The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
by Ron R. Ritchie
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides…
The Gifts of the Spirit Divided into Groups
“So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11
A Description of the Gifts of the Spirit
“Now concerning spiritual gifts (or “graces,” meaning a God-given ability for service) I do not want you to be unaware.” -Paul
1. Apostle (Greek: apostolos ). One sent forth—as God sent forth his Son, Jesus—into the world with the message of salvation (Heb. 3:1). Jesus, in turn, sent forth His twelve apostles, empowered by the Holy Spirit with the good news of salvation (Matt. 28:19-20), and universal authority in matters of doctrine for His disciples. These twelve apostles became the first building blocks to be placed on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:20: 4:11,12). They were also given the responsibility to equip saints for ministry within the church as well as minister to their surrounding community. Each new generation has submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ, His apostles, and their writings up to this very hour. Paul was the last apostle to be placed on the foundation of Jesus Christ eliminating any need for new apostles (1 Cor. 15:9). He became a prime example of a man who discovered his gifts and wrapped his life around them; “…1 was appointed a preacher, and an apostle and a teacher” (2 Tim. 1:11).
2. Prophecy (Greek: propheteia ). The spiritual ability to speak forth the mind and counsel of God. Prophets in the Old Testament were used by God to speak to Israel about current and future events. Jesus was the prophet to come(Deut. 1:8-18; Acts 2:22-23). The prophets in the body of Christ were called to speak forth the word of God about present and future events (Acts 2:17-18; 11:27-28), equip the saints for ministry (Eph. 4:11,12), as well as edify, comfort and encourage believers within the body of Christ and reveal the secrets of men’s hearts (1 Cor. 14:3, 23-25). Agabus (Acts 21:10-11) and the four daughters of Philip, the evangelist, were given the gift of prophecy among so many (Acts 21:9).
3. Evangelist (Greek: eulangelistes ). The spiritual ability to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ’s redemptive story to a dying world lost in their sin and shame (Romans 3:23). Jesus modeled this gift of evangelism with Nicodemus (John 3:16). The good news is, in the words of Paul; “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom. 10:9,10). The evangelists were also called of God to equip others to develop their spiritual gifts (Eph. 4:11,12). Philip was known as an evangelist (Acts 8:4-13, 21:8).
4. Pastor-teacher (Greek: poimen didaskalos ). The spiritual ability to shepherd the flock of God (guarding, guiding, encouraging, warning, etc.), feed them the Word of God, and equip them to find their gifts so that they, too, can do the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11, 12). Peter (John 21:15-17;1 Peter 5:1-15).
5. Serving (Greek: diakonia, the root for deacon). The spiritual ability to meet the physical needs of people within a given community of believers or unbelievers. One of the first examples of the serving gifts in action was re- corded in Acts 6:1-6 when the apostles selected seven men out of their group to minister to the poor Hellenistic Jewish widows who needed food. This in turn set the apostles free to minister with their spiritual gifts Phoeba, Acts 16:1).
6. Teaching (Greek: didaskalos ). The spiritual ability to take the truth from the Word of God and explain it clearly so that the flock of God can under- stand it and apply those spiritual truths effectively to their daily lives. It appears that one can have the spiritual gift of teaching without being a pastor- teacher, but one cannot be a pastor without being a teacher . The natural gift of teaching can communicate any subject but yields just understanding of that subject. The spiritual gift of teaching communicates biblical truth and motivates men and women toward a life of godly obedience to that truth. Apollos and Paul had the spiritual gift of teaching (Acts 18:24-28, 2 Tim. 1:11).
7. Encouragement (Greek: parakaleo ). The spiritual ability to come alongside a person who may be hurting spiritually or emotionally and offer them a word of comfort concerning the past and a word of encouragement, admonishment (truth in love), and challenge so that they will be able to walk in the steps of the Spirit in the future. A man named Joseph was renamed Barnabas (son of encouragement) by the apostles because of his ministry to the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37).
8. Giving (Greek: metadidomi). The spiritual ability to give financially or materially to the needs of others within the body of Christ or the community in which they live. They express this spiritual gift in simplicity to the glory of God without drawing attention to themselves. Barnabas sold a field and gave the money to the apostles for the good of the church (Acts 4:36-37).
9. Leadership (Greek: proistemi). The spiritual ability to stand before a group of people and lead them in a deep walk with the Lord, or mission project, the building of a new community of Christians, or an elders meeting, etc. The apostle James gave leadership to the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15).
10. Mercy (Greek: eleos ). The spiritual ability to manifest pity and give aid to those who are physically, emotionally or spiritually help- less. The ability to express compassionate loving action and lift up the one who is downtrodden and to do it joyfully. Tabitha—“…this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did” (Acts 9:36).
11. A word of wisdom (Greek: sophia ). The spiritual ability to perceive life and truth from God’s perspective and then apply that wisdom to specific situations. Wisdom can be discerned by its fruit. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17). James used his spiritual gift of wisdom at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:31-21). was given a vision, while living in Asia Minor, to preach the gospel in Europe (Acts 16:6-10).
12. A word of knowledge (Greek: gnosis ). The spiritual ability to communicate spiritual truth which has been acquired through the investigation of God’s word. Stephen was a great example of a man of spiritual wisdom and knowledge when he spoke before the Supreme Court and broke open the scriptures to show them that Jesus was their Messiah (Acts 7:1-53).
13. Faith (Greek: pistis ). The spiritual ability to see what isn’t, believe it to be, and trust God to do it in His way and time. Faith to move mountains. Paul was given a vision, while living in Asia Minor, to preach the gospel in Europe (Acts 16:6-10).
14. Healings (Greek: iaomai). The spiritual ability to heal one who is sick. Note that Paul called it the gifts (plural) of healings which may mean this gifted person could make one who is sick whole—either spiritually, emotionally, or physically. Physical healing is a symbol of how God wants to heal all of us spiritually. An example: Peter and John’s experience with the lame man at the temple gate (Acts 3:2-10).
15. Miraculous powers (Greek: dunamis ). The spiritual ability to do works of a supernatural origin and character, such as could not be produced by natural agents and means. Philip (Acts 8:13), and Paul (Acts 13:9-12).
16. Discerning spirits (Greek: diakrisis ). The spiritual ability to discern from God’s word between the spirit of evil and of God, the flesh and the spirit, and truth and error, before the fruit is evident. Paul had this experience with Elymas the magician (Acts 13:9-12).
17. Helps (Greek: antilepsis or antilempis ). The spiritual ability to come alongside others and support them and their ministry in physical ways. See Paul’s list of friends in Romans 16:6,12.
18. Administration (Greek: kubernesis ). The spiritual ability to give guidance, pilot, or steer. The spiritual ability to be a helmsman for a local church in helping direct its life and order. One who deals with people and not paper. The idea of governing as seen in the ministry of Stephanas (1 Cor 16:15-18).
19. Tongues (Greek: glossa ). The spiritual ability to speak an unknown foreign language without learning it beforehand. The gift of tongues is to be used publicly to bring praise to God (1 Cor.14:2), to edify the body of believers (I Cor. 14:5), and to be used as a sign of judgment against unbelieving Jews (I Cor. 14:21-22).
20. Interpretation (Greek: hermeneis ). The spiritual ability to translate the foreign language of the person speaking to the audience listening. The one who does the translation of that foreign tongue would be able, by the spirit, to interpret without learning the language beforehand (1 Cor. 14:27)
An Overview of the Spiritual Gifts
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of workings, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good…All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11