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The Gifts Of God

 

 

By Hal Dekker

 

2013.11.24

Last page update:  2017.03.31

 

 

 

In Christian oral tradition many things are referred to as gifts of God.  But according to the ancient Greek texts of the new covenant writings, wherein is the textual evidence from which all Christian beliefs must be verified and substantiated, things which Christian oral tradition refers to as gifts are not referred to as gifts.  For example: In 1 Cor. 12 each of the nine manifestations (Gk. phanerōsis) are commonly referred to as a gift, such as the gift of tongues, the gift of interpretation of tongues, the gift of prophecy, and so on, which each are, according to the Greek text, manifestations of the one gift of holy Spirit.  In the context the one gift is the gift of holy Spirit, which the God places in a believer, and there are nine categories of ways to manifest, or demonstrate that one gift.  That one gift has nine ways to manifest it in the five senses realm.  In the ancient Greek of the Middle East, to manifest something is to demonstrate it, make it apparent, make it obvious, evident to one or more of the five senses. 

 

I consider translators/translation committees partially responsible for this huge misconception which has deceived countless millions, and caused immeasurable confusion, because of their un-standardized and biased Dynamic Equivalency (DE) style "translations", for not closely following the Greek texts in rendering their English translations.  And then pastors, preachers and teachers are responsible for not knowing and teaching this out of the holy scriptures, instead of mortal-made theological theories.  How can we naively use for an excuse our own decision to be and remain total dependency upon erroneous English translations for our studies?

 

From sin nature-based mortalkind's point of view, everything can, and is considered a gift. For example: Our spouse is a gift, our children are gifts, our life is a gift, the air we breath is a gift, the earth is a gift, our food is a gift, the rain is a gift, fertilizer is a gift, a pet is a gift, anything and everything, apart from death can be considered a gift. And yet maybe, to some, death would even be considered a gift.  According to mortalkind's thinking, the number and kinds of gifts there are is only constrained by mortalkind's unlimited imagination.  And that's okay.  But we can't speak within the context of the ancient writers and say "God" says something is a gift, if in those writings it is not referred to as a gift at all, or is referred to as something else, and especially if it is referred to as a manifestation.  A gift is a gift, and a manifestation of a gift is a manifestation of a gift, but not the gift itself.  Calling a manifestation of a gift a gift itself is first out of ignorance of exactly what the ancient writers wrote, and secondly, demonstrating or manifesting that ignorance, is lying about what the ancient writers actually wrote. 

 

In the new covenant writings, from God's point of view, holy Spirit presents and defines what are gifts. We must not inject our mortal-made thinking and preconceived denominational theological bias into God's Word, and then pretend that's what God's Word says. We are to replace and renew our mortal-made (worldly) thinking with exactly what God's Word says (Rom. 12:2).  From sin nature-based mortalkind's point of view, the number of gifts is infinite.  But God's Word, in the new covenant writings, mentions only a small, finite number of gifts from God, and the following are the specific gifts to which He refers. 

 

Therefore, if we are going to talk about gifts within the context of God's Word, then the terminology we use and the references we make should be only to those gifts God defines in His Word, and they should be spoken of in the manner in which God speaks of them, using God's terminology properly.  If we claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ (that's what "Christian" means), then when we come to God's Word we come to learn, not argue.  We come ready, and willing, and anxious to replace whatever preconceived ideas and beliefs we may have when they cannot be substantiated with God's Word, because we desire to learn and grow.  We should come desiring to renew our minds (Rom. 12.2) with Truth, so we can grow spiritually to become more like Jesus Christ.  

 

Within the context of God's Word something is absolutely not a gift unless God's Word says it's a gift. What God's Word says is a dog, is a dog. What God's Word says is a cat, is a cat. What God's Word says is a gracious thing, is a gracious thing. What God's Word says is a gift, is a gift. What God's Word says is a manifestation, is a manifestation. What God's Word says is an offering, is an offering. What God's Word says is a complete gift, is a complete gift. 

