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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • Aquin.: SMT TP Prologue Para. 1/3 - THIRD PART (TP) OF THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA (QQ[1]-90)
      • Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] Out. Para. 1/2 - OF THE MIRACLES WORKED BY CHRIST, IN GENERAL (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] Out. Para. 1/2 - OF THE MIRACLES WORKED BY CHRIST, IN GENERAL (FOUR ARTICLES)

We must now consider the miracles worked by Christ: (1) In general; (2)
Specifically, of each kind of miracle; (3) In particular, of His
transfiguration.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] Out. Para. 2/2

Concerning the first, there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether Christ should have worked miracles?

(2) Whether He worked them by Divine power?

(3) When did He begin to work miracles?

(4) Whether His miracles are a sufficient proof of His Godhead?


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether Christ should have worked miracles?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that Christ should not have worked miracles. For
Christ's deeds should have been consistent with His words. But He Himself
said (Mt. 16:4): "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a
sign; and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the
prophet." Therefore He should not have worked miracles.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, just as Christ, at His second coming, is to come "with"
great power and majesty, as is written Mt. 24:30, so at His first coming
He came in infirmity, according to Is. 53:3: "A man of sorrows and
acquainted with infirmity." But the working of miracles belongs to power
rather than to infirmity. Therefore it was not fitting that He should
work miracles in His first coming.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Christ came that He might save men by faith; according
to Heb. 12:2: "Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith." But
miracles lessen the merit of faith; hence our Lord says (Jn. 4:48):
"Unless you see signs and wonders you believe not." Therefore it seems
that Christ should not have worked miracles.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It was said in the person of His adversaries (Jn.
11:47): "What do we; for this man doth many miracles?"

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, God enables man to work miracles for two reasons. First
and principally, in confirmation of the doctrine that a man teaches. For
since those things which are of faith surpass human reason, they cannot
be proved by human arguments, but need to be proved by the argument of
Divine power: so that when a man does works that God alone can do, we
may believe that what he says is from God: just as when a man is the
bearer of letters sealed with the king's ring, it is to be believed that
what they contain expresses the king's will.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] Body Para. 2/3

Secondly, in order to make known God's presence in a man by the grace of
the Holy Ghost: so that when a man does the works of God we may believe
that God dwells in him by His grace. Wherefore it is written (Gal. 3:5):
"He who giveth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] Body Para. 3/3

Now both these things were to be made known to men concerning
Christ - namely, that God dwelt in Him by grace, not of adoption, but of
union: and that His supernatural doctrine was from God. And therefore it
was most fitting that He should work miracles. Wherefore He Himself says
(Jn. 10:38): "Though you will not believe Me, believe the works"; and
(Jn. 5:36): "The works which the Father hath given Me to perfect . . .
themselves . . . give testimony to Me."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: These words, "a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of
Jonas," mean, as Chrysostom says (Hom. xliii in Matth.), that "they did
not receive a sign such as they sought, viz. from heaven": but not that
He gave them no sign at all. Or that "He worked signs not for the sake of
those whom He knew to be hardened, but to amend others." Therefore those
signs were given, not to them, but to others.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Although Christ came "in the infirmity" of the flesh, which
is manifested in the passions, yet He came "in the power of God" [*Cf. 2
Cor. 13:4], and this had to be made manifest by miracles.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Miracles lessen the merit of faith in so far as those are
shown to be hard of heart who are unwilling to believe what is proved
from the Scriptures unless (they are convinced) by miracles. Yet it is
better for them to be converted to the faith even by miracles than that
they should remain altogether in their unbelief. For it is written (1
Cor. 14:22) that signs are given "to unbelievers," viz. that they may be
converted to the faith.


