Gifts 1

5486 CHARISMA (17): a "gift of favor" or "grace gift." Charisma is broader in meaning than charis (5485). The primary meaning of charis is "favor," but in the FCM (NT) charisma includes the additional idea of a "gift" or special "ability" given by God. The recently coined English word charisma describes a person who has an aura or personality that awes, leads or inspires others; but that is not its meaning in the Greek FCM.

Charisma is sometimes translated "free gift." But if something is "free" then it is a "gift." It is not a gift if it is not free. Thus "free gift" is a redundant expression and should not be used to translate charisma.

In Rom.1.11, charisma is used with the adjective, pneumatikos (spiritual) and reveals that charisma has a relationship to a person's spirit: "For I deeply yearn to see you+, that I may share some spiritual gift of favor (pneumatikos charisma) with you+..."

This "spiritual gift of favor" is so named for at least two reasons:

1) it is an ability given to the spirit of a human, and
2) it is given to every one who obeys the instructions to "...change yourselves and let each one of you+ be immersed in the name of Jesus the Anointed One for the forgiveness of your+ wrongdoings, and you+ will receive the gift (dorea) of the Pure (Holy) Spirit" (Act.2.38). See "spirit" (4151 pneuma ) for other ways in which the Pure Spirit relates to and benefits humans.

Jesus made several promises to his learners concerning the Pure Spirit in Jn.14.12, 14.16-18, 15.26, 16.7 and 16.13:

1) that he, Jesus, must go away, but that he would not leave them (nor presumably any of his followers) as orphans (comfortless),
2) but that in place of himself he, Jesus, would send them a Comforter or Helper, the Spirit of truth, the Pure Spirit (who is God's gift to those who trust him, Act.2.38),
3) that this Pure Spirit (hagios pneuma ) would teach them all things and remind them of everything that he, Jesus, had taught them,
4) that the Pure Spirit would guide them into all truth, and
5) that those who trust him would do the same and greater things than he, Jesus, had done.

These "same and greater things than Jesus had done" evidently includes his superhuman signs, powers and wonders. In 1Co.12 we read that this came about through the action of the Pure Spirit:

1Co.12.4-8 is one the few passages in God's Message which records the harmony in action between God, Jesus and the Pure Spirit, as they operate together to benefit humans. This passage and the verses following it also reveal that "gifts of favor" are given through the Pure Spirit and are managed by him:

Verse 4: "Now there are differences of gifts, but the same Spirit;"
Verse 7: "But the display of the Spirit is given to each one for mutual benefit."
Verse 8: "For to one a message of wisdom is given through the Spirit, and to another a message of knowledge by the same Spirit..."
Verse 5: "And there are differences of service, but the same Master."
Verse 6: "And there are differences of workings, but the same God, who is working all things in all."

A charisma is not a "material" thing, but rather a "spiritual" ability or a benefit given to believers. It's purpose is to enable the recipient to better serve God and other humans. Each of God's people has at least one charisma (1Co.7.7, 12.7 and 1Pe.4.10).

There is no requirement that every believer must undergo a "laying on of hands" to receive his "charisma." Timothy received a "gift of favor" in 1Ti.4.14 and 2Ti.1.6, through the "laying on of hands by Paul and older men." But this seems to have been an affectionate gesture or a custom. On other occasions gifts were given without "laying on of hands."

In Rom.5.15, it can be seen that "charisma" is both a favor of God and a gift given by God. Also, note that "charisma" (gift of favor) is synonymous with the expression, dorea charis (gift of favor):

"But the gift of favor (charisma) [is] not like the offense; for if by the offense of the one many died, much more did God's favor (charis) and the gift (dorea) of favor (charis ) of the one human, Jesus the Anointed One overflow to the many."

Consider God's magnificence in the preceding quotation. It was a "favor" from God to humans to give them his Anointed One, Jesus. And it was also Jesus' "gift of favor" to humanity to die for those who trust in him.

In Rom.5.17, "offense" is again contrasted to "favor" plus "gift" (charis + dorea). Also, in Rom.12.6, "favored gifts" (charismata) is equivalent to "favor given" (charis + didomi). "A gift of the favor of God" is in the text of Eph.3.7; "favor was given" is stated in Eph.4.7; similarly in Rom.12.3.

Two classes of charismata (gifts of favor) are described in God's FCM:

1. Favored gifts which are benefits not involving superhuman abilities on the part of the recipient, such as being "justified" despite one's offenses (Rom.5.15-18) and receiving "eternal life" (Rom.6.23).
2. Favored gifts (charismata) in which God (through the Pure Spirit) gives individuals special abilities. (These are not necessarily all superhuman abilities. Some may be inborn talents or learned skills, given previously through the Pure Spirit.):
a) prophecy, serving, teaching, urging, sharing, leading, showing mercy (Rom.12.6-8);
b) marrying versus celibacy (1Co.7.7);
c) a message of wisdom, a message of knowledge, faith, favored gifts of cures, powerful works, prophecy, discerning of spirits, kinds of languages, interpretation of languages (1Co.12.4-12);
d) workings of powerful deeds, favored gifts of cures, helpings, kinds of languages (1Co.12.28 and text of verses 4-10);
e) giving thanks (2Co.1.11).

See "gift" (1431 dorea ) for additional information concerning "spiritual gifts" and "gifts of favor."

Note that four of these gifts are described in the plural, suggesting that they include different KINDS of each gift:

1) "workings of powerful deeds," different kinds of superhuman deeds,
2) "favored gifts of cures," different abilities in healing, such asdiagnosis, surgery, prayer or choosing the best means of healing,
3) "helpings," differing abilities in helping others, and
4) "kinds of languages," such as "the languages of men and of angels."

This in turn implies that there exists only one KIND of each of the other listed gifts (wisdom, knowledge, faith, etc.). Note that this list of "gifts" is probably not all-inclusive. Nothing says that God cannot devise special "gifts" for special circumstances, such as Peter's ability to discern truth from the lies of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 and to know that they should die for their deceptions.


GIFT Rom.1.11.
GIFT OF FAVOR, FAVORED GIFT Rom.5.15,16; 6.23; 11.29; 12.6. 1Co.1.7; 7.7; 12.4,9,28,30,31. 2Co.1.11. 1Ti.4.14. 2Ti.1.6. 1Pe.4.10.

Back to word index