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

Survey 1 - Continuity of the Gifts
in the First Few Centuries

Our Background and Objectivity
Comparing Modern Tongues to Biblical Tongues
Basic Introduction to the Charismatic Movement
Opening Remarks and Introduction to the Gifts
Survey 1 - Continuity of the Gifts in the First Few Centuries
Survey 2 - Decline of Orthodox Gifts and Rise of Counterfeit Gifts
Survey 3 - A Change in Tune Regarding the Gifts
Survey 4 - From the Renaissance to the Modern Era
An Introduction to the Gifts in Modern Times
The Origins of the Modern Charismatic Movement

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

Opening Remarks

Didache (a.k.a. The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles - circa 70 A.D.) describes prophets who speak "in the Spirit." (Didache, chapter 11:7-8, 11.)

Chapter 11 of the Didache gives specific details for how to determine whether or not someone is a false prophet. These instructions necessitate the continued existence of true prophets up to that period of time.

Ignatius (30-107 A.D.) encouraged Polycarp, "...And as respects those that are not seen, (4) pray that[God] would reveal them unto thee, in order that thou mayest be wanting in nothing, but mayest abound in every gift." (Ignatius, Epistle to Polycarp)

Here in this epistle, when Ignatius admonishes Polycarp to "pray" so that he "mayest be wanting in nothing, but mayest abound in every gift" he is actually quoting Paul's own admonition with regard to the charismatic gifts in 1 Corinthians. Compare Ignatius words here to the following 3 passages from Paul in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

From this comparison of Ignatius' encouragement to Paul's encouragement combined with Ignatius' use of the particular phrase "every gift" we can clearly see that Ignatius' statement was at least inclusive of the charismatic gifts and may even have been specifically focused on them. Given that this epistle was written to Polycarp, who was not born until around 69 AD, this statement by Ignatius demonstrates that the orthodox Church perceived that the gifts continued at least into the latter decades of the first century.

Justin Martyr (110-165 A.D) CHAP. LXXXII.--THE PROPHETICAL GIFTS OF THE JEWS WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE CHRISTIANS. "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)

Justin Martyr lived from 110-165 AD. And from his words we clearly see that Justin perceived that the prophetical gifts continued even to his day.

Irenaeus (A.D. 115 to 202) a pupil of Polycarp (A.D. 70-155), who was himself a disciple of the Apostle John, "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.--GOD WILL BESTOW SALVATION UPON THE WHOLE NATURE OF MAN, CONSISTING OF BODY AND SOUL IN CLOSE UNION, SINCE THE WORD TOOK IT UPON HIM, AND ADORNED WITH THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, OF WHOM OUR BODIES ARE, AND ARE TERMED, THE TEMPLES.)

Finally, we come to Irenaeus. Like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus uses the term "prophetic gifts" only Irenaeus also specifically mentions speaking in tongues. Irenaeus here testifies that the prophetic gifts including speaking in tongues continued among the "brethren in the Church" right into his own day, which would have been the middle and latter half of the second century AD.

What is interesting to note so far is that we have shown through the statements of these orthodox early Christian writers that the prophetic (or charismatic) gifts including tongues continued uninterrupted from the Apostles down into at least the middle or latter half of the second century when Irenaeus wrote. These statements by the early Christian writers are also noticeably absent of any expectation that the gifts, including tongues, were supposed to pass away either at 70 AD, the close of the canon of scripture, or the death of the last apostle. Nor do these early orthodox Christians write of any expectation that the gifts were soon to be passing away at that time. In fact, as we have seen, the opposite is true. We'll cover more on this later when we discuss the how's and why's behind the historic decline and disappearance of the charismatic gifts.

For now what is important is that up until at least the latter half of the second century AD, the charismatic (or prophetic gifts) including tongues were still occurring in the orthodox Christians. This is important for 2 reasons. First, it will be important to contrast the statements we have just seen from the first few centuries regarding the gifts to the statements regarding gifts that come in the next few centuries. Second, it is important because the following section of our survey will demonstrate the historic rise of counterfeit gifts among the heretical sects.

Of course, the problem with counterfeit gifts among heretical sects is that when we are evaluating whether or not modern "restorations" of gifts are legitimate, we must determine whether or not they are "restorations" of the orthodox and authentic gifts or "restorations" of the counterfeit gifts of the heretics. And we can determine this by comparing them to the descriptions of the authentic and counterfeit gifts to see which category they match.