A photo capturing a radiant sunset over a calm sea, with a solitary figure walking on water, symbolizing the biblical miracle of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee.

What Is A Miracle According To The Bible?

Miracles are often described as extraordinary events that defy natural laws and human understanding. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: according to the Bible, a miracle is an event that occurs outside the ordinary course of nature and cannot be explained by natural or scientific laws, which is attributed to divine intervention or the direct agency of God.

In this comprehensive article, we will dive deeper into the biblical definition of a miracle. We will examine various accounts of miracles in the Bible, analyze what constitutes a miracle versus coincidental happenings, and discuss the purpose and significance behind God performing miraculous signs and wonders.

Biblical Accounts of Miracles Performed by God

The 10 Plagues of Egypt

The Book of Exodus details 10 plagues that God brought upon Egypt to convince Pharaoh to free the enslaved Israelites. These supernatural disasters included the Nile turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness for three days, and the killing of firstborn children and animals.

Each plague specifically targeted and discredited an Egyptian god or goddess, proving the power of the one true God. After the 10th plague, Pharaoh finally agreed to let Moses lead the Israelites out of bondage.

Parting of the Red Sea

As Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the Egyptian army pursued them. God miraculously parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to walk through on dry land. After the Israelites had crossed safely, God closed the waters over the Egyptian army, drowning them.

This stunning demonstration of God’s power both delivered the Israelites from slavery and decimated their enemies in one epic supernatural event.

Healing Miracles of Jesus

The Gospels record over 20 separate miracles where Jesus healed the sick, lame, blind, leprous, and demon-possessed. Some examples include:

  • Healing a royal official’s son from a fever (John 4:46-54)
  • Giving sight to a man born blind (John 9:1-41)
  • Enabling a paralyzed man to walk (Luke 5:17-26)
  • Restoring a withered hand on the Sabbath (Luke 6:6-11)

In addition, Jesus brought three people back from the dead, including Lazarus who had been in the tomb for four days (John 11:1-45). These miraculous healings authenticated Jesus’ identity as the Son of God and displayed God’s compassion and power.

Miracle Category Examples from the Bible
Nature and weather Parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14), Jesus calming a storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
Supernatural provision Manna from heaven (Exodus 16), Feeding the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21)
Victory in battle Defeat of Jericho (Joshua 6), Gideon’s army (Judges 7)

According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 88% of American adults believe in God, and 70% believe that God works miracles today. While the frequency and nature of miracles continues to be debated, the Bible records dozens of miracles as evidence of God’s existence, care for His people, and authority over nature and humankind.

Key Characteristics of a Miracle

An Extraordinary Occurrence

A miracle, according to the Bible, is an extraordinary event that occurs outside the bounds of natural laws. It is often an awe-inspiring display of divine power intended to reveal God or accomplish His purposes on earth.

Some key aspects that characterize biblical miracles as extraordinary occurrences include:

  • They happen suddenly and rapidly in response to a need or petition.
  • They are unique events that do not occur repeatedly or regularly under similar conditions.
  • They transcend the observed norms and limits of natural laws and processes.
  • They often manifest a reversal or manipulation of known natural forces and phenomena.

For instance, the parting of the Red Sea to aid the escape of Israelites from Egypt defied gravity and hydrological principles in a blink of an eye (Exodus 14). Such phenomena exceed human capability and technological prowess.

Defies and Overrides Natural Laws

By definition, miracles entail supernatural events that supersede natural and scientific laws. They achieve physical effects that would otherwise be impossible or highly improbable.

Some biblical examples include:

  • The sun stood still for a day to enable the Israelites to win a crucial battle (Joshua 10:12-13). This event defied astronomy and planetary motion principles.
  • The prophet Elijah multiplied food provisions for a widow that sustained her family amid famine (1 Kings 17:14-16). This extraordinary provision overrides scarcity dynamics.
  • Jesus walked on violent waters amid strong winds (Mark 6:45-52). This astounding phenomenon defies gravity, buoyancy laws, and human physiology.

Such occurrences exhibit mastery over natural forces and an ability to transcend or manipulate them to serve divine plans. They powerfully attest to the existence of a higher supernatural power behind them.

Has Divine Origin and Purpose

Miracles have a clear divine association in the Bible. Their source is often traced back to God directly or through human intermediaries used as vessels of divine power.

For example, God enabled Moses and Aaron to unleash plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7-12). The apostles performed many wonders and signs through the authority and power granted by Christ (Acts 2:43).

