4. Gifts of the Spirit: Gifts of Healings

Healings come in all shapes and sizes, so expect God to work in a variety of ways.

Let’s begin with my (tentative) translation.

4 There are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are a variety of services, and the same Lord. 6 And there are a variety of workings, but the same God who works everything in everyone. 7 To each the manifestation of the Spirit is given towards the common benefit. 8 For to one person is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom; to another person a message of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To a different person faith by the same Spirit; to a different person the gifts of healings by the one Spirit; 10 To a different person workings of miracles; to a different person prophecy; to a different person discernings of spirits; to a different person kinds of (prayer and praise) languages; to another person an interpretation of (prayer and praise) languages; 11 The one same Spirit works and distributes all these things to each particular individual as he wills. (1 Cor. 12:4-11)

For other translations, please click here: biblegateway.com

For my commentary on how to organize these gifts, please click here:

Gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and 12:28

Exegetical Commentary on “Gifts of Healings”

Some theology: Above are three great verses (4-6) on the activity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Triunity is not an abstract doctrine, but the three persons want to invade your space and gift you, so that you can reach and help people.

Click here The Trinity: What Does He Mean to Me? and at the end of that linked ten-point post, you can click on other articles on the Trinuity.

“gifts”: As noted in my commentary on Rom. 12:6-8, it comes from the Greek noun charisma (pronounced khah-reess-mah). The plural here is charismata, and we get our word charismatic from it. Charis means “grace” and the ma– suffix means, as noted, “the result of,” so charisma means a gift that comes from or is the result of grace. It is clear that God gives each gift to yielded hearts. One last point: charisma in the NT sense does not equal charisma in the modern political sense, someone with a forceful and likeable (more or less) personality and a big smile.

“healings”: it is the noun iama (pronounced ee-ah-mah), and it is used only three times (1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30). Yes, the ia– stem is related to healing, and adding the ma– suffix means the result of healing, which is health. In this case, let’s not over-analyze the word parts, because it means “healing” or “cure,” which can sometimes connote a process.

In this context both gifts and healings are plural, so what does that mean here? Luke was a physician (Col. 4:14), so Paul knew about natural healing, though not as advanced as our knowledge of health. People showed up at pagan temples when they were sick and asked the gods to heal them. When the sick congregated there, it can be called an early hospital (of sorts). Did Luke minister his medical advice at these temples when he was young, before he was converted (if he was not a Jew)? Who was his mentor? Since we’ll never know, let’s move on.

It is not likely that Christians would go to these temples and ask the gods to help. So the new Christian communities had to depend on the Spirit for healings, and maybe a few Christian physicians like Luke helped out. Even Jesus said the “sick need a physician” (Matt. 9:12 // Mark 2:17 // Luke 5:31). Therefore, once again, do we expand the phrase “gifts of healings” to include these physicians? But these healings were produced by the Spirit. They were the charismata. One solution is to say that first-century Christian physicians could prescribe herbs for bad health (e.g. Greeks discovered that willow bark contained aspirin), but when these remedies fell short, the Spirit was called on to heal the sick. But physicians did play their part by natural means.

As for the question, is healing in the atonement, please see the posts:

Why Doesn’t Divine Healing Happen One Hundred Percent of the Time?

Atonement: Bible Basics.

Defining and Describing This Gift

Let’s appeal to these theologians and Bible Interpreters:

J.. Rodman Williams

It is significant that this gift of the Spirit is not healings as such, but gifts of healings. This is the only gift (charisma) that is gifts (charismata); hence the gift is not healings as such but gifts or charismata of healings. Thus the one who receives such gifts does not directly perform the healings; rather he simply transmits the gifts. He is a kind of “delivery boy” who brings the gifts to others. Hence such a person does not become a healer even for a moment: he or she passes on the healings to others (vol. 2, p. 367, emphasis original).

And so apparently he is against the idea of a “faith healer.” He further connects the gifts of healings to the special endowment or manifestation of faith. Supernatural faith energizes the gifts of healings.

Craig Keener

The plurality of the nouns—gifts of healings—indicates a variety of healing gifts.

The Spirit develops in different Christians the faith to pray for different kinds of ailments. While this does not mean that someone cannot be gifted to pray for any kind of infirmity—most of the first-generation apostles seems to have done so (Acts 5:15-16; 28:8-9)—many Christians gifted in healing are initially able to exercise special faith only for particular infirmities. Acts 8:7 may imply this, though it may represent instead merely a concrete sample of the works performed. (Gift Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today [Baker Academic, 2001], p. 117).

David Lim

In the Greek both “gifts” and “healings” are plurals. Therefore, it seems that no one is given the gift of healing. Rather, many gifts are available to meet the needs of specific cases at specific times. (Systematic Theology, ed. Stanley Horton, p. 466).

