This is God's Witness: A Literary Analysis of Dynamis in Luke and Acts

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Colbert, Jesse Kennedy
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University of the South , School of Theology thesis 2014 , School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee , Dynamis , God's power , Miracles , Devil's power , Power to perform miracles
This project is a literary examination to explore the use and theme of dynamis in Luke and Acts. Dynamis is one of the Greek terms for power which is most often translated into “power” or “miracle.” This examination will show that dynamis is integral to the verification of witnesses and their message is truth from God. Dynamis, for Luke, is the visible evidence authenticating the origin of the message as being from God. Acts 2:22, Luke states that Jesus was attested through dynamis, and this project will show how Luke uses dynamis as attestation. The six sections of this paper will cover the following topics. Section one will explore Luke’s definition and use of dynamis. There are five uses of dynamis in Luke and Acts: first Dynamis is the power to perform miracles. Next, dynamis in the plural refers specifically to miracles. Also, dynamis can reference the heavens or heavenly beings. Additionally, dynamis can be eschatologically focused. Finally, dynamis is power from the Spirit. Most often in Luke and Acts dynamis is connected to the miraculous. Along with dynamis’s connection to the miraculous, it is important that the Spirit is the source of dynamis, because for Luke dynamis is proof that God’s witnesses are indwelt by the Spirit. Section two will show the power struggle between God and the Devil that permeates the books of Luke and Acts. This section will explore the greatness of God’s power that moves and controls history, but God is not the only power in Luke and Acts. The Devil’s power is extensive in its scope: leading people astray, possessing some individuals, and even causing physical illness. The Devil shares his power with magicians, but even with the impressive power of the Devil, in Luke and Acts God is proved time and again to be the supreme force. Section 3 will show that dynamis is wielded by God’s witnesses and often directly defeats the Devil. People who the Devil has led astray are converted to Jesus. Demons are exorcized, and the sick and infirmed are healed. The dynamis that defeats the Devil shows that the one possessing it is a witness from God because God is the supreme power. Section four will focus on dynamis is given not self-generated. This fact is important because it is distributed by God through the Spirit, marking the one utilizing dynamis as God’s witness. God’s witnesses are quick to point out that the dynamis is not theirs but is a gift from God, again showing them to be God’s witnesses. Section five shows that dynamis is often utilized by God’s witness early in his mission for God. This early use of dynamis verified and established the individual as God’s witness. God’s witnesses display dynamis to verify a new economy. When Jesus forgives sin (Luke 5) and accepts an unclean woman with an issue of blood (Luke 8), as well as when Peter preaches salvation through Jesus (Acts 3 and 4), dynamis accompanies these and others of a like nature to verify them as true. Section six explores Luke’s pattern to verify God’s witnesses. Since Luke views faith as being based on what is visible, he desires to show salvation. Dynamis is an essential feature in displaying faith. God’s witnesses are indwelt with the Spirit, and Luke reveals the reception of the Spirit by having God’s witnesses utilize dynamis to perform visible miracles, signs, and wonders. Dynamis for Luke is an arrow that points to one of two things. First, dynamis is an arrow that points to one declaring this is God’s witness. Second, dynamis is an arrow that points to a message saying this is truth from God. Dynamis is visible evidence to help others believe in Luke’s gospel message.