I have an ingrown toenail and I really hate it. Sometimes I’ve wondered if Jesus would have healed it during His earthly ministry, but then I’ve quickly wondered if I’m being irreverent and sacrilegious for asking such questions. I’m probably okay, but I have wondered about those types of things. Maybe you’ve wondered about whether or not it’s foolish to ask God to heal a canker soar or a a sprained ankle. I’m pretty sure it’s okay. I’m not so sure about asking God to “heal” a bad hair cut or what to make of those who say they have “healed” people from being heavily overweight (don’t believe me, go here). Well, I actually do know what to make of them, but let’s move on.
I’ve been thinking a lot about 1 Corinthians 12:9. My Greek New Testament shows that Paul tells us that the Spirit gives charismata iamaton. There are no textual differences between the manuscripts, so the differences between translations are based entirely on the translator’s choices.
The NLT, which I generally like, translates charismata iamaton as “gift of healing” while the ESV, KJV, NAU, CJB, NIV, and CSB all translate it as “gifts of healing.” That’s a decent step in the right direction, but stops short of what I think is the best translation. Each of these translations are correct in noting that charismata is plural when they offer the word “gifts,” but I believe they also fail to adequately account for the fact that iamaton is also plural. Thus, I believe the best translation would be “gifts of healings.” Commentators seem to note this when they emphasize the various gifts of healings, etc.
For example, Garland agrees that this is significant. He wisely points us to Carson (Showing the Spirit) as he offers some great pastoral wisdom:
“Grace-gifts of healings”… is the only item in the list specifically identified as a charisma, perhaps to distinguish it from cures coming from the medical arts. It does not refer to the power to heal all diseases but to instances of actual healing (Dunn 1975: 211). At various times, individuals become agents of God’s healing power in another’s life. Carson (1987: 40) thinks that the plurals are noteworthy and perhaps signal diversity within the gift. Carson (1987: 39) wisely cautions against the institutionalizing of gifts: “If a Christian has been granted the [charisma] to heal one particular individual of one particular disease at one time, that Christian should not presume to think that the gift of healing has been bestowed on him or her, prompting the founding of ‘a healing ministry.’ ” (Garland, D. E., 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical, p. 582)
Are there people who the Spirit will supernaturally empower to heal ingrown toenails? I think the text leaves that possibility open. And you know what? According to Garland, it might just be anybody that takes the time to pray for my ingrown toenail.
I’m not sure if I’ll ask for prayer for it, but it’s interesting that there could be someone out there who has functioned in that way before. Now, we need to find out about the weight loss healings!
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.