Bible about charisms in the early Church.

Since charismats quote to biblical places, in which functioning of special Holy Spirit gifts is described, first of all we need to refer to the Holy Bible.

In Bible, the word which describes special acts of the Spirit, is translated as gift. In original Greek text there is a word charisma (χάρισμα). The New Testament is written in Greek, but not the language which Platon, Aristotle, Homer, Sophocle, or Epicure spoke - classic, but in spoken language of hellinistic world of the Іst century - coine. It differs a bit from the classic one. In classic Greek language there is no a word charism, it is absent in texts written in coine, which come from non-Christian environment. Absense of this word in non-christian Greek texts made most of biblical researchers think that this word is a neologism in the New Testament, that St. Paul invented it himself. What was the reason for Apostle to create a new word, if in Greek language there is a word, which can define a gift - dosis (δόσις)?

Obviously, Apostle considered that it could not convey the meaning which he put in a new word - charism. Most likely, St. Paul created this word from Greek word kharis (χάρις), putting in it a meaning of Hebrew word khessed (חֶסֶד), which means love, kindness, undeserved favour. In books of the Old Testament this word first of all means God's attitude to human, God's covenant love, which is given «free of charge», without merits. That is why a word charism is better to translate in English as undeserved gift. Most of linguists translate a word charism as freely and generously presented gift, merciful gift, undeserved gift, while dosis may mean «deserved» gift. Exactly a meaning of word charism indicates that charism is an undeserved gift of the Spirit. It is impossible to deserve charism by some kind of good behaviour, by sacrifice, or something like that, because in this case that wouldn't be an undeserved gift, but payment for something.

The word charism itself in its different grammatical forms is found in the Bible sixteen times - Rom. 1:11; 5:15а; 5:16а; 6:23; 11:29; 12:6; 1Cor. 1: 7; 7:7; 12:4; 12:9; 12:28; 12:30; 12:31; 2Cor. 1:11; 1Tim. 4:14; 1Pt. 4:10. In Rom. 5:15а; 5:16а; 6:23 by word charism St. Paul describes mercy, by which God redeems, i.e. gift of eternal salvation. In 1 Cor. 7:7 Apostle uses this expression to describe gift of being called to celibacy or married state. In 1 Tim. 4:14 this expression describes a gift of priesthood, or maybe even archbishop's consecration. In other cases we may say that word charism defines «extraordinary» gift of God in classic understanding. Saint apostle Paul puts «extraordinary» gifts of God on one level with those, to which people are accustomed in everyday life of Church - celibacy of monks, priests, archbishops, married state of most laity, Holy Sacrament of priesthood.

So, I think that no person with common sense will assert that during all history of Church all married laity were saints, or all monks, priests, and archbishops attained holiness. And we shouldn't forget that most of heretical and schicmatic movements were founded by clergy (E.g. aryanism was founded by priest Ariy, nestoryanism - by Nestoriy, patriarch of Constantinople, monophytism - priest Yevtykh, Orthodoxy - by Kerulyagiy, patriarch of Constantinople, Lutheranism - by monk Luther, lefebvrism - by archbishop Lefebvre), as well as the fact that biggest criminals in European history were baptised Christians, who had charism of married state. Since all redeemed have already received it, charism of salvation may receive only yet unsaved sinners, though they may not use it in a proper way, i.e. though they received a charism of salvation, they may decline it. We can decline the gift of salvation, which God offers us, during all our life. So, from the abovestated we can draw a conclusion that you don't have to be saint to receive charisms. There is only one requirement for Christian to receive charism - to earnestly desire it (see. 1 Cor. 14:1).

"Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy..." (see. 1 Cor. 14:1)

Description of charisms in the New Testament is not limited to places where word charism is used. We may find functioning of charisms in other places of the New Testament:
1. Мth. 7:22 - prophesying, casting out demons, making wonders;
2. Мk. 16:16 - 18 - casting out demons, new languages, immunity from serpents poison and poison in general, recovery of sick;
3. Мk. 16:20 - making wonders;
4. John 14:26 - word of wisdom and word of knowledge;
5. John. 16:13 - word of wisdom;
6. Acts 2: 4 - 11 - gift of tongues (xenolaly), or glossolaly
7. Acts 3:1 - 8 - healing;
8. Acts 5:12 - 16 - wonders, healing, casting out demons;
9. Acts 6:8 - 10 - wonders;
10. Acts 8:6 - 8 - wonders, healing, casting out demons;
11. Acts 8:29 - knowledge;
12. Acts 9:34 - 35 - healing;
13. Acts 9:40 - 41 - resurrection;
14. Acts 10:44 - 46 - speaking with tongues;
15. Acts 13:9 - 12 - prophesying;
16. Acts 14:3 - wonders;
17. Acts 14:9 - healing;
18. Acts 16:18 - casting out demon;
19. Acts 19:6 - speaking tongues and prophesying;
20. Acts 19:11 - 12 - wonders, healing, casting out evil spirits;
21. Acts 20:7 - 12 - resurrection;
22. Acts 21:10 - 13 - prophesying;
23. Acts 28:5 - immunity from poisonous serpent's bite;
24. Acts 28:8 - 10 - healing;
25. Gal. 3:5 - wonders;
26. 1Thess. 5:20 - prophesying.
At the moment of Pentacost, Church was presented to the world; Its mission to all peoples had started. At the beginning of Its mission, Spirit of God represented Church to the world through gift of languages. Some researches interpret this as a gift of xenolaly, others see in it not only gift of xenolaly just as it is, but rather as prophesying with a help of this gift.

