Defining the Spiritual Gifts
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Summary: Learn the definitions and purposes of the spiritual gifts listed by Paul in his letters.
This article is part of a series. We recommend that you first read: 1 Corinthians: Lessons from Paul on Spiritual Gifts.

Here are some of the gifts Paul lists in his letter to the Corinthians and in his other letters:


This believer can see the practical steps and resources that the Church needs reach its goals. They organize, strategize, and also guide people into roles that make effective use of their various gifts (Luke 14:28, Titus 1:5).


This believer has a deep burden for soul winning. Their greatest joy is winning people to Jesus (Ephesians 4:11).


This believer can quickly detect the false and the true. This person can read a book, hear a sermon, or just be talking with someone and immediately detect error. Sometimes this person gets on people's nerves because it seems they are always pointing out error (1 Corinthians 12:10).


This believer urges other believers through advice, warning, and admonishment to do what is right in Christ. They encourage others to run the race and continue in Jesus Christ (Romans 12:8).


This believer knows that God is going to work everything out. They have caught a vision of what God can do and they go for the gusto regardless of what happens around them. When others may despair, this person strongly believes God (1 Corinthians 12:9). Faith is something every believer needs to have for "without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the basis of a Christian's faith.


This believer serves by giving monies over and above their tithes, and bestows gifts on others. They earn and handle money well. They don't do this for show, it is just how they are—they may not even recognize that this is one of their gifts (Romans 12:8).


This believer has a knack for helping the sick. They may be in the medical profession, or they may be a medical missionary—someone that works with natural remedies with the herbs and plants God made for healing.


High-school students metalworking. Source: Photo Dudes on Flickr

This believer serves with their hands in tasks such as building or cooking. In Acts 6 we see a problem arising with the Greek widows being neglected in the daily ministration. What did the apostles do? They picked out seven honest men who were full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom to take care of this business, so that the apostles could give themselves to prayer and the Word. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, was one of these men (Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28).


This believer enjoys providing meals or lodging in Christian love. Many prepare and take meals to the sick. This is not listed as a specific gift in 1 Corinthians, and can be considered an example of the gift of helps. It is noteworthy that the Bible says that we should all participate in hospitality (Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, 1 Peter 4:9).


This believer loves to research, investigate, and study the Scriptures. They are not satisfied with a shallow knowledge of God's Word. Others are blessed by their careful study (1 Corinthians 12:28).


This believer serves by planning, directing, delegating, and taking the lead. A good example of this is Vacation Bible School. The Pastor might commission someone to organize the VBS. That means arranging for dates, materials, snacks, special music, theme, and other logistics. This person would lead other workers by organizing meetings and being the point of contact (Romans 12:8, 1 Corinthians 12:28).


This believer exhibits a caring and compassionate attitude, always with a kind word. They show kindness and forbearance towards those who are hurting. They relieve suffering (Romans 12:8).


This gift is rarely seen nowadays, even though it was prevalent in Bible times. This believer can pray and have a miracle occur, such as the healing of the paralytic or the raising of Dorcas by Peter. But, because this gift can be duplicated so easily by the Enemy, this gift is no longer used.


This believer receives messages from God. Paul said that the person "that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification (building up), exhortation (encouragement to grow), and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3, definitions added). He also said, "desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy" (1 Corinthians 14:1). We don't see this gift manifested very much nowadays. Many false prophets have arisen, and too many people follow self-imposed prophets without verifying that they are true prophets of God (Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:10, Ephesians 4:11).


This believer has a burden to see others grow and learn through Bible study. They present Bible truths in a logical and systematic way (Romans 12:7, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 12:28-29).


For a definition and explanation of this spiritual gift, read our article Dealing with Tongues.


This believer can apply knowledge and determine a solution. This person usually has the answer to a dilemma (1 Corinthians 12:8).

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