World of Faith

What is Charismatic? – Part Six: Spiritual Gifts – A Look at 1 Corinthians 12 | January 23, 2007

Before I get into the sixth installment of “What is Charismatic?” I want to remind everyone that I am moderating comments. I want to assure you all that you really do not need to worry about posting here. I do not just delete comments. However, I have had to delete some comments, all by the same author. I am also announcing another policy this week. If your comment is deleted, you’ll receive a personal e-mail from me with my reasons for deleting it, and also informing you what you can do in order to comment and have your stuff posted. Of course, what I am saying here really applies to one person, in particular, who will get that e-mail if he tries to post again. The rest of you are a good audience, keep it up, and ask your serious questions, too, if you have them.

Next week I’m going to conclude this series with a discussion of the “office gifts” in Ephesians 4. I will introduce that topic at the end of this post, when I discuss the last few verses of 1 Corinthians 12. After that, I will either do a Q & A post, or start my next series “What is Real Faith?” Just to give everyone a preview of what’s coming, “What is Real Faith” will take a biblical look of what faith is, and what faith is not, how to exercise your faith, and how God rewards our faith (the blessings of living a life full of faith). My faith was personally encouraged tonight at Monday night intercessory prayer at my church… my pastor shared with the few of us who were there about a dream from his pastor. I’ll probably discuss this in a later post, but we all need to believe God for what He wants to do in our lives… and that is why I’m bringing the new series in February.

As a review, last week I began to get to the crux of what makes someone a charismatic… not a belief in the baptism/infilling of the Holy Spirit, which is only a doorway, but a belief in and exercise of spiritual gifts. Most Bible scholars cite at least three lists of these in the Scriptures. Last week I dug into the first of these lists, in Romans 12. This week I’ll dig into the second, 1 Corinthians 12, and next week the third, Ephesians 4.

To begin this week, I am going to discuss 1 Corinthians 12 in basically a verse-by-verse manner, highlighting different points as I see them. I will skip over some verses, but will cover the key areas. 1 Cor. 12:1 and 4-7 (NAS) provides, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware… Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Paul is saying in this introductory section first of all that the Corinthian church was unaware of spiritual gifts. Certainly they exercised them, but lacked discernment in their use. They were “ignorant,” as the NKJV says. Paul also emphasizes that while there are different gifts, ministries, and effects, there is one Holy Spirit, one Lord, and one God, and the purpose of the gifts and graces each one has is to edify the common good. Finally, before I discuss the gifts themselves, I wish to make one more distinction. In verse 7, I do NOT believe that the gifts listed here are a “manifestation of the Holy Spirit.” I believe the common manifestation of the Holy Spirit is found in the baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2), which I discussed two weeks ago. At least what the individual receives when he is initially filled with the Holy Spirit (the prayer language, the empowerment, etc.) is what I believe is the common manifestation mentioned in verse 7, not the specific gifts listed in the verses that follow; not everyone has one of these gifts. That being said let me clarify one other point: I do not believe you receive spiritual gifts when you are born again. Instead, you receive the opportunity to operate in ANY of the gifts once you receive the initial filling of the Holy Spirit (or the baptism in the Holy Spirit), depicted in the Book of Acts.

So, what are the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12? 1 Cor. 12:8-11 (NAS) provides, “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” Now let’s look at each of these gifts in more depth. The first gift listed is the “word of wisdom.” The Greek word for “wisdom” is “sophia,” and Thayer’s Lexicon provides two different classifications for its definition. One set of definitions is the wisdom of man, and the other is “supreme intelligence,” which is the wisdom of God. Clearly, because God is the Source of the gift of the “word of wisdom,” then I’m discussing “supreme intelligence,” or the wisdom from above. Nevertheless, wisdom is not the same as knowledge, because it is applied knowledge. Thus, a “word of wisdom” would be divine instruction on how to proceed because of given knowledge. The “word of wisdom,” then often works with the next gift listed, which is the “word of knowledge.” The Greek word for “knowledge” is “gnosis,” which means according to Thayer’s “general knowledge and understanding.” Thus, having a “word of knowledge” could just be spiritual awareness of fact you did not already know about someone or something else. For instance, if you had cancer, and I did not know it, or you, then God could tell me, “You have cancer,” and that would be a “word of knowledge.” A “word of knowledge” also can be more spiritually oriented, because “gnosis” can also be defined according to Thayer’s as “moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living.” Thus, again, the gifts of “word of knowledge” and “word of wisdom” will often operate together as one package. The third gift listed of the nine here is the gift of faith. I think we all know what faith is, but this is a special kind of faith. I’m not going to comment on the Greek definition or Thayer’s, because there is a different distinction I wish to make about this gift. The Bible says in Romans 12:3 (NKJV), “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Everyone has faith, and even all Christians have faith in God, because that is required for salvation. The gift of faith is more than that; it is specific faith on a supernatural and above normal level for a specific task or function in the kingdom of God. It is like a specific anointing designed for a specific purpose, but is belief, not mere empowerment.