 

If anyone is going to talk about God's Word apart from mortal-made para-religious dogmas, then they must use God's terminology given in His Word, and they must use as references those references within God's Word where He defines what are gifts, and what are their definitions and characteristics.  If your going to be a professional Baseball player, then you learn and speak about Baseball using the correct Baseball terminology, and you play Baseball by the Baseball rule book.  If we're going to be true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, endeavoring to grow up into him and become spiritually mature, then we need to learn and speak God's Word using His terminology, and we live our life by His rule book, which is His Word.  

 

There are only several words in the new covenant Greek texts which mean a gift, an offering, or a gracious thing, and which had those meanings in the new covenant time and culture in which God's new covenant Word was written, about 2,000 years ago.  According to Strong's, Vine's and Dr. Bullinger's concordances, those words for gifts are:

 

doma,         Strong's # 1390,   4 usages 

dosis,         Strong's # 1394,   2 usages 

dōrea,        Strong's # 1431,   11 usages 

dōrēma,     Strong's # 1434,    2 usages 

dōron,        Strong's # 1435,   19 usages 

merismos, Strong's # 3311,    2 usages 

charis,        Strong's # 5485, 156 usages 

charisma,  Strong's # 5486,   17 usages

 

Through studying the context of each an every one of these terms we can become knowledgeable of those things which God's Word considers gifts, offerings and gracious things

 

Three planes of directional relationship must be noticed: is the gift, offering or gracious thing coming from, 

 

1. God to mortalkind, or 

2. from mortalkind to God, or 

3. from one mortal to another mortal. 

 

A deeper study than what I present here will give light to you showing defining characteristics between the different kinds of gifts, and why the different spellings in the Greek texts.

 

 

Doma (Strong's # 1390) - From the four usages of doma in God's Word I notice that holy Spirit uses it as a term meaning unspecified gifts in general, which can be of any kind, and can be given between mortals one to another, and given from God to mortals.  Gifts given to God from mortals are not properly referred to as gifts, but as offerings or sacrifices, even though we are into the new covenant age.

 

In Eph. 4:8-13 the gifts (domata, a morphology of doma) of verse 8 are the five "gift services" listed in verse 11, the five categories of serving the believing disciples, the one body of Christ, categories between which God makes a distinction. These are categories of special service to the body of believers for which God gives the disciples called for those services, special spiritual abilities tailored to doing those services.

 

 

Dosis (Strong's # 1394) - From the 2 usages of dosis in God's Word I notice that holy Spirit uses it as a term meaning an act of giving. Strong, Vine and Dr. Bullinger confirm this in their concordances.  Please note that these gifts are from God to believing mortals. In the context of a usage in James 1:17 both dosis and dōrēma are used together, which double usage is a holy Spirit marking of a portion of God's Word which establishes a truth of heightened importance.

 

James 1:17 (LIT/UBS4) Every (pasa) good (agathē) act of giving (dosis) and (kai) every (pan) complete (teleion) gift (dōrēma) above (anothen) is (estin) coming down (katabainon) from (apo) the (tou) Father (patros), the one (tōn) of lights (phōtōn), alongside (par’) to whom (hō) there is (eni) absolutely not (ouk) a parallax (parallagē), or (ē) a shadow (aposkiasma) of a revolution (tropēs)!

 

We can plainly see that this verse by James is a somewhat rare astronomical reference in the new covenant writings.  A shadow, or dark side is produced on something from a light source emanating from somewhere outside of itself.  A planet has a dark side, a shadow, on it because light is coming to it from some other source.  Throughout the holy scriptures "light" is a metaphor for truth, the specific knowledge and understanding of God's Word.  According to James here, God is His own source of light, and according to the rest of God's Word, He is the one and only source of light, i.e., knowledge and understanding of truth, since God has no shadow on Him from revolving around some other source of light.

 

The phrase "Father of the lights" gives us a clue as to what may be an example in God's Word of a good act of giving (dosis), and a complete gift (dōrēma). A quick joyful search on phos (Strong's # 5457), the root word for lights (phōtōn), reveals the following: Jesus said, "I am the light of the cosmos (John 8:12)".  I believe Jesus Christ is that complete (teleion) gift (dōrēma) above (anothen) to which James alludes, which has come down to us from the Father of lights.  This is epitomized in John 3:16, "God so loved that he gave...

