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Gifts of Healing
HEALING, GIFTS OF (χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων). The term “gifts of healing” appears three times in
Certain gifts, such as apostleship, prophecy, and teaching (
Further light is cast upon the function of these gifts in
The promise in
Thus it appears that the suggested procedure as related to the sick who are to call for the elders of the church is not the only circumstantial manner by which God heals. God also heals as believers pray for one another; but it is the elders and not so-called “divine healers” that are to be sought when believers who are sick in body are hindered from gathering with the assembly. The prayer of faith is required; and the gift is in no way separated from the Giver, the blessing from the Blesser, or a human healer from the divine One. Sin is the greatest hindrance to the prayer of faith, whether it be in the patient or in those who pray in fellowship for him (
comments: “As the gift of healing as yet continued, he (James) directs the sick to have recourse to that remedy. It is, indeed, certain that they were not all healed; but the Lord granted this favor as often and as far as he knew it would be expedient; nor is it probable that the oil was indiscriminately applied, but only when there was some hope of restoration. For, together with the power there was given also discretion to the ministers, lest they should by abuse profane the symbol. The design of James was no other than to commend the grace of God which the faithful might then enjoy, lest the benefit of it should be lost through contempt or neglect.
“For this purpose he ordered the presbyters to be sent for, but the use of the anointing must have been confined to the power of the Holy Spirit” (Commentaries on the, p. 335).
Today there is a new interest and a rethinking of the entire field of Christian healing. There is no reason to believe that gifts of healing have passed from the ministry of the Church. Although from the Early Church to modern times records of divine healing can be found, the missing ingredient is the full ministry of the Church in the exercise of charismatic gifts with the proper balance and relationship of the gifts as set forth by Paul in
J. Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (1948), 335; H. J. Blair, “: An Enquiry,” EQ, XXX (1958), 147-151; J. G. S. S. Thomson, “ ,” Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (1960), 497-500; A. Z. Hall, “Cross and Caduceus,” ChT, V (1961), 6, 7; W. S. Reed, “Developments in Christian Healing,” ChT, V (1961), 13, 14; W. H. Anderson, “Sacramental Healing,” ChT, V (1961), 8, 9.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
Among the "spiritual gifts" enumerated in
(2) the nature of the gifts,
(3) their permanence in the church.
1. The New Testament Facts:
2. The Nature of the Gifts:
On this subject the New Testament furnishes no direct information, but it supplies evidence from which conclusions may be drawn. We notice that the exercise of the gift is ordinarily conditional on the faith of the recipient of the blessing (
Modern psychology, by its revelation of the marvels of the subliminal self or subconscious mind and the power of "suggestion," shows how it is possible for one man to lay his hand on the very springs of personal life in another, and so discloses the psychical basis of the gift of healing. The medical science of our time, by its recognition of the dependence of the physical upon the spiritual, of the control of the bodily functions by the subconscious self, and of the physician’s ability by means of suggestion, whether waking or hypnotic, to influence the subconscious soul and set free the healing powers of Nature, provides the physiological basis. And may we not add that many incontestable cases of Christian faith-cure (take as a type the well-known instance in which Luther at Weimar "tore Melanchthon," as the latter put it, "out of the very jaws of death"; see RE, XII, 520) furnish the religious basis, and prove that faith in God, working through the soul upon the body, is the mightiest of all healing influences, and that one who by his own faith and sympathy and force of personality can stir up faith in others may exercise by God’s blessing the power of healing diseases?
3. Permanence of Healing Gifts in the Church:
There is abundant evidence that in the early centuries the gifts of healing were still claimed and practiced within the church (Justin, Apol. ii.6; Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. ii. 32, 4; Tertullian, Apol. xxiii; Origen, Contra Celsum, vii.4). The free exercise of these gifts gradually ceased, partly, no doubt, through loss of the early faith and spirituality, but partly through the growth of an ascetic temper which ignored Christ’s gospel for the body and tended to the view that pain and sickness are the indispensable ministers of His gospel for the soul. All down the history of the church, however, there have been notable personalities (e.g.
Hort, Christian Ecclesia, chapter x; A.T. Schofield, Force of Mind, Unconscious Therapeutics; E. Worcester and others, Religion and Medicine; HJ, IV, 3, p. 606; The Expositor T, XVII, 349, 417.