We need to address the sign gifts. I’ve addressed it several times in the past, usually in the context of the Word Faith/Charismatic/Pentecostal phenomenon. And Hebrews lends itself particularly well to the study of this, as we’ll get into.
When I deal with this, and people disagree, I bring up one question, which usually stumps people: “Who was Trophimus?”
“And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.” (Acts 20:4, KJV)
He was a Gentile.
“(For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)” (Acts 21:29, KJV)
Now for the verse I was getting at… And this will rock your doctrinal convictions to the core (I suppose that those words are going to upset a lot of Charismatics, as they tend to dismiss anything doctrinal…)
“Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.” (2 Timothy 4:20, KJV)
That verse has the same impact on Charismatics as does the Great Body of believers in Revelation does to Jehovah’s Witnesses. You have to repeat to them over and over again, “Where are they?” “On Earth.” “Where does the Bible say they are?” “In heaven… but they’re on earth.” “Let’s try it again…”
So… who is Trophimus? What did Paul have to do?
Leave him at Miletum.
He was… what?
Paul needed the help. Trophimus had been faithful, and not left Paul. But they left him at Miletum. Why? He was sick.
This was the guy whose shadow made people well. Paul healed people everywhere he went.
The sign gifts were far more prevalent in 33-50 AD than they were in 66 AD. Why? What had happened in 16 years that hadn’t been there before?
The book of James. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. 1 and 2 Corinthians, Acts, 1 Timothy, Titus, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Galatians, Romans… as more and more books of the New Testament were written, the miracles and sign gifts began to disappear.
Hebrews 2 talks about them as if they are still active, still present. So, as Paul wrote Hebrews, there was still some… but 2 Timothy was Paul’s last book. You could tell from his very tone in 2 Timothy he knew he was about to die. Paul was unable to heal himself, and unable to heal one of the very few that had stuck by him in his last missionary tour.
The sign gifts are really only mentioned a couple of times in Hebrews. Compare that to 1 Corinthians, where there are entire chapters on them, and the abuses of them.
We derive our doctrine (our beliefs, our teachings) from Scripture – we do not impose them upon the Scriptures.
I want you all to start READING YOUR BIBLE. That’s why I’m teaching through Hebrews, and spent so many weeks this year teaching all of you how to do Bible study.