Also Known as Tongues of Fire Series

Dividing the Gifts

A Detailed Look at the Gifts

Prophecy, Ministry, Evangelism, Pastor Teacher, Healing



1 Corinthians 12

Dividing The Gifts

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 "Now there are diversities (DIAIRESIS = DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN, VARIETIES IN) of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, (DIAKONIA = SERVICE, ATTENDANCE, WAITING ON) but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, (ENERGEMA = WORKING, ENERGY) but it is the same God which worketh all in all."

We've already fully discussed the historical background of 1 Corinthians, and found the Corinthians believers to be completely carnal and immature. In an effort to get these believers back on track, Paul begins to discuss the Spiritual Gifts that are available to the mature believer.

Paul begins by noting that the Spiritual Gifts are broken down into categories. God didn't give the Body of Christ, the Church, just one spiritual Gift. The Body is many parted with each part having a different function. Just as the human body has many parts, each with it's own distinct purpose and function, the Church has DIAIRESIS., or many different functioning parts (1 Corinthians 12.12, 14-26).

Romans 12:3-5 "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, (THE CHURCH) and all members have not the same office: (THE GIFTS AND POSITIONS HELD IN THE CHURCH) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."

Hebrews 10:23-25 "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day (SECOND COMING OF JESUS) approaching."

The Church isn't a clubhouse for the Saints. The Church was established by God as a vitally necessary formation of all believers so that we can carry out God's Plan and Purpose here on earth. Though we're never commanded to do anything under our own feeble powers, God has given us two tools that we can use to serve Him. We are to use the power of God the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives, and we are to work through our local Body of Christ (the Church) while on this earth. Both tools must be used if the believer is to be effective for God in the devil's world.

Paul told the Romans that the believer is to think "soberly", not proudly of himself. The abilities that we have are from the Lord, the spiritual Gifts we possess are from our Father. We are "many members in one Body", and as we each are cogs in that Body we must work together with our brethren toward the common goal of serving God. No believer is a power unto himself, and none of us can stand firm in this evil world apart from our local Church. When any believer begins to feel that he's an island unto himself, then he's lost sight of the Divine purpose of the Church. I may have the gifts of teaching and exhortation, but no believer possesses all of the gifts of the Spirit. No spiritual Gift was ever given to edify or build up the recipient of that Gift, but all were meant to edify the Body of Christ. Just as the human body needs nourishment from all the food groups, each of us needs a sampling of all the Gifts available to the Body. If a person eats starchy foods to the exclusion of all else then his body will turn on itself and seek to draw the necessary nutrients out of it's very tissues. If a believer cuts himself off from his local Church he'll never reach his maximum potential for God. The Corinthians never quite grasped this concept (1 Cor 3.4-10; 6.1-8). They destroyed their own spiritual growth by breaking up their local Church into divisive groups. You must join and work within your local Body in order to satisfy your spiritual needs.

1 Corinthians 12:24-27 "For our comely (BEAUTIFUL) parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

The spiritual maturity of each individual believer is directly related to how he functions in the local Church, and how he functions in the local Church is an indicator of that believer's spiritual maturity. The spiritual Gifts were given by God to the Church so that the Church as a whole would grow without division or schisms. The Corinthians were not using their spiritual Gifts as is evident by the divisions in the Body. These believers were "high minded", separating into their own little groups for pride's sake. There was no concern one for another as God commands us. Every believer has both a right to exercise his Gift as well as a duty to insure that it's operation benefits the Church. When believers fail to reach maturity so they can exercise their Gifts within the Body they rob the Church.

How many spiritual Gifts are available to the Body of Christ? Depending on which theologian you ask, the number could be anywhere between eight and twenty-four. However, if you compare the three "spiritual Gifts lists" found in scripture, I think you'll agree that the number is more realistically sixteen. Let's look at these "lists":

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

Romans 12:6-8 "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness."

