonders' are normative for the church today. Keith Hacking's contention is that Third Wave commentators too often fail to grapple adequately with important historical, literary and theological issues that arise from the biblical text. From an engaging and thorough analysis of the relevant material in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts, he offers an approach that more accurately reflects the evidence and that, therefore, is more appropriate for informing contemporary theology and practice.


1. Introducing the issues
Scope and aims
Hermeneutical issues and methodology
A new generation of PCR scholars
Third Wave hermeneutical ambivalence
The so-called ‘intentional fallacy'
Setting the hermeneutical agenda

2. Riding the Third Wave, or just Azusa Street revisited?
Enthusiastic beginnings
Challenges to orthodoxy
The charismatic movement
Enter the Third Wave
The Great Commission and healing

3. Kingdom theology and the Third Wave
Power and presence
Present and future
Realized eschatology
A paradigm for contemporary ministry
Kingdom and kerygma

Part One: The Great Commission According to Matthew: A Contemporary Paradigm for Signs and Wonders?
Introducing the issues
Key Matthean themes

4. Matthew, Jesus and Discipleship
The essence of discipleship according to Matthew
Beware of self-deception (Matt. 7:21-23)

5. Matthew's readers and the Great Commission
The importance of Gattung
Quest for the Gattung of Matthew 28:16-20

6. The disciples' mission to Israel
Commissioning the disciples
Matthew's use of exousia
Then and now?
The theme of forgiveness

7. Peter and the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:18-20)
Isaiah 22:22
The influence of Jewish sources
Binding and loosing (Matt. 16:19b, 19c)

8. Conclusions to Part One

Part Two: Commissioning and Discipleship According to Mark
Introducing the issues
Mark as narrative

9. Jesus calls and commissions his disciples
Called by Jesus for a mission
The role of the Twelve in Mark
Commissioning and sending out the Twelve
The mission of the Twelve

10. Mark's central section and teaching on discipleship
Teaching on authentic discipleship
Suffering and self-denial
A reversal of earthly values
Slavery as the price of pre-eminence
Exorcism in context
The boy with the spirit (Mark 9:14-29)
Another exorcist (Mark 9:38-41)

11. The original ending to Mark's Gospel?
The longer ending to Mark's Gospel (Mark 16:9-20)
The appearance to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11)
The appearance to the two travellers (Mark 16:12-13)
The commissioning of the Eleven (Mark 16:14-18)
The ascension and the heavenly court (Mark 16:19-20)
Conclusions to discussion of Mark 16:9-20
The original ending to Mark's Gospel (Mark 16:1-8)

12. Conclusions to Part Two

Part Three: Signs and Wonders, Commissioning and Discipleship According to Luke-Acts
Introducing the issues

13. Overview of discipleship in Luke
Luke's use of his sources
Jesus and his followers
The journey theme
Material possessions

14. The commissioning of Jesus
The baptism - a paradigm?
The importance of prayer

15. Luke and the Twelve (Luke 6:12-16)
Jesus - a man under authority
Called to be fishers of men
Prayer and discipleship
The Twelve as apostles

16. The mission of the Twelve (Luke 9:1-6)
Luke's sources
Luke's purpose

17. The sending of the Seventy(-Two)
Seventy or Seventy-Two?
The Twelve as part of the mission of the Seventy(-Two)
Luke 22:35-36
The mission

18. Resurrection and commissioning in Luke-Acts
The walk to Emmaus
Preparing the way for the final commissioning scene
The final commissioning scene in Luke's Gospel
The commission according to Acts1:8

19. Signs and wonders in Acts
Commissioning with power and authority in Acts
Luke's perspective on signs and wonders
Luke's perspective on the miracles of Jesus
The miracles of Jesus in retrospect (Acts 2:22; 19?:37-38?)

20. Signs and wonders and Luke's heroes of the Spirit
The purpose of signs and wonders in Acts
Laying on of hands
Laying on of hands as a sign of commissioning
Laying on of hands and conveying the Holy Spirit
Laying on of hands and healing
Use of Jesus' name

21. Conclusions to Part Three

22. Final reflections

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