 

But that's not all we can find from this clue: Jesus said to his believing disciples and followers, "You are the light of the cosmos (Mat. 5:14)", which clearly states that each believing disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is a complete (teleion) gift (dōrēma) above (anothen) as well, which has come down from the Father of lights. Yes, this is true! Jesus said to them in Mat. 5:48,

 

Mat. 5:48 (LIT/UBS4) Therefore (oun) you (humeis) shall cause yourselves to be (esesthe) complete (teleioi) as (hōs) the (ho) Father (patēr) of you (humōn), the (to) heavenly one (ouranois), is (estin) complete (teleios).

 

Jesus said his disciples shall cause themselves to be as complete as his Father, the God!  According to apostle Paul, believing disciples who have received the new birth above (John 3), baptism in the gift of holy Spirit from Christ Jesus (Mat. 3:11), who have received the paternal "seed" of God within them (1 Pet. 1:23), are on their way to becoming as complete as God their heavenly Father is complete (Eph. 4:6-13; Col. 1:25-28)!

 

A parallax is the effect produced in how an object looks from changing one's viewing position.  James says God looks the same from all different viewing directions, i.e., He is light all the way around, no shadow whatsoever.  Metaphorically this means that God is light, and He is the one and only source of the "light".

1 John 1:5 (LIT/UBS4) And (kai) this (hautē) is (estin) the (hē) message (angelia) which (hēn) we have heard (akēkoamen) from (ap’) Him (autou) and (kai) we report up (anangellomen) to you (humin), that (hoti) the (ho) God (theos) is (estin) light (phōs), and (kai) there is (estin) absolutely not (ouk), absolutely not one (oudemia) dark thing (skotia) in (en) Him (autō)!! 

Jesus Christ, God's agent whom He sent into the world to represent Him, is said to be the light of the world (John 8:12).  But this must be understood according to other related verses in God's Word about what is the source of that light.  The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus Christ was not the source of that light, but that he was a reflection off of that light, which light came to Jesus, the Word made flesh, from another source, the one and only source of the light, the God his heavenly Father.

 

Heb. 1:1 (LIT/UBS4) The (ho) God (theos), long ago (palai) having spoken (lalēsas) many portions (polumerōs) and (kai) many ways (polutropōs) to the (tois) fathers (patrasin), [having spoken] in (en) the (tois) prophets (prophētais),

 

Heb. 1:2 (LIT/UBS4) over (ep’) last (eschaton) of the (tōn) days (hēmerōn) of these (toutōn) He spoke (elalēsen) to us (hēmin) in (en) a son (huiō);

 

whom (hon) was put in place (ethēke) an heir (klēronomon) of all things (pantōn);

 

through (di’) whom (hou) He made (epoiēsen) the (tous) ages (aiōnas) also (kai): 

 

(For through whom He also made the ages, see John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2-3)

 

Heb. 1:3 (LIT/UBS4) who (hos) is being (ōn) a reflection off (apaugasma) of the (tēs) glory (doxēs),

 

and (kai) [who is being] a characterization (charaktēr) of the (tēs) understanding (hupostaseōs) of Him (autou),

 

and (te) [who is] bringing (pherōn) all the things (ta panta) [to come to pass through] the (tō) statement (rhēmati) [of Him], the (tēs) work of inherent power (dunameōs), of Him (autou),   

 

he having caused himself to make (poiēsamenos) a cleansing (katharismon) of the (tōn) sins (hamartiōn), he sat down (ekathisen) in (en) right (dexia) of the (tēs) magnificence (megalōsunēs) in (en) high places (hupsēlois);

 

Heb. 1:4 (LIT/UBS4) he having caused himself to become (genomenos) a so much (tosoutō) stronger positioned one (kreittōn) of the (tōn) messengers (angelōn), for as much as (hosō) he has inherited (keklēronomēken) a different (diaphorōteron) name (onoma) alongside (par’) of them (autous)!

 

(See Acts 3:20)

 

(For a stronger positioned one of the messengers, and partners of you, see Heb. 1:4, 9)

 

This is not a study on astronomical references in God's Word, or of the identity of Jesus Christ, and so back to what are gifts according to God's Word.

 

 

Dōrea (Strong's # 1431) - From the 11 usages of dōrea in God's Word I notice the following specific gifts given and alluded to in the texts. Please note that these gifts are from God to believing mortals.  The grace of the giver is implied.

