Spiritual Gifts – Part 2

What are the different types of Spiritual Gifts?

Spiritual Gifts: PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

In Part 1 of our discussion on Spiritual Gifts, we defined what they are, where they come from, and some ways that they can be discovered. In Part 2 of this lesson, we are going to discuss each gift in detail. After all, it is important to know what they are before you can determine if you have one of them.

Why should you care what your Spiritual Gift(s) is? Because the Bible says that if you don’t use what you have been given, you will lose it. And likewise, if you use it well, more will be given to you! Consider Jesus’ parable of the three servants in Matthew 25:14-30. As we discussed in Part 1, each person is given Spiritual Gifts according to the measure of their faith. In this parable, the man gives different amounts of money to the three servants. It is interesting to note that, even though the first two servants were given differing amounts of money to look after, the master was just as pleased with the servant who returned 10 bags of silver as he was with the one who returned 4. He even gave them more responsibility and held a celebration!

Using this analogy in our discussion about Spiritual Gifts, we see that God just wants us to dutifully use the gifts that we have been given according to our abilities. It doesn’t matter what the measure of the result is, it matters what the measure of your effort is. The tragedy of the story lies with the third servant who did nothing with what he had been given. When he presented the one bag of silver directly back to his boss, there were strong words waiting for him. In fact, his bag of silver was taken away and given to the first servant. The Bible says:

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” (v29)

So, you can see it is important to know what these are so that you won’t be guilty of squandering the gifts you have been given!

As we begin to define each gift below, be thinking about whether or not some of these descriptions remind you of yourself. However, as you consider how these gifts might apply to you, be honest with yourself. Remember, Romans 12:3 says:

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”

Three Main Categories of Spiritual Gifts

As we look through the New Testament scriptures that discuss Spiritual Gifts, we see in 1 Peter 4:10-11 that they are dividing into two groups: Speaking Gifts and Serving Gifts.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Within these two categories, there are several Spiritual Gifts that are considered to be “temporary.” For the purposes of this discussion (and for the sake of clarity), I have separated the gifts that are no longer given out into a third group: Temporary Gifts. (See 1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

There are so many different opinions out there about what belongs on the list of Spiritual Gifts, but after having studied these areas in depth, it is my belief that the list below is comprehensive and can be backed up with scripture. The passages I am referencing to compile this list are Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 & 28-30. There are a few other areas of scripture that touch the subject, but do not actually define any Spiritual Gifts outside of the two books above. I won’t waste any more time here, but in case you are curious, the reasons for this will be discussed at the end of this post.

Spiritual Gifts

1. Speaking Gifts

Some things are just too good to be kept secret. The following gifts are intending to be shared through speaking to other believers or non-believers in one way or another… they are the “head and heart” of Christianity.


Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Corinthians 12:28, 1 Corinthians 14:24-25
Sometimes described as: Preaching
Those with the gift of prophecy are called to “speak forth.” It is their responsibility to speak the truth of God to strengthen those who hear it (ie – Judas & Silas in Acts 15:32). Prophecy is the public proclamation of the Word of God. Even though all Spiritual Gifts are important, 1st Corinthians 14:1 suggests that this gift is especially important/useful. The gift of prophecy helps others grow in the Lord, and it encourages and comforts them (1 Corinthians 14:3-5). It is specifically for the benefit of believers (1 Corinthians 14:22). Because prophecy means declaring a specific word directly from God, it can also bring conviction to un-believers (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). So how do you use this gift wisely? Consider the words in Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy:

“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)


Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28
Sometimes described as: Shepherding, Training
The Spriitual Gift of Teaching equips a believer with a special ability to interpret, clarify, systematize and explain God’s truth clearly to others. It differs from Prophecy in that it is more applicable to a non-public or personal forum. The Teaching gift is used in a classroom, small-group, or one-on-one setting. How do you use your gift of Teaching? Let’s see what Paul said:

“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

Finally, it is important to remember that if you use this gift as it is intended (how? well, to teach of course), you will be held to a higher standard. The Bible specifically warns those who teach to decide to do so carefully… because you will be “judged more strictly.” (James 3:1)


Romans 12:8
Sometimes described as: Encouragement, Counselor, Comforter
This gift provides a special ability to effectively call others to obey and follow God’s truth. It can be used to chastise or encourage those struggling with sin. Exhortation is to “stir” someone up through love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). This gift is given to someone who is called to be a “comforter,” which is the same word in the Bible used to describe the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).


