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THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
By Norman Manzon
"The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (The Spiritual Gifts)" is part of a compendium of extensive and detailed biblical expositions of the doctrinal statement of The Association of Messianic Congregations. All studies that that the Compendium currently contains, plus more, may be accessed by clicking the links in sequence on the Site Map or the Home Page.
There is much disagreement concerning the nature and current applicability of the gifts of the Spirit. In this study, we will substantiate the claims in our Statement and attempt to shed light on the spiritual gifts. Our appeal will be to the Word of God, not to guesswork, wishful thinking, personal experience (easily misinterpreted), or the testimony of others (often inaccurate or exaggerated). Certainly, memories of personal experience and testimonies have their place, but doctrine must be determined solely on the basis of the only totally dependable source: the written Word of God.
2. Distinguished from Gifts Given to All Believers
3. Distinguished from a Natural Gift
4. Distinguished from an Office
1 Peter 4:10 tells us that each one has received a gift. The same point is made in Romans 12:4-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:7 and 11. Every member of the body receives at least one gift; and, as we shall see, some receive more than one.
If each one has received a gift, then it is clear that all believers receive at least one gift at the moment of salvation. Also, no passage indicates that a believer may receive a gift subsequent to salvation.
What are we to make of 1 Corinthians 12:31, then? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. Why should believers desire the greater gifts if they cannot receive any more? The answer lies in the fact that Paul was exhorting the church as a unit, not the individual believers in it (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). 1 Corinthians 12:28 names eight gifts in descending order of greatness, naming those gifts first that are most essential for the establishment and health of the body: And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. If the Corinthian church was lacking in ministry from those holding the greater gifts, they were to draw out such ministry from those so gifted among them, or invite such ministry from elsewhere in the body.
Six passages are helpful here:
4. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6: 4. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all [persons].
Note that the three verses are constructed in a parallel manner: varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; varieties of ministries, and the same Lord [Yeshua]; varieties of effects, but the same God [the Father]. Each Person is somehow related to the preceding aspect of the gifts named.
5. 1 Corinthians 12:11: But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
6. Ephesians 4:8: Therefore it says, "When He [Messiah] ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men."
Now, to draw some conclusions:
1. The Distribution of the Gifts
2. The Placement of the Gift Holders
To sum up, the Father gives the gifts to Yeshua, who gives them to the Spirit, who distributes them among believers as He sees fit, Yeshua decides where in the body each believer is placed, and the Father operates the gifts through believers and brings about the results.
Romans 11:9 declares, The gifts and the callings of God are without revocation. In context, the declaration applies to the God given gifts and callings of Israel; but as a general principle it applies to all gifts and callings, and includes the spiritual gifts and callings to ministry of all believers. The spiritual gifts are irrevocable.
The most inclusive statement as to the purpose of the gifts is Ephesians 4:11-16:
Two classes of gift holders are mentioned here. The first is composed of leaders responsible for the delivery of the Word of God: apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers (verse 11). The second includes all gift holders in the body (the we of verse 15, and the every joint and each individual part of verse 16), which includes those of the first group and all others. The first is given for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, that is, for the training and enablement of all believers to function in their gifts. The all inclusive second group is to the building up of the body of Christ (verse 12), that we may grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head even Christ (verse 15), to the building up of itself in love (verse 16).
Some of the same points may be found in 1 Peter 4:10; and 1 Corinthians 14:4,12.
A closer look needs to be taken at the phrase, to the building up of the body of Messiah (Ephesians 4:12). Each one's gift serves not only the local body, but the entire body of Messiah from Pentecost to the Rapture. Which of us today has not benefited from the work of the first century apostles or the great teachers and exhorters of the Reformation? How many have been saved on the foreign mission field because of the generous giving of those at home? Our gifts serve those who have come before, as well, as we help to complete what they have begun or continued to develop. They also serve those who will come after us, just as those who came before us served us.
Also with the entire body in view, Dr. Charles Ryrie points out, "...not every congregation need expect that it will have all of the gifts represented in it.... God knows what each group needs and will see that it is supplied accordingly." Similarly, "... not every generation may necessarily expect to have all the gifts" (Ryrie, Dr. Charles C. Basic Theology, p. 369. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1981). These assertions will be addressed.
"The Gifts of the Spirit" is no minor doctrine. Without the functioning of the gifts one wonders whether a soul would have been saved on the Day of Pentecost or whether there would be a body of believers on earth today. The proper functioning of the gifts is critical to the building up of the body of Messiah (Ephesians 4:12) and to a healthy witness to the unsaved. I have therefore decided to examine each gift in depth, hoping to ascertain a clear understanding of its nature and present availability - and I must say, once again: not on the basis of guesswork, wishful thinking, personal experience (easily misinterpreted), or the testimony of others (often inaccurate or exaggerated), but solely on relevant passages in the Word of God.