Celestin Tomich provides quite important facts which prove that the abovecited phenomenon actually is glossolaly: «In this case special place is given to «gift of languages», a gift which apostles didn't have before this. What is this all about? Did every apostle accept gift of languages, i.e. knowledge of foreign language, as help in his future apostle job, i.e. granted and constant knowledge of foreign language? Assertive answer does not correspond to the given text. Or maybe this gift of languages is actually a wonder of listening, which means that everyone who heard apostles, heard them speaking his/her own language? Then why are some others railing, saying: «They are full of new vine»? So, here it's not about gift of hearing, but it's about prayer in ununderstandable, extraordinary language, in language, which only those who received a gift of Spirit can understand, and understood what those Galileans said, and for others this language remains ununderstandable, foreign, and unusual. Here it's all about ecstatic prayer in Spirit which can understand only those, whom the Spirit gives a gift of interpretation.

Gift of languages (glossolaly) has become so important in life of early Church, that it actually was a kind of litmus-paper for identification of true Christians, i.e. Christians who were baptised not only with water, but with Holy Spirit as well. Mission of saint apostle Peter was succesful in house of centurion Cornelius (see Acts 10) only due to extolling God in tongues. Peter and his fellows realized that the Holy Spirit had been poured unto Peter's auditorium (Acts 10:44-48). Also during Saint apostle Paul's mission to Ephesus, a gift of languages confirmed coming of the Spirit on people who accepted the wholeness of Christian belief (see Acts 19:6). Besides that, actually this case, to Celestin Tomich's opinion, is called to testify to us that Paul in his apostle job is not smaller that other apostles, because after he has put his hands on people, the same charismatic phenomenon - falling of the Spirit - has taken place, just as it was in Peter's and John's mission to Samaria (see Acts 8:12-17). So, gift of languages, even though St. Paul puts gift of prophesying before it (see 1 Cor. 14:5), played an important role in life of early Church.

Holy Bible says not only about gift of languages in life of early Church. It also shows us a list of charisms:
а) Rom. 12:6 - 8: gift of prophesy, gift of ministry, gift to teach others, gift to please;
b) 1Cor. 12:8 - 10: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gift of healing,
working of miracles, gift of prophesying, ability to discern spirits, gift of diverse kinds of tongues, gift of tangues interpretation;
c) 1Cor. 12:28 - 30: gift of miracles, gift of healing, gift of helps, gift of governments;
d) 1Cor. 13:1 - 2: gift of tongues, gift of prophesy, gift of knowledge, gift of all faith;
e) 1Cor. 14:1 - 5: gift of tongues, gift of prophesy, gift of tongues interpretation;
f) 1Cor. 14:13 - 14: gift of tongues;
g) 1Cor. 14:22: gift of tongues, gift of prophesy;
h) 1Cor. 14:39: gift of prophesy, gift of tongues;
i) 1Pt. 4:11: gift of preaching, gift of serving;
j) Мk 16:17 - 18: gift of authority over demons, gift of tongues, gift of immunity from serpents' poison, gift of immunity from poison, gift of healing.

From the abovegiven lists we can see that they aren't identical at all, they differ from each other in many ways. We see that some charisms repeat in other lists, and other are absent, some lists are shorter, others - longer. According to the context, none of these lists claims to be a comprehensive list of charisms, but they rather represent examples, taken up from specific situations, and are used to explain certain cases in life, which first Christians communities met at the days of apostles. Actually from the life of Christian communities came out a reason to consider extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit in life of Church.

When considering over function of charism in life of Christian community, St. apostle Paul describes Church as a living Body, in which separate faithful are living organs, who are called to work on building of this Body. That's why in his contemplation «he repels from the point that everyone is entrusted with separate task, like it is in a body», and in order to make this task easier to handle, the Spirit gives charisms to the faithful. The Spirit gives these charisms to everyone according to His will (see 1Cor.12:11). These charisms are distributed by the Spirit for the common good of the Body (see 1Cor.12:7), for Its upbuilding (see 1Cor.14:4 - 5). What's more, St. Paul, speaking that love is greater than any other charism (see 1Cor. 13), sees love in action, as love which is shown in definite acts of love through serving with charisms in someone else's favour -

«Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.» (1Cor. 14:1),

«...the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.» (1Cor.14:3).