1 Corinthians 12:8
Sometimes described as: No Synonyms
A person with this gift has the ability to understand God’s Word & Will, and then skillfully apply it to everyday life. As we all know, wisdom is something that comes with age. However, not all people who have gray hair have gained wisdom with their years. The Bible specifically says that those who ask God for wisdom -and believe He will answer- will receive more (James 1:5). Another important thing to note about this gift is that it is one that must be spoken. After all, what good is having wisdom if you don’t share it with others? Wisdom is the application of knowledge (see the next gift below) but differs from knowledge in the way that it is used. Wisdom requires meekness, along with many other characteristics before it can be fully realized (James 3:13-18).


1 Corinthians 12:8
Sometimes described as: Special Knowledge
The Spiritual Gift of Knowledge supplies the believer with a special understanding of the mysteries of salvation (Colossians 1:26). Paul had this gift (Ephesians 3:3) and he used it in his ministry to help the church grow in its understanding of Christianity (Colossians 2:2). The gift of Knowledge aids in comprehension and understanding of God’s truths. This special insight into the intricacies of God’s Word requires that it be shared with others. That is why it is classified as a “speaking” gift. Knowledge is the supernatural understanding of scripture while wisdom is the supernatural application of scripture. Therefore, knowledge comes before wisdom.

2. Serving Gifts

This is where the rubber meets the road. Gifts of “service” are how things get done in the church. The following gifts are the “hands and feet” of Christianity.


Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28
Sometimes described as: Helps, Ministering
In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word used here to describe the gift of Service is the same used to describe the role that the “deacon” is supposed to fulfill. While this helps us understand its intent, it is important to know that there are a very broad range of functions within the church that this gift provides for. The Church is in constant need of members with the gift of Service, those who work hard and constantly have the needs of others in mind (Acts 20:35). This is the backbone of the Church, the part that provides the structure and pathway for information while constantly remaining out of sight. People who have the gift of Service do not seek recognition and tend to shy away from the public arena. They store up their treasure in Heaven.


Romans 12:8
Sometimes described as: Generosity, Contributes
This Spiritual Gift equips a believer with a special ability to sacrificially and joyfully share their own resources (time, talent, treasure) in order to meet the needs of others. They do not give for any kind of recognition or thanks, but for the glory of God (Matthew 6:2-4). People with this gift are often sincere and single-minded. The desire to give is seen as simple obedience to return to God what is already his to begin with. A great description of the qualities and characteristics that accompany this gift can be found in the New Testament church of Macedonia (2 Corinthians 8:1-5):

“Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.”


Romans 12:8, 1 Corinthians 12:28
Sometimes described as: Administration, Guide
In the Bible, the Spiritual Gift of Leadership is described with language similar to that of the captain (one who steers) of a ship. It means to “stand before” so that others may follow. This person usually has a take charge kind of personality and people listen when they speak. The gift of Leadership is most often confirmed by other leaders because it is difficult for anyone who doesn’t already have this gift to understand what it is. The word the Bible uses to describe it is the same one it uses to describe the function of the “elder” in the church.


Romans 12:8
Sometimes described as: Kindness, Missionary, Sympathy
The Spiritual Gift of Mercy comes with kindness and a heart for outreach & missions. These people show sympathy and sensitivity to those in suffering and sorrow. They are willing and able to lesson the afflictions of others. This SG is often accompanied with Exhortation (or a person finds themselves serving alongside another person with that gift) because the “mercy radar” easily spots those in need of encouragement. It is usually used in private, one-on-one situations because personal relationships are very important to someone with the gift of Mercy. While it allows a believer to be especially capable of empathy, hurting people are ministered to with positivity and cheerfulness, not commiseration (Luke 4:18-19):

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”


