On the Gifts of the Spirit - by Stephen T. Kia
Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4 give us a listing of the various manifestations of the Holy Spirit that we call the gifts.  Not counting the instances where a gift appears more than once (namely prophecy, teaching and service) we are given a total of 19 spiritual gifts.  
Romans 12 gives us:

v      Prophecy

v      Service (Helps)

v      Teaching                                       7 gifts

v      Exhortation

v      Giving

v      Leadership (Administrations)

v      Mercy


I Corinthians 12 gives us:


v      Word of wisdom

v      Word of knowledge

v      Faith

v      Healing

v      Effecting of miracles                     11 gifts

v      Prophecy

v      Discerning of spirits

v      Speaking in tongues

v      Interpretation of tongues

v      Helps (Service)

v      Administrations (Leadership)


Ephesians 4 gives us:


v      Apostles

v      Prophets

v      Evangelists                                   5 gifts

v      Pastors    

v      Teachers



1 Peter 4 gives us:


v      Hospitality                          1 gift



Prophecy appears to be the supernatural ability to speak as the mouthpiece of God.  Prophets of old could be recognized by the familiar refrain: “Thus says the Lord.”   Likewise, a modern prophet is one who communicates the mind of God on a particular issue.  Specifically, prophecy appears to be the supernatural ability to apply Scripture (the Word of God) to real issues in the here and now.  Prediction may or may not be involved.  The prophet’s calling is simply to shed the light of Scripture on real-world issues and cause us to see things from a heavenly perspective.  Agabus was a prophet (Acts 21:10).


Service (Helps) is the supernatural ability to regard others as more important than oneself.  We are all called to have this mindset, but one with the gift of service is given special grace by the Spirit to see opportunities to meet the general needs of the body and does so with enthusiasm.  The office of a deacon makes use of this gift, for deacons are called to serve (1 Timothy 3:8-13).    


Teaching appears to be the supernatural ability to explain the Word of God in such a way that the hearer understands and is motivated to action.  The main goal of the teacher is to get the point across.  Teaching differs from prophecy in that teaching explains the Word in terms of generalities, while prophecy applies the Word to specific issues at hand.  Paul was a teacher (I Timothy 2:7).


Exhortation appears to be the supernatural ability to encourage and motivate other believers to remain faithful in their walk with God.  Exhortation involves both words and actions that stimulate the good and weed out the bad in other members of the body.  Barnabas had the gift of exhortation (Acts 4:36; 11:23).


Giving appears to be the supernatural ability to give generously to meet the financial and material needs of the saints.  Giving, like service, should be something we all do.  However, one with the gift of giving is granted special grace by the Spirit to see the needs around him and reaches into his pocket with enthusiasm to meet those needs.  The gift of giving was prominent in the church at Philippi (Philippians 4:14-18).


Leadership (Administrations) appears to be the supernatural ability to get people to rally around a common vision.  A leader may also be a pastor, but not necessarily.  Leadership involves moving people in the direction of a specific God-given vision.  A leader’s vision may be to increase numbers in attendance, to reach out to the community, or to develop an untapped resource within the body.  Whatever the vision, the leader is supernaturally endowed to get people organized and following him in the direction of the vision.  Turn to Acts 11:1-18.  Peter had a vision of reaching out to the Gentiles, and he rallied others around him to organize an effective outreach.  


Mercy is the supernatural ability to reach out to those in distress.  Mercy involves a certain element of empathy, being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Because you “feel their pain” you pray for them and reach out to help and encourage them cheerfully, without thinking of yourself.  The gift of showing mercy is closely tied to the idea of engaging in good works.  Tabitha evidently had this gift, empathizing with widows in particular (Acts 9:36-43).


Word of wisdom appears to be the supernatural ability to speak with divine insight and understanding.  Such divine insight into the situation at hand gives one the ability to speak with authority.  Because it is accompanied by divine understanding, the word of wisdom is particularly useful when giving practical advice, resolving conflicts, defending the faith, and in similar situations.  The Lord gives the word of wisdom so that the body will not have to fumble it’s way through difficult situations.  Turn to Matthew 22:15-22 .  The Lord demonstrates how the word of wisdom leaves the hearers marveling at the insight behind His response.  Stephen had the word of wisdom (Acts 6:9,10).