The next gift listed is “gifts of healing,” and here I will note that the Greek word for “gifts” is “charismata,” which is the same Greek word used for “gifts” in Romans 12. Thus, every gift listed in this list is in addition to the gifts I covered last week in Romans 12, although there is some overlap, which I’ll note later. I think its obvious what “healing” refers to here… the healing of the sick, and the healing of diseases. One who operates in “gifts of healing” will be able to lay hands on the sick and impart healing to them, delivering them from sickness, disease, and infirmity. Jesus did this very thing, embodying the gifts of healing. Gifts of healing will also operate together with the gift of faith, and the aforementioned gifts of “word of wisdom” and “word of knowledge,” and also the next gift, the “effecting (or working) of miracles.” There are two Greek definitions to note. The Greek word for “working” is “energema,” from which the English language derives the word “energy.” The Greek word for “miracles” is the word “dunamis,” which Thayer’s defines as “strength, power, and ability,” and further defines it as “power for performing miracles.” Personally, I would say it is supernatural power, because this same word is used in Acts 1:8, where Luke wrote the disciples would receive “power” after the Holy Spirit comes upon them — we receive “dunamis” after we receive the baptism (or initial infilling) of the Holy Spirit.

The next gift listed is “prophecy,” and this is overlap from Romans 12, it is the same gift, and the same Greek word, “propheteia.” Rather than providing a repeat discussion of this gift’s definition, I am going to discuss instead how this gift should operate. One of my readers wrote in, and genuinely asked me to provide some guidance about the gift of prophecy. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 14:1-3 (NAS), “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification, exhortation, and consolation [or comfort in some translations].” Thus, Paul expects anyone operating in any spiritual gift to operate in love, and to edify, exhort, console, and comfort believers. As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 14:4, “One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.” Paul then later in 1 Cor. 14 provides further instruction. He writes in 1 Cor. 14:22, “So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.” Paul ads in verse 24 and 25, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.” Paul then instructs in verses 29-33, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that al may learn and be exhorted, and the spirits of the prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” Paul is making several points here. First, in any meeting, there should only be two or three individuals who openly operate in this gift, and the others are to judge the word that is given — it must line up with the Bible. Also, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets,” which means one can prophesy at will — you can control the utterance, it is not ecstatic (neither is the gift of tongues, which I will discuss in a moment).

After the gift of prophecy, the next gift listed is the “distinguishing of spirits.” The NKJV translates this as “discerning of spirits,” and basically, without getting into the nitty-gritty of this gift, one who operates in it will be able to discern or distinguish between different kinds of spirits, telling whether the spirit is of God, of man, or of Satan. Those are the three main sources of spirits according to the Bible, and the different kinds of spirits themselves is really a topic for another post, whenever I cover pneumatology and demonology.

The last two gifts listed are “various kinds of tongues” and “interpretation of tongues.” In the NKJV, the word for “various” is “different,” and in the King James, the word is “diverse.” This means the gift of tongues consists of various, different, or diverse kinds of tongues. It means more than one. Thus, the next logical question is what are the various kinds of tongues? Paul provides an answer in 1 Cor. 13:1, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels…” Here, we see at least two different kinds of tongues: those of men, and those of angels. Someone is going to write in with this question if I don’t address it: is the gift of various kinds of tongues the same as having a prayer language? The answer to this is no… I’ve dealt with this topic in a previous post, so for the sake of time and space, I will reference everyone to Part 4 for more information about this gift and the