 

In John 4:10 the gift of living water; living water is a type to God's gift of holy Spirit, which makes the new birth above, baptism in holy Spirit, a gift.

 

In Acts 2:38 apostle Peter declares holy Spirit is a gift.

 

In Acts 8:20 the gift is holy Spirit.

 

In Acts 10:45 the gift is holy Spirit.

 

In Acts 11:17 the like gift is holy Spirit.

 

In Rom. 5:15 the gift is holy Spirit.

 

In Rom. 5:17 the gift is righteousness.

 

In 2 Cor. 9:14-15, the indescribable gift within them is the gift of holy Spirit.

 

In Eph. 3:7 the gift of the grace of God (genitive case showing source and reason for the receipt of the gift), is the gift of the knowledge and understanding of the Great Mystery.

 

In Eph. 4:7 the gift of Christ (genitive case showing source and giver of the gift), i.e., the gift given by Christ is the baptism in the gift of holy Spirit.

 

In Heb. 4:6 the gift of the heavenly (genitive case showing source of the gift) is the gift of holy Spirit.

 

 

Dōrēma (Strong's # 1434) - From the 2 usages of dōrēma in the text, one in James 1:17 as we saw above where it appears with a usage of dosis, we can plainly see that the word dōrēma has been reserved by holy Spirit to refer exclusively to the complete gift above coming down from the Father of lights, God's son, Jesus Christ.

 

In Romans the second usage of dōrēma in the new covenant texts, the gift in grace to [many] (ellipses in verse, dative case showing the reason for giving the gift and the recipients) is God's son, Jesus Christ.

 

Rom. 5:14 (LIT/UBS4) But (alla), the (ho) death (thanatos) was king (ebasileusen) from (apo) Adam (Adam) until (mechri) Moses (Mōuseōs), and (kai) over (epi) the ones (tous) not (mē) having sinned (hamartēsantas) upon (epi) the (tō) likeness (homoiōmati) of the (tēs) side-stepping (parabaseōs) of Adam (Adam), who (hos) is (estin) a type5179 (tupos) of the one (tou) being about (mellontos) [to judge]!

 

Here in Rom. 5:14 apostle Paul compares Adam, before he sinned, before he earned the death penalty and began dying, while Adam was still in his sinless state of having endless life in the presence of his heavenly Father, to the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Christ Jesus and the state in which he is now, at the right of his heavenly Father, never to die again.  Adam in his previous sinless state is the Adam which apostle Paul says is a type to the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Christ Jesus.  The fallen Adam could not have been a type to Jesus Christ in his earthly or heavenly ministries, whose blood was and is sinless.  The death of Adam, with his sinful and death-doomed blood (Lev. 17:11), meant nothing toward the wholeness of all mortalkind.  All of the various animals, whose shed blood was required under the various injunctions of the Mosaic law, were types to the sacrificed Jesus Christ.  On account of his own sinless blood He was the greatest and final sacrifice. 

 

Rom. 5:15 (LIT/UBS4) BUT (all’), absolutely not (ouch) as (hōs) the (to) side-fall3900 (paraptōma) [is] thusly (houtōs) the (to) gracious thing (charisma) also (kai)

 

Because (gar) if (ei) for the (tō) side-fall3900 (paraptōmati) of the (tou) one (henos) the (hoi) many (polloi) died away (apethanon), much (pollō) more (mallon) abounded (eperisseusen) the (hē) grace (charis) of the (tou) God (theou), and (kai) the (hē) gift (dōrea) in (en) grace (chariti), the (tē) [gift] of the (tou) one (henos) mortal (anthrōpou) Jesus (Iēsou) Christ (Christou), into (eis) the (tous) many (pollous)!

 

The God, our heavenly Father, not only gave us His son as the complete gift from above, but Jesus Christ gave himself to us as well.  He personally volunteered to die for us so his shed blood could put through God's new covenant, under which new covenant, through our belief in the precious name of Jesus, all mortalkind can now become complete in him!  This completely reverses the effects of the sin of Adam, thusly restoring all mankind back to the original sinless state in which Adam lived before he sinned.

