Click to Change

Return to Top

Return to Top

Printer Icon


Prior Section Next Section Back to Commentaries Author Bio & Contents
The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Introduction to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Don Stewart :: What Are the Various Spiritual Gifts That the Bible Lists?

toggle collapse
Choose a new font size and typeface

What Are the Various Spiritual Gifts That the Bible Lists?

Introduction to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Question 7

The Bible mentions the gifts of the Spirit in a number of different portions of Scripture. They can be found at Romans 12:6–8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Corinthians 12:28, 1 Corinthians 12:29,30, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 1 Corinthians 13:8, 1 Corinthians 14:6, 1 Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 4:11, and 1 Peter 4:12. It is also possible the 1 Corinthians 7:7 and 1 Peter 4:9 may be referring to spiritual gifts.

Not All of the References Are Lists of Gifts

Some of these references are definite lists of gifts while others are passages that mention more than one gift but cannot really be referred to as lists. Ten of these references come from the Apostle Paul while two come from Peter.

The Various Passages Where Spiritual Gifts Are Listed

The following are the various passages where spiritual gifts are listed.

Romans 12:6-8

Paul wrote to Romans with a list of the gifts of the Spirit. He listed them as follows.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness (Romans 12:6-8 ESV).

This is a rather short list.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

In First Corinthians, he gave another list. This list is rather lengthy. It reads in this manner.

Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. 6 There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another he gives the gift of special knowledge. The Spirit gives special faith to another, and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and to another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to know whether it is really the Spirit of God or another spirit that is speaking. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, and another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have (1 Corinthians 12:4-11 NLT).

This is quite an extended list.

1 Corinthians 12:28

Later in that same chapter, we read of the gifts listed in a particular order. Paul wrote.

First, God chose some people to be apostles and prophets and teachers for the church. But he also chose some to work miracles or heal the sick or help others or be leaders or speak different kinds of languages (1 Corinthians 12:28 CEV).

Some believe these are listed in their order of importance.

1 Corinthians 12:29, 30

Paul then restated the list in the form of a question. He said.

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:29, 30 ESV).

The answer to the question is, “No.” Not everyone has these gifts.

Ephesians 4:11

When Paul wrote to the Ephesians he listed the following gifts.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11 NASB).

Here we have another short list.

1 Peter 4:11

The last reference to spiritual gifts is found in the writings of Peter. He said.

Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:11 NRSV).

While not mentioning the term “spiritual gift,” Peter seems to be referring to two categories of gifts: speaking gifts and ministering gifts of the Spirit. The speaking gifts would probably include: apostle, prophet, teacher, pastor, and evangelist. The serving gifts would probably refer to ruling, giving, showing mercy, and ministering.

Other Places Where the Gifts Are Mentioned but Not in a List

There are a number of other places where more than one spiritual gift is mentioned. Not everyone would consider these as lists of spiritual gifts. However, for completeness sake, these passages should be noted.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Paul mentions four of the gifts of the Spirit at the beginning of the First Corinthians chapter thirteen. They are prophecy, speaking in tongues, and the gifts of understanding mysteries and knowledge. He wrote the following to the Church of Corinth.

If I speak human or angelic languages, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 HCSB).

He also mentions three of the gifts in one verse in First Corinthians chapter thirteen.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away (1 Corinthians 13:8 ESV).

This is not a list of the gifts.

1 Corinthians 14:6

Paul mentions a number of gifts in the beginning of chapter fourteen of First Corinthians. He presents them as follows.

Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? (1 Corinthians 14:6 NRSV).

Again, Paul mentions speaking in tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:26

Paul lists some other gifts at the end of the chapter fourteen. They include speaking in tongues and interpreting the tongue language.

Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize what I am saying. When you meet, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in an unknown language, while another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:26 NLT).

The gift of speaking in tongues is again mentioned.

Other Possible Gifts: Marriage, Celibacy, and Hospitality

Some have thought the New Testament speaks specifically about three other spiritual gifts: marriage, celibacy and hospitality.

1 Corinthians 7:7: Marriage and Celibacy May Be Spiritual Gifts

Paul wrote about marriage and celibacy.

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind (1 Corinthians 7:7 NRSV).

While Paul speaks of marriage and celibacy as a gift it is not certain that he had “spiritual gifts” in mind. However if he did then mean for these to be understood as spiritual gifts, then celibacy would be a gift that was not necessarily permanent. Indeed, people could be celibate for a limited time.

1 Peter 4:9 Peter Spoke of Hospitality in a Discussion of Spiritual Gifts

In the context of discussing spiritual gifts Peter wrote the following words.

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9 ESV).

Hospitality is sometimes understood as part of the gift of ministering, or helping, rather than being a specific spiritual gift. However Peter did use a different Greek word than the one Paul used for ministering. Therefore, it may be a distinct gift. These are the total number of places in the New Testament where a spiritual gift is either mentioned or inferred.

The Total List of Spiritual Gifts as Found in the New Testament

When the various lists of spiritual gifts are put together we come up with the total of twenty-three. They are as follows:

Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Miracles, Healing, Evangelist, Pastor, Exhorting, Giving, Ministering, Helping, Ruling, Tongues, Showing mercy, Interpretation of Tongues, Word of wisdom, Marriage, Word of Knowledge Celibacy, Faith, Hospitality, Discerning of spirits, Administration

Observations about the Spiritual Gifts Listed in the New Testament

There are a number of observations that can be made about the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament.