1. The Gifts Named in Scripture
b. 1 Corinthians 7:1, 7: celibacy (singleness, eunuch for the kingdom of heaven [Matthew 19:12]). Celibacy is not named in these scriptures, but is clearly implied. A secondary implication is singleness as to the marital state.
c. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11: wisdom (word of wisdom), knowledge (word of knowledge), faith, gifts of healings (gift of healing, healing, healings), workings of miracles (miracles, working of miracles, effecting of miracles), prophecy, distinguishing of spirits (discernment of spirits), tongues (speaking in tongues, various kinds of tongues, diversities of tongues, languages, diversities of languages, glossalalia), interpretation of tongues (interpretation of languages).
d. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30: apostleship (apostles), prophecy (prophets), teaching (teachers), miracles, gifts of healings, helps, leading (administrations), tongues.
Gifts are not named as such in this passage, but in terms of the people who are endowed with them: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers. The same applies to some of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30. The people who possess the gifts are named as gifts to the body, and they often hold the offices named by their title. However, it's the spiritual gifts that are our focus, and I have named the gifts that the possessors hold. All four of the Ephesians 4:11 gifts include the effective delivery of the Word of God.
There are two prevalent errors concerning the Ephesians 4:11 gifts:
2. The second error is referring to this group as "the fivefold ministry." This error is the result of pastor-teacher being translated pastor and teacher in many translations, causing readers to perceive them as separate gifts. Pastor and teacher should be rendered pastor-teacher, as will be shown. The group, then, should be referred to as "the fourfold ministry."
Insight Gifts: knowledge, wisdom, distinguishing of spirits.
3. The Gifts Explained
1) Knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8).In some circles, the word of knowledge is defined as a direct word from God revealing something about another person, or some other knowledge. Biblically, however, such revelation is not a word of knowledge, but a word of prophecy.
In 1 Corinthians 12:8, the word translated knowledge in word of knowledge is gnosis. The same word is used in Romans 2:20 and 1 Corinthians 8:1, and refers to objective knowledge of the already extant Word of God. It is also used in 1 Corinthians 13:2, in which it is described as the ability to know mysteries, knowledge revealed for the first time in the New Testament. The gift of knowledge, then, is the pronounced motivation and ability to search out and discern the literal meaning of a passage, or related passages, of Scripture. It is the ability to properly understand the truths revealed to the apostles and prophets. Teachers of the Word need this gift.
2) Wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8). In 1 Corinthians 12:8, the word for wisdom in word of wisdom is sophia. 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 and James 1:2-8 use sophia in the context of applied spiritual knowledge. The gift of wisdom, then, is the pronounced ability to understand the proper application of the literal meaning of a passage or principle of Scripture. The gift may be applied to one's own decisions or as words of encouragement or exhortation for others. Exhorters, those who preach to move others to action, need this gift.
A word of wisdom is often misconstrued as direct revelation; but biblical wisdom is based on truth already revealed. Direct revelation is solely the domain of prophecy.
Those with spiritual gifts of communication have the God-given ability to clearly and effectively communicate spiritual truth by one or more modes of communication, whether it be speech, writing or another mode.
The test described in verse 22 necessitates a prophecy of a near future event that could not be determined by the observation of a trend or by any other natural means.
We can conclude, then, that all prophecy of both Testaments consists of direct revelation from God, and that the prophet was endowed with the ability to declare his prophecy inerrantly (without error) and infallibly (with unfailing accuracy). The New Testament gift of prophecy, then, is the ability to receive direct revelation from God and to declare it inerrantly and infallibly.
The prophetic ministry was essential for the writing of both Testaments, though only a minority of the prophets were used in this way. Of the New Testament writers, at least Peter, Paul and John had the prophetic gift, and twenty of the twenty-seven New Testament books were written by them.
b) The Content of
c. An Oft Misunderstood Verse
Some say that all who speak for edification and exhortation and consolation are Church Age prophets; but the verse does not define a prophet: it declares purposes of the gift. Also, the same purposes are met by some with gifts other than prophecy. For example, the teacher speaks to edification; the evangelist exhorts people to believe the Gospel; the exhorter may also speak for consolation - but none of these gifts necessitate direct revelation from God as does prophecy. Of all the gifts, prophecy alone requires direct revelation from God.
