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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 Ministering or Service?

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What Is the Gift of Ministering or Service? (Helps)

The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit Part Two – Question 10

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he referred to the gift of ministering, or helps. He explained it this way.

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping (1 Corinthians 12:28 ESV).

There are a number of things that we learn from Scripture about this particular gift. This includes the following.

The Gift Has the Idea of Supporting Those in Need

The word translated “helps” comes from the Greek word antilapseis. It has the idea of a support or help. It is derived from a verb that is used in the Book of Acts that is translated as, “weak.” Paul wrote

In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35 NRSV).

This has the idea of the giving of assistance to those who are in need.

In the list of spiritual gifts in Romans, Paul used the Greek word diakonos for the people who serve or minister. This is where the words “deacon” and “deaconess” are derived. Paul wrote the following words to this church.

So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach (Romans 12:5–7 NIV). The gift of “helps” seems to be the same thing as the gift or ministering or serving. While there may be some distinction that can be made between serving and helping, there is much overlap. We will treat them as one gift.

The Gift of Ministering Helps the Church in a Supporting Role

The gift of ministering is given to people to help the work of the church in a supporting role. The New Testament provides examples of the gift of ministering. In the Book of Acts, we read the following words.

And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch (Acts 6:2-5 ESV).

In this instance we discover that God raise up a number of men to support the apostles. Because these men were serving in supporting roles, the Twelve were able to concentrate on the work of the ministry.

The result of their help was that the Word of God spread.

Scripture says.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7 ESV).

These gifts of helping and serving support the greater ministry.

There Were Those Who Ministered to the Disciples

The Bible speaks of others who ministered to the disciples. For example, we read of the work of Timothy and Erastus. The Bible calls them “helpers.”

He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer (Acts 19:22 NIV).

Interestingly, the Scripture took notice of those who helped in the ministry.

We also read about John Mark assisting the disciples. The Bible says.

When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them (Acts 13:5 NRSV).

His assistance was valuable for the continuation of the ministry.

There was a man named Onesimus who ministered to the Apostle Paul. Paul himself testified this when he wrote to Philemon.

I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) (Philemon 10, 11 ESV).

We find examples of a number of people who ministered to those in the church. Their “helping” ministry was certainly noticed.

All Believers Are to Minister

This appears to be another gift that all believers have been given. Indeed, we all are commanded to serve God. Furthermore, those who exercise this gift should never be regarded as having a lesser ministry. The Apostle Paul reminded us how believers need each other.

If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable (1 Corinthians 12:19-22 RSV).

Each believer has a ministry or a place in the church, the body of Christ. Every part is essential for the smooth functioning of the ministry.

The Gift of Ministering Works in a Variety of Ways

The New Testament shows that the gift of helps, or serving, operated in a wide variety of ways. On one occasion, it consisted of delivering some scrolls. Paul asked Timothy.

Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments (2 Timothy 4:13 NKJV).

This was a very practical way in which Timothy could help Paul.

The gift also consisted of helping the church with prayer. Paul wrote the following.

He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks to God because so many people’s prayers for our safety have been answered (2 Corinthians 1:11 NLT).

Here we have an important lesson. Praying is actually helping. We should never underestimate how we can be effective by praying for the workers as well as the work of the ministry.

The house of Stephanus, or Stephanas, also helped Paul. Paul acknowledged this in his letter to the Corinthians.

You know that Stephanas and his family were the first in Achaia to have faith in the Lord. They have done all they can for God’s people. My friends, I ask you to obey leaders like them and to do the same for all others who work hard with you (1 Corinthians 16:15, 16 CEV).

The gift can be exercised in various ways.

It Is Greatest to Be a Servant

Jesus said that to be the greatest one must be a servant of all. Matthew records the Lord saying the following words.

But Jesus called the disciples together and said: You know that foreign rulers like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over everyone they rule. But don’t act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. (Matthew 20:25, 26 CEV)

This is the greatest ministry that any of us can have; servanthood. It is important that we realize this.

Jesus’ Example of Serving: He Washed the Disciples Feet

Jesus Himself gives us an example of serving. We find this recorded in the Gospel of John. We read the following.

After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because it is true. And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing” (John 13:12-17 NLT).

Although the gift of serving or helps is not noticeable to many, it is absolutely indispensable for the church to function.

Summary – Question 10
What Is the Gift of Ministering, or Service? (Helps)

While each Christian has the responsibility to help others, we also find that there is the gift of ministry, or helps. Thus, “helps” is a spiritual gift. It has the idea of lightening the burden of ministry so that others will be better able to serve Jesus Christ.

Scripture gives examples of a number of people exercising the gift. This includes John Mark, Timothy, Erastus, and Onesimus.

We are also told that the Twelve found a number of men who could do the business of the church while they performed the work of the ministry. Their ministry of servanthood was indispensable in allowing the leadership to proclaim the message of Jesus.

Jesus provides an example for all of us as to what it means to serve others. He did this by washing the disciples’ feet. If the Lord Jesus humbled Himself and washed the feet of His disciples, we, as His servants, should do no less.

What Is the Gift of Faith? ← Prior Section
What Is the Gift of Showing Mercy? Next Section →
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