Why do Matthew, Mark, and Luke speak of miracles (dynameis), while John speaks of signs (erga, thaumasia, dynameis, and semeia)? -- Filipe Barreto (Recife, Brazil)

Actually, these words appear in all the gospels. The different words have different meanings and nuances, and each occurrence should be studied in the context within which it appears.

The most common word for miracle is semeion, which is used in all four gospels, a total of nearly 80 times. Ergon is a deed, particularly an amazing one. It is very common word in the N.T. Dunamis is used in all four gospels as well. Thaumasion is rather rare, and indicates something marvelous or astounding. (Its root appears in all four gospels.) Semeion is common in John, who probably structures his gospel around seven particular signs, beginning with the turning of water into wine (2:11). A sign is a wonder that points to something else. It is not a gratuitous miracle. Its significance lies not in itself.

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