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Particulars of Christianity:
310 Pentecostalism,
the Charismatic
and Faith Movements



Comparing Theories to Historic Documentation

What Happened to the Authentic Gifts?
Comparing Theories to Historic Documentation
Comparing Theories to Scripture (Part 1)
Comparing Theories to Scripture (Part 2)
What Happened to the Gifts: Scriptural Indications (Part 1)
What Happened to the Gifts: Scriptural Indications (Part 2)

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4
| Section 5



Let us establish the timing for each of these theories. With regard to the first theory, the last of the 12 apostles to die was most likely John. So, when is the date of John's death?

"According to 2d-century authorities John died at an advanced age at Ephesus (c.A.D. 100). However, many scholars believe that John the apostle and John of Ephesus were two different persons." (Bartleby.com, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. "John, Saint.")

"At the end of the 2nd century, Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, claims that John's tomb is at Ephesus, identifies him with the beloved disciple, and adds that he "was a priest, wearing the sacerdotal plate, both martyr and teacher." That John died in Ephesus is also stated by Irenaeus , bishop of Lyon c. AD 180, who says John wrote his Gospel and letters at Ephesus and Revelation at Patmos." (Britannica.com, "John the Apostle, Saint.")

From the two above sources, we can see that John's death is confirmed by both Irenaeus and Polycrates to have occurred around 100 AD.

Now, when was the New Testament completed? This question can be simply answered by finding out when the last book of the New Testament was written.

"Revelation or Apocalypse, the last book of the New Testament. It was written c.A.D. 95 on Patmos Island off the coast of Asia Minor by an exile named John, in the wake of local persecution by the Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96)." (Bartleby.com, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. "Revelation.")

From this excerpt, we can see that Revelation is traditionally dated to have been completed around the year 95 AD, which is during the reign of Domitian. This fact is based around a quote from Irenaeus.

3. ...We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book V., Chapter XXX.)

Irenaeus' statement here forms the foundation for dating the book of Revelation since Irenaeus' recounts that the apocalyptic vision of John was seen "towards the end of Domitian's reign," which extended from 81-96 AD. Therefore, we can conclude that the close of the New Testament canon occurred around 95 AD with the writing of the last book of the New Testament, the book of Revelation.

The reason that the destruction of the Temple is often taken to mark the end of the charismatic gifts is that with the destruction of the Temple came the end of the Sadducees and also the entire Pharisaic religious system. It is implied in this theory that the gifts existed entirely (and we say entirely on purpose) as a testimony to the Jews who were still under this religious system. Therefore, once the system ceased, the gifts ceased as well.

(NOTE: If the gifts existed partially as a testimony to the Jews under this religious system but also existed for other reasons, then the destruction of the Temple would not necessarily mark the end of the gifts so long as the other reasons for the gifts continued passed that point in time.)

And we can also identify the date when the Jewish Temple was destroyed.

"The rebellion against Rome that began in AD 66 soon focused on the Temple and effectively ended with the Temple's destruction on the 9th/10th of Av, AD 70." (Britannica.com, "Jerusalem, Temple of.")

"Jewish Temples...The temple of Herod, to which Jesus went, was destroyed A.D. 70; its ruins have symbolized to the Jews their dispersion." (Bartleby.com, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. "Temple, edifice of worship.")

As the two excerpts above demonstrate, the Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70 AD.

Now that we have all three dates, we can compare them to the historical documentation regarding the occurrence of the gifts in the first and second century. If the gifts passed away with the death of the last apostle, then the gifts would have passed around 100 AD with the death of John the Apostle. If the gifts passed away with the close of the New Testament canon of scripture, then the gifts would have passed away around 95 AD when John wrote the book of Revelation. If the gifts passed away with the destruction of the Temple, then the gifts would have passed away around 70 AD.

So, in short, we find the charismatic gifts occurring in orthodox churches after the year 100 AD, then all three of these theories would be invalidated based upon a comparison to historical documentation.

We should restate for the record that Justin Martyr lived 110-165 AD and Irenaeus lived 115-202 AD. Both authors are considered orthodox.

"For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time. And hence you ought to understand that [the gifts] formerly among your nation have been transferred to us. And just as there were false prophets contemporaneous with your holy prophets, so are there now many false teachers amongst us, of whom our Lord forewarned us to beware; so that in no respect are we deficient, since we know that He foreknew all that would happen to us after His resurrection from the dead and ascension to heaven. (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, CHAP. LXXXII.)

According to Justin Martyr, the prophetic gifts continued "to the present time" which would have been somewhere between at least 130-165 AD, which means that according to at least 1 orthodox Christian source, the gifts continued for more than 60 years after the destruction of the Temple, more than 30 years after the death of the last apostle, and more than 35 years after the close of the New Testament canon.

But Justin Martyr is not the only orthodox Christian writer to testify to this.

"For this reason does the apostle declare, "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect," (6) terming those persons "perfect" who have received the Spirit of God, and who through the Spirit of God do speak in all languages, as he used Himself also to speak. In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostle terms "spiritual," they being spiritual because they partake of the Spirit." (IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES, BOOK V.CHAP. VI.)

