The coin in the fishes mouth - why providence and NOT miracle?

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Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
I seem to recall FF Bruce being adamant that this MUST be taught and providence and NOT miracle. For the life of me I cannot recall why but I am about to preach on providence and would like to know why I have this recollection. So far as I can see the only commentary I have on Mathew is Broadus so I am not sure where I read it. All help appreciated
 
First, I can't imagine being "adamant" about this being providence rather than a miracle... but I do think that seeing it as providence rather than miracle is more technically correct.

Rather than use olde tyme jargon, to define it strictly, I always say that a "miracle" is when God works and does something in spite of or contrary to the natural laws and processes he has established for the created order. So walking on water or making an axehead float, etc. Providence is when God accomplishes his will and purpose through or by means of the natural laws and processes he has established for the created order... and we acutely perceive his sovereign direction of history when multiple circumstances "conveniently coincide" to produce some particular result... and I'd suggest that this example is one of those occasions.

In this case, Peter is told to go fishing and that the fish would have coins in its mouth... so aside from Jesus’s foreknowledge, each part is technically within the realm of the ordinary: (1) Peter had to go fishing. (2) while remarkably fortuitous that the fish had coins in its mouth, it is in fact not contrary to the laws of nature for fish to have things in their mouth when caught. Any number of fishermen can tell you tales of various things procured from the mouths of fish when they are caught. Perhaps being shiny, the fish attempted to consume them (that's how shiny lures work!)... so while the circumstances (including the timing) line up in a remarkably fortuitous manner, none of the circumstances themselves necessarily represent God working in spite of or contrary to the natural laws and processes he has established for the created order. So I'd see this as God working via providence.

Just my thoughts.
 
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As a recovering charismatic I can recall the mindset that reacts to an empty tank of petrol with prayer instead of walking to the nearest gas station to get a can of petrol! Or you could hitch to the gas station relying on a providential lift?
If you pray for a lift is that an answer to prayer and divine intervention OR simple providence? Is providence simple?
 
As a recovering charismatic I can recall the mindset that reacts to an empty tank of petrol with prayer instead of walking to the nearest gas station to get a can of petrol! Or you could hitch to the gas station relying on a providential lift?
If you pray for a lift is that an answer to prayer and divine intervention OR simple providence? Is providence simple?

Ex-charismatic here as well.

Also, I love your signature and your fields of study and expertise.

Very interesting.
 
I don't see the big deal either way. I think the plain reading of the text is miracle, but I guess it could be providence. I normally don't find money when I go fishing, but I guess it could happen. JP Moreland does a good job giving criteria to distinguish a miracle from happenstance.

  1. It has to be improbable by the nature of the case (at least <50%).
  2. It must be independent and have specificity.
In other words, there must be

3. An intelligent agent involved.

Does this criteria prove miracles exist? Of course not. It simply delineates, with varying degrees of certainty, between natural providences and supernatural actions. Moreover, and this is a valid epistemological point across the board, one can have legitimate knowledge with varying degrees of certainty. Let us say that I only have 75% certainty that x is a miracle. That counts as legitimate knowledge. I might not bet the house on it, but in terms of practical, day-to-day living it is knowledge.
 
It's providence that the fish had gobbled someone's lost coin.
It's a manifestation of extraordinary divine knowledge for Christ to know infallibly that the coin was in the fishes mouth, and that Peter would catch exactly that fish on the first go. No man, angel, or demon could have known that with certainty.
 
I say providence. We know that it was typical in the day for the currency to bear the image of ceaser. - Matthew 22:19-21

We know all of creation is God's dominion, and that he has authority over it, yet the currency is said to belong to ceaser, and bears his image. The currency also represents the wealth of the nation.

Would Jesus miraculously create a peice of currency bearing the image of a wicked ruler, and that represents his wealth? I'm still weighing that out.

If it is a miracle, the miraculous occurrence would be either the creation of the coin in the fishes mouth, or the causing of the fish to eat the coin. Neither of those events are actually witnessed, only the retrieving of the coin.