Among those verses that clearly refer to the gift of exhortation, there are a few cases in which paraklesis or its verb form, parakaleo (to exhort) is used of comfort, consolation or encouragement, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:18: Therefore comfort (parakaleo) one another with these words; but in the overwhelming majority of cases they are used of persuasive discourse, as in Romans 12:1: Therefore I urge (parakaleo) you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice. In addition, in 1 Corinthians 14:3, exhortation is differentiated from consolation: But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation (paraklesis) and consolation (paramuthia). Strong defines paramuthia as consolation, comfort, which is the result of the gift of showing mercy (eleeo).
The gift of evangelism consists of a pronounced burden for the lost and the ability to present the Gospel clearly and in such a manner so that many people come to Messiah. In Acts 21:8, Philip is named an evangelist. In Acts 8:5-40, he preached the Gospel in the desert and in all the cities between Azotus and Caesarea, to crowds and to individuals, with many conversions. Peter and Paul clearly had this gift (Acts 2:14-42; Acts 14:19-21, etc.).
Tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10).
2. The tongue was always unknown in meaning to the speaker. In Acts 2, the languages were known by the hearers, each understanding his own language (verses 8-11), but not by the speakers (verses 7-8). In meetings of the congregation, as we shall see, the language was unknown to the hearer, as well, and required one to interpret by the gift of interpreting tongues.
What about 1 Corinthians 13:1: If I speak with the tongues. . . of angels ? Was Paul indicating that he was capable of speaking in an angelic language? After all, angels in Heaven do speak. Revelation 4:8: And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within [seraphim]; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY."
The whole tenor of the 1 Corinthians passage is one of hypothesis (if . . . if . . .) and hyperbole, speaking in extremes for emphasis: 2. If I . . . know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith . . . . 3. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned . . . . Consistent with the tenor of the passage, If I speak with the tongues . . . of angels was simply a hypothetic and hyperbolic way of indicating supreme eloquence. A similar hyperbolic expression is found in Acts 12:22 in which The people kept crying out in reference to Herod's oratorical skills, The voice of a god and not of a man!
The gift of speaking in tongues, then, is the God-given ability to speak in an earthly language unknown to the speaker.
Other points to note:
The gift of interpretation of tongues, then, is the God-given ability to interpret a tongue that the interpreter would not understand by natural means. Also, as the two verses show, the interpreter may be the speaker himself, or another.
b] The Purposes of Tongues and Interpretation
If that's the case, then why does God even bother with the gift? Why doesn't He simply stick to the plain-speaking gifts? Tongues and interpretation were used for evangelism and the profit and edification of the congregation (1 Corinthians 14:4,6,17,26), but so were the plain-speaking gifts. Were there uses of tongues and interpretation that the plain-speaking gifts did not have? The answer is yes.
Unique Functions Summarized:
c. Power Gifts
One of the Greek words translated miracles is dunamis, which Strong's renders as force; specifically miraculous power. The understanding is that special power is released by God for the working of a miracle. There are two miracle gifts: the workings of miracles, and the gifts of healings. The second is a subset of the first. We will therefore view them together.
The gifts of healings is the ability to act as an agent of extraordinary works of power in the realm of divine physical healing. "The word healings is plural because there are various classes of sicknesses," and "gifts is also plural.... In the Greek, plural often emphasizes repeated action. The statement gifts of healings shows that whereas with the other gifts, once one had them, it stayed with him and could be used at any time, in the case of the gifts of healings.... it is a gift that comes and goes" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic Bible Study 071: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit, p. 14. San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press).
To sum up Dr. Fruchtenbaum's statements: There are various categories of miracles and healings, and neither gift is operative at all times through the gift holder.
Paul used gifts of healings in many an instant, but at other times he could not. Certainly he would have healed his ministry associates of their ailments; yet he wrote, Trophimus I left sick at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20).
Some workings of miracles were not healings. Some examples are: Paul's calling down blindness on Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:11); Peter's judging of Ananias and Sapphira with death (Acts 5:9-11); Paul's casting a spirit of divination out of a slave-girl (Acts 16:16-19).
Dr. Paul Enns notes,
Where Do Exorcisms
It must be noted that, just as one without the gift of evangelism can lead people to Messiah, so God may heal a person in answer to the prayers of a believer without gifts of healings (or work a non-healing miracle in answer to the prayers of one without the gifts of miracles); but just as the evangelist is far more effective in evangelism than others, so is the one with gifts of healings far more effective in seeing people healed than others. Also, it is probable that the healings of all those with the gifts of healings will show the same characteristics that those of Jesus and the apostles did (above), whereas the healings effected through the prayers of those without gifts of healings may not show all of the above characteristics; for example, healings that are speeded up, but not instantaneous.
Ministries and Gifts of the Spirit Sequence
The Filling of the Holy Spirit
Spiritual Gifts, page 1
Spiritual Gifts, page 2
Spiritual Gifts, page 3
Divine Healing, page 1
Divine Healing, page 2
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