In the above excerpt, Irenaeus first speaks in the past tense of the Apostle Paul speaking in tongues. Then Irenaeus continues "In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts." By using the phrase "in like manner" and the pronoun "we" along with the present tense, it is clear that Irenaeus means that the prophetic gifts continued to occur in the orthodox churches of his own time. Irenaeus even specifically includes speaking in tongues among the prophetic gifts, which continues to occur.

(Please note the use of the word "many" in the phrase "we do also hear many brethren." Irenaeus is not referring to a scattered, obscure few. He is saying there were plenty of Christians who still possessed the gifts in his day, including tongues.)

Now, for example, if tongues were supposed to cease with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, then why do we see the Holy Spirit still imparting tongues well over 70 years later? All of those alive in 70 AD would have died out by then. Yet the Holy Spirit continued to give the gift of tongues to new believers born after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD for 70 years or more. These statements from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus documents the occurrence of the prophetic gifts at least until 140-202 AD, more than 80 years after the destruction of the Temple, more than 40 years after the death of the last apostle, and more than 45 years after the close of the New Testament canon.

So, in this point, the testimony of the two orthodox Christian writers Justin Martyr and Irenaeus is in agreement. The prophetic gifts including the gift of tongues continued well into the middle of the second century AD, which is literally decades after each of these 3 theories require the gifts to pass away. Therefore, the theories that the gifts were supposed to pass away with the death of the last apostle, the close of the New Testament canon, or the destruction of the Temple are disproved by a comparison to historical documentation regarding the gifts among orthodox churches.

And, we would make one further note at this point. If the gifts were only supposed to confirm the apostles' ministry to the extent that the gifts were supposed to pass away after the death of the apostles, then why did God give the gifts to others besides the apostles? In other words, if God meant the gifts to exclusively testify to the apostles' legitimacy, then why were the gifts going to other members of the Church during the apostles' lifetimes? Giving the gifts to others besides the apostles necessitates that the gifts testified to the divine mandate for all those who had the gifts, not just the apostles. Anyone who had the gifts as a result of the apostles' ministry was likewise being authenticated by those miracles. And since the gifts passed to others besides the apostles during the lifetime of the apostles and in the decades that followed the deaths of the apostles, we have no reason to think that the gifts should not continue indefinitely just because the apostles were no longer around.

The gifts were not so exclusively for the purpose of authenticating the apostles themselves that God did not give them to others both during and after the apostles' lifetimes. Nor did the practice of the gifts by others counteract the gifts' purpose of authenticating the apostles' teaching and God-given authority.

Conversely, the presence of the gifts among other Christians besides just the 12 apostles both during and after their lifetimes testifies to the fact that the existence of the gifts in other men did not in any way undermine the authority of the apostles nor would that authority be undermined by the practice of the gifts by other men besides the apostles. In fact, the opposite is true. If the gifts continued even after the deaths of the apostles, then the divine origin of the apostles' teaching would continue to be confirmed by the presence of the gifts among those who kept to the apostles' teaching in every generation.

In fact, we see evidence of this in the writings of Asterius Urbanus with regard to his refutation of the Montanists.

"THE EXTANT WRITINGS OF ASTERIUS URBANUS. Book I. Chapter X. For if, after Quadratus and the woman Ammia in Philadelphia, as they say, the women who attached themselves to Montanus succeeded to the gift of prophecy, let them show us which of them thus succeeded Montanus and his women. For the apostle deems that the gift of prophecy should abide in all the Church up to the time of the final advent. But they will not be able to show the gift to be in their possession even at the present time, which is the fourteenth year only from the death of Maximilla."

Here Asterius demonstrates that the fact that the gifts have not continued among the Montanists after the death of Montanus indicates that the Montanists of Asterius' day had deviated from sound doctrine. For, according to Asterius, the apostle (who as we will see is Paul) taught that the gifts should continue among the orthodox until the return of Jesus Christ. (In the light of the ancient representation for this theory, we should also emphasize the apparent absence of any ancient representation for the theories that the gifts were supposed to pass away as a result of the close of the New Testament canon, the death of the last apostle, or the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.) And by stating this, Asterius shows that the continuation of the gifts after the deaths of the apostles would further serve to confirm the apostles' teaching, just as we have suggested.

This is, no doubt, why authors like Irenaeus, Asterius Urbanus, and Eusebius sought to expose the error and fraudulent nature of the so-called gifts among the heretical groups, just as we have seen in the historic survey section of these articles. For, the heretical groups, such as the Montanists and the Gnostics, were using their gifts as evidence that their teaching was from God. Orthodox writers refuted such claims in two ways as we have seen in our tests for authenticity. First, by exposing how the heretics deviated from apostolic teaching. Irenaeus does this extensively regarding the Gnostics, particularly Marcus who seemed to be able to prophecy. And second, by exposing how the manner in which the gifts were practiced among the heretics deviated from the manner of the gifts among the orthodox. This is how Asterius Urbanus and Eusebuis refuted the counterfeit gifts among the heretics such as the Montanists. In this way, no amount of miracles could give someone the authority to contradict the apostles' teaching. And since that was the case, the continuation of the gifts in no way allowed for those who came after the apostles to alter the teaching of the apostles.

So, in conclusion we again say the following. The gifts were not so exclusively for the purpose of authenticating the apostles themselves that God did not give them to others both during and after the apostles' lifetimes. Nor did the practice of the gifts by others counteract the gifts' purpose of authenticating the apostles' teaching and God-given authority.