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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Does the Purpose of the Sign Gifts Indicate They Have Ceased?

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Don Stewart

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There are those that argue that the very purpose of the sign gifts are a clear indication that they were meant to be temporary and have now ceased. They say the purpose of the sign gifts was to confirm the Word of God in a special way. They were foundational gifts to the church. Before the New Testament had been committed to writing, these signs served as confirmation of Gods Word. Once the New Testament was completed, the sign gifts were no longer necessary. Upon the death of the apostles, these miraculous gifts ceased.
One of the arguments used is the gift of apostleship.

Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection (Acts 1:22,23).

Since nobody today can fill these qualifications, the gift has supposedly ceased.

Sign To Israel

It is also argued that tongues were only a sign to Israel. If God stopped dealing with Israel in A.D. 70, as some argue, then the gift is no longer necessary. If the purpose of the sign gifts were to confirm the Word before the New Testament was completed, then they are no longer for today.


The confirmation of the Word was one of the purposes of the sign gifts - but that does not mean it was the only purpose. The miracles were more than just signs. The raising of Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42) may have been for the purpose of restoring a key person to the community rather than as a sign to confirm the Word.

In addition, the sign gifts were not limited to the apostles. Others exhibited miraculous gifts.

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:8).

Furthermore, we may ask the question as to why the sign gifts were given to the church at Corinth where no apostle lived? We know that the ministry of healing was to be an ongoing ministry in the church.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up (James 5:14,15).

Some accuse the practitioners of the gift of prophecy of adding to Gods Word. This, however. is not accurate. Those who argue this way define prophecy in a very narrow sense, apart from its biblical meaning and purpose. Prophecy is not only adding new revelation but can include other things:

But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men (1 Corinthians 14:3).

Most important, the sign gifts are never listed separate from the other gifts. The Bible never classifies them differently. Furthermore, the Bible does not make a distinction between temporary gifts and those that will last during the entire church age. Therefore the argument for cessation of the sign gifts from their purpose is not very strong.

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