Before I conclude, there is one more area I need to address. 1 Cor. 12:27-31 (NAS), “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I should you a still more excellent way.” Again, Paul is saying a lot here. First, apostles, prophets, and teachers are all “office gifts,” which are listed in Ephesians 4. I will cover the “office gifts” in greater detail next week. Second, while working of miracles, gifts of healings, and various kinds of tongues are all gifts listed here, “helps,” and “administrations” are not really spiritual gifts. I would classify these more so as “ministries” or “effects” discussed in verses 5 and 6. It is interesting to note that 1 Cor. 12:28 is the ONLY place in the Bible where the Greek words for these concepts are used. The Greek word for “helps” is “antilepsis,” which simply means according to Thayer’s “aid.” The Greek word for “administrations” is “kubernesis,” which means according to Thayer’s “governments.” The root word for “kubernesis” means to steer, and so I believe that anyone who is in charge of any ministry in a church, or someone who is a pastor of a church will operate in the ministry of “administrations.” This would cover not only senior pastors, but also associate pastors, department heads, and those who are considered part of leadership in any given local church. Lastly, one note on verse 30, “All do not speak with tongues, do they?” Paul is addressing those who operate in the gift of various kinds of tongues, not those who have a prayer language. In NT times, it was normative for every Christian to have a prayer language, as I defined it and distinguished it from the gift of various tongues in Part 4. However, not everyone has the gift to speak in tongues publicly, for the purpose of edifying the local body. That’s what Paul is saying here concerning that issue. And that covers spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. Next week I’ll look at Ephesians 4, in what I promise will be a much shorter post.


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  1. Lengthly post…indeed. But I zoomed into the healing and miracles part. These things take place in my walk with Our Lord.

    Without giving specifics, I see the Holy Spirit at work, through me, in bringing about divine healings. It’s nothing I do, rather, somehting that God does, when I pray to Him. All glory and honor are His. But, he picks individuals for His purpose, and utilize them in bringing His gifts to the world.

    I’m so humbled to read about missionaries in third world nations bringing the gifts of healing and miracles to those there. It is an awesome testimony of the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Blind see, deaf hear, and lame are mended. Isn’t this the work of Christ, here, now, for this very age? In the civilized world we lack the desparation to turn to Our Lord for help. It’s just the way the system works. But where the rubber meets the road, in third world nations, it’s kind of like back in the time of Christ. People genuinely look for salvation from their ailments, and find Christ in the process.

    Just my perspective….

    Comment by Brother Marty — January 24, 2007 @ 1:10 am

  2. Bro. Marty,

    Thanks for stopping by, and your kind words and encouragement. Praise God for the mighty things He is doing in your ministry. You are so right that God chooses individuals to bring His gifts into the world. As my own pastor says, “The gifts of God are for the WORLD (not just the Church).”

    It certainly is the work of Christ in the here and now to have the blind see, deaf hear, and the lame mended… Mark 16 says these signs will follow those who believe… walking in the miraculous and healing power of God is normative for EVERY Christian. Praise God you have learned to tap into that.

    I look forward to hearing from you in the future in my blog, and I am glad to have you as a true brother in the Lord, Bro. Marty. God bless you.


    Comment by Jonathan — January 24, 2007 @ 4:38 am

  3. Jonathan,

    Grammatically, it seems to me that the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12.8-10 are a detailed description of the “manifestation of the Spirit” referenced in v. 7. Could you explain in more depth your reason for dividing these into two separate phenomena?

    Comment by David Rogers — January 26, 2007 @ 10:29 pm

  4. David,

    Finally we come to Part 6. I’m reading the NAS here in 1 Cor. 12, and this is what it says in verse 7 and 8, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given…” There are two separate sentences here. I am aware that other translations use a semi-colon rather than a period. If there was a comma, then I would agree that the “manifestation of the Spirit” and the “gifts of the Spirit” are inseparable. But the NAS uses a period, which means the end of a thought. Further, I believe verse 7 tells us every Christian has a manifestation of the Spirit for the purpose of the common good. Later on Paul tells us that not everyone is gifted in the same way. It has to be something other than spiritual gifts, and to me, I would believe that is your prayer language, as evidence (normatively) of being filled with the Holy Spirit. This is why I believe Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:26, “What is the outcome then, brethern? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a TONGUE, an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” I believe this verse implies a general prayer language available to all for the common good, which is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. What do you think?


    Comment by Jonathan — January 27, 2007 @ 2:14 am

  5. Take a peek at my blog post today… when my wife and I were in Ghana… God openned our eyes WIDE to the reality of the spirit realm!


    Comment by Dave Carrol — January 27, 2007 @ 3:10 am

  6. Hey Dave,

    Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your blog and the website for your church in Canada, “Freedom House.” It really looks awesome.

    How many young adults are in your group? We have a young adult group at my church, called “Journeys.”

    Also, are you connected with any churches in Ghana? We are connected with a pastor in South Africa, and he has connections in Ghana, because he wants to build an AIDS clinic there, and we want to help build it, and help pay for it. I wonder if your connections in Ghana are likewise connected to ours as well.

    Anyways, praise God for the things you’ve experienced in Ghana — and thanks again for stopping by. I apprecitate your heart.


    Comment by Jonathan — January 27, 2007 @ 4:15 am

  7. Jonathan,

    It is hard for me to separate v. 7 from vv. 8-10. I think it does violence to the natural reading of the text. The context, beginning in v. 1, is spiritual gifts. To throw in a separate (though related) “manifestation” in the middle of this seems out of place to me.