Ephesians 4:11-12 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:"

As you can see by comparing the lists, not all Gifts are in all three lists. Some are listed only in two lists, whereas some are mentioned only once (like Tongues). Before we list all of these gifts I want to note 1 Corinthians 12.5-6 again. In that text Paul categorizes the Gifts as either DIAKONIA, or Administrative Gifts, or ENERGEMA, Operational or Working Gifts. The DIAKONIA are those Gifts necessary for the earthly leadership of the Church. Yes, Jesus is the ultimate Head of the Church, but the Church is broken down (for practical reasons) into local assemblies. Each local assembly has some God Appointed Leaders to physically manage that Church. These Leaders always possess DIAKONIA Gifts. The Operational Gifts, ENERGEMA, are those Gifts given to the followers of Christ in the local Church. These gifts operationally sustain the Body by providing spiritual sustenance to it's members. The following is a breakdown of all the Spiritual Gifts:

Ruling (also called Eldership) 
Prophecy (Preaching) 
Ministry (Helps) 
Evangelism (Exhortation) 
Working of Miracles 
Discerning of Spirits 

Interpretation of Tongues

  The ENERGEMA can also be broken down into two categories, Characteristic and Non-Characteristic Gifts. The Characteristic Gifts are those gifts which are Divine amplifications of some trait found in mankind. The Non-Characteristic Gifts are those which find no parallel in nature, but are purely supernatural. These categories of ENERGEMA are:

Evangelism (Exhortation) 
Ministry (Helps) 
Pastoral - Teaching 
Prophecy (Preaching) 
Working of Miracles 
Discerning of Spirits 
Interpretation of Tongues 
  There are a total of sixteen spiritual Gifts available and dispensed throughout the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. As these Gifts often supplement or compliment one another, the Spirit usually dispenses them in pairs. This is illustrated in 1 Timothy 3.2, where we read:

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;"

According to Paul those who possess the Leadership Gift must also possess the Gift of Teaching. This would make it necessary for the Holy Spirit to give at least two Gifts to God's chosen leader over the local Church. This is further amplified by:

1 Corinthians 12:11 "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

Severally is a key word in this verse. The Spirit doesn't give just one Spiritual Gift to each believer, but two or more as He sees fit. Hypothetically we could suppose that God would give the Leader of the local Church the Gifts of Prophecy (so he could preach the Word), Ministry (so he could aid his flock), Evangelism (so he could lead others to Christ), Mercifulness, Wisdom, and Knowledge. Though his primary Gift would be Leadership, the secondary Gifts given would help him to fulfill his calling. If another believer in that Body were called to be an Evangelist, we could hypothetically say that he would possess secondary Gifts as needed to help him fulfill his office. Each member of the Body definitely has an assigned primary Gift, and the Scripture alludes us to believe that that member also possesses secondary Gifts as deemed necessary by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.19-24).

Having said this, there are certain general characteristics the Bible ascribes to the Gifts. These are:


    No one Gift is more important than the other. All assigned Gifts are equally important in the Body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:14-18 "For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him."

The Corinthians thought that if they possessed the "less spectacular Gifts" then they were less important to God in the Church. I always think about my own body when I see someone who is handicapped and wonder what part of it I could do without. Could I lose a finger or a toe without harming or changing the quality of my life? Absolutely not! Our handicapped brethren have learned to live without certain things which I take for granted, but I dare say that all of them wish that they could be without their limitations. Paul illustrates the same thing in the above text. If the whole Body of Christ wanted the "Eye Gifts", then the Body would be crippled from it's other natural functions. The Body would definitely suffer under such limitations, with the end result being poor spiritual maturity within it's individual members. The Corinthians involved themselves is this silly state. They all wanted to speak in Tongues because they felt that Gift was visible and flamboyant. I don't believe for one moment that they were all utilizing Tongues, for the Spirit gives the Gifts as He determines necessary to the Body. Some Corinthians no doubt practiced Tongues, whereas others practiced a counterfeit from Satan's world order. All were speaking Tongues, either real or pseudo, and the hazard was that they were completely ignoring the other Spiritual Gifts. This crippled that Body, and led to the text which we are now studying.


    The Gifts are not to be confused with normal human talent.
Talent is "an attribute or characteristic among mankind which is inherited at birth through the gene pool of the parents, or learned through remedial training". Spiritual Gifts are "extraordinary or amplified power given to a believer through God the Holy Spirit so that the Body of Christ can be edified or built up". A spiritual Gift is never to be connected with ordinary human talent. This is an insult to God the Holy Spirit.