Word of knowledge appears to be the supernatural ability to speak with certainty about information that is humanly impossible to know.  This gift is particularly useful when someone is lying or holding information back, or when there is some unforeseen danger to the body.  The Lord gives the word of knowledge so that the body will have all the information it needs to make prudent and practical decisions.  Turn to Acts 5:1-11.  Peter received a word of knowledge that Ananias and Sapphira were lying about the price of their land and was able to cut out the cancer of their sin before it spread to the rest of the body.


Faith appears to be the supernatural ability to  take God at His Word.  Every believer must have faith, but one with the gift of faith is given special grace by the Spirit so that there is not a doubt in their mind that God will be true to His Word.  Such faith makes it possible to remove mountains of difficulty in pursuing the will of God and to act without hesitation on God’s leading.  Stephen had the gift of faith (Acts 6:5).


Healing appears to be the supernatural ability to heal diseases without any natural assistance.  The gift of healing is not intended for the purpose of sensationalism or crass commercialism, but rather is a means by which God draws attention to Himself and demonstrates His power over the human body.  Turn to Acts 3:1-10.  This demonstration of the gift of healing gave Peter a platform from which to preach the Gospel and point those who witnessed the healing to the Great Physician.


Effecting of miracles appears to be the supernatural ability to intervene and change the normal course of nature.  Just as with healing, this gift is not intended to draw attention to us, but rather to draw attention to God’s power over nature.  Stephen had the gift of effecting of miracles (Acts 6:8).


Discerning of spirits appears to be the supernatural ability to distinguish whether the Spirit of Christ or the spirit of antichrist is operating in a given situation or person.  One who has this gift is able to sense what is motivating a person to act in a certain way, and what is driving a situation in a certain direction, whether good or evil.  Turn to Acts 8:9-24.  Peter discerned that Simon was motivated by bitterness and envy, and corrected him in no uncertain terms.


Speaking in tongues appears to be the supernatural ability to speak in a foreign human language without ever having learned it, or in the language of angels (I Corinthians 13:1).  Speaking in a foreign human tongue without ever having learned it is given as a sign to those who hear that God is the one behind the message.  Speaking in the tongues of angels is a communication between you and God, a type of prayer that edifies your spirit because of the intimacy of communion with the Father.  In either case, one with this gift must not speak publicly in the Church unless there is someone present to interpret for him.  Paul spoke in tongues (I Corinthians 14:18).


Interpretation of tongues appears to be the supernatural ability to understand and interpret what has been spoken by one with the gift of speaking in tongues.  The primary purpose of this gift is to avoid the confusion that would result if people went around speaking in tongues with no one to interpret.  The church at Corinth had interpreters (I Corinthians 14:26).


Apostles are those who have been given the supernatural ability to proclaim the Word of Christ and to plant churches.  Apostle literally means “sent one.”  The original apostles were directly commissioned by the Lord Jesus Himself to go into all the world and proclaim His Word and plant new churches.  Modern apostles, called missionaries to avoid confusing them with the original twelve, carry out that commission today on every continent, proclaiming His Word and planting new churches among every nation and tribe and tongue and people.  Andronicus and Junias were missionary/apostles (Romans 16:7).  


Evangelists are those who have been given the supernatural ability to preach the good news of salvation to the lost.  Each one of us is called to do the work of an evangelist.  However, one with the gift of evangelism is given special grace by the Spirit to see and assess the spiritual state of the lost, and to proclaim to them the gospel of salvation in Christ Jesus.  Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8).


Pastors are those who have been given the supernatural ability to shepherd the flock of Christ.  They guide and feed the flock, watching for enemies, defending from attack, caring for the wounded, and searching for those who have strayed.  They differ from leaders in that they are primarily concerned with the sheep themselves, not a vision of greener pastures. There is no gift of eldership, but the office of an elder makes use of both the gift of leadership and the gift of shepherding in combination with any other gifts the elder may have.  John was an elder (II John 1:1; III John 1).


Hospitality appears to be the supernatural ability to open your heart and your home to those in need, especially when they are strangers.  Hospitality comes from the Latin word hospes, meaning guests.  It involves caring for the physical as well as emotional needs of those receiving hospitality, satisfying both physical hunger and the emotional hunger for fellowship.  Gaius appears to have had the gift of hospitality (Romans 16:23; III John 1, 5-8). 



One way of organizing the different gifts so that we can remember them is to separate them into three categories as follows:


                        The Speaking Gifts                                                 








Word of wisdom        

Word of knowledge



The Serving Gifts










The Signifying Gifts




Speaking in tongues

Interpretation of tongues