Skip to main content
Bible Q

What are the spiritual gifts we have from God?

The New Testament provides several different lists of gifts from God. The main Bible passages are Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11,27-30; Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Peter 4:10-11.

The combined list is as follows:

  • Prophecy
  • Serving
  • Teaching
  • Encouraging
  • Giving
  • Leadership
  • Mercy
  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge
  • Faith
  • Healing
  • Miracles
  • Distinguishing spirits
  • Tongues (languages)
  • Interpretation (translation)
  • Helping others
  • Administration
  • Evangelists
  • Pastors
  • Speaking
  • Serving

There are some interesting things to notice about these lists.

  1. The lists are clearly not meant to be complete as different gifts appear on different lists. Each list provides some examples of the sorts of gifts God provides. There are many other gifts that are not listed.
  2. Only a few of the gifts are obviously miraculous to others. Often God provides us with gifts to help us work in his service, but those around us might not think of them as anything other than “natural abilities”. In fact, the lists encourage us to view all of our personal characteristics as given to us by God for his service.
  3. The gifts of tongues (i.e., speaking foreign languages without learning them), prophecy and knowledge are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:8 as “passing away”. The history of Christianity shows that this happened around 100 AD, along with the other more spectacular gifts such as healing and miracles. The gift of apostleship also died out with the apostles.
  4. The purpose of the gifts is provided in Ephesians:

    to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-13)

    Obviously that hasn’t happened yet! So we can expect God to continue to provide his people with gifts so that they can help each other to grow spiritually.

6 Replies to “What are the spiritual gifts we have from God?”

  1. I do not believe that the items of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are gifts of the spirit. The scriptures says that they are a manifestation of the spirit. Here are some problems with calling these items gifts that I have found.

    Biblical Problems with “Gifts of the Spirit”
    Besides the obvious difference between a gift and a manifestation; there are quite a number of other difficulties that arise in scripture regarding these items.
    If the items of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 were gifts then each time one of those items is used in the bible should have the nature and scope of gift. So when speaking in tongues is mentioned in the bible, one must be able to tell from the context or directly that it is a gift. Wherever prophecy is used in the bible then one must also be able to determine the nature of a gift in its usage. In every use of prophecy in the whole bible it is never said or inferred that it is a “gift”. (See Prophesy in the Appendices). The idea of prophecy being a gift is contrary to the Old Testament as well as rabbinic teaching . (See: Biblical Usage, Old Testament)
    All the uses of speaking in tongues and prophecy in the book of Acts do not present any information that there is a “gift” of tongues or a “gift” of prophecy.
    If speaking in tongues are a gift then only those people who speak in tongues can say “Jesus is Lord” “by the Holy Ghost”
    1Cr 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and [that] no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. [Emphasis added]
    The “speaking by the Spirit of God cannot be anything other than speaking tongues because it is obvious that no man understands the speaking, otherwise the clarification that one does not call “Jesus accursed” would have no meaning, the words being understood. Chapter fourteen of 1 Corinthians sets the truth that speaking in tongues is speaking by the spirit.
    1Cr 14:2 For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him]; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. [Emphasis added]
    The items of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are specifically called out by name and grouped into three categories (See: allos and heteros). Those items are called out and specifically named as a “manifestation of the spirit” and specifically said to be given to “all men to profit withal”. No other “gifts” are called out like this. Apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors, teachers, helps, governments, ministry, exhortation, those that give, those that rule, and those that show mercy; none of these are called out as a “manifestation of the spirit” nor are any of them “given to every man”. The items of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are singularly unique and specifically named and are not grouped as gifts but as a “manifestation of the spirit”.
    Given the fact that the items: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, faith (in this context), miracles, and gifts of healing do not have an scripture that define them nor their use, one can only assume that these terms, their meaning and usage were commonly known among the believers. The other items speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy have an entire chapter (1 Corinthians chapter 14) devoted to their use in the church gathering.
    The whole point of 1 Corinthians 14 is to get people to edify the church. The wording is one of choice, of preference to do those things that build up the church gathering. This is contrary to “gifts” since one does not have a choice when one has a gift. Whatever the gift is; that is what you do! Any instructions of choice and preference or desire are completely irrelevant when it is a gift. Here are some examples (emphasis added):
    1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but RATHER that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
    1 Corinthians 14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue PRAY that he may interpret.
    1 Corinthians 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, COVET to prophesy, and FORBID NOT to speak with tongues.
    If speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy are gifts then the only people who are capable of performing this chapter are those who have all three of these gifts. They must have all three since there is specific instructions that distinguish explicitly the use or each in preference to the other.
    This verse at the closing of 1 Corinthians 14 can have not relevance to anyone other than those who have all three “gifts”;
    1Cr 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
    The “things” are contained in the preceding chapter of this verse so these things are the commandments of the Lord:
    • Follow Love and really desire spiritual things (1 Corinthians 14:1)
    • Prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:3, 4, 5, 23, 24, 39)
    • Speaking tongues (1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 5, 14, 15, 18, 39)
    • Interpret tongues (1 Corinthians 14:13, 26, 27, 28)
    If these things (speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy) are gifts then only those select few who have these gifts are able to fulfill the “commandments of the Lord”.