    Also, 1 Cor. 14.26 does not mean necessarily that literally “each and every one” had a “tongue.” Once again (similar to Mark 16), I see this as examples of different types of manifestations and expressions of the Spirit’s working, that will differ according to the individual and the context.

    Comment by David Rogers — January 29, 2007 @ 11:58 pm

  8. David,

    I’m not sure I agree with your argument concerning 1 Cor. 12. I can see why you do not wish to distinguish anything in 1 Cor. 12 apart from “spiritual gifts.” What about the list at the end of the chapter? Do you believe that everything listed in verses 28, et seq. is also a spiritual gift, or do you believe that such areas as “helps” and “administrations” are something different?

    You’re right about 1 Cor. 14:26, it does not say “each and every one” has a tongue. But it does say SOME will bring a tongue, and I believe that is a public operation of the gift of tongues, which then must be interpreted so the body can be edified… it takes ones prayer language to another level, and makes it a spiritual gift for the edification of all. I don’t believe in the concept of a “private prayer language,” at least the “private” aspect of that concept — I do believe in the concept of having a “prayer language,” but its not private, it just is between the believer and God. What do you think?


    Comment by Jonathan — January 30, 2007 @ 3:13 am

  9. Jonathan,

    Yes, I believe that all of 1 Cor. 12, including vv. 28-30, refer to spiritual gifts.

    Comment by David Rogers — February 15, 2007 @ 10:11 pm

  10. David,

    I believe there is a good argument to be made that “helps” and “administrations” are not “gifts” like “prophecy” and “tongues” are, even though “helps” and “administrations” are listed in 1 Cor. 12. To me, “helps” and “administrations” are more “ministries” if you will. I heard one person equate “administrations” (or “governments” in some translations) as being the same as the Ephesians 4 gift of pastor. Perhaps that is accurate. Further, I believe that “helps” is for EVERY believer that is not in some capacity of eldership (not an apostle, not a prophet, not an evangelist, not a pastor, nor a teacher). So, if you are an usher, that’s helps ministry, if you are a greeter, that’s helps ministry, if you are a nursery or children’s church worker, that is helps ministry… even a choir member, or member of the praise and worship team… such is helps ministry. What all these different roles have in common is that ALL of them HELP advance the pulpit ministry of the local church, thus are part of the “ministry of helps.” Does that make sense, or do you see it differenty?


    Comment by Jonathan — February 15, 2007 @ 11:51 pm

  11. While I agree there are certain ministries, such as “helps” or “administrations” and others that may be, to one degree or another, for all believers, I believe the Lord specifically gifts some to carry out these ministries in an especially anointed way. For me, the stated context of 1 Cor. 12-14 is spiritual gifts. It does violence to the text to say isolated elements in the middle of this do not have anything to do with spiritual gifts. Or am I misrepresenting what you are saying here?

    Comment by David Rogers — February 16, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  12. David,

    Thanks again for your response. Let me clarify a few things, and then say some other things.

    First, we need to separate “helps” from “administrations.” These are two different functions in the body of Christ.

    I would definitiely say that “administrations” or “governments” (in some translations) IS basically another way of saying “pastoral ministry” or the Eph. 4 gift of “pastor,” which is a spiritual gift. The guest speaker who I heard teach about this (and it was a side item of a larger teaching), Prophet Jeff Tadlock (that’s his name), was making the point that you cannot operate in your spiritual gifts (however you define that) if you do not submit those gifts to pastoral ministry, and those in pastoral ministry do not agree to “place” you in operation of your spiritual gifts. So, in other words, the gift of “administrations” is to put people in a position to operate in their spiritual gifts.

    On the other hand, “helps” is sort of the opposite of “administrations.” Because, being involved in “helps ministry” is that which DOES enable one to participate in their spiritual gifts — because those gifts are being submitted to pastoral ministry and the local body, and you are, in effect, helping advance the vision of your local church, which is the purpose of “helps ministry.” So, in a way, “helps” includes all the other spiritual gifts listed earlier in 1 Cor. 12.

    So, those are the points I was trying to make.

    Comment by Jonathan — February 16, 2007 @ 2:34 pm

  13. Jonathan,

    What you are saying here seems plausible enough to me, but I don’t think we have biblical warrant to be dogmatic about it.

    Comment by David Rogers — February 16, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

  14. David,

    Agreed… some of the ideas in this area are somewhat “new” to me, as well. So, I haven’t always articulated these things in the same way.


    Comment by Jonathan — February 16, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

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