Articles home page

1 Cor 12:9,28,30 "Grace-effects of cure-effects"

(Garth D. Wiebe, March 2015)

The Koine Greek word ιαμα (Strong's G2386, "iama") only occurs three times in the New Testament, all three in 1 Cor 12, inflected as genitive (possessive) case, plural number, ιαματων ("iamaton").

The word is from ιαομαι (Strong's G2390, "iaomai"), which is the verb "cure," and ιασις (Strong's G2392, "iasis"), which is the noun "cure." Ιατρος (Strong's G2395, "iatros") is a "physician/curer." ιαμα combines the root word with the -μα ("-ma") tag/suffix, which denotes an "effect" of the root word. So it is literally "cure-effect," and means "remedy" (a noun, as in "a remedy").

In the Koine Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament Hebrew scriptures, which the New Testament writers were familiar with and often quoted from, it occurs seven more times:

2 Chron 36:16

And have been sneering at the messengers of same and scorning the words of same and mocking among the prophets of same until the fury of the Lord rises up in to the people of same until there has not been remedy.
Eccl 10:4
If-suppose [the] spirit of the exercising authority rises up upon you, you should not leave your place; as-that remedy will stop great sins.
Isa 26:19
The dead will rise up and the those in the tombs will be raised, and the ones in the earth will rejoice, for the dew near of you is being remedy to same; yet the land of the irreverent will fall.
Isa 58:8
Then the prior light of you shall burst out, and the remedies of you quickly shall arise, and the righteousness of you will precede well-towardsly of you, and the glory of the God will set-forth-around you.
Jer 26:11 (corresponds to Hebrew Masoretic 46:11)
Ascend, Giliad, and take balm to the virgin daughter of Egypt. In vain you multiply your remedies -- is not being benefit to you.
Jer 37:17 (corresponds to Hebrew Masoretic 30:17)
Therefore I will bring up the remedy of you from/off of [a] painful plague; I will cure you, says [the] Lord, because having been sown you are out-called; [the] hunt-effect of you(plural) is being because seeking/inquiring him is not being.
Jer 40:6 (corresponds to Hebrew Masoretic 33:6)
Behold, I am bringing you up to same wound-closing and remedy, and I will reveal to same to hearken, and I will cure same, and I will make peace to same and faith[fulness].
In the other Greek classical literature, it matches the English word "remedy" very well, including the figurative use, when we say that there is a "remedy" for whatever problem needs to be addressed, and is used quite often that way, as well. I looked these up in the Perseus classical digital archives of Tufts University, finding 70 non-biblical instances ( ).

I hand-picked a few examples to illustrate the word's varied figurative uses:

Strabo, in Geography, book 9, chapter 2, in one spot mentions the sun being the remedy of the cold of the night. ( [the English translators there use the word "mitigating"/"mitigated"])
Plutarch, in Comparison of Agesilaus and Pompey, chapter 2, in one spot says "On the other hand, when we consider the remedy which Agesilaus applied to the perplexity of the state in dealing with those who had played the coward, after the disaster at Leuctra, when he urged that the laws should slumber for that day, there was never another political device like it...." (
Plato, in Laws, book 6, section 771c, says "We, in any case, affirm now that we are perfectly correct in first selecting the number 5040, which admits of division by all the numbers from 1 to 12, excepting only 11 -- and this omission is very easily remedied, since the mere subtraction of two hearths from the total restores an integral number as quotient:..." (
The point to recognize is that, for all the fuss about "healing" being spoken of in the three instances of 1 Cor 12, there is nothing to explicitly require that it is limited to remedies for physical infirmities.

In 1 Cor 12:9 and 12:28, the phrase used is χαρισματα ιαματων ("charismata iamaton"), which literally says "grace-effects of cure-effects," meaning "grace-effects of remedies."

So, it is not just "cure-effects," i.e., "remedies." This underscores that the "remedies" being spoken of are not just anything, but those that are expressed by way of the grace of God ("grace-effects"). This means he is not referring to: Medicines/drugs/pharmaceuticals as remedies, or the latest "Garden of Eden" vegetable diet meant to boost one's immune system so that it can effectively fight off sickness, or Christian Psychology as a remedy for one's emotional ills, and so on.

And so there you have it, the reason why "remedies" is prefaced by χαρισματα ("grace-effects").

If you have heard the phrase "evict the problem" (i.e. "remedy the problem"), then this is what we do. If we evict a demon from someone who is not physically ill, then we have "remedied" the problem, by the grace of God. If we evict a tornado, then we have "remedied" the problem, by the grace of God. So, "grace-effects of remedies" could easily include making a tornado go away, as an "effect" of God's "favor."

In 1 Cor 12:30 it says μη παντες χαρισματα εχουσιν ιαματων, "no/not all grace-effects are-having of-cure-effects." There is a grammatical ambiguity worth pointing out in that phrase. The word χαρισματα, because it is neuter gender, is spelled the same way in both the nominative and accusative cases. I have checked five different interlinears that have the sublinear parsing codes, and three of them designate it as nominative, whereas two of them designate it as accusative.

