Before we survey the spiritual gifts, we will look at two Greek words used to describe the gifts of the Spirit: pneumatika refers to their source, the Holy Spirit (pneuma) of God; and charismata refers to the fact that they are granted as an act of God’s grace (charis). The spiritual gifts are given by grace and are not based on our worthiness or personal abilities; they are given according to God’s sovereign choice. The gifts are given by the Spirit of God; thus, the gifts are a part of the new life granted to us in Christ and may be drastically different from our perceived capabilities or desires prior to salvation. First Corinthians 12:4–7 explains: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” Believers will differ in their spiritual gifts, but all spiritual gifts are meant to be used for the edification of the body of Christ and to the glory of God.
A brief examination of three key texts (Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11; 1 Peter 4:10–11) will help us see God’s design regarding His gifts.
One of the first things that becomes clear in these passages is the diversity of the gifts. Paul’s survey of spiritual gifts in Romans 12 includes different gifts than are found in 1 Corinthians 12. And when Peter spoke of the spiritual gifts in 1 Peter 4:10–11, he didn’t specify them but rather listed broad categories of the types of gifts God gives. Among the gifts listed in the Bible are prophecy, ministry, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, showing mercy, speaking in languages, and interpreting languages. Whatever the specific use, each gift fits together with the other gifts, and they all work together as the parts of the body to make a functional whole (Romans 12:5).
In putting together a complete survey of the spiritual gifts, one must attempt to quantify and define the gifts. Romans 12 lists at least seven gifts, and 1 Corinthians 12 lists nine. There is some overlap in these lists, and there are certainly indications that there are more gifts than are itemized.
Here is a brief spiritual gifts survey from Dr. Larry Gilbert (modified from “How Many Spiritual Gifts Are There?”):
1. Miraculous Gifts
• Apostleship (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11)
• Tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28, 30)
• Interpretation (1 Corinthians 12:10, 30)
• Miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28)
• Healing (1 Corinthians 12:9, 28)
2. Enabling Gifts
• Faith (1 Corinthians 12:9)
• Discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10)
• Wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8)
• Knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8)
3. Team Gifts
• Evangelism: passionately leading others to the saving knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 4:11)
• Prophecy: boldly and fearlessly proclaiming God’s truth (Romans 12:6; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28)
• Teaching: making clear the truth of God’s Word with simplicity and accuracy (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28)
• Exhortation: motivating others to action, application, and purpose (Romans 12:8)
• Shepherding: overseeing, training, feeding, coaching/leading (Ephesians 4:11)
• Serving: providing practical help both physically and spiritually (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28)
• Mercy-showing: identifying with and comforting those in need (Romans 12:8)
• Giving: releasing material resources to further the work of the Church (Romans 12:8)
• Administration: organizing, administering, promoting, leading (Romans 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28)
In 1 Peter 4:9–11, Peter gives us two groups of Team Gifts:
1.“Speaking” gifts. Those who have the speaking gifts are Evangelists, Prophets, Teachers, Exhorters, and Shepherds.
2. “Ministering” gifts, or support gifts. People with these gifts emulate Christ in that He came not to be served, but to served (Mark 10:45). They have been blessed with self-forgetfulness as they focus on the needs of others. Ministering gifts include Shepherds, Mercy-Showers, Servers, Givers, and Administrators.
The Bible says we are given spiritual gifts for a purpose. In Romans 12:8 we are told to use the various gifts according to the character of God and His revealed will “with simplicity . . . with diligence . . . with cheerfulness.” In 1 Corinthians 12:24–25 we are told that “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” In 1 Peter 4:11 the purpose of the gifts is “that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”