Anointing: chrisma – This anointing is a special endowment of the Holy Spirit (cf. Strong’s) to teach every believer about all things (1 John 2:20 & 27), and to enable all believers to stand firm in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). This anointing sets apart, consecrates, and seals us as God’s holy possession. These two anointings taught in 1 John 2 and 2 Corinthians 1 are the only two anointings for believers mentioned in the New Testament. There is no mention of a special anointing for New Testament believers to minister to others, supernatural healing or otherwise.
Gifts: charisma – According to Vine’s, this refers to “endowments upon believers by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the churches” for the common good of believers by ministering to them with such gifts (1 Corinthians 12), for example, gifts of healing
Power: dunamis – for believers to be witnesses for Jesus Christ to the lost (Acts 1:8), the healing power resident in Jesus Christ (Luke 6:19; Mark 5:27-30), the power given to the disciples to heal diseases in the context of proclaiming the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2)
Authority: exousia – The authority of Jesus Christ over demons (Luke 4:36), the authority given to the disciples over demons and diseases when they were sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God to the lost (Luke 9:1-2; Matthew 10:1)
According to the New Testament, the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12—specifically gifts of healing—are by no means equivalent to the power & authority over disease given by Jesus to his disciple in the gospels. There are at least three important differences between the two:
- Difference in function: The gifts, including the gifts of healing, were specifically for the common good of the church. Therefore the gifts of healing were specifically given to minister healing to infirm believers in the context of building up the body of Christ. By contrast, the power & authority over demons and diseases was given specifically for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel to the lost. The first was for the benefit of the Church. The second was for reaching the lost.
- Difference in the time at which it was given: The power & authority over demons and diseases were given to the disciples during the gospels when Jesus was still on earth—before He died, rose and ascended to heaven from where He sent the Holy Spirit. By contrast, the gifts of healing (as well as the other eight gifts) were not given to the Church until the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended, bringing with him the gifts of the Spirit.
- Difference in frequency: Every disciple Jesus sent out to proclaim the gospel was given a measure of this power & authority (Luke 9:1-2; Luke 10:1 & 9). But not all believers have gifts of healing (1 Corinthians 12:30).
Therefore these three terms— anointing, gifts, and power & authority—are by no means interchangeable. As an example, nowhere does the New Testament mention an anointing to heal the sick. Rather, the anointing of the Holy Spirit enables us to know all things and seals us as God’s possession. That is it as far as the New Testament is concerned. And we have seen that gifts of healing on the one hand and power & authority over demons and disease on the other are definitely not to be lumped together as one.
Unfortunately, however, these three terms—anointing, gifts, and power & authority—are often lumped together in teaching on healing which we find in the Church—whether in charismatic circles or in cessationist ones.
What cessationists believe about supernatural healing
Cessationists almost never mention the term anointing, especially in the area of healing. However, they always lump together the gifts of healing along with power & authority over demons and disease. According to cessationism, the gifts have ceased. And since for them power & authority are for all practical purposes equivalent to the gifts of healing, the former have also ceased.
But this conclusion is not scriptural. The Church has not yet preached the gospel to all creation, nor have we discipled all nations. Therefore the power & authority over demons and diseases for proclaiming the kingdom of God to the lost have not yet ceased.
What charismatics believe about supernatural healing
Charismatics, on the other hand, tend to lump together all three categories. They fail to distinguish between the three. Instead they see gifts of healing as well as power & authority over demons and diseases as manifestations of “the anointing.” As we have seen above, Scripture does not support this conclusion either.
What must we then do? “The Anointing”: Studies from Scripture
Hebrews 2:3 …This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (NIV)
According to Strong, “gifts” in the Greek text here is merismos (μερισμός): a separation or distribution, dividing asunder, or gift. It is not the same word as charisma which refers to the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit taught in 1 Corinthians 12. Young’s Literal Translation renders Hebrews 2:4b as “distributions of the Holy Spirit, according to his will” instead of “gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” as in the New International Version. These distributions of the Holy Spirit according to Matthew Henry are for “qualifying, enabling, and exciting them [the disciples] to do the work to which they were called” in proclaiming the message of salvation to the lost.
The only other occurrence of merismos in the New Testament is found in Hebrews 4:12.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Here merismos is translated “dividing asunder” and not “gifts.”
Therefore we should not on the basis of the sole occurrence of merismos in the New Testament translated in the NIV as “gifts” in Hebrews 2:4 discount the strongly-supported conclusions already made about the differences between “gifts” (charisma) on the one hand, and power & authority on the other. That sole incidence of merismos is literally translated “distributions” enabling the disciples to preach the message of salvation to the lost, and does not refer to the gifts of the Holy Spirit as taught in 1 Corinthians 12 for building up believers.