12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.
Verses 12 through 14 establish the correct criteria in selecting a genuine apostle. The false apostles in Corinth sought power and greed. No real apostle would do that. The Corinthian church should have acknowledged that they saw Paul’s authenticity as an apostle in his visit with them.
12 Truly the signs of an apostle
Paul defended his apostleship via the “signs,” or miracles he performed among the Corinthians. The Greek word for “signs” means a miracle that points to something, that is, that the apostle carried authority to exercise them. This placed emphasis on their significance of apostolic authority. “Signs” authenticated a person as an apostle (Ac 2:43; 5:12; 14:3; Ro 15:17-19; He 2:3-4).
were accomplished among you
The words “were accomplished” indicate that it was God’s power that performed the miracles, not Paul’s (passive voice).
with all perseverance [endurance],
God performed miracles through the apostle over a long time while he was under persecution and trials. Yet, he faithfully exercised God’s will. “Perseverance” means to remain under. He remained under the pressure of false accusations and persecutions (2 Co 1:6; 6:4).
in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.
“Signs and wonders” mark the authenticity of an apostle. False apostles could not demonstrate their authenticity via signs and wonders. “mighty deeds” were palpable evidence of God’s working in the Corinthian church (Ro 15:18-19; 1 Th 1:5). Apostles were the conduits of these miracles.
A “sign” is a miracle that points to something important. A “wonder” is a miracle that causes astonishment and conveys unusual events that engender awe. “Mighty deeds” are miracles that transcend the natural order.
The apostles were unique and only existed during the New Testament era.
The apostles of the New Testament were uniquely connected to Jesus Christ (Jn 13:20; Ac 9:15; 10:41; Ro 1:1; 1 Co 1:1; 2 Co 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Ti 1:1; 2:7; 2 Ti 1:11). These men were the personal apostles of Christ (Lu 6:13; Jn 6:70-71; 15:16). They must have personally seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:15-20; 18:9-10; 22:17-21; 23:11; 26:16; 1 Co 9:1; 15:8). However, the Bible uses apostles in a broader sense of apostles or missionaries sent by the local church. The latter do not have the miracle-working power like the apostles of Christ (Ac 14:4, 14; Ro 16:7; Ga 1:19; 2 Co 8:23; Php 2:25). Apostles from churches were not commissioned by Christ but by the local church, who served as their authorized representatives.
Christ’s apostles received the gospel by direct revelation, not from other men (1 Co 11:23-25; 15:3; Ga 1:11-12). Paul was given the unique disclosure of the church (Eph 3:3-5). Christ’s apostles founded the church (Eph 2:20; 4:12).
Christ gave the apostles an extraordinary ability to perform miracles and healing (Mr 3:15; Mt 10:1, 8; Lu 9:1).
One of the most critical responsibilities of apostles, which was unique to them, was writing the New Testament. All the New Testament books were written by an apostle or a close associate (Mark, Luke, James, Jude). They wrote under the inspiration from the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26; 1 Co 2:13).