    Spiritual Gifts are never given to an individual believer so that he can edify or glorify himself.
1 Corinthians 12:7 "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal."

Withal is the old English for "with all", or "along side of everyone else". The believer who exercises the Gift is edified, certainly, but this exercise must also edify the entire Body or the Gift is being improperly used. The Charismatic idea that Tongues are given to believers as a "personal prayer language" is totally unfounded in Scripture, and directly contradicted by the above text. You may have Tongues, and you may exercise that Gift in the Body. But if you fail to exercise the Gift to edify the Body then you sin against God by rejecting His plainly stated decree.


    All believers possess at least two spiritual Gifts, one primary and the other supporting the first.
We've already studied the ramifications of 1 Corinthians 12.11, so you should see the clarity of this point. All believers have spiritual Gifts. Why don't all believers exercise their Gifts? Because many in the Church today are spiritually immature and carnal, redundant, in and out of fellowship on a daily basis. Many of the things that God gives His children are given provisionally. The power of the Spirit is given to believers who are mature and able to use that power for God's glory. God protects even the carnal believer from harming himself by restricting his power within the Plan of God. Our Father heard the cries of Israel in bondage to Egypt, and freed them from captivity (Exo 3.6-8). He promised Israel a land flowing with milk and honey, a bountiful land called Canaan. His promises were provisionally applied to believing Israel, not to the unbelieving portion of that great nation. When the Exodus generation continued to reject God's Plans for it, God condemned them to slow extermination in the wilderness (Lev 14.20-35). Only two believers from the Exodus generation, Joshua and Caleb, would ever sit foot on the Promised Land. The same principals apply to the believer and the Spiritual Gifts. We have been promised at least two Gifts. By staying in fellowship and growing as believers we can claim these Gifts in our own lifetime. If we backslide and reject God's best for us, we delay our ability to exercise these Gifts. If we continue to stay out of fellowship then we can even enter into the Sin unto Death (1 John 5.16-17; Psa 118.17-18; Jere 9.15-16; 44.12; 1 Cor 11.30-31; Acts 5.1-10; 1 Chron 10.13-14). Though the Gifts may be yours, you must grow before you can go!


    Spiritual Gifts are never given according to the relative merit of the believer.
At the point of salvation all believers are "babes in Christ", none of us any better than the other. God the Holy Spirit doesn't look at one person and say, "This one is such a good person that I'm going to give him the Gift of Leadership, or the Gift of Teaching". There are none of us intrinsically good in God's sight. We are all filthy sinners prior to salvation (Romans 3.9-18), and at salvation have done nothing worthy of merit other than accept Jesus Christ as Savior. The Spirit bestows the Gifts as He sees fit (1 Corinthians 12.11), not based on our poor track record of merit. As all Gifts are equally important in the Body, your Gift is just as important as mine to the smooth function of the Church.


    The Spiritual Gifts that you receive from God the Holy Spirit are forever marked out for you.
Romans 11:29 "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."

You retain your Gifts, though your ability to exercise the same is based on your reaching a level of maturity satisfactory with the Father. Israel was promised Canaan by God, a contract that He stood ready to honor. Because the first generation in the Exodus rejected God and remained in immaturity they never claimed that promise. This was not God's fault, it was solely theirs. Christians all have Spiritual Gifts, but sadly, few ever claim the Promise. Doctor John Maxwell, the Wesleyan Minister and Christian INJOY founder, teaches a 20-80 principle in the Local Church. One of the tenets of this principle is that 20% of those who attend Church do 80% of the work in the Church. What this means is that, as Doctor Maxwell has discovered, only one fifth of the members of any local Church ever develop in maturity to the point where they can effectively serve God. This has been made abundantly clear to me over the years as I have served in various leadership positions in the Church. It is like pulling teeth to get believers to step forward with the Gifts of Teaching, Ministry, Giving, Discernment, or Evangelism. The Holy Spirit sets these Gifts in the Church: the Scripture teaches it, and I believe it. All believers possess spiritual Gifts as necessary for the operation of the Church. Again, this is Scriptural. But few believers ever claim the Promise, for they never seek maturity in their walk with Christ.