  2. 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 1 Corinthians 14:1 are frequently cited as “proof” of gifts for the items of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.

    There is no corresponding greek word for “gifts” in these verses. It was added by the translators. The King James translators have thankfully put the word “gifts” in italics. The word “gifts” is never used in the translation of the greek word Pneumatikos.

    Paul had words for “gift” in his vocabulary. He used them many times. However, in 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 1 Corinthians 14:1 he did not include any of those words for gifts.

    Richmond Lattimore, the renowned Classical Greek scholar, renders 12:1 thusly: “But concerning matters of the spirit, brothers, I would not have you ignorant”; and for 14:1: “Pursue love, aspire to things spiritual”.

    The word translated “spiritual gifts” in some versions is one Greek word, pneumatikos. This word has a unique usage in Paul’s epistles. People are referred to as “spiritual” or “the spiritual” in Paul’s epistles. It was common for the believers of that time to refer to those who had the manifestation of the spirit as “spiritual”.

    This is using an adjective as a noun; we use this figure of speech all time. Examples: “The injured were taken to the hospital.” And “The disabled are God’s special children.” The adjectives “injured” and “disabled” do not have the noun “people” as in “injured people” and “disabled people” included to emphasize that the people were “injured” and “disabled”. Here are some scriptures where Paul uses pneumatikos in this way:

    1Cr 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [pneumatikos pneumatikos]
    1Cr 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned .
    1Cr 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
    1Cr 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, [even] as unto babes in Christ.
    1Cr 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
    Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

    “Closely connected with prophecy stands the experience which New Testament writers call “speaking with tongues”. If one might judge from the frequency of references to it in literature, it was common in the Christian communities and was much desired not only by the ambitious and factious, but by the most sincere and devout as well. Paul thanks God that he speaks with tongues more than all the Corinthians. It was used as a common test of the believers’ acceptance by God (Acts 10:45-47; 19:6). . . It was the spiritual gift par excellence, so that those who had it were called “the spiritual,” . . . that such a usage should arise indicates that the experience was not only much desired, but very common.” – The Spirit of God in Biblical Literature by Irving Wood page 162

    This is could be the reason why the English Standard Version places the footnote of “spiritual persons” as an alternate reading of this verse.

    Spiritual: Pneumatikos
    1) relating to the human spirit, or rational soul, as part of the man which is akin to God and serves as his instrument or organ
    a) that which possesses the nature of the rational soul
    2) belonging to a spirit, or a being higher than man but inferior to God
    3) belonging to the Divine Spirit
    a) of God the Holy Spirit
    a. one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God
    4) pertaining to the wind or breath; windy, exposed to the wind, blowing

    The translation of this word into spiritual gifts is a well known problem for those who look; this is a quote from a blog I found. It is included because I could not word it any better and because the person with the question was sincere and genuinely wanted an answer.

    “The adjective PNEUMATIKOS is found in 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 14:1 in the plural forms PNEUMATIKWN and PNEUMATIKA respectively, where this is almost universally rendered, in the different translations, as “spiritual gifts”. Ditto lots of commentaries on this epistle. The first of these forms, PNEUMATIKWN, is thus being taken as neuter (the same form is also masculine), apparently on the basis that the second use is unambiguously neuter. The word also occurs in this epistle unambiguously in the masculine, with the meaning “spiritual person” (see 2:15, 14:37); and with the general meaning “spiritual” (see 10:3-4). See also its wider use in (e.g.) Ephesians 6:12.

