References to "Signs" in the Gospel of John

What is a Johannine "Sign"?

A Johannine "sign" is something which "no man can do...except God be with him" (John 3:2), and which also confirms a spiritual truth through its symbolic elements. A Johannine "sign" is typically identified as such in the Greek text by the use of the word "σημεῖον" to describe it. The word "σημεῖον" in its various forms occurs 17 times in the Gospel of John. In some instances, it is explicitly stated that a particular event is a "σημεῖον" or "sign". In other instances, it is implied by a reference to "σημεῖα" or "signs" immediately after the account of the event. In other instances, someone is merely asking for a sign, or discussing signs. The chart below shows all 17 of these references. These references help us to identify the Johannine signs.

Complete List of References to "Signs" in the Gospel of John

  Ref. Type of Statement Statement Containing "Sign" or "Signs" in Greek Text What This Tells Us About Signs
1 John 2:11 Explicitly identifies a "sign" This beginning of miracles [Greek: ἀρχὴν τῶν σημείων] did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. Turning water into wine is explicitly identified as the first "sign".
2 John 2:18 Asking for a sign Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign [Greek: σημεῖον] shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jews respond to cleansing of temple by asking for a sign.
3 John 2:23 Belief because of signs Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles [Greek: σημεῖα] which he did. Many believe when they see the signs which Jesus did.
4 John 3:2 Belief because of signs The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles [Greek: σημεῖα] that thou doest, except God be with him. Nicodemus believes in Jesus because of the signs.
5 John 4:48 Unbelief without a sign Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs [Greek: σημεῖα] and wonders, ye will not believe. Jesus tells the nobleman he won't believe without a sign.
6 John 4:54 Explicitly identifies a "sign" This is again the second miracle [Greek: σημεῖον] that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee. Healing of the nobleman's son identified as second sign.
7 John 6:2 Context implicitly identifies a "sign" And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles [Greek: σημεῖα] which he did on them that were diseased. After lame man healed, many followed because of signs.
8 John 6:14 Explicitly identifies a "sign" Then those men, when they had seen the miracle [Greek: σημεῖον] that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. The feeding of the 5,000 identified as a sign.
9 John 6:26 Context implicitly identifies a "sign" Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles [Greek: σημεῖα], but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. The feeding of the 5,000 and prior events are called signs.
10 John 6:30 Asking for a sign They said therefore unto him, What sign [Greek: σημεῖον] shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Those who want more bread ask for another sign.
11 John 7:31 Belief because of signs And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles [Greek: σημεῖα] than these which this man hath done? Many believed on him because of the signs he had done.
12 John 9:16 Explicitly identifies a "sign" Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles [Greek: σημεῖα]? And there was a division among them. Healing of blind man identified as a sign.
13 John 10:41 John performed no signs And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle [Greek: σημεῖον]: but all things that John spake of this man were true. John the Baptist performed no sign, but spoke the truth.
14 John 11:47 Unbelief despite signs Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles [Greek: σημεῖα]. The chief priests and Pharisees discuss the many signs.
15 John 12:18 Explicitly identifies a "sign" For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle [Greek: σημεῖον]. Raising of Lazarus identified as a sign.
16 John 12:37 Unbelief despite signs But though he had done so many miracles [Greek: σημεῖα] before them, yet they believed not on him: He had done many signs, yet they did not believe.
17 John 20:30 Context implicitly identifies a "sign" And many other signs [Greek: ἄλλα σημεῖα] truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: Entering room when door shut identified as a sign.

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