    The mature believer can unselfishly ask God for additional Gifts as is necessary to edify the Body of Christ.
In Corinth there were so many selfish and carnal believers that there was a lack of mature believers with operating Gifts. This definitely limited that Body from functioning as God intended. Many Corinthians who sought Gifts ignored their own Primary Gift in an attempt to "Speak in Tongues". This led Paul to state:

1 Corinthians 14:12-13 "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret."

And also:

1 Corinthians 12:31 "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."

Whenever the Church is crippled by carnality those who are mature in Christ must take up the slack. If these mature believers ask God for additional Spiritual Gifts so that the Church can function, the Spirit will grant these requests as He sees fit. Remember, God alone determines how the Gifts are dispersed (1 Corinthians 12.11). In a recent article I read from a Feminist/Christian, the author related that the idea of men only in the pulpit was preposterous, old fashioned, and that the Biblical writers were really reflecting the prejudices of their time by ignoring women as candidates for ordination. She concluded by stating "If there is no man in the Church that will preach, then God will raise up a woman to preach". The point that my sister missed was, God will raise up His Minister to preach as He sees fit. And if no Minister is available for the pulpit, the mature believers should pray and ask that the Holy Spirit fill this void. (As to my views on women in the Pulpit, this will not be addressed here. See the Broken Rib series for that discussion.)


    The Spiritual Gift is always controlled and under control by the mature believer.
1 Corinthians 14:27-32 "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets."

The immature and carnal believer has no ability to exercise his Gift, but the mature believer has exercise and control over his. The believer who teaches does not knowingly teach false doctrine while exercising his Gift, or else the Gift becomes inactive under sin. If a believer tries to use his Gift to edify himself alone then this selfishness (sin) causes him to lose the Filling, and thus the operation of that Gift. The mature believer operates his Gift with knowledge that it must edify the Body. The mature believer chooses the right moment to exercise his Gift, and knows when the Gift must be restrained. All things must be done to the edification of the Church (1 Corinthians 14.26).

Consider this: I have been given numerous Gifts by the Holy Spirit. One of these is the ability to teach, another to preach. While I sit in the congregation on Sunday morning, hearing the Pastor's sermon, I have no authority under God to suddenly jump up and add my two cents worth to the sermon. God sends me some of the best sermon seeds while I sit under the authority of another of His Ministers. Yet I must keep quiet, store the thought, and let the seed grow until such time as He allows me to Minister. The Bible teaches:

1 Corinthians 14:33 "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."

So I must be still until it is my time to serve. If what I or you do causes confusion, quenches growth and edification, then it is not of God. Some Charismatics would have us believe that holding your tongue is the same as quenching the Spirit. Not so! We are commanded to hold our tongues (1 Corinthians 14.27-31, 37-40) to prevent confusion. This is the essence of Christian maturity.


    The Spiritual Gifts are always used in Love to edify (build up) the Body of Christ.
1 Cor:13:1-2 "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."

The Charismatics center their attention on the first eleven words of this text yet miss the whole point. No matter what Gift you possess, if you aren't using it to edify the body of Christ, then you aren't doing God's Will. Your position in the Plan of God is useless, your rewards in Heaven are being dumped. The end aim or goal of all Spiritual Gifts is to edify the Body. When this goal is missed then this action, your alleged "Gift", was in essence useless. Anything less than edification of the Church is trash in God's eyes.

Having looked at these general points about the Gifts, let's look at each Gift in detail. Perhaps by understanding what each Gift does you can understand how to use it in the Body of Christ.


A Detailed Look at The Gifts:

The Gift of Prophecy

In the Old Testament dispensation (up until the Day of Pentecost) the one who possessed the Gift of Prophecy had the ability to foresee and foretell the future. In the New Testament early Church the canon of Scripture was closed (Revelation 22.18) the Gift of Prophecy came to be found in the form that we today call "Preaching". As Vincent states:

"Prophecy - in the New Testament, as in the Old, the prominent idea is not prediction, but the inspired delivery of warning, exhortation, instruction, judging, and making manifest the secrets of the heart.."