1. No List of Spiritual Gifts Is Complete

No passage contains the complete list of spiritual gifts. Thus, there is no attempt to make an exhaustive list in any one place.

2. No Gift Is Mentioned in Every List

There is no spiritual gift that is found on all the lists. This is another indication that none of the lists were meant to be complete.

3. No Two Lists of Spiritual Gifts Are Alike

As we compare the various references or lists of gifts we find that each one is different – there are never two lists that are exactly alike.

4. Some of the Gifts Are Mentioned More than Once

Some of the gifts are mentioned three times and one gift, prophet, is in mentioned four times. Other gifts are mentioned only once.

5. An Examination of the List Shows the Gifts Are of Different Character

When we look at the various lists of gifts we find that they are of different character. There are gifts of speaking and serving. There are practical gifts that everyone can do, like minister and show mercy, and there are gifts that only a few can do – such as apostle, prophet, miracles, and healing, teaching, and leading.

6. They Are Not Necessarily Listed in Order from the Greater to the Lesser

These gifts are not necessarily in order from the greater to the lesser. We should not assume that the lists contain gifts in order of importance. While there may be a purpose for listing the gifts in a particular order in each reference the purpose is not obvious.

7. There May Be Some Overlap between the Gifts

Some of the gifts overlap. The gift of ruling or leadership overlaps the gift of administration. The gift of ministering overlaps the gift of helping. There are different Greek words used for these gifts therefore it is possible to make some distinction between them. However there is also much overlap.

8. Sometimes the Gift Is Listed, Other Times the Gifted Person Is Listed

The Bible makes a distinction between spiritual gifts and gifted individuals. Spiritual gifts are the abilities that God gives to all believers while gifted individuals are those people whom God has chosen to minister to the church, the body of Christ.

When we look at the various lists of the gifts of the Spirit we will note that at times the spiritual gift is listed while at other times the gifted person is named. For example, Paul lists the gift of prophecy and the gift of teaching in his list in Romans 12:6-8. However, in his list in 1 Corinthians 12:28 he lists the persons who exercise the gift – prophets and teachers. Therefore both the person and the activity are listed.

Some of the lists give only the gift while other lists give only the person who exercises the gift. For example, in Ephesians 4, it is only the gifted individuals who are mentioned – not the gifts. Other lists mix the gifts with the gifted people.

Therefore it isn’t technically correct to say that all of the above lists are lists of spiritual gifts. At times the person who exercises the gift is listed instead of the gift itself. Yet both the gifts, and the gifted individuals, have been given to the church for the work of the ministry.

9. The Lists Contain Both Natural and Supernatural Abilities

There is no distinction made between abilities that non-believers can have, such as teaching or leading, and those abilities that only Christians can possess, such as prophecy and healing. Both types of gifts are all mentioned together without any distinction between them. Each of these abilities can function as spiritual gifts when the Holy Spirit directs them.

10. There May Be More Gifts than Those Listed in Scripture

There may be many more spiritual gifts than what the Bible gives. While certain gifts are listed that pertain to natural abilities not every natural ability is listed. This may mean that there are many more gifts that are related to natural abilities. This could include things such as singing, musical ability and artistic ability.

Thus, there is no attempt by Paul, or Peter, to present an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts. Each listing is incomplete. Therefore, it is possible that other spiritual gifts exist that are not listed in Scripture. However, to be a spiritual gift, a natural ability must be empowered and directed by the Holy Spirit.

In addition, some of the gifts listed could be expressed in a number of ways. An example would be the gift of teaching. This gift can be exercised in the classroom, the pulpit, or at home Bible study.

The gift of serving, or helps, can be also exercised in a great number of ways. So can the gift of evangelism. Therefore we can find a number of different expressions of the various gifts of the Spirit. This is what Peter emphasized.

God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you (1 Peter 4:10 NLT).

Peter says that the gifts of the Holy Spirit take on many different forms. All believers should recognize and appreciate this fact.

Summary – Question 7
What Are the Various Spiritual Gifts That the Bible Lists?

The Bible lists the gifts of the Spirit in a number of different places in Scripture. They are basically found in the writing of the Apostle Paul with one, or perhaps two references in the writings of Peter. We can note a number of things about the gifts listed.

First, no list is complete. There is thus no attempt by any New Testament writer to list all of the gifts in one place.

In addition, we find that no gift is mentioned in every list. This further indicates that there is no desire to list all of the gifts.

Furthermore, no two lists of spiritual gifts are alike. Each one is different. We also find that some of the gifts are mentioned more than once. One gift, prophecy, is mentioned four times.

When they are listed, the gifts are not necessarily given in order from the greater to the lesser. Thus, we should not always assume that the first gift listed is always the greatest gift.

We should also note that there may be some overlap between the various gifts. At times the gift is listed and at other times the person who exercises the gift is listed.

We also find that natural abilities are listed together with supernatural abilities. The Scripture makes no distinction between them.

Finally, there may be more gifts than these that are listed.

Were There Spiritual Gifts Given during the Old Testament Period? ← Prior Section
In What Ways Have Believers Classified the Gifts of the Spirit? Next Section →
BLB Searches
Search the Bible

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval

Daily Devotionals

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.