Question: "What is the meaning of the word marvel in the Bible?"

Answer: The word marvel in the Bible is either a verb or a noun, depending on the context. The term is usually linked with a miracle, a revelation of God, an object, or an experience that seemingly transcends all natural or human possibilities.

The verb usage of marvel expresses a sense of wonder, awe, amazement, or astonishment. To marvel is to experience an emotional impact of overwhelming surprise, awe, and wonderment. When Moses saw the burning bush, “he marveled at the sight” (Acts 7:31, NASB95). In Psalm 48:5, earthly kings marvel at the imposing, unconquerable fortress of God’s holy Mount Zion.

In the New Testament, the verb marvel is used in connection with Christ’s miracles, actions, and teachings to show their effects on people. The crowds marveled at the many healings Jesus performed, and “they glorified the God of Israel” (Matthew 15:31, NASB95). The disciples marveled at the Lord’s ability to calm the storm (Matthew 8:27; Luke 8:25). They were amazed by His willingness to speak with a Samaritan woman (John 4:27). Christ’s opponents marveled at the divine wisdom of His teachings and His supernatural ability to see through to their heart motivations (Matthew 22:22; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:26).

Jesus Himself marveled at the exceptional faith of a Gentile centurion (Matthew 8:10) who believed Jesus could heal his servant of paralysis (see Matthew 8:5–13). Pilate marveled at Jesus’ refusal to defend Himself before His accusers (Matthew 27:14).

When Jesus Christ returns, He will “be glorified in his holy people” and “marveled at among all those who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). In the book of Revelation, the apostle John marveled at the incredible things God revealed to him (Revelation 17:6–7).

When employed as a noun, marvel refers to a wonderful, astonishing, or extraordinary person or work. The word conveys the excitement of surprise generated by that person or work, especially signaling some special future revelation or supernatural element. For example, a child prodigy is a marvel; he is so wonderfully gifted that there’s no telling what he might achieve as an adult. In Psalm 71, the psalmist says, “I have become a marvel to many” (verse 7, NASB95), meaning people were shocked and amazed by the extreme troubles he found himself in.

God’s wondrous works and ways are often called marvels in the Old Testament: “Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth" (1 Chronicles 16:12, NASB95; see also Psalm 78:43; 105:5). They are marvels in the sense of being signs and signals, like a show of credentials ratifying God’s words and identifying the fulfillment of His purposes and prophesies. When God renewed His covenant with Israel, He said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you” (Exodus 34:10, ESV).

We truly have a marvelous God—an astonishing God who causes wonder and amazement. In His marvelousness, He performs marvels—miraculous and supernatural deeds beyond all human comprehension. “Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds” (Psalm 72:18).