    The standard lexica give as one of its meanings, “spiritual gift”. Is this a case of circular reasoning? (Thusly: In 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 14:1 the word PNEUMATIKOS is being used to mean “spiritual gift”. Therefore “spiritual gift” is part of its area of meaning. That is how we know it is valid to translate it in 12:1 and 14:1 as “spiritual gift”.)

    Now a conclusion reached by a circular argument may possibly be correct. But it has to be established as correct by something outside of and independent of such circular reasoning: the circular reasoning does not establish it.” – From

  3. Regarding you points 2 and 3

    “Mainstream” Christianity has taken the position that God has a “bag” of gifts and that these gifts are dispensed to people as God chooses. This “bag” of gifts includes; apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, faith, miracles, gifts of healing, governments, music, mercy, and etc.

    It is generally agreed upon that there are no more apostles, prophets. This agreement is without any scriptural evidence.

    Some parts of mainstream Christianity have further limited the “bag” of gifts by removing speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy using the moniker “sign gifts”. These “sign gifts” only being given for a brief period of time as a “sign” that certain people carried the word of God.

    The removal of apostles, prophets, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy absolutely suggests the removal of anything supernatural from the Christian experience, miracles and gifts of healing being relegated to obscurity or considered more as a ”happen stance” occurrence than an active experience of the church. Any person who shows affinity or otherwise promotes supernatural manifestation is dismissed as a “flake”. Organizations, or churches, who promote supernatural manifestation are considered “marginal” doctrinally and “fringe” by mainstream Christianity.

    Mainstream Christianity considers itself to be scripturally based, but the scriptures promote and declare the supernatural, the scriptures themselves being revelation from God. This avoidance and dismissal of the supernatural inheritance of the church is first realized by the label “gifts of the spirit”. The church is placed in the position of waiting for God to act upon it to produce supernatural experience rather than the church acting in faith and manifestation of the spirit.

    Justin Martyr – 150 A.D.
    Justin Martyr wrote an apologetic to Typhro the Jew: “If you want proof that the Spirit of God, who was with your people and left you to come to us, come into our assemblies and there you will see Him cast out demons, heal the sick, and hear Him speak in tongues and prophesy.”

    Justin Martyr did not call these items “gifts”. Justin Martyr is insisting that the presence of these items is proof that Spirit of God is with these people. He also acknowleges the existence of this abilities well past 100 AD. There is more history that contradicts your statements.

    Regarding your point 4
    Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
    Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
    Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    Evidently it was 5 specific gifts that were to remain, not three (evangelists, pastors and teachers).

  4. What do you make of these writings then:

    Justin Martyr – 150 A.D.
    Justin Martyr wrote an apologetic to Typhro the Jew: “If you want proof that the Spirit of God, who was with your people and left you to come to us, come into our assemblies and there you will see Him cast out demons, heal the sick, and hear Him speak in tongues and prophesy.”

    Irenaeus – 115-202 A.D.:
    Irenaeus was a pupil of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John. He wrote in his book “Against Heresies”, Book V, vi.: “In like manner do we also hear many brethren in the church who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light, for the general benefit, the hidden things of men and declare the mysteries of God, who also the apostles term spiritual.”
    “Those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years…. The name of our Lord Jesus Christ even now confers benefits [upon men], and cures thoroughly and effectively all who anywhere believe on Him. ”
    Ante Nicene Fathers, vol 1, Irenaeus Against Heresies, bk 2, chp 32, sec 4, pg 847.

    Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, writes: “Whoever was baptised in apostolic days, he straightway spoke with tongues, for since on their coming over from idols, without any clear knowledge or training in the Scriptures, they at once received the Spirit, not that they saw the Spirit, for He is invisible, but God’s grace bestowed some sensible proof of His energy, and one straightway spoke in the Persian language, another in the Roman, another in the Indian, another in some other tongues, and this made manifest to them that were without that it was the Spirit in the very person speaking.

  5. [Taking my comments of history to the link provided]

    Still remaining is; there are nine items which the scriptures specifically and individually call out as “manifestation of the spirit” to the exlcusion of the other items. It is not biblically correct to place them all in the same category. What God separates man should not put together. [See comments above]

    A gift can be provided or withdrawn. A manifestation of the spirit is inherent with the presence of the spirit. So has the spirit been withdrawn?