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether Christ worked miracles by Divine power?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that Christ did not work miracles by Divine power.
For the Divine power is omnipotent. But it seems that Christ was not
omnipotent in working miracles; for it is written (Mk. 6:5) that "He
could not do any miracles there," i.e. in His own country. Therefore it
seems that He did not work miracles by Divine power.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, God does not pray. But Christ sometimes prayed when
working miracles; as may be seen in the raising of Lazarus (Jn.
11:41,42), and in the multiplication of the loaves, as related Mt.
14:19. Therefore it seems that He did not work miracles by Divine power.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, what is done by Divine power cannot be done by the power
of any creature. But the things which Christ did could be done also by
the power of a creature: wherefore the Pharisees said (Lk. 11:15) that He
cast out devils "by Beelzebub the prince of devils." Therefore it seems
that Christ did not work miracles by Divine power.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, our Lord said (Jn. 14:10): "The Father who abideth in
Me, He doth the works."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, as stated in the FP, Q[110], A[4], true miracles cannot
be wrought save by Divine power: because God alone can change the order
of nature; and this is what is meant by a miracle. Wherefore Pope Leo
says (Ep. ad Flav. xxviii) that, while there are two natures in Christ,
there is "one," viz. the Divine, which shines forth in miracles; and
"another," viz. the human, "which submits to insults"; yet "each
communicates its actions to the other": in as far as the human nature is
the instrument of the Divine action, and the human action receives power
from the Divine Nature, as stated above (Q[19], A[1]).

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: When it is said that "He could not do any miracles there,"
it is not to be understood that He could not do them absolutely, but that
it was not fitting for Him to do them: for it was unfitting for Him to
work miracles among unbelievers. Wherefore it is said farther on: "And He
wondered because of their unbelief." In like manner it is said (Gn.
18:17): "Can I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" and Gn. 19:22:
"I cannot do anything till thou go in thither."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: As Chrysostom says on Mt. 14:19, "He took the five loaves
and the two fishes, and, looking up to heaven, He blessed and brake: It
was to be believed of Him, both that He is of the Father and that He is
equal to Him . . . Therefore that He might prove both, He works miracles
now with authority, now with prayer . . . in the lesser things, indeed,
He looks up to heaven" - for instance, in multiplying the loaves - "but
in the greater, which belong to God alone, He acts with authority; for
example, when He forgave sins and raised the dead."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

When it is said that in raising Lazarus He lifted up His eyes (Jn.
11:41), this was not because He needed to pray, but because He wished to
teach us how to pray. Wherefore He said: "Because of the people who stand
about have I said it: that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Christ cast out demons otherwise than they are cast out by
the power of demons. For demons are cast out from bodies by the power of
higher demons in such a way that they retain their power over the soul:
since the devil does not work against his own kingdom. On the other hand,
Christ cast out demons, not only from the body, but still more from the
soul. For this reason our Lord rebuked the blasphemy of the Jews, who
said that He cast out demons by the power of the demons: first, by saying
that Satan is not divided against himself; secondly, by quoting the
instance of others who cast out demons by the Spirit of God; thirdly,
because He could not have cast out a demon unless He had overcome Him by
Divine power; fourthly, because there was nothing in common between His
works and their effects and those of Satan; since Satan's purpose was to
"scatter" those whom Christ "gathered" together [*Cf. Mt. 12:24-30; Mk.
3:22; Lk. 11:15-32].


