Spiritual Gifts


The following three pages contain suggested definitions of the spiritual gifts. While not meant to be dogmatic or final, these definitions and supporting Scriptures do correspond to characteristics of the gifts as expressed in the Wagner-Modified Houts Questionnaire.

A.      Prophecy. The gift of prophecy is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His people through a divinely anointed utterance.

Luke 7:26 • Acts 15:32 • Acts 21:9–11 • Romans 12:6 • 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28 • Ephesians 4:11–13

B.      Pastor. The gift of pastor is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume a long-term personal responsibility for the spiritual welfare of a group of believers. (Note: The term “pastor” is commonly used to describe the leader of a local congregation; however, many who lead churches have dominant gifts other than pastor [e.g., leader or teacher]. Those leaders who do not have the dominant gift of pastor may augment their role using volunteers or staff members.)

John 10:1–18 • Ephesians 4:11–13 • 1 Timothy 3:1–7 • 1 Peter 5:1–3

C.      Teaching. The gift of teaching is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to communicate information relevant to the health and ministry of the Body and its members in such a way that others will learn.

Acts 18:24–28 • Acts 20:20–21 • Romans 12:7 • 1 Corinthians 12:28 • Ephesians 4:11–13

D.      Wisdom. The gift of wisdom is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to know the mind of the Holy Spirit in such a way as to receive insight into how given knowledge may best be applied to specific needs arising in the Body of Christ. (Note:Pentecostals and charismatics often use the term “word of wisdom,” meaning a revelatory message God gives to bring resolution to a certain situation. I feel the charismatic “word of wisdom” is really a subset of the gift of prophecy, not the gift of wisdom. A judge, on the other hand, would be one who has the gift of wisdom.)

Acts 6:3, 10 • 1 Corinthians 2:1–13 • 1 Corinthians 12:8 • James 1:5–6 • 2 Peter 3:15–16

E.      Knowledge. The gift of knowledge is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to discover, accumulate, analyze and clarify information and ideas which are pertinent to the well-being of the Body.

Acts 5:1–11 • 1 Corinthians 2:14 • 1 Corinthians 12:8 • 2 Corinthians 11:6 • Colossians 2:2–3

F.      Exhortation. The gift of exhortation—sometimes called the gift of counseling—is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to minister words of comfort, consolation, encouragement and counsel to other members of the Body in such a way that they feel helped and healed.

Acts 14:22 • Romans 12:8 • 1 Timothy 4:13 • Hebrews 10:25

G.      Discerning of Spirits. The gift of discerning (or discernment) of spirits is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to know with assurance whether certain behavior purported to be of God is in reality divine, human or satanic.

Matthew 16:21–23 • Acts 5:1–11 • Acts 16:16–18 • 1 Corinthians 12:10 • 1 John 4:1–6

H.      Giving. The gift of giving is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to contribute their material resources to the work of the Lord liberally and cheerfully, above and beyond the tithes and offerings expected of all believers.

Mark 12:41–44 • Romans 12:8 • 2 Corinthians 8:1–7 • 2 Corinthians 9:2–8

I.       Helps. The gift of helps is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to invest the talents they have in the life and ministry of other members of the Body, thus enabling those others to increase the effectiveness of their own spiritual gifts. (Note: The gift of helps may be confused with the gift of service. Someone with the gift of helps usually aids one individual [e.g., an administrative assistant], while a person with the gift of service is willing to do whatever is necessary for a cause or project.)

Mark 15:40–41 • Luke 8:2–3 • Acts 9:36 • Romans 16:1–2 • 1 Corinthians 12:28

J.      Mercy. The gift of mercy is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to feel genuine empathy and compassion for individuals (both Christian and non-Christian) who suffer distressing physical, mental or emotional problems, and to translate that compassion into cheerfully done deeds which reflect Christ’s love and alleviate the suffering.

Matthew 20:29–34 • Matthew 25:34–40 • Mark 9:41 • Luke 10:33–35 • Acts 11:28–30 • Acts 16:33–34 • Romans 12:8

K.      Missionary. The gift of missionary is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to minister whatever other spiritual gifts they have in a second culture. (Note: The gift of missionary should not be confused with the gift of apostle. Some apostles have the gift of missionary 2nd do cross-cultural ministry [e.g., the apostle Paul], while other apostles do not have the missionary gift and therefore they minister monoculturally [e.g., the apostle Peter].)

Acts 8:4 • Acts 13:2–3 • Acts 22:21 • Romans 10:15 • 1 Corinthians 9:19–23 • Ephesians 3:6–8

L.      Evangelist. The gift of evangelist is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to share the gospel with nonbelievers in such a way that they become Jesus’ disciples and responsible members of the Body of Christ.

