From a Grand Rapids reader I received two questions, one of which I will answer in this issue: “A question has arisen in our Men’s Society as to the interpretation of Acts 14:3, ‘Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the name of the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.’ This is our question: to whom does the pronoun ‘which’ refer, to the apostles or to the Lord? And, in either case, what must we understand by ‘gave testimony’?”
According to good English grammar, the pronoun “which” can refer only to the Lord. And if there were any doubt in the English, the Greek leaves no doubt whatsoever. If you want the technical explanation, in the Greek there is no pronoun, but only a participle plainly modifies “the Lord.”
The second part of this question is more significant. The expression is the term which often occurs in Scripture for “bearing witness.” It refers to the fact that the Lord confirmed the apostles’ speech by granting “signs and wonders” to be done by them. The signs and wonders, just because they were wrought by the same apostles who spoke in the name of the Lord, confirmed the fact that their speech was indeed true. I think it is especially significant that the text here speaks of signs and wonders. The idea is not-merely that these miracles confirmed the apostles’ speech by the fact that they were marvelous works, obviously of divine origin and power. But they were marvelous works, wonders, which were at the same time signs. Now a sign is a visible manifestation of the in itself invisible wonder of grace. In other words, these miracles were the breaking through of the wonder of grace in the darkness of our misery and death, and as” such they pointed to the wonder of grace, by which God in Christ saves His people from sin and death and raises them unto everlasting life and glory. As such, these “signs and wonders” tangibly bore testimony—not only by their obviously divine character but also by their significance—to the apostles’ preaching of the gospel.