Spirit gifts Refs
The early believers possessed remarkable Holy Spirit powers ranging from the spectacular gifts of tongues and healing to the less obvious gifts of teaching and administration. Why were they given? Are they still available? In this chapter we consider the various
gifts of the Holy Spirit and their purpose.

1 Corinthians 12

Jesus has given a variety of gifts to his followers, but the Corinthian believers were treating some of the gifts as unimportant.
Paul wrote to them explaining that there are different gifts, but all of them are useful. Each gift is given by the one Spirit for the common good.

1. List the gifts mentioned in this chapter. What is the purpose of each gift?
2. Do you think any of these gifts are present in believers today?
3. Which of the gifts did the Corinthians most admire? Why?
4. What are the “greater gifts” mentioned in v31?
5. The body of Christ is compared with a human body-each believer is a part of the body and the various Holy Spirit gifts helped them carry out their specific tasks. What different tasks are there in the body of Christ today?

Where do you fit in?

Spirit gifts in the Old Testament
The first century believers were not the only people to whom God gave extraordinary abilities by the power of his Spirit.

• Bezalel and Oholiab, in making articles for the tabernacle, were “filled with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and
knowledge in all kinds of crafts.”
Exodus 31:1-5
• Moses brought together 70 elders and “he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the 70 elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied.” Numbers 11:24-25
• God’s Spirit acted so that ordinary men were given great wisdom and timid men were made courageous.
e.g. Judges 3:10; 6:34; 1 Kings 4:29-34
• Elijah and Elisha did many extraordinary miracles including prophesying, raising the dead, causing drought and healing the sick. e.g. 2 Kings 4:1-5:14
• The prophets sent by God were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the Scripture.2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21

Each time the powers of the Holy Spirit were given to men or women, it was for a special occasion to enable them to carry out
special work in God’s service. Throughout the Bible, there are many examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things
by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Spirit gifts in the Gospels
Jesus possessed far greater powers than any other person. God’s Spirit descended on him at his baptism and he did many miracles and made many prophecies. His apostles were also given the Holy Spirit power, and so were seventy-two helpers. Matthew 10:1-8; Luke 10:17

As in the Old Testament, these gifts were all given for a special work. On this occasion, Jesus was establishing a whole new
covenant and the work needed God’s special help.

But the work didn’t stop when Jesus died. After his resurrection, Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles again-several more times, in fact. John 20:22-23; Acts 2:1-13; 4:31

Jesus had promised the apostles they would receive further Holy Spirit powers after he had gone to heaven (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5). His promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down on them in“tongues of fire” and with the sound of a violent wind. This is described as the“baptism of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5).
They received the ability to speak in foreign languages and to do other “wonders and miraculous signs” (Acts 2:1-13,43). The “tongues” they spoke were authentic foreign languages. The miracle was to be able to speak these languages as if they were native speakers-without any training.

Again, this was a special occasion. It was the first major preaching effort of the apostles after Jesus had left them. There was a real need for God to give them extra abilities to cope with this new task.

It wasn’t just the apostles who performed miracles. Others mentioned include Stephen, Philip, Cornelius and some disciples at Ephesus. In fact, the gifts seemed to have been fairly widespread. We do not know if everyone had the gifts or if they were always available to those who did have them. But many first century believers did have miraculous powers at times.
Acts 6:8-10; 8:6; 10:44-48; 19:1-7

Some gifts appear to represent a special ability that is not found in others (e.g. prophecy, healing, interpreting). Other gifts seem to be a heightened capacity for something that is expected in every believer (e.g. mercy, faith). Paul even describes his own celibacy as a gift from God. 1 Corinthians 7:7

Paul describes the reason for the gifts as

. . . to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. (Ephesians 4:12)

So the gifts at Pentecost and later in the first century were given to help establish the growing number of believers. They faced severe opposition from Jews and Romans, they had little training and no New Testament Scriptures.

As with all other outpourings of God’s Spirit, the gifts eventually ceased. Historical evidence suggests that by the end of the first century, they had largely disappeared. see 1 Corinthians 13:8-10

Claims for gifts today
Of course, God can give gifts to individuals at any time, and may have done so since the first century. But the gifts do not seem to have been widespread amongst believers since then. However, there are several churches that claim to have Spirit gifts today. In fact, there have always been people claiming to
have powers from God, and he has given us a test to determine if such claims are genuine.
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says

“Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

In other words, even if someone appears to do something miraculous, if what they preach is not the truth we should take
no notice of them. Furthermore, the churches that claim to have “gifts” do not appear to show the same abilities that God gave people in the first century. The “healing” tends to be of relatively minor complaints and often temporary, and the “tongues” are not
known languages as they were at Pentecost.

However, there are still some gifts God gives his children today.

• God sometimes blesses us financially. 2 Cor 9:11
• We are promised additional strength to serve God. 1 Cor 1:8; Php 4:13;
• We can pray for wisdom and be confident God will give it to us. Col 1:11; 1 Th 3:13; 1 Pet 4:11; Jms 1:15
• We are promised many times that God will give us whatever we ask if we ask according to his will. Mt 7:7-11; 21:22; Jn 14:13-14; 15:7,16; 16:24; 1 Jn 3:22; 5:14

While the more spectacular gifts were given for a specific purpose for a relatively short period of time in the first century, God does still provide wonderful gifts to us today.

Some Old Testament examples
Exodus 31:3-5; Numbers 11:24-25; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 14:5-6,19; 15:14; 1 Kings 4:29-34; 2 Kings 4:1-5:14; 2 Chronicles 15:1-2; 24:20; Jeremiah 1:9; Ezekiel 3:16-17; Daniel 2:19; 6:22.
Promised gifts
Joel 2:28-29; Mark 16:17-18; Acts 2:38-39.
Lists of gifts
1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Peter 4:10-11.

• God has given miraculous Spirit gifts at various times, always for a special purpose.
• The gifts were most widespread during the first century when Jesus was introducing the new covenant, the gospel was only beginning to spread, the new believers faced severe persecution and there were no New Testament Scriptures.
• The New Testament gifts appear to have died out by the end of the first century. People today who claim to have the spectacular miraculous gifts do not possess the same abilities as the New Testament believers. They also do not teach Bible truth.
• God still provides gifts to his servants.

1. Read 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. This describes the gifts dying out when “perfection” comes. Is this talking about the kingdom, or something else?
2. Read Mark 16:15-18 and Acts 2:38-39. Do these passages say that all believers will have Spirit gifts?
3. Do you know of any examples of people who claim to have the gifts today? How do their claims compare with the gifts described in the Bible?
4. Does God still give people particular abilities to carry out work for him? Is this any different from Spirit gifts?

1. Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-25.
(a) List the problems concerning the gifts that appear to have arisen in Corinth.
(b) What advice does Paul give about speaking in tongues?
2. Read Joel 2:28-29 and Hebrews 6:4-6. Can we expect to receive the miraculous gifts at some time?
3. Use a concordance to find all the people mentioned in New Testament who received the gifts. What gifts are mentioned most often?

• The gifts of the Holy Spirit by Harry Whittaker (published by the Christadelphian Bible Mission). This small booklet (18 pages) provides a very good summary of Bible teaching and a discussion of modern claims for Pentecostal gifts.
• BB Sections 2.3 and 2.4
• Wrested scriptures by Ron Abel (published by The Christadelphians, Pasadena). Pages 46-56 deal with passages about Spirit gifts that are frequently misinterpreted.

8. The Spirit of God
9. Prayer
51. The fruit of the Spirit
52. Led by the Spirit