1 Corinthians 12:9
Sometimes described as: No Synonyms
Those with this gift have a special level of trust in God. Of course we all should trust in Him, but this Spiritual Gift takes it to a whole other level. The prayer warriors in a church usually have this gift in common. When something happens in a person’s life (or in the lives of those around them), their first instinct is to go to God in prayer. They would never consider blaming God for any trials in life. Those with this kind of faith have tremendous potential and can use it for the Kingdom in very powerful ways. Jesus himself even said that there is no limit to what one of His followers can do when they employ genuine Faith:

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Matthew 17:20)


1 Corinthians 12:10
Sometimes described as: Distinguishing between spirits
The Spiritual Gift of Discernment is given so that the church can be protected. This gift is the ability to distinguish between Biblical truths and false doctrines. As the guardian or watchman of the church, a believer with the gift of Discernment will test everything against scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22). They can see through the motives, teachings, and doctrines in a way that is beyond their natural ability.

3. Temporary Gifts

First of all, it is important to note that not everyone will agree that the following gifts are “temporary.”  Some believe that these gifts are still given to believers even today. After studying the subject, I believe that there are several scriptures that either directly express or convincingly imply that the Spiritual Gifts of Healing, Miracles, and Tongues were only given to the early church in order to help believers distinguish between the real Apostles/leaders of the church and the myriad false prophets that arose during those days. Basically, these miraculous gifts were intended to establish the church in the years following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. After the “Apostolic Age,” these gifts were no longer necessary and they were no longer given by the Holy Spirit. Here, I will attempt to explain why we are treating them as temporary using scripture. In 1 Corinthians 13:8, the Bible says:

“Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”

Notice the difference between the language used to describe prophecies and knowledge and the language used to describe tongues. The “pass away” used to describe prophecy and knowledge (Spiritual Gifts that are not temporary) comes from the Greek word “pauō” which means to “come to an end.” However, the “cease” used to describe tongues (a gift intended only for the Apostolic Age) comes from the Greek word “katargëō” which means to “become of no effect.” Further study reveals that the language here implies that two of these gifts -prophecy & knowledge- will be done away with when the “partial” ceases (ie-the return of Christ and his permanent kingdom… see vs 9-10) while the other one -tongues- will cease to be effective before that time (ie-following the establishment of the church during the Apolistic years).

Regarding Healing and Miracles, the Bible uses specific language whenever this ability is given to someone. In context, it suggests that it is given explicitly and intentionally, not in a general manner as with the others. In Matthew 10:1, Jesus specifically called his disciples to him and gave them the authority to do these things:

“Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.”

This explains why we don’t see people performing these miraculous signs today (let’s just say the crazy stuff you see done on TV by televangelists causes our friends with the Spiritual Gift of Discernment to shiver). Christ’s church has already been established and the conviction from the Holy Spirit is sufficient to advance the kingdom… without the necessity for miraculous signs and wonders.**

**With that being said, let’s be careful not to put anything beyond the reach of God’s power and sovereignty. Far be it for me to suggest that He “can’t” give these gifts out today if they were necessary (ie-a missionary to an un-reached people group who speak another language or would not otherwise believe without seeing a miraculous sign from God as proof of his existence and power).


1 Corinthians 12:9, 1 Corinthians 12:28
Sometimes described as: No Synonyms
The Spiritual Gift of Healing was given to the Apostles and practiced in the book of Acts to allow them to distinguish themselves from other false prophets that rose up after the death and resurrection of Jesus. It refers specifically to the laying on of hands in healing (Matthew 8:15-17). The “temporary” nature of this gift does not suggest that supernatural healing through God is not possible through prayer. God still answers prayers and is perfectly capable and willing to provide healing to those who are faithful to him if it is within his will (James 5:14-15).


1 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Corinthians 12:28
Sometimes described as: Casting out demons, Signs and wonders
This refers to the ability to work divine acts contrary to nature, so that the only explanation could be God’s power. Miracles in the New Testament were used to authenticate the Messianic identity of Jesus Christ (John 20:30-31):

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.” (Acts 2:22)

The apostles themselves were only given this gift to operate in the “spiritual” realm (not the “physical” like when Jesus turned water into wine or calmed the raging seas) and it was used to cast out demons (Luke 9:1).


1 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Corinthians 12:28, 1 Corinthians 12:30
Sometimes described as: Speaking other languages
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