There’s not just one list of spiritual gifts in the Bible, but multiple. You can find these “lists” in four different portions of Scripture. However, calling them spiritual gifts can sometimes be misleading.
Of the Spirit
The various “gifts” in the Bible are better referred to as “gifts of the Spirit” because they originate from the Spirit of God and not our souls.
In 1 Corinthians 12 (MSG), it says:
God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.
The passage goes on to list nine gifts but ends with:
All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when (1 Corinthians 12:11).
The gifts of the Spirit are not natural talent at work but are demonstrations of the Spirit of the living God through each born again believer.
List of Nine
The nine gifts, as Paul reminds us, are directly sourced from God:
- Wise Counsel; Clear Understanding; Simple Trust
- Healing the Sick; Miraculous Actsl; Proclamation
- Distinguishing between Spirits; Tongues; Interpretation of Tongues
Source: The Message Translation
These wonderful gifts of the Spirit not only minister to others through us but He can minister to us by them also. We can receive wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust (faith in other translations), etc. when we ask.
List of Seven
In Romans 12:6-8, we find a list of seven gifts of the Spirit. Different translations give different names to them, but they are still the same gifts.
New International Version:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
The Message translation:
If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
With these seven gifts, Paul gives instructions on how they are to be utilized by the grace of God.
List of Eight
Going back to 1 Corinthians 12, we find another list at the end of the chapter. Some of them are repeated in another list, while two appear to be added. Before Paul lists them, he delivers another reminder that God is the source.
You are Christ’s body — that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:
- Apostles; Prophets; Teachers; Miracle Workers
- Healers; Helpers; Organizers; Those Who Pray in Tongues
But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts (1 Corinthians 12:28-31, The Message).
Every person has an important part to play but God is the all-important one.
List of Five
In Ephesians 4:11, we find what is often referred to as the five-fold ministry. Some contend these are not gifts, but offices. Others look on these as special, better, or more important than other gifts, but as we read above, that isn’t true.
It was he who “gave gifts to people;” he appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11).
Paul admonishes about what is the most important thing at the close of 1 Corinthians 12.
You should set your hearts on the highest spiritual gifts, but I will show you what is the highest way of all. (PHILLIPS)
The highest way, or as some translations call it, “the more excellent way,” is love.
Why Does This Matter?
God wants us to use the gifts He gives us. It’s important to remember His love is a gift to us as well. John reminds us that we are able to love because God loved us first. Jesus reminded the disciples to freely give what they received. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Paul makes it clear that love is what is most important. No matter what gift or gifts you receive of the Spirit, it is His love that never fails.
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Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, speaker, and coach who helps people embrace their value and heal their soul through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn (now available in audio), Love’s Manifesto and Because You Matter. A long time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/