Apostle in his First letter to Corinthians, when speaking about charisms, in a text, which is put only in 3 chapters, four times in imperative mood incourages faithful to accept gifts of the Spirit (see 1Cor. 12:31; 14:1; 14:12; 14:39). St. Apostle Paul, when speaking about these supernatural gifts, doesn't say about them as about some reality, reserved only for a small group of chosen people, but as about reality, which should be present in life of every Christian.

Tomash Shpidlik sums up the teaching of St. Paul about charisms very felicitously: «For St. Paul, life in the Spirit did not mean intuitive gaining of the Spirit. This was life in faith, but it contained real living of the Spirit through signs, certain confidence in his presence. Such charisms as gift of tongues or healing (1 Cor. 12:18 and further; 14:12) give an opportunity to feel personal presence of someone who «lives» (Rom. 8:11), who «witnesses» (8:16), who is «together with our spirit» (8:16), and «curing» in our hearts (Gal. 4:6)». St. Apostle Paul gives us charismatic-hierarchical model of Church, in which charisms play leading role in direction and activation of spiritual life of the Church, and hierarchy takes care of the order of these charisms functioning. In other words: «Real churchness is created by both functional-institutional and charismatic elements... From ecclesiological point of view, when looking at inner nature of Church itself, function of hierarchy and laity comes from charisms. Separation which may appear among them, not in Church as a whole, but in separate members of hierarchy or laity, by its nature is an abnormal condition, in which Church isn't Church in absoluteness». In this case, St. Paul's call is becoming quite clear:

"Do not quench the Spirit." (1Thess. 5:19).

Holy Bible clearly describes fruits of charisms functioning as integral part of authentic Christian preaching of the Gospel:

"My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power..." (1Cor. 2:4),

«While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God.» (Acts 10:44 - 46),

«... they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.» (Acts 14:3),

«And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.» (Мk. 16:20).

As a condition to receive charisms, Holy Bible doesn't put personal holiness, perfection, or ascetic life, but it even says that practicing of charisms is pledge of neither sanctity, nor eternal salvation:

«Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!» (Мth. 7:22 - 23).
According to Holy Scriptures, you need only two things to receive charisms:

have faith -
«And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.» (Мk. 16:17 - 18)

and earnest desire to receive gifts of the Spirit (see 1Cor. 12:31; 14:1; 14:12; 14:39).
«Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to faithful so that they could minister to others in Church. Every faithful has his gift. That means that there are as many gifts of the Spirit as faithful in Church community. New Testament names about thirty Gifts of the Holy Spirit... These gifts are actually an ability to do the things that Jesus did (see Jn. 14:12). By this, any community is recognized whether it is really Christ's - whether it Jesus's acts are performed in it. The one who believes, shows that he belongs to Jesus Christ by listening to Jesus's words. And by performing wonderful Jesus's acts, a faithful one shows His abilities - Jesus shows that He really acts in His Church... To receive gifts of the Holy Spirit means to receive and bring to life one's abilities to minister to others. To pray for gifts of the Spirit means to love Church and people.»

It's interesting to notice that opponents of charismatic movement often provide two biblical «arguments». First, refering to 1 Cor. 12:31 and 13-th chapter, they assert that it's enough to only cherish love and there is no need for any charism. At the same time they persistently don't see that in 1 Cor. 14:1 we have an order from the Apostle to earnestly desire spiritual gifts. Isn't such a behaviour an uttermost hypocricy? Very often «Love and no charisms!» actually points at lack of love; lack of love to God, because the order that He had given through St. apostle, is being neglected:

«Earnestly desire spiritual gifts! » (1 Cor. 14:1);
And also love to fellows, - there are so many incurably ill people around us, and we are called to reject charisms, and thus, gift of healing.

The second «argument» is a quoted abstract from Mathew's Gospel:

«On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.» (Мth. 7:22 - 23).

If Christ indeed will keep off Himself to hell those Christians who used charisms in their life, but remained transgressors, what will be a part of those who didn't use those extraordinary acts of the Spirit or rejected them? Because obvious lawlessness is to neglect order of the apostle about gifts (charisms) which we have to desire earnestly (see 1 Cor. 14:1).

That's why we have to be cautious to remain faithful to Christ. Words of Raniero Cantalamessa are good to mention here: «In circles, where gifts (charisms) are treated with doubt and where people care only about personal consecration or institutional and sacramental action of the Holy Spirit, I would repeat the words which Saint apostle Paul said to Thessalonians: «Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.» (1 Thess. 5:19-20)».

New Testament is an essentialy charismatic book. If we take away of it everything that is related to charisms and their functioning, practically nothing of Jesus's Divinity, Divinity of the Holy Spirit, and supernatural message of the Church will be left there for us. In fact, we will do what godless pseudo-theologian Rudolf Bultmann called to - clean the Gospel from supernatural.

©Milites Christi Imperatoris