We have no intention of dealing with the Church of England rite of
‘confirmation’ under this heading, such a subject lies completely outside the
limits of this analysis. We are confining ourselves to one use of the term found
in the New Testament namely, the confirming character and purpose of miraculous
gifts. The Greek word so translated is bebaio. Confirmation in
the New Testament may be the sense of support received episterizo (Acts 14:22; 15:32,41, ‘strengthening’ Acts 18:23). It may be the
confirmation that is received when validity or authority is established kuroo
(Gal. 3:15). It may be the confirmation that results from the interposition of
some unquestionable assurance, mesiteuo as in Hebrews
6:17. None of these aspects is in mind at the moment. Bebaioindicates
that confirmation which is established by proof.
‘Confirming the word with signs following’.
‘To confirm the promises made unto the fathers’.
1 Cor. 1:6
‘The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you’.
1 Cor. 1:8
‘Who shall also confirm you unto the end’.
2 Cor. 1:21
‘He which stablisheth us with you’.
‘Stablished in the faith’.
‘Was confirmed unto us by them’.
‘The heart be established with grace’.
The passages which concern us in the present inquiry are:
1 Corinthians 1:6 and
The signs following of verse 20, are most evidently the signs that shall follow
them that believe of verse 17. They are:
‘In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not
hurt them; they shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover’ (Mark
After these promises had been made, the Lord ascended and sat on the right
hand of God, the apostles went forth and preached everywhere:
‘The Lord working with them, and confirming the word
with signs following’.
1 Corinthians 1:6.
The church at Corinth had a super abundance of spiritual and miraculous gifts,
so much so that some regulation was necessary to avoid confusion (1 Cor.
14:26-33). In the opening address to this church Paul refers to the confirming
character of these gifts:
‘In every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all
utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was
CONFIRMED in you: so that ye come behind in no gift’ (1 Cor. 1:5-7).
Here again we perceive that the Lord was confirming the Word with signs
‘How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the
first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that
heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with
divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will’.
These confirmatory gifts are spoken of in Hebrews 6:5 as ‘the powers of the
age to come’ the ignoring of which made it impossible to renew such unto
repentance. These gifts promised in Mark 16, extend to the last chapter of the
Acts, where Paul is bitten by a viper, unharmed, and miraculously cures a case
of dysentery (Acts 28:3-8). These miracles of Mark 16 keep pace with the ‘hope
of Israel’ (Acts 28:20), but when the condition foretold in Isaiah 6:9,10 is
entered, Israel ‘dismissed’ and the salvation of God sent unto the Gentiles,
miraculous signs cease. Instead we read such passages as Philippians 2:25-28, 2
Timothy 4:20, and 1 Timothy 5:23 with understanding.
The people of sign and wonder are no longer on the scene, and it had been
established on two occasions that miracles wrought before Gentiles as such,
without the explanatory presence of Israel only made them more idolatrous saying
‘the gods are come down to us in the likeness of men’ (Acts 14:11), or they
‘said he was a god’ (Acts 28:6). ‘These signs’ DID
follow, but ‘these signs’ DO NOT follow them
that believe to-day. The answer is that the dispensation has changed, and with
it the characteristic evidences of a past calling. As the present dispensation
nears its end, and as the earlier Church’s position temporarily set aside is
resumed, we may expect to see a return of genuine miraculous gifts, but this
will make the anti-Christian travesty of 2 Thessalonians 2:9 the more dangerous,
for the signs that will be wrought in support of the Man of Sin would deceive
‘if it were possible, the very elect’ (Matt. 24:24). The only ‘confirmation’
mentioned in the Prison Epistles is that of Colossians 2:7, ‘rooted and built up
in Him, and STABLISHED (bebaio)
in the faith, as ye have been taught’. All else so far as we are concerned is
beside the mark and leads into by-paths fraught with danger.