Acts 8:5–6 • Acts 8:26–40 • Acts 14:21 • Acts 21:8 • Ephesians 4:11–13 • 2 Timothy 4:5

M.      Hospitality. The gift of hospitality is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to provide an open house and a warm welcome to those in need of food and lodging.

Acts 16:14–15 • Romans 12:9–13 • Romans 16:23 • Hebrews 13:1–2 • 1 Peter 4:9

N.      Faith. The gift of faith is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to discern with extraordinary confidence the will and purposes of God for His work.

Acts 11:22–24 • Acts 27:21–25 • Romans 4:18–21 • 1 Corinthians 12:9 • Hebrews 11

O.      Leadership. The gift of leadership is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate these goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God.

Luke 9:51 • Acts 7:10 • Acts 15:7–11 • Romans 12:8 • 1 Timothy 5:17 • Hebrews 13:17

P.      Administration. The gift of administration is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to understand clearly the immediate and long-range goals of a particular unit of the Body of Christ and to devise and execute effective plans for the accomplishment of those goals.

Luke 14:28–30 • Acts 6:1–7 • Acts 27:11 • 1 Corinthians 12:28 • Titus 1:5

Q.      Miracles. The gift of miracles is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to serve as human intermediaries through whom it pleases God to perform powerful acts that are perceived by observers to have altered the ordinary course of nature.

Acts 9:36–42 • Acts 19:11–20 • Acts 20:7–12 • Romans 15:18–19 • 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28 • 2 Corinthians 12:12

R.      Healing. The gift of healing is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to serve as human intermediaries through whom it pleases God to cure illness and restore health apart from the use of natural means.

Acts 3:1–10 • Acts 5:12–16 • Acts 9:32–35 • Acts 28:7–10 • 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28

S.      Tongues. The gift of tongues is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ (a) to speak to God in a language they have never learned and/or (b) to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His people through a divinely anointed utterance in a language they have never learned.

Mark 16:17 • Acts 2:1–13 • Acts 10:44–46 • Acts 19:1–7 • 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28 • 1 Corinthians 14:13–19

T.      Interpretation. The gift of interpretation is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to make known in the vernacular the message of one who speaks in tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:10, 30 • 1 Corinthians 14:13 • 1 Corinthians 14:26–28

U.      Voluntary Poverty. The gift of voluntary poverty is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to renounce material comfort and luxury and adopt a personal lifestyle equivalent to those living at the poverty level in a given society in order to serve God more effectively.

Acts 2:44–45 • Acts 4:34–37 • 1 Corinthians 13:1–3 • 2 Corinthians 6:10 • 2 Corinthians 8:9

V.      Celibacy. The gift of celibacy is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to remain single and enjoy it; to be unmarried and not suffer undue sexual temptations.

Matthew 19:10–12 • 1 Corinthians 7:7–8

W.     Intercession. The gift of intercession is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to pray for extended periods of time on a regular basis and see frequent and specific answers to their prayers, to a degree much greater than that which is expected of the average Christian.

Luke 22:41–44 • Acts 12:12 • Colossians 1:9–12 • Colossians 4:12–13 • 1 Timothy 2:1–2 • James 5:14–16

X.      Deliverance. The gift of deliverance is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to cast out demons and evil spirits. (Note: This gift has also been referred to as the gift of exorcism; however, that term has been degraded due to its frequent use by those practicing occult exorcism, a counterfeit form of deliverance.)

Matthew 12:22–32 • Luke 10:12–20 • Acts 8:5–8 • Acts 16:16–18

Y.      Service. The gift of service—sometimes called the gift of volunteer—is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to identify the unmet needs involved in a task related to God’s work, and to make use of available resources to meet those needs and help accomplish the desired results. (Note: The gift of service may be confused with the gift of helps. See note on helps for clarification.)

Acts 6:1–7 • Romans 12:7 • Galatians 6:2, 10 • 2 Timothy 1:16–18 • Titus 3:14

Z.      Apostle. The gift of apostle is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume and to exercise divinely imparted authority in order to establish the foundational government of an assigned sphere of ministry within the Church. An apostle hears from the Holy Spirit and sets things in order accordingly for the Church’s health, growth, maturity and outreach. (Note: “Church” refers to the believers who gather weekly and also to the believers scattered in the workplace.)

Luke 6:12–13 • 1 Corinthians 12:28 • Ephesians 2:20 • Ephesians 4:11–13

AA.    Leading Worship. The gift of leading worship is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to accurately discern the heart of God for a particular public worship service, to draw others into an intimate experience with God during the worship time and to allow the Holy Spirit to change directions and emphases as the service progresses.

1 Samuel 16:23 • 1 Chronicles 9:33 • 2 Chronicles 5:12–14