Series: “Spiritual Gifts” (post #2)
To find out what spiritual gifts the Bible names, you have to consult three separate passages of scripture. The passages are Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-30, and Ephesians 4:7-16. By combining the lists from all three passages, we come up with 20 named spiritual gifts. Interestingly, the Ephesians passage and certain portions of the 1 Corinthians passage focus upon the Christians who actually have the gift rather than naming the gift itself. For example, “evangelists” obviously refers to Christians who have the spiritual gift of evangelism.
This post will list and briefly define all 20 of the spiritual gifts and provide the passage in which each gift is found. There is no particular order to the list. For many of the gifts, I’ll provide multiple names. These different names are a reflection of the different ways in which our English translations describe the gift.
- evangelism (Ephesians 4:11): This gift is the special ability to effectively tell others about Jesus Christ and their need of the salvation offered in Him. Christians with this gift enjoy sharing the gospel with unbelievers and do it with zeal. They lead many people to saving belief in Christ.
- ministry, ministration, service, serving, serving others (Romans 12:7): This gift is the special ability to personally minister to others by serving them. Christians with this gift love doing “hands on” acts of service for others. They are wonderful about being Christ’s hands, feet, and voice to people in need.
- faith, great faith, special faith (1 Corinthians 12:9): This gift is the special ability to have extraordinary faith in God and what He is going to do. Christians with this gift continue to trust God in a situation long after others have given up such trust. They will attempt great things for God when others are afraid to do so.
- exhortation, encouragement, counseling (Romans 12:8): This gift is the special ability to encourage, counsel, urge, or warn others. Christians with this gift use words and deeds that are highly persuasive and influential.
- pastoring, shepherding (Ephesians 4:11): This gift is the special ability to serve as the pastor of a group of Christians. The gift is associated with the call to preach and the ability to teach the Bible. Christians with this gift are skilled at shepherding people, which requires leading them, caring for them, protecting them, and spiritually feeding them.
- discerning of spirits, the distinguishing of spirits, the ability to tell the spirits apart, the ability to discern whether a message is from God or from another spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10): This is the special ability to know whether a situation is being energized and promoted by God or by Satan. Christians with this gift are especially adept at sensing when the demonic realm is causing something to happen. They know when something is “of God” and when it is “of the devil.”
- teaching (Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:29): This gift is the special ability to teach the Bible with profound effectiveness. Despite the fact that many Christians who have the gift of pastoring also have the gift of teaching, the two gifts don’t always run in tandem. In other words, a Christian can have the spiritual gift of teaching without feeling the call to preach.
- the word of knowledge, a word of knowledge, words of knowledge, a message of knowledge, the utterance of knowledge, the ability to speak with knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8): This gift is the special ability to gather information and impart it. Christians with this gift are great at collecting data, bringing all the facts to bear upon a situation, and laying out all the options. However, they don’t necessarily know the best course of action. That’s not their gifting.
- the word of wisdom, a word of wisdom, words of wisdom, a message of wisdom, the utterance of wisdom, the ability to speak with wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8): This gift is the special ability to speak words of divine wisdom to others. Christians with this gift are uncommonly adept at offering godly, Bible-based advice. They are the best people in all the world to seek out for counsel.
- the working of miracles, the power to work miracles, the performing of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10,29): This gift is the special ability to perform miracles by means of the power of God. Christians with this gift can cast out demons, raise the dead, and do other miraculous deeds.
- apostleship (Ephesians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 12:29): This gift is the special ability to serve as an apostle to the church at large. Christians with this gift will evidence “the signs of an apostle” (2 Corinthians 12:12), which means that any Christian with this gift must also have the spiritual gift of working miracles. The gift of apostleship will empower the Christian to be highly effective in a wide range of service to Christ, including evangelism, church planting, settling doctrinal disputes, and contending for the Christian faith against its attackers.
- gifts of healings, gifts of healing, the ability to heal, the power to heal (1 Corinthians 12:9,30): This gift is the special ability to physically heal by means of the power of God. Christians with this gift can cure sickness and disease instantaneously and completely without the aid of medicine, surgery, or physical therapy. The gift is typically associated with either the gift of the working of miracles, the gift of apostleship, or both.
- giving (Romans 12:8): This gift is the special ability to generously contribute one’s finances and possessions to support the Lord’s work. Christians with this gift contribute joyously and abundantly. They give, even to their own detriment many times, and they never begrudge doing it. To them, giving is a joy rather than an obligation.
- prophesying (Ephesians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 12:29, Romans 12:6): This gift is the special ability to speak God’s exact words as you are moved by the Holy Spirit. Christians with this gift metaphorically become the mouthpiece of God. The gift can involve preaching but it isn’t exactly the same as preaching. Prophesying is different than merely taking a portion of God’s written word and expounding upon it because prophesying doesn’t necessarily depend upon anything that has already been said or written. It can be fresh, new information that is coming straight from God. Oftentimes (but not always) it involves the foretelling of future events.
- showing mercy (Romans 12:8): This gift is the special ability to extend mercy to those who might not even deserve it. Christians with this gift are uncommonly tenderhearted and compassionate. They are slow to condemn and quick to grant another chance.
- speaking in tongues, speaking in different kinds of languages, the ability to speak in unknown languages (1 Corinthians 12:10,30): This gift is the special ability to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak in a foreign language that you have never learned. Christians with this gift won’t merely speak strange gibberish or incoherent babble. They will instead speak a known language while under the control of the Holy Spirit. A group of approximately 120 of Christ’s followers displayed this gift in the streets of Jerusalem when they proclaimed the gospel to thousands of foreign Jews who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish holiday known as Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).
- the interpretation of tongues, the interpretation of languages (1 Corinthians 12:10,30): This gift is the special ability to be empowered by the Holy Spirit in interpret a foreign language that you have never learned. Christians with this gift will be able to interpret what is being said when another person speaks in a language that is foreign to the setting.
- leading, ruling (Romans 12:8): This gift is the special ability to take charge of a body of people and lead it. Christians with this gift feel very comfortable in assuming leadership positions, even being burdened to do so. They are uncommonly clear minded and direction oriented. They quickly recognize problems and provide workable solutions. They don’t necessarily crave the spotlight, but they don’t mind standing in it.
- helps, helping, the ability to help others (1 Corinthians 12:28): This gift is the special ability to effectively perform simplistic acts of service that others might consider trivial. Christians with this gift notice little things that need to be done and enjoy doing them without recognition. Typically they are unsung heroes.
- administrations, administrating, governments, managing, the ability to direct things (1 Corinthians 12:28): This gift is the special ability to excel in administrative matters. Christians with this gift are great at planning, scheduling, and organizing. They understand how to create the “nuts and bolts” that make any endeavor hum along efficiently.
Okay, there you have it, a listing of the 20 spiritual gifts the Bible specifically names. Now we need to turn our attention to asking and answering a very important question. That question is, “Does the Holy Spirit still impart all 20 of the spiritual gifts today?” Ah, now that’s a good question! And in my next post I’ll provide my answer to it. So please stay tuned….