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether Christ began to work miracles when He changed water into wine at
the marriage feast?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that Christ did not begin to work miracles when He
changed water into wine at the marriage feast. For we read in the book De
Infantia Salvatoris that Christ worked many miracles in His childhood.
But the miracle of changing water into wine at the marriage feast took
place in the thirtieth or thirty-first year of His age. Therefore it
seems that it was not then that He began to work miracles.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Christ worked miracles by Divine power. Now He was
possessed of Divine power from the first moment of His conception; for
from that instant He was both God and man. Therefore it seems that He
worked miracles from the very first.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Christ began to gather His disciples after His baptism
and temptation, as related Mt. 4:18 and Jn. 1:35. But the disciples
gathered around Him, principally on account of His miracles: thus it is
written (Lk. 5:4) that He called Peter when "he was astonished at" the
miracle which He had worked in "the draught of fishes." Therefore it
seems that He worked other miracles before that of the marriage feast.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Jn. 2:11): "This beginning of miracles
did Jesus in Cana of Galilee."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Christ worked miracles in order to confirm His doctrine,
and in order to show forth His Divine power. Therefore, as to the first,
it was unbecoming for Him to work miracles before He began to teach. And
it was unfitting that He should begin to teach until He reached the
perfect age, as we stated above, in speaking of His baptism (Q[39], A[3]
). But as to the second, it was right that He should so manifest His
Godhead by working miracles that men should believe in the reality of His
manhood. And, consequently, as Chrysostom says (Hom. xxi in Joan.), "it
was fitting that He should not begin to work wonders from His early
years: for men would have deemed the Incarnation to be imaginary and
would have crucified Him before the proper time."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As Chrysostom says (Hom. xvii in Joan.), in regard to the
saying of John the Baptist, "'That He may be made manifest in Israel,
therefore am I come baptizing with water,' it is clear that the wonders
which some pretend to have been worked by Christ in His childhood are
untrue and fictitious. For had Christ worked miracles from His early
years, John would by no means have been unacquainted with Him, nor would
the rest of the people have stood in need of a teacher to point Him out
to them."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: What the Divine power achieved in Christ was in proportion
to the needs of the salvation of mankind, the achievement of which was
the purpose of His taking flesh. Consequently He so worked miracles by
the Divine power as not to prejudice our belief in the reality of His
flesh.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The disciples were to be commended precisely because they
followed Christ "without having seen Him work any miracles," as Gregory
says in a homily (Hom. v in Evang.). And, as Chrysostom says (Hom. xxiii
in Joan.), "the need for working miracles arose then, especially when the
disciples were already gathered around and attached to Him, and attentive
to what was going on around them. Hence it is added: 'And His disciples
believed in Him,'" not because they then believed in Him for the first
time, but because then "they believed with greater discernment and
perfection." Or they are called "disciples" because "they were to be
disciples later on," as Augustine observes (De Consensu Evang. ii).


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the miracles which Christ worked were a sufficient proof of His
Godhead?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the miracles which Christ worked were not a
sufficient proof of His Godhead. For it is proper to Christ to be both
God and man. But the miracles which Christ worked have been done by
others also. Therefore they were not a sufficient proof of His Godhead.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, no power surpasses that of the Godhead. But some have
worked greater miracles than Christ, for it is written (Jn. 14:12): "He
that believeth in Me, the works that I do, he also shall do, and greater
than these shall he do." Therefore it seems that the miracles which
Christ worked are not sufficient proof of His Godhead.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the particular is not a sufficient proof of the
universal. But any one of Christ's miracles was one particular work.
Therefore none of them was a sufficient proof of His Godhead, by reason
of which He had universal power over all things.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, our Lord said (Jn. 5:36): "The works which the Father
hath given Me to perfect . . . themselves . . . give testimony of Me."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, The miracles which Christ worked were a sufficient proof
of His Godhead in three respects. First, as to the very nature of the
works, which surpassed the entire capability of created power, and
therefore could not be done save by Divine power. For this reason the
blind man, after his sight had been restored, said (Jn. 9:32,33): "From
the beginning of the world it has not been heard, that any man hath
opened the eyes of one born blind. Unless this man were of God, he could
not do anything."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] Body Para. 2/3

Secondly, as to the way in which He worked miracles - namely, because He
worked miracles as though of His own power, and not by praying, as others
do. Wherefore it is written (Lk. 6:19) that "virtue went out from Him and
healed all." Whereby it is proved, as Cyril says (Comment. in Lucam) that
"He did not receive power from another, but, being God by nature, He
showed His own power over the sick. And this is how He worked countless
miracles." Hence on Mt. 8:16: "He cast out spirits with His word, and all
that were sick He healed," Chrysostom says: "Mark how great a multitude
of persons healed, the Evangelists pass quickly over, not mentioning one
by one . . . but in one word traversing an unspeakable sea of miracles."
And thus it was shown that His power was co-equal with that of God the
Father, according to Jn. 5:19: "What things soever" the Father "doth,
these the Son doth also in like manner"; and, again (Jn. 5:21): "As the
Father raiseth up the dead and giveth life, so the Son also giveth life
to whom He will."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] Body Para. 3/3