The issue is whether it should be translated

"no/not all grace-effects are having of cure-effects"
"no/not all are having grace-effects of cure-effects"
The former rendering implies that there are a number of grace-effects and not all of them are having cure-effects. The latter rendering implies that not all are having grace-effects that are cure-effects. So, does verse 30 negate all "grace-effects" are having "cure-effects" or does it negate all are having "grace-effects of cure-effects"?

In verse 28, one of the items is χαρισματα ιαματων ("grace-effects of cure-effects"). Going back to verse 9, the phrase is αλλω δε χαρισματα ιαματων ("to another yet grace-effects of cure-effects").

Note that the list of examples in verses 29 and 30 include impersonal, abstract things. "Powers/miracles" is in both verses, "kinds of tongues" is in verse 29, "supports/reliefs" in verse 29, "leaderships" in verse 28. So, it is certainly not unprecedented within those two verses to be referring to an abstract thing, such as "remedies."

But if we are to limit ourselves to these scriptures, no rendering can be proven. Then, going back to the fact that "remedy" can refer to any number of things, and not necessarily the cure of physical sicknesses, it cannot be proven from scripture that these verses refer specifically or solely to physical healing. And therefore the phrases in 1 Cor 12 do not hold scriptural weight as a proof-text of much of anything in of themselves.

Many want to make the instances in 1 Cor 12 refer to a "gift of healing." First of all, "gift" (literally "give-effect") would be δομα (Strong's G1390, "doma"), not χαρισμα (Strong's G5486, "charisma"). A "gift" requires a giver, whereas χαρισμα is the result of "grace," or "favor," the grace of God that is already a given. Second of all, the usual word used when Jesus "healed" people was θεραπευω (Strong's G2323, "therapeuo"), from which we get the modern English term "therapeutic" and "therapy." Conjugating that verb as a participle, aorist tense, active voice, neuter gender, singular number would give us θεραπευσαντος ("therapeusantos"), "of healing." The phrase would therefore be:

δομα θεραπευσαντος ("doma therapeusantos"): "gift of healing"
This is what a lot of people envision it as, but that is not what it says, even though it could be so easily specified that way in the original text, as I just did.

Variations of the above would be δοματα ("domata"), which would be "gifts" (plural), and θεραπευσαντων ("therapeusanton"), which would be "of healings" (plural).

To read "gift of healing" into "grace-effects of remedies" is a stretch, even if you were to assume it was referring to only "remedies" of physical illnesses. And therefore, again, those phrases in 1 Cor 12 do not hold scriptural weight as a proof-text of much of anything in of themselves.

There is another point about the phrase in verse 30 for those who use this to argue that there are some who are intrinsically divinely endowed with some "gift," such as a "gift of healing": The verb "have" is in the present tense ("are having"). To state the proposition as a timeless fact would require the aorist tense. In that case it would have been spelled εσχον, not εχουσιν. So, therefore, we are talking about something or someone presently having something, not intrinsically having something. This is consistent with the point that 1 Cor 12 is addressing the different things they are presently doing (diversity of function in unity), and not the things that they are capable of doing.

In the analogous case for tongues, we say the same: Mark 16, which some choose to make a manuscript dispute of, says γλωσσαις λαλησουσιν καιναις, "in new tongues they will be speaking. 1 Cor 14:5, for which there is no dispute of manuscript, says θελω δε παντας υμας λαλειν γλωσσαις "I am willing yet all you(plural) to be speaking in tongues," present indicative. That's θελω (Strong's G2309, "thelo"), English "willing" as in "deciding/determining" and not English "willing" as in "it's okay with me."

If it were "I am intending," it would be βουλομαι (Strong's G1014, "boulomai"), "I am wishing" (declaring a wish/vow for something that is not yet) would be ευχομαι (Strong's G2172, "euchomai"), "I am desiring" would be επιθυμεω (Strong's G1937, "epithumeo"), but none of those words was the one used.

He then supersedes that present indicative clause in 1 Cor 14:5 with the "rather" that they may be prophesying, present subjunctive. Here, too, it is present tense, not aorist tense. The context of the "present tense" is their meetings. They should all "speak" (aorist tense) in tongues; that does not mean they should all "be speaking" (present tense) in tongues in every scenario.

In analogy, we should all "heal" (aorist tense) the sick, just as we should all "speak" (aorist tense) in tongues; the question is when it is appropriate to do so. If I tell you that I "play" (aorist) the piano, when it is appropriate to do so? If I "play" (present tense) the piano all day long, I would get nothing else done. Being currently a venue-less, nonprofessional musician, I would think that I should probably limit my piano playing (present participle) to a short period of time each day. If I play (present tense) the piano when I should be doing something else, that is a problem. If I play (present tense) the piano in the middle of the night, I will wake people up who are trying to sleep. But isn't it good that I play (aorist tense) the piano?

And we are back to one body, many parts, functioning appropriately in diversity and unity, when in the context of corporate expression, which is instead what 1 Cor 12 is about, and not any particular prescription, or list of things, or teaching about those things, or exclusion of things.

I will assume that if scripture is not specific enough about something, it is not meant to be so. Otherwise, we end up being in a position of criticizing scripture as being lacking, as if God did not make it clear enough. But scripture is not lacking; it is meant to be as it is (2 Tim 3:16-17).

No copyrightI grant this work to the public domain.