Derek Prince

The words “gifts” and “healings” are in the plural, so “I interpret this to mean each time a healing comes, it is a gift given through the person by whom the gift is manifested” (The Gifts of the Spirit, [Whitaker House, 2007], p. 129). Apparently he means that it is the gift of healing needed at that moment, and the needs and moments vary often. He further warns that one must not foolishly believe that one can empty hospitals. Even Jesus did not heal everyone at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-9). Faith must be present, and not everyone has faith (Mark 6:5-6).

Jack Hayford

He says that “Paul consistently uses the plural with both the ‘gift’ and ‘healing’ (1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30)” (Gifts, Fruit, and Fullness of the Holy Spirit [Thomas Nelson, 1993], p. 134). The plural of gifts may indicate that the gift does not take up permanent residence in the person. It is available to all the members of the body of Christ. Why is healing in the plural? The needs for healings are numerous—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual—so healings need to match or keep up with the needs (p. 134). Earlier, Hayford explains (accurately and to my satisfaction) why people are not healed, even when everyone praying and the one receiving prayer has faith. He says that the kingdom of God has not yet manifested fully. Yes, the gifts of healings are provided through the Cross, but the kingdom has not yet fully come. So there is always a gap between this present age in which the kingdom has partially come and is coming on the one hand, and the eternal kingdom when we have our glorified bodies, on the other (pp. 130-33).

Paul Walker

It is (1) supernatural healing without human power or aid; (2) includes divinely guided human doctors or medical treatment; (3) God use of creative gifts, by which he apparently means more medical discoveries or healthy eating, but I’m not sure. (The Spirit-Filled Study Bible [3rd ed. Thomas Nelson, 2018], p. 1947).

My Definition

Gifts of healings means multifaceted healings, whose source is the power of the Spirit. These healings can also work by medical methods.

Scriptural Examples

In Acts 3:1-10, Jesus healed a beggar who was lame from birth. He took him by the hand before the beggar was healed and raised him up. At the (literal) step of faith, he was healed.

In Acts 8:4-7 Philip laid hands on Samaritans, and the paralyzed were healed. He was an evangelist, not a faith healer. The Spirit imparted the gifts of healings in him.

In Acts 9:32-42, the Spirit through Peter healed Aeneas was lame. “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. Peter proclaimed it and told the man to act on his confession. The ultimate healing: Peter brought Tabitha (Dorcas) to life, after she had become sick and died. “Tabitha, get up.” He proclaimed it, and then it happened.

In Acts 28:1-10 Paul was snake bitten, literally. He was not phased one bit. Then the father of the “first man” (prominent man) of the island was suffering from a fever and dysentery. Paul prayed for him, and he was healed. Soon a healing revival broke out with the other islanders.

So based on the entire discussion, they can be both natural (medical) and supernatural (God alone) or natural and supernatural, combined. Since Paul probably saw miraculous healings more often than natural healings, he mainly has in mind supernatural healings.

How does this post help me grow in Christ and receive this gift?

“Everyone gets to play,” said a famous pastor (now deceased). If the need arises, God can gift you with his healing power. It is best when the preaching of the Word comes first. Ministers who go out in the streets and pray for healings certainly are bold. Then they ask, “How do you feel? Feel better?” “Uh, yeah.” But so far I see no follow up. In my experience people say they feel better when they don’t or they are unsure about it. This hit-and-run ministry is not the best. It is better to preach and plant a community and disciple people. In Matt. 10, when Jesus sent out his twelve, and in Luke 10, when Jesus sent out the seventy-two, they returned and reported miracles, but let’s not overlook the fact that Jesus had already been preaching the gospel in Galilee and Judea (says the Gospel of John). The soil was being plowed up.

Healings confirm the Word, though sometimes healings come first. When healings come first, it is better to disciple people afterwards. And then healings confirm the Word. Being rooted and grounded in the Word is the best approach to the gifts of healings. The Word takes preeminence.

RELATED

What Is the ‘Anointing’?

Atonement: Bible Basics

Why Doesn’t Divine Healing Happen One Hundred Percent of the Time?

ARTICLES IN THE SERIES

1. Gifts of Spirit: Word of Wisdom

2. Gifts of the Spirit: Word of Knowledge

3. Gifts of the Spirit: Faith

4. Gifts of the Spirit: Gifts of Healings

5. Gifts of the Spirit: Workings of Miracles

6. Gifts of the Spirit: Prophecy

7. Gifts of the Spirit: Discernings of Spirits

8. Gifts of the Spirit: Spirit-Inspired Languages (‘Tongues’)

9. Gifts of the Spirit: Interpretation of Spirit-Inspired Languages

SOURCES

Works Cited

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