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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part Two)

Don Stewart :: What Is the Gift of Exhortation?

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What Is the Gift of Exhortation? (Encouragement)

The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part Two) – Question 7

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is that of exhortation. Paul wrote to the Romans about this particular gift He said.

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness (Romans 12:6-8 NRSV).

The gift of exhortation is listed separately from the gift of teaching. The word exhortation comes from a root word that means “to advocate or comfort.” In fact, it comes from the same Greek word, paraclete from which the term “Helper” or “Comforter” – the title of the Holy Spirit.

The Exhorter Is One Who Encourages

Exhortation is a gift that enables a person to encourage others to become mature in Jesus Christ. Those with the gift of exhortation will attempt to bring out the best in people. Indeed, it is to bring them to spiritual maturity. Exhortation includes rebuking fellow believers for their sins. It is not the same as teaching – it is a call to action. Jude wrote.

Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3 NRSV).

Jude was exhorting the people to agonize, or struggle, for the faith. This is what the person with the gift of exhortation does; it is a call to action!

A Teacher May Have the Gift of Exhortation

A teacher may have the gift of exhortation, as did the man Barnabas. We read the following description of him in the Book of Acts.

There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”) (Acts 4:36 NRSV).

Note that his real name was Joseph but he was given the name Barnabas because of his encouragement of others.

We find that Barnabas encouraged the Apostle Paul when other apostles avoided him. We read about it in this manner.

When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:26, 27 NIV).

This is truly an important gift which Barnabas had. Indeed, when others shunned Paul Barnabas embraced him.

Barnabas also encouraged a man named John Mark who had failed in his ministry. We further read about this in episode in the Book of Acts. It says.

Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus (Acts 15:37-39 NRSV).

The disagreement over John Mark caused Paul and Barnabas to go their separate directions.

Later, Paul said that John Mark was useful for service. He wrote the following to Timothy.

Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11 ESV).

Seemingly, the ministry of Barnabas helped resolve the difficulty between John Mark and Paul. This again points out the need for this gift of encouragement to operate in the church.

Paul Had the Gift of Exhortation

The Apostle Paul also possessed this spiritual gift. He and Barnabas exhorted the believers.

They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said (Acts 14:21, 22 NIV).

Therefore, as we search the Scripture we find that exhortation, or encouragement, is a very important spiritual gift.

Summary – Question 7
What Is the Gift of Exhortation? (Encouragement)

The gift of exhortation is also known as the gift of encouragement. Depending upon the circumstances, the gift of exhortation can encourage, or rebuke, people in the church. A teacher should possess this gift, but not all those with the gift are teachers of God’s Word. The exhorter, or encourager, is one who calls people to action.

We find an example of this gift in the Apostle Barnabas. Scripture says that he encouraged Paul when he was a new believer. In fact, when Paul first came to Jerusalem as a new Christian he was shunned by the others.

They were afraid of him because of his reputation of persecuting the church. Barnabas not only encouraged Paul, he helped him join together with the other believers. Consequently, he performed a valuable service in this instance.

Indeed, we discover that Barnabas was actually named Joseph. His name was changed to Barnabas which means “one who encourages.” This encouragement continued. Barnabas also helped settle a problem between Paul and John Mark. For a time, Paul considered John Mark as being unprofitable in the ministry. Barnabas took John Mark along with him on a missionary trip when Paul refused to let him be part of his ministry. However, later Paul wrote that John Mark was profitable.

Again, the encouraging work of Barnabas was a huge help. From these examples, we can conclude that this is a spiritual gift that is greatly needed in the church. Indeed, while all Christians should be encouraging one another, we should be especially thankful for those who have this particular spiritual gift.

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