Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the descriptions of the Spiritual Gifts. You will be better prepared for Sunday night as we dig deeper into the Word of God.
The Gifts of the Spirit
A Study By: Kenneth Boa
1. Prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28-29; 14:1-40; Eph. 4:11)–The ability to receive and proclaim a message from God. This could involve the foretelling of future events, though its primary purpose as seen in 1 Corinthians 14:3 is forthtelling: one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation. This gift provides a word from God to a specific group, not the normative Word of God to all believers. Some maintain that prophecy is still operative in this sense today, while others say that the nearest current equivalent is Spirit-empowered preaching.
2. Service (Rom. 12:7)–The ability to identify and care for the physical needs of the body through a variety of means. The Greek word for this gift is the same as that for ministry or deacon, but the gift should not be confused with the office.
3. Teaching (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 4:11)–The ability to clearly explain and effectively apply the truths of God’s Word so that others will learn. This requires the capacity to accurately interpret Scripture, engage in necessary research, and organize the results in a way that is easily communicated.
4. Exhortation (Rom. 12:8)–The ability to motivate others to respond to the truth by providing timely words of counsel, encouragement, and consolation. When this gift is exercised, believers are challenged to stimulate their faith by putting God’s truth to the test in their lives.
5. Giving (Rom. 12:8)–The ability to contribute material resources with generosity and cheerfulness for the benefit of others and the glory of God. Christians with this spiritual gift need not be wealthy.
6. Leadership (Rom. 12:8)–The ability to discern God’s purpose for a group, set and communicate appropriate goals, and motivate others to work together to fulfill them in the service of God. A person with this gift is effective at delegating tasks to followers without manipulation or coercion.
7. Mercy (Rom. 12:8)–The ability to deeply empathize and engage in compassionate acts on behalf of people who are suffering physical, mental, or emotional distress. Those with this gift manifest concern and kindness to people who are often overlooked.
8. Wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8)–The ability to apply the principles of the Word of God in a practical way to specific situations and to recommend the best course of action at the best time. The exercise of this gift skillfully distills insight and discernment into excellent advice.
9. Knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8)–The ability to discover, analyze, and systematize truth for the benefit of others. With this gift, one speaks with understanding and penetration. Some also associate supernatural perception with this gift.
10. Faith (1 Cor. 12:9)–The ability to have a vision for what God wants to be done and to confidently believe that it will be accomplished in spite of circumstances and appearances to the contrary. The gift of faith transforms vision into reality.
11. Healing (1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30)–The ability to serve as a human instrument through whom God supernaturally cures illnesses and restores health. The possessor of this gift is not the source of power, but a vessel who can only heal those diseases the Lord chooses to heal. Inner healing, or healing of memories is sometimes associated as another manifestation of this gift.
12. Miracles (1 Cor. 12:10, 28, 29)–The ability to serve as an instrument through whom God accomplishes acts that manifest supernatural power. Miracles bear witness to the presence of God and the truth of His proclaimed Word, and appear to occur most frequently in association with missionary activity.
13. Distinguishing of spirits (1 Cor. 12:10)–The ability to clearly discern the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (cf. 1 John 4:6). With this gift, one can distinguish reality versus counterfeits, the divine versus the demonic, true versus false teaching, and in some cases, spiritual versus carnal motives.
14. Tongues (1 Cor. 12:10, 28, 30; 14:1-40)–The ability to receive and impart a spiritual message in a language the recipient never learned. For other members of the body to be edified, this message must be interpreted either by the recipient (1 Cor. 14:13) or by another person with the gift of interpretation (1 Cor. 14:26-28).
Because of the controversial nature of this gift, here are several observations:
- Paul qualified the public use of this gift, stating that in a meeting of the church, two or at the most three could speak in a tongue, it must be done in turn, and a person with the gift of interpretation must be present so that the body would be edified (1 Cor. 14:26-28).
- There are a number of differences between the manifestation of tongues at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13) and its use in Corinth (1 Cor. 14), and these differences suggest that the two are not identical (see J. Oswald Sanders, The Holy Spirit and His Gifts, p. 125).
- In his list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28, Paul spoke of kinds of tongues. This, coupled with the statements in 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 14-15, 28 has led many to distinguish a private use of tongues, often called a prayer language (1 Cor. 14:14-15), from the public use of tongues which must be interpreted. Paul wrote that if there is no interpreter, he should be silent in the church. Let him speak to himself and to God (1 Cor. 14:28).
- This gift is easily counterfeited and often abused. It can be a source of spiritual pride, excessive preoccupation, and divisiveness.
- Contrary to some teaching, tongues are not the only sign of the filling of the Spirit, and not all believers are to manifest this gift (1 Cor. 12:17-19,30).
15. Interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:10, 30; 14:5, 13, 26-28)–The ability to translate into the vernacular a message publicly uttered in a tongue. This gift may be combined with the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 14:13), or it can operate separately (1 Cor. 14:26-28).
16. Apostleship (1 Cor. 12:28,29; Eph. 4:11)–In the New Testament, the apostles were not limited to the Twelve, but included Paul, Barnabas, Andronicus, Junias, and others as well (Acts 14:14; Rom. 16:7; 1 Cor. 15:5,7; 1 Thess. 2:6). If the requirement for the office of apostle includes having seen the resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 9:1), this office ceased to exist by the second century. However, many believe that the gift of apostleship continues to be given. As a spiritual gift, this is the ability to begin and/or to oversee new churches and Christian ministries with a spontaneously recognized authority.
17. Helps (1 Cor. 12:28)–The ability to enhance the effectiveness of the ministry of other members of the body. This is the only usage of this word in the New Testament, and it appears to be distinct from the gift of service. Some suggest that while the gift of service is more group-oriented, the gift of helps is more person-oriented.
18. Administration (1 Cor. 12:28)–This word, like helps, appears only one time in the New Testament, and it is used outside of Scripture of a helmsman who steers a ship to its destination. This suggests that the spiritual gift of administration is the ability to steer a church or Christian organization toward the fulfillment of its goals by managing its affairs and implementing necessary plans. A person may have the gift of leadership without the gift of administration.
19. Evangelism (Eph. 4:11)–The ability to be an unusually effective instrument in leading unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ. Some with this gift are most effective in personal evangelism, while others may be used by God in group evangelism or cross-cultural evangelism.
20. Shepherd or pastor (Eph. 4:11)–Peter was commissioned by Christ to shepherd His sheep (John 21:16), and Peter exhorted the elders in the churches of Asia Minor to do the same (1 Pet. 5:2; cf. Acts 20:28). A person with this spiritual gift has the ability to personally lead, nourish, protect, and care for the needs of a flock of believers. Not all people with the office of pastor (elder, overseer) have or need the gift of pastoring or shepherding, and many with this gift do not have or need the office.