The Berean Expositor
Volume 12 - Page 43 of 160
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The references to "gifts" in the Prison Epistles.
pp. 124 - 126
Speaking broadly "gifts" are prominent in the epistles of the Acts period, but
practically absent from the prison epistles. While such gifts as "tongues", "miracles" and
"healings" are never mentioned in the post-Acts epistles, some references are to be found
to "gifts", and as these references cause some readers a difficulty from the dispensational
point of view we propose a consideration of them here. Charisma, the word that is so
characteristic of I Cor. 12:, is used only of Timothy himself, and that upon two
occasions. We shall consider these passages in their place. Charisma occurs nowhere
else in Paul's epistles after Acts 28:
The first reference to "gifts" in the prison epistles is that of Eph. 4: 8:--
"Having ascended, He has led captivity captive, and has given gifts to men."
Here, associated with the ascended Lord, are "gifts". What are these gifts? Are they
the "signs" of I Cor. 14: 22 in fulfillment of the passage in Isaiah? Are they the gifts as
detailed in I Cor. 12: 28? Let us see.
The passage in Ephesians continues and speaks of the Lord in His relation to the
Church of the One body as the One who "ascended far above all heavens, that He might
fill all things". This is exactly parallel with Eph. 1: 21, 23, "Far above all . . . . . who
filleth all in all", where the Lord's relation to the Church as Head is prominent. The gifts
which are given in this capacity and sphere are next detailed:--
"And He has given some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists and some
pastors and teachers, for the readjustment of the saints, with a view to (the) work of
ministry, with a view to the building up of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4: 11,12).
These are the gifts and their purpose.
In  I Cor. 12:,  where the gifts are set out in detail, there is an inspired order
maintained; first, secondly, thirdly. This order must be so placed for a purpose. To
discount it is to despise the inspired Word; to add to it is to take unwarranted liberty.
Before Acts this is the God-given order:--
After that,
Gifts of healings; Helps; Governments,
Diversities of tongues (I Cor. 12: 28).
This order is repeated in the verse that follows. The order in Eph. 4: is:--
Pastors and Teachers.