Thirdly, from the very fact that He taught that He was God; for unless
this were true it would not be confirmed by miracles worked by Divine
power. Hence it was said (Mk. 1:27): "What is this new doctrine? For with
power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 1: This was the argument of the Gentiles. Wherefore Augustine
says (Ep. ad Volusian. cxxxvii): "No suitable wonders; say they, show
forth the presence of so great majesty, for the ghostly cleansing"
whereby He cast out demons, "the cure of the sick, the raising of the
dead to life, if other miracles be taken into account, are small things
before God." To this Augustine answers thus: "We own that the prophets
did as much . . . But even Moses himself and the other prophets made
Christ the Lord the object of their prophecy, and gave Him great glory .
. . He, therefore, chose to do similar things to avoid the inconsistency
of failing to do what He had done through others. Yet still He was bound
to do something which no other had done: to be born of a virgin, to rise
from the dead, and to ascend into heaven. If anyone deem this a slight
thing for God to do, I know not what more he can expect. Having become
man, ought He to have made another world, that we might believe Him to be
Him by whom the world was made? But in this world neither a greater world
could be made nor one equal to it: and if He had made a lesser world in
comparison with this, that too would have been deemed a small thing."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 2/2

As to the miracles worked by others, Christ did greater still. Hence on
Jn. 15:24: "If I had not done in [Douay: 'among'] them the works that no
other men hath done," etc., Augustine says: "None of the works of Christ
seem to be greater than the raising of the dead: which thing we know the
ancient prophets also did . . . Yet Christ did some works 'which no other
man hath done.' But we are told in answer that others did works which He
did not, and which none other did . . . But to heal with so great a power
so many defects and ailments and grievances of mortal men, this we read
concerning none soever of the men of old. To say nothing of those, each
of whom by His bidding, as they came in His way, He made whole . . . Mark
saith (6:56): 'Whithersoever He entered, into towns or into villages or
into cities, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought Him that
they might touch but the hem of His garment: and as many as touched Him
were made whole.' These things none other did in them; for when He saith
'In them,' it is not to be understood to mean 'Among them,' or 'In their
presence,' but wholly 'In them,' because He healed them . . . Therefore
whatever works He did in them are works that none ever did; since if ever
any other man did any one of them, by His doing he did it; whereas these
works He did, not by their doing, but by Himself."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: Augustine explains this passage of John as follows (Tract.
lxxi): "What are these 'greater works' which believers in Him would do?
That, as they passed by, their very shadow healed the sick? For it is
greater that a shadow should heal than the hem of a garment . . . When,
however, He said these words, it was the deeds and works of His words
that He spoke of: for when He said . . . 'The Father who abideth in Me,
He doth the works,' what works did He mean, then, but the words He was
speaking? . . . and the fruits of those same words was the faith of those
(who believed): but when the disciples preached the Gospel, not some few
like those, but the very nations believed . . . (Tract. lxxii). Did not
that rich man go away from His presence sorrowful? . . . and yet
afterwards, what one individual, having heard from Him, did not, that
many did when He spake by the mouth of His disciples . . . Behold, He did
greater works when spoken of by men believing than when speaking to men
hearing. But there is yet this difficulty: that He did these 'greater
works' by the apostles: whereas He saith as meaning not only them: . . .
'He that believeth in Me' . . . Listen! . . . 'He that believeth in Me,
the works that I do, he also shall do': first, 'I do,' then 'he also
shall do,' because I do that he may do. What works - but that from
ungodly he should be made righteous? . . . Which thing Christ worketh in
him, truly, but not without him. Yes, I may affirm this to be altogether
greater than to create" [*The words 'to create' are not in the text of
St. Augustine] "heaven and earth . . . for 'heaven and earth shall pass
away'; but the salvation and justification of the predestinate shall
remain . . . But also in the heavens . . . the angels are the works of
Christ: and does that man do greater works than these, who co-operates
with Christ in the work of his justification? . . . let him, who can,
judge whether it be greater to create a righteous being than to justify
an ungodly one. Certainly if both are works of equal power, the latter is
a work of greater mercy."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

"But there is no need for us to understand all the works of Christ,
where He saith 'Greater than these shall he do.' For by 'these' He meant,
perhaps, those which He was doing at that hour: now at that time He was
speaking words of faith: . . . and certainly it is less to preach words
of righteousness, which thing He did without us, than to justify the
ungodly, which thing He so doth in us that we also do it ourselves."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[43] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: When some particular work is proper to some agent, then
that particular work is a sufficient proof of the whole power of that
agent: thus, since the act of reasoning is proper to man, the mere fact
that someone reasons about any particular proposition proves him to be a
man. In like manner, since it is proper to God to work miracles by His
own power, any single miracle worked by Christ by His own power is a
sufficient proof that He is God.





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