Spiritual Gifts

This is one of the hardest subjects for me to write on. The subject of spiritual gifts is unfortunately controversial because God hasn't put this in a box so we can slap a label on it and go on our way. We desperately need to clearly define each of these spiritual gifts and define the miracles, gifts, etc. that clearly occur in present day. For example, all of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-8 are clearly present today, depending on how you define them:

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

There are essentially five lists of spiritual gifts (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11; and 1 Peter 4:11) and these are listed at the bottom of this page. The more controversial gifts occur in 1 Corinthians 12 and the "five-fold ministry" in Ephesians 4:11, namely the title of Apostle and Prophet as we have Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. What also makes this difficult is that many of the gifts in the other lists are pretty clearly in use today. The controversial ones are mostly Apostle, Prophet, Tongues, and Interpretation of Tongues.

According to the Christian New Testament, there were various supernatural manifestations in the early church. The book of Acts describes the apostles and other believers healing the sick, performing miracles, having supernatural knowledge, receiving visions and other prophetic revelations, and supernaturally speaking in foreign languages. One of Paul's epistles, I Corinthians 12 lists various spiritual gifts (charismata) of a supernatural nature present in the church. I Corinthians 14 addresses problems with misuse of spiritual gifts and instructions on how to use them properly in a church meeting. Albeit, this is all done with the understanding that we need not and cannot manage the gifts unless they are currently in operation. As I mentioned, Romans 12 lists several spiritual gifts including prophecy, and other gifts that seem less spectacular in nature.


The Greek word translated 'spiritual gifts', charismata is closely related to the Greek word for grace, charis. It is from this word that 'Charismatic' derives its name. Charismatics believe in the ongoing operation of the gifts of the spirit. Pentecostals hold to the same belief. Typically, "Pentecostal" is used to describe movements that had their origin in the Azusa Street revival in the first decade of the 20th century, and "Charismatic" is used to describe movements that had their roots in the Charismatic renewal of the 1960's and '70's in which members of mainline denominations began to believe in the baptism with the Holy Spirit and continuance of spiritual gifts.


An opposing view to the charismatic position is called cessationism. A cessationist believes that all or some of the spiritual gifts (typically the spectacular ones) ceased at some point in the past. A typical cesssationist view is that these spiritual gifts ceased at the death of the last apostle. Another view is that they ceased at some point when the church reached a certain state of doctrinal maturity or gained strong influence in society. I address the history of this in my article on tongues.

I encourage you to read the related articles


Romans 12:6-8 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 1 Corinthians 12:28 Ephesians 4:11 1 Peter 4:11
  • Prophecy
  • Serving
  • Teaching
  • Exhortation
  • Giving
  • Leadership
  • Mercy
  • Word of wisdom
  • Word of knowledge
  • Faith
  • Gifts of healings
  • Miracles
  • Prophecy
  • Distinguishing between spirits
  • Tongues
  • Interpretation of tongues
  • Apostle
  • Prophet
  • Teacher
  • Miracles
  • Kinds of healings
  • Helps
  • Administration
  • Tongues
  • Apostle
  • Prophet
  • Evangelist
  • Pastor
  • Teacher
  • Whoever speaks
  • Whoever renders service

© Todd Tyszka
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