Paul is not giving us three signs of a genuine apostle in v12. The grammar of the Greek language puts ‘signs and wonders and mighty works’ in the dative – so they are accompanying his ministry, not the sign of his ministry. Those that believe that the gifts of the Spirit ceased at the end of the “Apostolic” age hold that, because the gifts ceased, apostolic ministry ceased too. As Sam Storms writes,
“This argument by cessationists is also severely weakened, if not destroyed, by the fact that nowhere in the NT does it say that ‘authentication’ or ‘attestation’ of the apostles and their message was the sole and exclusive purpose of such supernatural phenomena. Let me repeat that: Nowhere in the NT is the purpose or function of the miraculous or the charismata reduced to that of attestation. The miraculous, in whatever form in which it appeared, served several other distinct purposes.”
Signs and wonders are to glorify God and to edify the body (1 Corinthians 12:7-10), and because God loves people and showers mercy and blessing!
While Paul was with them, he demonstrated these three things…
- Utmost patience – which, given the list of sins he is fearful of finding when he visits, will be much needed
- Signs and wonders
- Mighty works.
He came with a servant heart – wanting to spend time with his dearly loved friends and not to be a burden. That said, he is fearful of what he will find when he does get to visit. The list of sins that were prevalent is extensive and scary!
- Sexual immorality
How are you doing with killing off sin?