John Chrysostom (AD 347-407), while commenting on 2 Thessalonians 2:7, writes about how some in his day thought the prevalence of the full range of charismatic gifts functioned to restrain the coming of the man of lawlessness.

He writes:

Some indeed say, the grace of the Spirit, but others the Roman empire, to whom I most of all accede. Wherefore? Because if he meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely, but plainly, that even now the grace of the Spirit, that is the gifts, withhold him. And otherwise he ought now to have come, if he was about to come when the gifts ceased; for they have long since ceased. But because he said this of the Roman empire, he naturally glanced at it, and speaks covertly and darkly. For he did not wish to bring upon himself superfluous enmities, and useless dangers. (Homily 4 on Second Thessalonians)

In examining the patristic record, his observation seems to be in error at least for the first three centuries. However, is it possible that a full range distribution of charismatic gifts ceased sometime in the late fourth century? If so, what are the different theories accounting for such a decline?



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