What Are the Categories of the Gifts?

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In our Seek the Gifts series on the gifts of the Spirit, we recently discussed the fruit of the Spirit as the foundation for the gifts. We must practice the fruit of the Spirit as we use our gifts. We also talked about the gifts of the Spirit seen in the Old Testament.

Now we want to turn to the New Testament to see the categories of the gifts and what the Spirit apportions to Christians. The Holy Spirit gives the gifts as He wills. Most of the gifts come out of three categories shown in the New Testament. Let’s dive in and get an overview of the gifts in their categories.

Lists of the Gifts

The New Testament describes the gifts in four lists. The first list canonically starts in Romans 12:6-8. Paul mentions gifts that fit into several categories. We will go over these in more detail in the coming posts. The categories of gifts here range from service gifts to leadership gifts.

The next place we see gifts is in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul calls the gifts listed here and discussed through 14 “the spirituals.” He does not use the word for gifts. These are the spiritual gifts that are usually used in a service or Christian gathering.

In Ephesians 4:11, Paul categorizes a third list of gifts we call the leadership gifts. Some people call them the fivefold ministry of the Spirit in the Church. These five gifts provide the engine for church leadership, from apostles to teachers.

Peter describes several gifts that have to do with service (1 Peter 4:9-11). Some gifts fit into other categories. As with the other lists, we will study these in more detail.

Surrounding these lists of gifts is teaching on how to use them in a way that glorifies Jesus. It’s not enough to know the gifts that are available. We must know how to use the gifts to benefit one another in the body of Christ.

The Leadership Gifts

In the leadership gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11, we see five leadership, or ministry, gifts. Paul lists them as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Paul gives the reason for the leadership gifts in the following verses (Ephesians 4:12-16).

Scholars debate whether these leadership gifts are offices of the Church or functions within the Church. We will discuss this in a later post in more detail. These gifts are different from the other gifts we will talk about.

Paul doesn’t call the gift of apostles as the gift of apostleship. These are people in the church you have the gift to minister in a certain way. We call them the leadership gifts because people who have these five gifts lead the congregation or groups of Christians.

Each one of these leadership gifts directs the church in unique areas. Apostles lead new works of God in new places. Prophets have ministries much like the Old Testament prophets. Evangelists have a gift for ministering in witnessing and conversion to the Christian faith.

Pastors are shepherds who lead the body of Christ into deeper spiritual knowledge and practice of the faith. And teachers have a gift for expounding and explaining the Scriptures, and showing people how to live out their Christian faith.

There is so much more to discuss about each of these gifts given to the Church by the Holy Spirit. As I described them in later posts in greater detail you may get an idea of where you fit if you have one of these ministry gifts.

The Service Gifts

You can find most of the service gifts in Romans 12 and 1 Peter 4. They appear in several other places as well. We see many of the service gifts operating outside the Church walls. People use their service gifts in their homes, like with hospitality.

You can also see service gifts at the workplace or on the street. These gifts welcome outsiders into the body of Christ. They show people what living as a Christian is like. They are usually part of a holistic lifestyle.

But people also use these gifts within the Christian community. They operate first among Christian believers,, and then in the community. They can accompany other gifts compatible with them in ministry.

The Spiritual Gifts

The spiritual gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12 are probably the most controversial. Most people have the most issues with the spirituals, as Paul calls them. Some of them are so unique that Paul takes the rest of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 to explain some of the more eccentric ones.

Within this category of spiritual gifts, Paul includes three groups of three gifts each. We will spend specific posts on each of these groups within the spirituals. And much of our discussion of a few of them will dominate the posts in which they appear.

The most controversial spiritual gifts are speaking in tongues, interpretation, and prophecy. Some of the other ones have a close second to these. For some, it’s hard to understand words of wisdom and knowledge.

For others, the power gifts of miracles, faith, and healings are so closely related that they have trouble differentiating them. I will show you the differences between all the gifts and describe them so you can see if you have one or more of these gifts.

The New Testament mentions the gifts in other places. Some people may charge those who teach on the gifts of the Spirit that they don’t show up enough in the New Testament to be practiced. But we also see them in Hebrews (Hebrews 2:4) and in operation throughout Acts.

Wrapping Up

This has been a short introduction to the categories of the gifts of the Spirit. But I hope it whets your appetite to discuss the gifts in more detail throughout the rest of this series. As we dive deeper into the categories and the gifts in them, I hope you will gain a deeper understanding of the gifts and find your place in the body of Christ with the gifts the Spirit has given you.

We must remember the teaching surrounding the gifts of the Spirit. We can get so zealous for the gifts that we forget the foundation of the fruit of the Spirit. And we can be so involved in seeking our gifts that we don’t remember the apostles’ teaching of how to use the gifts in ways that glorify Jesus and build up the Church.

As we go through the categories and lists of the gifts, detailing what each gift does and how it builds up the body of Christ, we will also take time to describe the ways in which we use the gifts.

You can look forward to my teaching on how to discover your gift and learn how to use it more effectively for Christ in the final part of this series. If you have questions about the gifts, leave a comment and I will include answers to your questions in the rest of the series.

Up Next

We have now seen the categories of the gifts of the Spirit in the New Testament. Next, we will zoom in on the leadership gifts and described them and their use in the body of Christ.

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