The Bible contains several passages that mention spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit to believers in Jesus Christ. While there is no single definitive list of spiritual gifts in Scripture, some key passages provide insight into the different gifts and how they are to be used in the church.
In Romans 12:6-8, Paul writes: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
This passage points to several spiritual gifts including:
- Prophecy – speaking God’s truth
- Exhortation – encouragement
- Contributing generously
1 Corinthians 12:8-10
In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Paul writes: “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”
The spiritual gifts listed here include:
- Miraculous powers
- Discernment of spirits
- Interpretation of tongues
1 Corinthians 12:28
In 1 Corinthians 12:28, Paul writes: “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.”
This verses mentions the following spiritual gifts:
- Helping others
In Ephesians 4:11, Paul writes: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers…”
This passage names these spiritual gifts:
- Pastoring (shepherding)
1 Peter 4:10-11
In 1 Peter 4:10-11, Peter writes: “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.”
This passage speaks to the importance of using our gifts to serve others and bring glory to God. The gifts specifically mentioned are:
- Speaking God’s truth
In Romans 12:3-8, Paul writes: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
In this passage, Paul emphasizes using our spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ. He mentions:
- Giving generously
- Showing mercy
1 Corinthians 7:7
In 1 Corinthians 7:7, Paul mentions the “gift” of celibacy: “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.”
This suggests singleness itself can be considered a spiritual gift for some believers.
In Exodus 31:1-6, the gifts of craftsmanship and artistic ability are highlighted: “The LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.'”
This demonstrates that God empowers His people with skills and talents for creative and artistic expression.
While spiritual gifts lists vary, some common themes emerge:
- Speaking gifts – prophecy, teaching, evangelism
- Serving gifts – service, helps, leadership, giving
- Sign gifts – healings, miracles, tongues, interpretation of tongues
All believers have been given gifts by the Holy Spirit to strengthen the church. Scripture encourages us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts while emphasizing using them with love and humility to serve others.
Using spiritual gifts
There are some key principles for how believers should use their spiritual gifts according to the Bible:
- Gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for the common good – they are not for our own gain (1 Corinthians 12:7)
- We should use our gifts faithfully and in proportion to our faith (Romans 12:6)
- Gifts should be used in love (1 Corinthians 13)
- Not everyone has the same gifts, but we are all one body in Christ (Romans 12:4-5)
- We should not boast about our gifts or think too highly of ourselves (Romans 12:3,6)
- All glory goes to God who empowers each person with gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Cessationism vs. Continuationism
There is debate among Christians around whether all the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament are still active in the church today. This relates to discussions around the closure of the biblical canon and the role of miraculous gifts. Two primary views are:
- Cessationism – This view holds that gifts like prophecy, miracles, healings, and tongues ceased with the completion of the Bible and the passing of the original apostles. Cessationists believe those gifts were tied to a particular phase of church history.
- Continuationism – This view holds that the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament have continued throughout church history and are still distributed today. Continuationists believe gifts like prophecy and healings still operate in modern times.
There is diversity among Christians on which gifts are still operational. Not all Christians agree on whether the most miraculous gifts are still active today.
Assessing spiritual gifts
When attempting to discern their own spiritual gifts, Christians can ask questions like:
- Do I feel a special joy or effectiveness when I engage in certain activities over others?
- Does fruit come from my efforts that goes beyond my natural abilities?
- Do other believers notice and affirm that I seem particularly gifted in certain areas?
- Have trusted leaders in my church identified certain strengths and abilities in me?
- Does my use of these gifts help build up others and strengthen the church?
Other assessments like spiritual gifts tests or questionnaires may also aid in discernment. But those tools should be considered secondary to individual reflection, communal discernment within the church, and the leading of the Holy Spirit in each believer’s life.
Spiritual gifts lists in the Bible
In summary, while there is no single definitive list, some of the main spiritual gifts identified in Scripture include:
- Miraculous powers
- Interpretation of tongues
- Artistic ability
The lists are not identical, which demonstrates the diversity of gifts God has given His church. All believers have received gifts to use for His glory in building up fellow Christians and reaching the lost. As good stewards, we should earnestly seek to know our gifts and use them well for the edification of the church.