In the Old Testament there was a distinction made between the one who held the "Office" of the Prophet and the one who possessed the "Gift" of Prophecy. Those who possessed the Gift received and lost the Gift as God decreed, but the one who held the Office had no other vocation other than as God's Prophet. Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and Ezekiel all held the Office. King David, Solomon, and King Saul all possessed the Gift of Prophecy, though they were not normally prophets.

The Biblical test as to whether one possessed the original Prophetic Gift is whether that person was 100% correct 100% of the time (Deuteronomy 18). If a person prophesied even one error then in the Old Testament dispensation he was considered a false prophet and was stoned to death. What the Father says always comes true, and the Prophet only repeated what the Father told him. True prophecy also inspired man to follow after God while forsaking all other gods (Deuteronomy 13). The false prophet always led others to false gods or subtly blasphemed the True Father. If the prophet also failed to acknowledge the Bible, God's Word, as true, then this was also a sign that he was false (1 Corinthians 14.37-38). The false prophet always says what the people want to hear rather than what God wants said (Jeremiah 23.9-29). False prophets steal their messages from others, pretend to have the authority of God, and glorify themselves rather than the Almighty (Jeremiah 23.30-32). They rely on their own wisdom, and lead others to rely on this false wisdom which indeed becomes a trap on the day of trial (Ezekiel 12.21-14.11). They grieve the righteous, encourage the wicked proclaim peace and shallow optimism when this is but a figment of the imagination. The false prophet never rebukes the people in God's name for their sinful ways but rationalizes these failures as "mere mistakes".

The Gift of Ministry

Ministry, the Greek DIAKONIA (from where we get our word "Deacon") means "To serve, service, help, or wait on others". One with the Gift of Ministry has the ability to help others succeed in their walks with God. The Minister always helps or aids others to a supernatural degree. A Minister would be enabled to counsel others in despair, aid in repairs or physical comfort of others. In other words, this is a multifunctional Gift which promotes the edification of others within the Body. It can be used to help those in pain or suffering, and bring happiness and comfort.

The Gift of Evangelism

Evangelism, also called "exhortation", is the Greek word PARAKLESIS. This word literally translated means "To call alongside of". The evangelist has the Divine ability to implore, speak in oration to, challenge, entreat, or bring comfort to others through public or private communication. Evangelism, like prophecy, can be held as a Gift or as an Office. Those with the Office of Evangelist devote their lives to serving God with their Gift in exhortation. The Evangelist can effectively challenge the Body of Christ toward righteous living and spiritual maturity. He can, through spirited communication, lead men to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus Christ as Savior. Though all believers are called to be witnesses for Christ, the Evangelist (of either Office or Gift) is always an effective witness, pointing the way to the risen Savior.


The Gift of the Pastor-Teacher

Though the King James text lists this as two Gifts, the Greek construction in Ephesians 4.11-12 [POIMEN KAI DIDASKALOS] shows this to be the same Gift. The Ascensive KAI in the verse would render the translation, "Pastor, even Teacher". Pastor, or POIMEN, is "One who shepherds or guides the flock", and DIDASKALOS, is "An instructor or teacher". Literally this Gift denotes one who "Guides the flock of God through instruction".

The Pastor-Teacher has the Divine ability to glean instruction from the Word of God and present the same to the Church for their spiritual edification. The Pastor-Teacher is a critical and important asset in the believer's momentum to spiritual maturity. The Pastor-Teacher is empowered to spend much of his time in studying the Word of God, assimilating it's doctrines, interpreting texts, and categorizing the materials gathered for later submission to the Flock. The Gift carries certain restrictions with it: Women possessing the Gift were not allowed to use the Gift in authority over the men of the congregation (1 Cor 14.34-35; Eph 5.22-24; 1 Tim 2.11-15). The reason for this is outlined in the series The Broken Rib, so I will not go into it here. Suffice it to say that this restriction had nothing to do with a woman's inability to teach, or some presupposed inferiority of the female as opposed to the male. This is just not true! But I will not digress here. Please feel free to break into the other study at your own leisure.


The Gift of Healing

The Gift of Healing gives the Body of Christ the Divine ability to shunt off or reverse the effects of physical sickness. This Gift was usually exercised through the elders of the Church:

James 5:14-15 "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

The Gift was limited to curing sickness through God's Will. It did not necessarily carry with it a mandate that God would heal if it was outside of His Will.

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