What does “Dunamis” mean in the Bible?


Dunamis is the Greek word for power. It is the origin of our English words dynamite, dynamo and dynamic. Dynamite blows things up. A dynamo generates electricity. Something dynamic is not laid back. It’s on the move!

Dunamis in the Bible

In our English Bibles, the Greek word dunamis is translated using various words. For instance, when Jesus healed a long-ill woman, an older version of the Bible translated dunamis as “virtue” flowing from Jesus to the woman. (See Mark 5:30 KJV.) An update of the same version says that “power” flowed out of Him, which is what dunamis literally means (NKJV).

  • The word dunamis is also used to describe miracles. The apostle Paul says that God’s plan of salvation itself is identified “by signs, wonders and various miracles (dunamesin).” Hebrews 2:4.
  • In the last days of earth’s history, Jesus will appear with “salvation and the power” — the same dunamis. Revelation 12:10.

The Bible says a lot about the power (dunamis) of God.

  • Hebrews 1:3 says that God “upholds the universe by the word of His power.”
  • This dunamis is available to His followers. Acts 1:8 says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
  • Paul says that this dunamis of God “is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20-21, but “we have this treasure in jars of clay (fragile human beings), to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
  • Some people just don’t get it! Jesus told the Sadducees (Jewish religious leaders of His time), “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).

Do I have any power?

If you are a laid-back person who doesn’t get much done, you may not see much spiritual power happening.

On the other hand, the Bible also talks about some human dynamos who are not all that smart about how they use whatever power they have. The Bible calls it “zeal not based on knowledge.” Romans 10:2.

  • The power the Bible talks about comes from God. We have no personal dynamo that generates spiritual power.
  • We don’t automatically have any spiritual power, but we can get it from the Lord. “My grace,” Jesus said, “is sufficient for you.” The apostle Paul, for example, described how the power he got from the Lord works: “For My [God’s] strength (dunamis) is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I [Paul] will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • Some people use spiritual power in the wrong way. The apostle Paul talks about Christians who are “puffed up,” but that is not the power of the Word of God (1 Corinthians 4:19).

Dunamis in action

A dynamo generates electricity. Something dynamic is not laid back. It’s on the move! In one country, the army general in charge of the national police force was also a dedicated Christian. He began giving Bible studies to his office staff. The idea spread to other police headquarters across the country. Before long, there were Bible study groups throughout the entire police network. They decided to name the entire project using the Bible name Dunamis because it was really powerful.

Before long, nearly 100 new churches sprang up around the country, and over a thousand police and police department employees gave their hearts to Jesus.

Today, Dunamis in that country continues. It has a special ministry to prisoners, especially recovering drug addicts. Thousands more have accepted the Lord and experienced His dunamis!

What does all this have to do with me?

You can get this spiritual power (dunamis) by deciding to serve the Lord, accepting His plan of salvation, and giving your heart to Him.

  • You will experience a new power in your life. The dynamite of the Lord will explode sin and, as the Bible says, “will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19. He will blow up whatever your lifestyle is or has been and replace it with something better: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power (dunamis) and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
  • He will give you a new dynamo that will power your life. Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power (dunamis) at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”