Also food for thought. For those purporting that miracles occur today in the same way as they did in the apostolic era, should we expect the miraculous creation of currency? Would it have a legitimate serialization number on it? Would that be counterfeiting?
 
Googled providence and not miracle and got my own posting here!

Multiple choice on Providence (keep score)

Q1 Your car runs out of petrol some miles from a garage, do you

A. Lay hands on the car and ask God to multiply the last few drops to give you a full tank as God was able to multiply the widows oil (2 Kings 4)

B. Start walking to the nearest garage to purchase a can of petrol

C. Pray some kind soul will give you a lift to the garage for petrol (and back?) and start walking


Q2. You drop your house keys in a pond and they dissappear into the mud. Do you -

A. Command the keys to float to the surface as Elisha made the axehead float (2 Kings 6)

B. Walk to the nearest hardware store to purchase string and the strongest magnet you can find

C. Pray that the hardware store has a magnet and string and that it is still open then walk to it



Q3. You are stuck at the railway station having missed the last bus. Do you -

A. Pray that God will transport you home as he did Elijah (?)

B. Use your phone to call a taxi/uber

C. Pray there is a taxi/uber close by and make the call


Q4. You have toothache and desperately need it sorted, do you

A. Name it and claim it and expect God to remove the decay and replace it with a gold cap

B. Phone the dentist and make an emergency appointment

C. Pray the dentist has an opening and phone to make an appointment


Q5 Your best friend’s birthday is three days away and you desperately need to send a
card that will reach them on time. You don’t finish work until 5pm and the last post
is 4pm. Do you -

A. Post after the last lift stick on the 2nd class stamp you had in your wallet and ask God to make sure it gets there on time

B. Nip out in your lunch break to the Post Office and post it first class

C. Nip out in your lunch break to the Post Office and post it first class and pray that “next day delivery” might actually be next day delivery


All A’s – you are a charismatic
All B’s – you are not a charismatic but have way too much faith in the post office
All C’s – congratulations you have begun to understand providence
 
Googled providence and not miracle and got my own posting here!

Multiple choice on Providence (keep score)

Q1 Your car runs out of petrol some miles from a garage, do you

A. Lay hands on the car and ask God to multiply the last few drops to give you a full tank as God was able to multiply the widows oil (2 Kings 4)

B. Start walking to the nearest garage to purchase a can of petrol

C. Pray some kind soul will give you a lift to the garage for petrol (and back?) and start walking


Q2. You drop your house keys in a pond and they dissappear into the mud. Do you -

A. Command the keys to float to the surface as Elisha made the axehead float (2 Kings 6)

B. Walk to the nearest hardware store to purchase string and the strongest magnet you can find

C. Pray that the hardware store has a magnet and string and that it is still open then walk to it



Q3. You are stuck at the railway station having missed the last bus. Do you -

A. Pray that God will transport you home as he did Elijah (?)

B. Use your phone to call a taxi/uber

C. Pray there is a taxi/uber close by and make the call


Q4. You have toothache and desperately need it sorted, do you

A. Name it and claim it and expect God to remove the decay and replace it with a gold cap

B. Phone the dentist and make an emergency appointment

C. Pray the dentist has an opening and phone to make an appointment


Q5 Your best friend’s birthday is three days away and you desperately need to send a
card that will reach them on time. You don’t finish work until 5pm and the last post
is 4pm. Do you -

A. Post after the last lift stick on the 2nd class stamp you had in your wallet and ask God to make sure it gets there on time

B. Nip out in your lunch break to the Post Office and post it first class

C. Nip out in your lunch break to the Post Office and post it first class and pray that “next day delivery” might actually be next day delivery


All A’s – you are a charismatic
All B’s – you are not a charismatic but have way too much faith in the post office
All C’s – congratulations you have begun to understand providence

Sounds like confirmation bias, which, ironically is what charismatics do.
 
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