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What Is the Meaning of Dunamis in the Bible?

All power comes from the Lord, which is why dunamis demonstrates the power, strength, and force of the Lord God at work in His creation and the lives of His people. The power of God is at work in His people to bring Himself glory.

Cross amongst lights

The Greek word dunamis in Scripture means power, force, or ability. Paul uses this word in 2 Timothy 1:7, when he writes, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

We derive our English word dynamite and dynamic from the Greek word dunamis. Paul, in 2 Timothy 1:7, wants Timothy to know that the Lord has given him the dynamic ability to stand strong in the faith once and for all delivered to the saints and to share the faith with others.

Dunamis in Scripture

The word dunamis is also used to refer to a miracle or the power of a miracle itself. When the bleeding women touched Jesus’ garment and was healed, Mark 5:30 says, “And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’” When this healing occurred, Jesus felt the power or dunamis of it. 

In Mark 6:5, Jesus went to His hometown of Nazareth, and this text says, “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.” The mighty work mentioned here in the Greek text comes from the word dunamis. Dunamis, in this sense, refers to the work of miracles themselves.

When Jesus cast out of a demon in Luke 4:35-36, the people around Him all noted the miraculous power, “But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is this word’ For with authority and power, he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!’” Jesus had the power that was different and unexpected from other healers of his time because He healed with the power of God.

Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

In Romans 1:20, Paul says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” The word dunamis, as used by Paul in Romans 1:20, refers to the boundless power of the Creator God.

Dunamis and Christians Today

The power of God is available to His followers today. In Acts 1:8, Jesus promised the disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The power of God was made manifest in Paul’s life, not so Paul would be seen as powerful, but so the Lord God would be glorified. Paul reiterated this in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

In Ephesians 3:20-21, Paul prays, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

The power of God is at work in His people to bring Himself glory. In Acts 6:8, Stephen was “full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.” The power of God is on display in the lives of those who love the Lord Jesus.

The word dunamis is used over 100 times in the New Testament. Within the scope of this article, we do not have space to go through all the references, but we can note some ways it is used:

Acts 1:8 and Dunamis

Through these examples, the meaning of dunamis is clear; it means a type of power. All power comes from the Lord, which is why dunamis demonstrates the power, strength, and force of the Lord God at work in His creation and the lives of His people.

The Lord has called every Christian to be a servant in the Body of Christ. He appoints certain people, such as men, only to be pastors and elders in local churches. With that said, no matter our age, race, or social standing, every Christian is to serve one another in the local church. As Christians, every single one of us is a “royal priesthood” and a “chosen generation,” called to proclaim, “the excellencies of his nature” (1 Peter 2:9).

The longer we minister in the sight of God, the more we will see ourselves as inadequate for the task of ministry. Without the help of the Lord, we cannot serve Him properly. The Lord has not left His people without the help and tools they need to be faithful to serve Him.

Acts 1:8 explains one of the many ways the Lord has equipped the people of God for men. At the Ascension, Jesus promised He would send the Holy Spirit to be with the people of God and empower them as His witnesses. Every Christian in Christ has the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13) and can bear witness to the Lord Jesus as they seek Him in prayer, study, and service.

The Holy Spirit and Growing in Grace

1 Corinthians 2:6-12 teaches that not only has the Holy Spirit been given to Christians for ministry, but the Lord has also granted the people of God the mind of Christ Himself. Every Christian has been enabled to think biblical thoughts after Him and thus utilize the wisdom of God for ministry to others.

While our old fleshly nature wars against the new mind that has been given to Christians as they seek the Lord in daily prayer and the study of the Scripture, the Word will then increasingly exert influence on their daily decisions and thoughts.

Every Christian Is to Serve the Lord

The great saints of the faith like Jeremiah and Moses did not feel they could fulfill the call of God on their lives. Even so, the Lord gave them and every Christian today exactly what they need to fulfill the will of God.

Today, if you feel anxious about a situation or discouraged about where you are at in life, please go to the Lord in prayer and thank Him for equipping you for ministry. Then, please serve the Church in whatever capacity He has given you.

Christians, as we’ve seen already through the Holy Spirit, we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and have the ability to think the Lord’s thoughts after Him in the Word of God. The unsaved whose minds are set on the flesh cannot submit to the Word of God, while every true Christian can set their mind on the revealed Word (Romans 8:1-11).

Although our indwelling sin rises up and clouds our thinking and tempts us to act and think according to the flesh, every Christian can be renewed through Scripture and prayer (Romans 12:1-2). Today, you might think you are useless for ministry, but you are not useless because God is faithful and has called and equipped every Christian for a life of holiness and service for His glory.

Every Christian already has the Holy Spirit and has the mind and ability to serve the Lord and His Church. While you may not be called to be a pastor or an elder, you can be used by God if you are willing to obey Him, discern good from evil, walk in the Spirit, and before His face. Please do not let your shortcomings, whether they are real or perceived, stop you from serving the Lord in the local church.

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Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon.