3. The Gifts Explained
1) Leading (Romans 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28). In Romans 12:8, the word is proistemi, which Strong defines as "to stand before, that is, (in rank) to preside." In 1 Corinthians 12:28, it's kubernesis, which means "pilotage, that is, (figuratively) directorship (in the church): - government."
The spiritual gift of leading, then, is the God-given ability to lead a group within the congregation, or the entire congregation. It is the ability to see the big picture, to establish priorities, to make wise decisions, to organize people, to give clear and authoritative direction, and to inspire confidence in those being led. The gift of leading is foundational and essential to all in positions of group leadership, whether those positions have to do with pastoring, works of mercy, maintaining the physical plant, or some other form of ministry.
Let us note three things:
1. In pastors and teachers, "the word 'and' is not in the Greek text. A proper translation of this passage should be pastor-teacher" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic Bible Study 071: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit, p. 6).
2. The word some precedes each of the following: apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors. However, there is no some before teachers. In other words, there is a some before each of the first four gifts, and one before pastors [and] teachers. This, too, is evidence that pastors and teachers should be linked with a hyphen.
3. Vincent's Word Studies says, "The omission of the article from teachers seems to indicate that pastors and teachers are included under one class. The two belong together. No man is fit to be a pastor who cannot also teach."
There are those with the gift of teaching who do not have the gift of pastoring; but there are those with the gift of pastoring-teaching, and the gift of teaching is part of the package. There is no pastoring gift without the accompanying teaching gift. If a person does not have the teaching gift, then they do not have the pastoring gift either. Paul considered it crucial that pastor Timothy faithfully and consistently teach the Word (1 Timothy 1:3, 5; 4:11; 6:2, 17). One of the reasons the Western church is filled with immature, worldly believers is because of the abundance of pastors who do not have the gift of teaching.
We've examined the gift of teaching; but what is involved in the gift of pastoring?
The word for pastor is poimen, and it means "a shepherd." A shepherd's job is to lovingly lead the flock to green pastures and fresh water, retrieve the strays and the lost, protect it from predators, bind up the wounded, keep them from fighting among themselves, discipline the offenders, tend to the sick and the wounded, and shelter the flock from inclement weather (Psalm 23, Ezekiel 34). One operating as a congregational pastor must care for his flock in the same way by teaching the Word, applying it in all situations, and facilitating the full operation of the gifts.
The pastoring gift is a leadership gift, and must, of necessity, include the gift of leading, as well.
To sum up, one with the teaching gift need not have the gift of pastoring and leading, but one with the pastoring gift must, of necessity, possess the gifts of teaching and leading, as well.
One more thing: As with all the gifts, pastoring-teaching is a gift, and its possessor may or may not hold a congregational office. Those with the gift may function in their gift without being the pastor of a congregation. Whether men or women, they may serve as youth leaders, home group leaders, principals of Christian schools, and the like. In these capacities they may lead, teach, and fulfill the roles of a shepherd.
3) Apostleship (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11). There
were two circles of apostles, and members of each needed to meet certain qualifications.
a) Apostolic Qualifications
1] The "Inner Circle" of Twelve
These apostles needed to meet three qualifications. The first is brought out in Mark 3:14: And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him...
They were personally and unmistakably chosen by God.
The other two qualifications are brought out by Peter in regards to the man needed to replace Judas:
21. Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us - 22. beginning with the baptism of John
until the day that He was taken up from us - one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.
~ Acts 1:21-22 ~
The qualifications brought out here are:
1. They needed to have walked with Yeshua from the time of His baptism until His ascension; that is, for the entire duration of His earthly ministry to the nation, to all His disciples, and to them in particular; and
2. They needed to have seen Yeshua in His resurrection body - not in visions or dreams - but with their physical eyes so that they might be oral witness[es]... of His resurrection. Having seen Him taken up, they certainly did see Him in His resurrection body.
The eleven apostles remaining of Yeshua's pre-Pentecost group had met all three qualifications (Luke 6:13; Acts 1:1-4, 9). Matthias, the replacement apostle for Judas, likewise met the two qualifications of Acts 1:21-22, and was also chosen by God through the drawing of lots (Acts 1:23-26. Cf. Proverbs 16:33).
2] The "Outer Circle" of Apostles
The members of this circle did not walk with the original twelve - indeed, Paul had not even been saved - but they did witness Him in His resurrection body. Yeshua made a number of post-resurrection appearances, one of which was to more than five hundred brethren (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).James, the half-brother of Yeshua (1 Corinthians 15:7), and Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and Paul were outer circle apostles. Notice the credentials Paul presented for his apostleship: Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9)? He saw the Lord; and, of course, he was chosen (Acts 9:1-15, esp. v. 15).
3] Common Denominator
The common denominator between the two apostolic groups? They were personally and unmistakably chosen by God, and they beheld the resurrected Lord with their natural eyes. (Cf. also Luke 24:45-49).
19. you... are of God's household, 20. having been built on the foundation of
the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21. in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22. in
whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The gift of apostleship can be summarized thusly: The gift of apostleship required one to have been chosen by God and to have seen the resurrected Lord with their natural eyes for the purpose of founding the universal church and serving as its first chief leaders. Apparently, unlike all other gifts, all with the gift of apostleship sooner or later served in the office of apostle.
b) Special Apostolic Endowments
To serve effectively, the apostles were especially qualified, gifted and endowed with authority. Their especial qualification, giftings and endowments were, and served, as follows:
1] They Were Eye Witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection.
As eye witnesses of His resurrection, they preached the Gospel with great authority (Acts 2:14-41; 14:1, etc.), the resurrection being the very victory song of the Gospel without which our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.... your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins, and we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). They thereby served to populate the early church with thousands (Acts 2:41; 4:4) and to extend its reach to all people groups: Jews and proselytes to Judaism (Acts 2:1-47); Samaritans (Acts 8:14-17), and non-proselyte Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48).
2] They Were Prophets.
In Ephesians 3:2-5, Paul declared,
2. if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; 3. that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5. which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit
According to verse 5, all apostles received special, direct revelation from God, the keynote of prophecy. When they
spoke as prophets - that is, when they declared or implied they were speaking on behalf of the Lord - they spoke inerrantly and infallibly (Ephesians 3:2-5). (Peter and Barnabas did not
declare they were acting or speaking on behalf of the Lord in their dissimulation of Galatians 2:11-13.) In addition, select apostles were chosen from among them
for the prophetic task of writing inerrant and infallible documents that were to become Scripture.
3] They Possessed the Authority to Bind and to Loose.
Matthew 16:19 records the final statement that Yeshua made to Peter: whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
"Binding" and "loosing" were rabbinic terms, and were used in legislative and judicial senses. Legislatively, to bind meant "to forbid something," and to loose meant "to permit something." Judicially, to bind meant "to punish," and to loose meant "to release from punishment" (Fruchtenbaum, Dr. Arnold G. Messianic Bible Study 043: The Confession of Peter, p. 9). The apostles were given the authority to bind and to loose in the church, and they did so in all of its aspects. Legislatively, they permitted, regulated, and forbade certain things (Acts 15; 1 Corinthians 14, 1 Timothy 3:1-12; Titus 1:4-9, etc.). Judicially, they called punishment down on individuals (Acts 5:1-10; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5, etc.) and released individuals from punishment (2 Corinthians 2:6-8). This authority enabled them to found and organize the church along godly lines.
4] They Possessed the Signs of an Apostle.
Truly the signs of an apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12. Cf. Romans 15:19 and Hebrews 2:3-4). God provided the apostles with special credentials that affirmed their apostolic call to all inquirers: the ability to perform signs and wonders and miracles (Acts 2:43; 19:11-12, etc.).
The service gifts are characterized by the humblest kinds of assistance or comfort.
1) Serving (Romans 12:7) or Helps(1 Corinthians 12:28). Serving and helps are very close in meaning. We will therefore address them simultaneously.
1] Definitions of Service
In Romans 12:7, the word for service is diakonia. According to Strong, it is derived from diakonos, and means, "attendance (as a servant, etc.); figuratively (eleemosynary [pertaining to alms or charity - N.M.]) aid, (official) service (especially of the Christian teacher, or technically of the diaconate): - (ad-) minister (-ing, -tration, -try), office, relief, service (-ing)."
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that that the word is "from root meaning 'to run on errands,' and so attendance, aid as a servant, ministry, relief, and hence, service."
2] Definitions of Helps
In 1 Corinthians 12:28, the word for helps is antilapesis. Strong defines it as "relief: - help." The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, "it has been usually understood as referring to the deacons, the following word kubernēseis, translated “governments,” being explained as referring to the presbyters.
From Dr. Paul Enns in The Moody Handbook of Theology, p. 275-276:
Helps (Gk. antilempsis) denotes "helpful deeds, assistance. The basic meaning of the word is an undertaking on behalf of another (Reinecker, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, p. 430)." The word is similar to serving, as some see these gifts as identical. Certainly they are quite similar if not the same. The word occurs only here in the New Testament, but the related Greek word, antilambanesthai, occurs in Luke 1:54; Acts 20:35; 1 Timothy 6:2. (A. T. Robertson and Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians in The International Critical Commentary [Edinburgh: Clark, 1914], p. 281)
3] Some Observations
a] The basic definitions of the two words are quite similar: helping.
b] Both words may apply to the humblest kinds of service.
c] Both words may be used in reference to the work of deacons.
d] Service may be applied to "Christian teachers."
1] Usages of Service (diakonia)
a] Diakonia is used in the most general sense possible, applying to all the gifts: 1 Corinthians 12:5: And there are varieties of ministries (diakonia), and the same Lord.
b]It is used abundantly of the office and service of the apostles and elders: Acts 1:17; 6:4; 20:24; 2 Corinthians 5:18; 2 Timothy 4:5.
c] It is used of a mundane task, the daily serving (diakonia) of food (Acts 6:1).
The usage of diakonia could not possibly be broader, from the apostolate to the serving of tables.
A kindred word, diakoneo, is used of the humblest kinds of practical service: of angels ministering to, and women waiting on, Yeshua (Matthew 4:11; 8:15; 27:55); of delivering an offering to the poor saints in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-26); of ministering to Paul in prison (Philemon 1:13).
2] Usages of Helps (antilapesis, words related to)
Let us see how antilambanesthai is used in the three verses cited by Enns. In Luke 1:54, it refers to the help (antilambanomai) God gave to Israel in sending Yeshua. In Acts 20:35, the help (antilambanomai) referred to is material provision for the weak earned by the hard work of the provider. In 1 Timothy 6:2, believing slaves are to serve their believing masters so that the latter may partake (antilambanomai) of the benefit of their slaves' service.
The help rendered in these passages is not always to the needy, as a
master would be hard-pressed to be needier than his slave. What is common to the passages is servanthood from the heart in ways that span everything from salvation to digging ditches.
c) Differentiation from Other
1] Differentiation of Service (diakonia) from Other Gifts
In Romans 12:6-8, service is differentiated from prophecy, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading and showing mercy. Likewise, its kindred word, diakonos, deacons, the helpers of the elders, is differentiated from overseers in Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3.
2] Differentiation of Helps (antilapesis) from Other Gifts
In 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, helps is differentiated from apostleship, prophecy, teaching, miracles, healings, leading, tongues and interpretation of tongues.
d) Summary of
1] Both words have broad and parallel usages. Service is used in reference to apostleship and to the helping of prisoners; helps is used to refer to service provided by God and by slaves.
2] Both words are differentiated from other gifts, including leadership and speaking gifts.
3]In 1 Corinthians 12:28, helps "has been usually understood as referring to the deacons (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: ibid.)" in contradistinction to elders, being placed just before elders in the sequence.
e) Conclusions and Definition
The gift of service, diakonia,and the gift of helps antilapesis, are synonymous. Inasmuch as both words are used in reference to the broadest range of Christian giftings and ministries, we can conclude that all Christian ministry is service and helps. However, inasmuch as both service and helps are: 1] differentiated from other gifts including leadership and speaking gifts, 2] that the diakonos are the servants of the elders, and that 3] diakoneo is used of the most humble and practical kinds of service - when service/helps is used as a gift differentiated from the other gifts, it is the motivation and capacity to help others in humble and practical kinds of service.
Enns statement continues, "The gift of helps means "to take firm hold of some one, in order to help. These 'helpings' therefore probably refer to the succoring of those in need, whether poor, sick, widows, orphans, strangers, travelers, or what not" (Enns, p. 275-276). I would add that it may also be expressed by driving those who have no cars, repairing plumbing, cleaning the houses of the sick, and the like. It may also be exercised by the congregation's office, maintenance, set-up, benevolence, kitchen, and similar kinds of workers.
2) Showing Mercy (Romans 12:8). In the Greek the two words are one, eleeo. Strong defines it as "compassionate (by word or deed)." It is almost universally translated as showing mercy, but at least Young's Literal Translation renders it doing kindness.
In Scripture, showing mercy is always expressed by doing, not merely
emoting; and the deeds fall into the categories of blessings for the body and blessings for the spirit.
Blessings for body, as in Matthew 9:27: As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, "Have mercy (eleeo) on us, Son of David!" Also Matthew 15:22; 17:15; 20:30-31; Philippians 2:27, etc.
Blessings for the spirit, as in Romans 11:30-32:
30. For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy (eleeo) because of their disobedience, 31. so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy (eleeo) shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy (eleeo) to all. Jude 1:22-23: 22. And have mercy (eleeo) on some, who are doubting; 23. save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy (eleeo) with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
Also Romans 9:16-18; 1 Timothy 1:13,16.
The gift of mercy, then, is the pronounced God-given ability to bless people, body or soul, from the heart. It may take the form of comforting the sick and ministering to them in practical ways, offering a word of condolence to the bereaved, encouraging the downhearted, reaching out to save the lost, etc. Those who have the gift have the pronounced capacity to empathize, and to emote sympathy and concern in a godly way.
Enablement gifts enable the exercise of other gifts more effectively. Those with the gifts of faith or celibacy are enabled by
those gifts to exercise other gifts more effectively. Those with the gift of giving enable others to exercise their gifts more effectively.
1) Faith (1 Corinthians 12:9). All believers have saving faith, but not all have the spiritual gift of faith. The word is pistis, and it means persuasion... moral conviction (Strong). Saving faith results in salvation, which is not a work, but the gift of faith is directly responsible for the accomplishment of many great works. In 1 Corinthians 13:2, the gift of faith is essential for moving mountains: ... if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains...
In Acts 6:5, seven men were chosen by the apostles to oversee the fair distribution of food to the widows, but Stephen was distinguished from the others in that he was introduced as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 11:24, Barnabas likewise was introduced as full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. As it would have been unnecessary to say that they had saving faith, we can conclude that they had the gift of faith. Look at the great works that these men accomplished.
Stephen performed great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:8)
and stood his ground in argument with his opponents; and when they brought him before the Sanhedrin he stood fast and preached a message that cut to their hearts unto the point of his martyrdom,
and then prayed for them with his very last words (Acts 6:8-7:60).
In Acts 4:35-37, Barnabas is noted for his magnanimous giving and great trust in the apostles so that the needs of all were met. In Acts 9:27, he had faith in former persecutor Paul and introduced him to the apostles. In Acts 11:22, he was sent by the apostles to oversee the large number of those coming to the Lord in Antioch; and he worked closely with Paul in preaching and in danger for the duration of Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 13:1 - 15:39).
Paul, too, must have had the gift of faith in order to persevere in his call to be an apostle of Gentiles (Romans 11:13) through all manner of severe persecutions and hardships (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).
The gift of faith, then, is an unusually large measure of trust given by God for steadfastness in the promises, commands and commissions of God.
In light of the persecutions and other challenges that they endured and overcame, these men and women must be among
the many, both known to us and unknown, who had the gift of faith: Jan Hus, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, George Mueller, Mary
Slessor, Hudson Taylor, William Booth, Corrie ten Boom, Richard Wurmbrand.
2) Celibacy (1 Corinthians 7:1, 7b). In Matthew 19, before the post-Pentecost gift of celibacy was given, Yeshua spoke of a particular state of celibacy as a gift from God:
10. The disciples said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry." 11. But He said to them, "Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12. ...who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it."
Those who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven were given the ability by God to do so.
Paul discussed the gift of celibacy in 1 Corinthians 7:
1. It is good for a man not to touch a woman. . . . 7b. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 8. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. . . . 26. I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. . . . 32. But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33. but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34. and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
The spiritual gift of celibacy is the God-given ability to refrain from sex without being overcome or distracted by desire. Not all who are celibate have the gift. Indeed, God requires celibacy of all who are not married; but those who have the gift handle celibacy especially well.
The gift of celibacy facilitates singleness in regards to marriage, and Paul points out the advantage of the single state, particularly during times of distress, as is brought out in verse 26. The reason given is the greater liberty that the single person has to build others up in spiritual things as opposed to attending to the valid, but natural, concerns of the spouse (things of the world).
Neither Yeshua nor Paul disparaged marriage nor required celibacy of congregational leaders. Indeed, Yeshua restricted voluntary celibacy to those who are able to accept it (Matthew 10:12); and Paul said, But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7:9). Neither did either of them say that meeting one's responsibility to spouse and children is not serving the Lord; they merely emphasized the advantage of the celibate state in enabling service in regards to the need of the human spirit, and encouraged it among those who could handle it well.
In 1 Corinthians 7:8, Paul implied that he the gift. He was therefore able to travel and minister extensively and at a moment's notice, and was at far greater liberty to place his life in danger than he would have been had he been married. Certainly this gift enabled him to be as fruitful as he was!
3) Giving (Romans 12:8). The word is metadidomi. Strong defines it as "to
give over, that is, share" and Young's Concordance defines it as "to give a share of."
It is used equally of sharing or imparting things spiritual and things material.
Of things spiritual:
Romans 1:11: ... that I may impart (metadidomi) some spiritual gift to you...
1 Thessalonians 2:8: ... we were well-pleased to impart (metadidomi) to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives.
Of things material:
Luke 3:11: The man who has two tunics is to share (metadidomi) with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.
Ephesians 4:28: He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share (metadidomi) with one who has need.
We have a situation here that is similar to the one we had with service/helps: The word is used broadly, yet, in Romans 12:8, the gift of giving is differentiated from speaking and other gifts: from prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, leading and showing mercy. Similarly, we can conclude that all Christian ministry must be done in a spirit of giving; but as a specific spiritual gift, it refers to the pronounced God-given desire to share materially or financially to meet a need. It is may be possessed by those of moderate or abundant means, but all who have the gift are to give with liberality (Romans 12:8). The essence of the gift may be captured in Paul's soaring statement, And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor... (1 Corinthians 13:3); and as with Lydia (Acts 16:14-15), the Lord does raise up people of means in this gift to serve in the support of the ministry.
This completes our study of the nature of the individual gifts.
One more thought:
Certain gifts seem to be stand-alone gifts, such as the gift of knowledge, and may be thought of as simple gifts: They do not require the support of other gifts in their possessors. Other gifts, however, require a combination of gifts, and may be thought of as compound gifts. The gift of pastor-teacher is a compound gift: It requires the gifts of leading, pastoring and teaching; and teaching, in turn, requires the gift of knowledge as well as the abilities to organize materials and communicate clearly.
These concept of simple and compound gifts are offered as tools. However, I do not believe that we can dogmatically slice and dice each gift down to its subatomic components as some teachers - I'm sure you can't think of any! - are wont to do!