 

 

Dōron - In my opinion, in all the usages in the text where dōron appears, a much more accurate English translation rather than gift would be offering, given the parallel correspondence in those texts to offerings made under the law of the old covenant.  The specific offerings given in the new covenant texts are those typically given under the old covenant law, with the exception of a usage in Eph. 2:8, where the wholeness believers receive is an offering of God to believers!  I take this as a superlative expression of God's heart's desire and love for His children, of which the full extent may be realized through studying the old covenant offerings.

 

The writer of Hebrews gives us a clue that believers under the new covenant in Jesus poured out blood can still offer sacrifices which are desirable and pleasing to God the heavenly Father, through the fruit of our lips praising His name (Heb. 13:15-16). This in turn causes the Father to reciprocate and speak things into being into the lives of His children, "offerings" which bring abundance to our lives according to our needs and desires, things which please us.  What a wonderful heavenly Father we have!

 

 

Merismos (Strong's # 3311) - In Heb. 2:4 some translations translate merismois as "gifts", which is completely erroneous.  The textual evidence refers to distinct divisions in the ways the gift of holy Spirit manifests itself through a believer, which divisions are the nine ways it manifests itself as apostle Paul has listed in 1 Cor. 12:7-11. (This reference in Heb. is one which clearly suggests apostle Paul as it's author.)  It is important for the reader of God's Word to pay attention, when reading the KJV Authorized Version (AV), that words in the text in italics were added by the translators according to their own opinions, and sometimes they are right in supplying the ellipsis, and  many times they are wrong. When it comes to adding the word gift or gifts into the text, I believe they are usually wrong, as they certainly are in 1 Cor. 12:1-.

 

The text of 1 Cor. 12:1 says "Spirit-based things (pneumatikōn)", absolutely NOT "spiritual gifts". The nine manifestations (phanerōsis) (verses 7-11) are the nine divisions, or nine categories of different ways in which the power of the gift of holy Spirit may be properly energized in and through an individual believer. Please allow me to repeat, according to the accuracy of God's Word, the nine manifestations are not gifts, but are nine manifestations, nine different ways the power of God's gift of His Spirit in a believer manifests itself.  The definition of a manifestation (phanerōsis), according to ALL the concordances you can find, is an exhibition, a demonstration. When an athlete at any sport performs his routines, he gives an exhibition, a demonstration of his skill and strength coming from inside of him.  There are nine distinct ways, nine divisions (merismos), according to God's Word, not mortal-made theological theories, of manifesting the gift of holy Spirit.

 

 

Charis (Strong's # 5485) - In the 156 usages of charis in God's Word, it is clear that it refers to showing favor.  The AV translates it grace 130 times. I believe grace is a very good translation.  And I believe a very good definition of grace is a condition under which someone says or does something favorable for someone else, free of charge. It refers also to something which is given, as a thing of grace, a gift out of God's grace.  In the context of many of its usages, it refers to a favor done out of love. The favor which is done could be giving a specific gift of some kind, but charis is a more general term. You may wish to reference a concordance for more explanation of its general meaning.  In the AV charis is not translated as gift, which I believe is correct.  Although other words which definitions mean a gift of some kind, are used in the contexts or charis, to show that those gifts are out of God's grace to mortalkind.

 

 

    Rom. 5:17, the gracious gift of God, and righteousness;

 

Charisma (Strong's # 5486) - In the 17 usages of charisma in God's Word, its relationship to the word charis is very close as should be expected; charis means grace in general, and charisma means a specific thing of God's grace, or a gracious gift.  Likewise, charismata (pl.) are gracious things or gracious gifts.  It's a gracious thing of God to manifest Himself in and through a believer.  But a manifestation is not a gift, it is a manifestation or demonstration of a gift, specifically the gift of holy Spirit, of God himself. 