Likewise, miracles usually serve a divine agenda or objectives aligned with God’s plans. Common divine purposes depicted in Scripture include:

  • Revealing God’s identity and power: Miracles authenticate God’s existence and supreme authority over creation and natural forces (Exodus 7:5; John 2:11).
  • Aiding deliverance and preservation of God’s people: Supernatural interventions often rescue God’s followers from threats or dire straits (Exodus 14; Daniel 3).
  • Promoting faith and obedience to God: Miracles boost conviction in God and catalyze greater dedication to Him (John 2:23; 11:45).
  • Showcasing compassion, mercy, and blessings: Divine favor manifests in miraculous provisions that meet people’s needs (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-38).

Thus, the selective occurrences, timing, scale, and effects of biblical miracles strongly indicate deliberate divine orchestration rather than random anomalies.

Contrasting Miracles and Coincidental Happenings

Miracles and coincidences may seem similar on the surface, but there are some key differences between the two according to the Bible. Here are some ways to distinguish between a bonafide miracle and a mere coincidence:

Divine Intervention

A miracle involves direct divine intervention that supersedes the normal laws of nature. Coincidences happen randomly within the natural order and have natural explanations, even if the timing or odds seem remarkable.

Miracles come from God’s supernatural power while coincidences are just chance occurrences.

Purpose and Meaning

Miracles have spiritual significance and purpose. They manifest God’s power and presence, communicate an important message, meet a specific need, or reveal something about God’s character. Coincidences have no deeper meaning or significance beyond randomness and probability.


Miracles defy all natural and scientific odds. They come about despite extremely small probabilities, not just improbable but seemingly impossible happenings. Coincidences may have low odds statistically but are still possible within the laws of nature and randomness.

Awe and Wonder

Miracles produce a sense of awe, wonder, and mystery that point to the divine. They inspire worship and increase faith in God. Coincidences may cause brief amusement at the unlikely timing, but don’t carry any lasting sense of wonder or new revelation.

Life Change

Miracles have power to dramatically change lives and human destinies. They oftentimes have ongoing ripple effects and impact beyond the original miraculous event. Coincidences may surprise briefly but don’t alter life course or have lasting transformational impact.

The Role and Significance of Miracles

Reveal God’s Power and Sovereignty

Miracles in the Bible serve to demonstrate God’s supreme power and authority over all of creation. Through miracles, God reveals His ability to suspend or override the normal laws of nature to accomplish His divine will.

This affirms God’s sovereignty over the physical world and all that transpires within it.

For example, when God parted the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape from the pursuing Egyptian army (Exodus 14), this incredible miracle displayed God’s complete mastery over the seas and winds. The Red Sea crossing revealed the omnipotence of God in dramatic fashion.

Similarly, when Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33) and calmed a raging storm (Mark 4:35-41), He manifested divine authority over the forces of nature and the physical properties of this world.

Fulfill Biblical Prophecy and God’s Will

Miracles also serve the purpose of fulfilling Messianic prophecies given in Scripture and accomplishing God’s redemptive plan in history. According to professor Craig Keener, “Around half of Jesus’ miracles explicitly fulfilled prophecy, demonstrating that God was bringing about the promised kingdom through Jesus.”

For instance, Jesus’ healing of the blind (Isaiah 35:5) and His exorcising of demons (Isaiah 42:7) corresponded with Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah’s miraculous works. Christ’s miracles confirmed that He was the long-awaited Messiah who would redeem humanity.

Ultimately, His resurrection from the dead – the paramount miracle – achieved salvation for the world by conquering sin and death.

Strengthen Faith in God

Miracles serve to bolster and augment faith in a supernatural, all-powerful God who genuinely cares for His people. As professor Craig Keener explains, “Their faith was strengthened because God met their needs, showing that God is real, active and caring.”

When God miraculously provided food for the Israelites daily during their wilderness wanderings after the Exodus (Exodus 16), He fostered their faith by proving He would sustain them despite the barren landscape.

The succession of miracles naturally drove the Israelites to greater confidence and reliance upon God’s faithful provision.

Similarly, as multitudes witnessed Jesus miraculously heal the sick and disabled, raise the dead, and cast out demons, their faith in Him as the Son of God grew exponentially (Luke 5:15-16). His miracles prompted many to believe that the long-awaited Messianic age had finally arrived (Luke 7:16).


In concluding, the Bible defines a miracle as an extraordinary event caused by divine intervention, which defies natural law and human reason. While unbelievable coincidences may imitate miracles, true biblical miracles have distinctive supernatural qualities and origins.

God uses miracles to reveal His glory, fulfill His divine plan, and instill faith in those who witness His wondrous works.

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