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Gifts of the Spirit

(charismata). 1. The gift of justifying faith (see Faith, Justifying) is the Holy* Spirit's primary gift (1 Co 12:3; Eph 1:19).

2. In Ro 12, 1 Co 12, and Gl 5 many other, supplementary, gifts are listed which, according to His purposes, the Spirit gives in varying measure; they are called fruits and represent qualities that every Christian may attain to some degree; some have gifts in greater degree than others. The fruits include love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gl 5:22–23).

3. Gifts of the Spirit are nurtured in Christian lives through reverent use of Word and Sacraments. These fruits of the Spirit stand in marked contrast to the “works of the flesh” (Gl 5:19–21).

4. Gifts of the Spirit not intended for all believers are enumerated 1 Co 12:8–10: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues (glossolalia; from Gk. for “tongue” and “speaking”), and interpretation of tongues. Some win have one of these gifts, others another, or one person may have several in various measure. Such gifts may in some cases be directed to special use or bestowed on persons weak in faith.

5. Various offices by which mems. of the body of Christ serve one another in special ways are also gifts of the Spirit. God gives the ch. apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles and workers of miracles, gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues and the interpretation of tongues (1 Co 12:28–30). The list in 1 Co 12:8–10 overlaps with that in 1 Co 12:28–30 and the counterparts are not all clear.

6. The role which gifts of the Spirit are to play in the Christian community is stated 1 Co 12:7 (“to profit withal”) and 1 Ptr 4:10 (“minister the same one to another”). The extent and range of special gifts seem to have been greater in apostolic times than now.

7. In Ro 12:5–6 the origin of specific gifts is stated in gen. terms (“having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us”) and their use is related to the grand truth that “we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

8. The classic chap. on the gift of tongues,* 1 Co 14, follows immediately after the chapter in which Paul says that apart from “charity,” or “Christian love,” other gifts and endeavors are nothing.

9. After an admonition to follow charity and desire spiritual gifts (1 Co 14:1) Paul speaks about the gift of tongues. He recognizes the gift of tongues as a valid and important spiritual gift but also points out how easily this gift can be abused and cautions against unwholesome use.

10. According to Acts 2 the apostles received ability to speak (at least for the occasion) in languages they had never learned, but the gift of tongues referred to 1 Co 14 seems to be another type of utterance granted by the Spirit. These tongues are gen. called “ecstatic utterances” and involve use of Spirit-motivated sounds that are not intelligible in terms of known language. They do have meaning that can be stated by one who has the gift of interpretation.

11. Other references to gifts of the Spirit include Mt 10:1, 8; Lk 10:9, 17, 19; Acts 10:44–46; 1 Co 7:7. OS

See also Seven Gilts of the Holy Spirit.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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