 

In all of its 17 usages of charisma a reader must pay close attention the the local contexts charisma, to determine exactly what are those gracious things or gracious gifts:

 

    Rom. 1:11, a Spirit-based gracious thing (charisma), i.e., spiritual knowledge and wisdom;

    Rom. 5:15, the gracious gift (charisma) of the God to mortalkind, Jesus Christ;

    Rom. 5:16, the gracious gift (charisma) of the God to mortalkind, Jesus Christ;

    Rom. 6:23, the gracious gift (charisma) of the God to mortalkind, ageless life;

    Rom. 11:29, gracious gifts (charismata) of the God to mortalkind;

    Rom. 12:6, gracious gifts (charismata) of the God to mortalkind, (in the context, gift ministries);

    1 Cor. 1:7, gracious things (charismati) of the God, revelations of spiritual knowledge from Christ Jesus;

    1 Cor. 7:7, each man has a gracious gift (charisma) from the God, his own wife;

    1 Cor. 12:4, distributions of gracious gifts (charismatōn) of the God;

    1 Cor. 12:9, gracious gifts (charismata) of healings;

    1 Cor. 12:28, gracious gifts (charismata) of healings;

    1 Cor. 12:30, gracious gifts (charismata) of healings;

    1 Cor. 12:31, be zealous of the greater of the gracious things (charismata);

    2 Cor. 1:11, the gracious gift (charisma) of the God's holy Spirit in us;

    1 Tim. 4:14, the gracious gift (charismatos) of a ministry;

    2 Tim. 1:6, the gracious gift (charisma) of a ministry;

    1 Pet. 4:10-11, a gracious gift (charisma) ministry. 

 

As can be plainly seen through studying these verses and their local contexts, a gift, and a manifestation of a gift are distinctively different, according to apostles Paul and Peter. 

 

So therefore, these are the essential distinctions I see between the meanings of these words as used in God's Word:

 

doma - unspecified gifts in general

 

dosis - an act of giving

 

dōrea - specific gifts

 

dōrēma - the complete gift above, Christ Jesus

 

ron - offerings

 

merismos - distinct divisions in the ways the gift of holy Spirit manifests itself in and through believers

 

charis - grace, a condition under which someone says or does something favorable for someone else, free of charge

 

charisma - specific gracious things and gracious gifts of God's grace, things given free of charge

 

I believe that if we are to think, say, and do what God's Word says, to become and remain pleasing in God's sight, then we, as sons of God and disciples of Christ Jesus, are to make these distinctions also; since the Spirit absolutely does not consider making these distinctions a trivial matter.  God sent His first-born son to die for us so that we could receive the ability to learn one of those important gracious things of God, the richness of the knowledge and wisdom of His word; and then subsequently to learn to manifest His gifts to us which he has given through His new covenant in Jesus' shed blood.

 

The purpose of the God's gifts to His paternal children, the ones who have received a new birth above in His paternal gift of holy Spirit, is so that we, sinful mortals, can rise up out from under the penalty of our sin, and up and out from under the oppression of the devil and his little demon spirits;

 

 and have a life which is more abundant (John 10:9-10);

 

and become transformed through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2);

 

 and our heavenly Father can become our sufficiency in all things (2 Cor. 3:5, 9:8).

 

Our heavenly Father's goal for us is to grow up into the stature of the fullness of the maturity of the Christ (Eph. 4:13).  So that we are no longer spiritual infants being caused to surge and wander after lies through the roll of the dice by false Christian leadership, according to the desire of the Wanderer (Eph. 4:14).  But rather that we walk by the Spirit of the God in us, and be stedfast in this life:

 

- that we are more than conquerors now (Rom. 8:37), through being able to manifest God's Spirit in us in any of the nine ways given in 1 Cor. 12;

 

- and that God is leading us triumphantly, not defeatedly (2 Cor. 2:14);

 

- and that it is the power of the resurrected Christ in us who have believed upon his name (2 Cor. 13:3-5; Col. 1:27-29);

 

- and what is the overthrowing greatness of the work of inherent power of God in us who believe (Eph. 1:17-20; 2 Tim. 1:7);

 

- and that we can quench all of the fiery darts of the evil one (the devil or demon spirits) (Eph. 6:11-18);

 

- and that God's Spirit can and will energize in us who believe (Php. 2:13; 1 Thes. 2:13);

 

- and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Php. 4:13);

 

- and that greater is He (the Spirit of God) in us than the (spirit of antichrist) in the world (1 John 4:4);

 

- and that anyone who has been generated out of God, anyone who has received God's gift of His holy Spirit in them and thusly has become a son of Him, conquerors the cosmos (1 John 5:3-5)!

 

 

Brother Hal Dekker