by André Piet
December 1st, 2012

Now there are diversities of gifts (Gr.charismata),
but the same Spirit.

1Corinthians 12:4 (KJV)

Charisma – charis – chairo

For Sunday, December 9, a seminar is planned, under the title "charismatic?". Let me write a kind of introduction by taking a closer look at the word charisma (plural: charismata). Charisma is derived from charis which means grace. In turn, charis is derived from chario which indicates delight or joy. In secular Greek of the first century, charis was the term for everything that gave joy. A good glass of wine, a spectacular sunset or a beautiful song; it all fell under the heading of charis. The ending -ma in the Greek language refers to the result or effect of something. Charisma is, therefore, the result or effect of grace. The KJV translated charisma "gifts" (see te above text), but it would be more correct to speak of "grace effect" (even though the term takes getting used to). That is what grace brings about. Grace, itself, is the gift – that what it produces is called charisma.

No gifts but effects

If we meditate on this, we also will understand that the same grace of God will give various effects. This is not because there were different gifts being given, but it is due to the one and the same Spirit of grace, causing differing effects. It is the same as the blowing on a trumpet produces a different sound than the blowing on a flute or clarinet. Not the blown air makes the difference, but the diversity of instruments. People are different in terms of temperament, interests, capacities, etc., and therefore has the grace of God even so many expressions.


Paul compares the grace-effects, in both, Romans 12 and in 1Corinthians 12, with the respective functions in one body. A hand is made to handle, a foot to stand on, an ear to hear and an eye to see. The Spirit of grace activates members of the ecclesia organically. It is not an organization with a task-schedule, but a body that is controlled by the Head and that by grace (= joy!) various capacities and effects awakens.

Now, having graces excelling,
in accord with the grace which is given to us,
whether prophecy, exercise it in accord with the analogy of the faith;
or dispensing, in the dispensation;
or the teacher, in teaching;
or the entreater, in entreaty;
the sharer, with generosity;
the presider, with diligence;
the merciful one, with glee.

Romans 12:6-8 (CLV)


Translation: Peter Feddema

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