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Overview of Spiritual Gifts in the Bible

Shalu Bhatti
When we walk in the light of the Lord, each and every moment of our life is bestowed with the gift of His grace and mercy. The Bible also asks all believers to seek for spiritual gifts, rather than the gifts that belong to this world.
❝Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.❞
― 1 Corinthians 14:1, King James Version
Spiritual gifts are those that help us believers understand the will of God, and empower our mission to glorify His name through our ministry. These are the gifts that help strengthen our faith in God, and uplift others who are struggling between serving the Lord and serving the world.
God has imparted different gifts of the Spirit to us based on our individual call. For He is the one who guides our ways, He is the one who has a plan for us, and accordingly, He decides who among us is worthy to efficaciously make the most of which spiritual gift.
The main Bible verses that speak of the spiritual gifts are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 and 28, Romans 12:6-8, and Ephesians 4:11. However, there are some additional spiritual gifts mentioned in other verses of the Bible as well. The following section gives you a list of these spiritual gifts and also explains their meanings in a brief manner.

The Biblical Gifts of the Spirit

These gifts are also known as Charismata, collectively, and are considered as the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit through which a chosen believer can perform extraordinary tasks to exemplify the glory of God. On the road to our ministry, there could be times when we don't understand our needs, but God does―He always does!
When we seek refuge in Him and walk in His paths, He knows that we will need spiritual gifts, because the path that we are on is not materialistic but spiritual. The following are the many gifts that He bestows on us believers according to the purpose we are destined to fulfill.
❝To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, ...
...to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.❞
― 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, English Standard Version

Word of Wisdom

A word of wisdom imparted at the crucial time of need is worth more than all the riches of the world. Not all have the gift of spiritual wisdom, which is different from spiritual knowledge. Those with this gift have the blessing of understanding, accepting, and applying the wisdom gained from Christian mysteries and teachings, at the right time in the conflicting situations of life, and be a source of guidance and inspiration to others, in the process.

Word of Knowledge

When Jesus preached in the synagogue, all marveled at the extraordinary knowledge He possessed without any prior learning!
Likewise, through the Spirit, one can gain an in-depth understanding of the spiritual aspects of the Bible that seem difficult to perceive, or should we say, beyond normal perception. Those with this gift not only see the light clearly, but help others come into the light by imparting the gained knowledge.


Faith is the sole thread that binds all us believers together, and this thread is as strong as it is weak. However, the faith imparted by the Spirit is irrevocable.
Irrespective of the trials and tribulations, irrespective of all odds, those bestowed with the gift of faith live by God's loving promises and His almighty power. Their faith can never be dwindled and this is how they keep the faith of others lit throughout the times of darkness.


We believe that each and every being on earth needs healing in someway or the other, be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
With the intercession of the Holy Spirit, Christians have been known to heal the sick, even change the hearts of those who were lost in sin by being trapped in some form of addiction or anger. Healing changes all the negatives to positives, thereby allowing others to live a pure and sin-free life.

Miraculous Powers

The Bible is filled with miracles and not believing in miracles implies that one doesn't believe in the Bible!
While it is impossible for an ordinary human to perform supernatural deeds, with God's spirit, all things are possible. Even today, miracles are performed by many believers with the blessing of the Spirit.


When the Spirit imparts this gift, one possesses the ability to receive messages from God Himself. The gift of prophecy is the ability to gain understanding of future events, and thereby strengthening, consoling, and empowering the followers of God to stay firm in their paths.

Distinguishing between Spirits

Some spiritual aspects tend to be confusing or unclear. This paves way for false prophets to come and pollute the purity and righteousness that God wants us to live in. The Spirit helps in identifying the will of God and differentiating it from the will of the evil one. With this gift, God protects His believers from going astray.

Speaking in Different Kinds of Tongues

The gift of tongues is when a chosen believer tends to speak in unlearned languages so that God's name can be proclaimed in all nations of the world. This gift has been interpreted by many in different ways.
For instance, some state the language spoken through this gift is not of this world, but of heavenly origins. While, on the other hand, it is attributed to the ability of one speaking in a language of a different culture, which has never been learned before.

Interpretation of Tongues

The gift of tongues and its interpretation goes hand in hand. Apostle Paul states in Corinthians regarding the necessity of an interpreter when the gift of tongues is used publicly. The interpreter gains the supernatural ability to understand the language and translate it to all gathered around to hear the message of God.
❝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, English Standard Version


The gift of service is descended on those who are called to serve the Lord in helping and serving the fellow believers. 'Serving' is a word that covers a wide range of possibilities. The Greek word used to describe this gift is 'diakonia' which is derived from the word 'diako', which means to 'run errands'. Hence, the Spirit enables the recipient of this gift to take necessary steps and measures to fulfill God's will towards His church through sincere servitude.


A teacher is the one who makes the unknown, known to those who wish to learn. When it comes to Biblical teachings, a lot of variations are often seen in the interpretations and analysis of God's word. With the gift of teaching, one understands the sacred text as they were intended to be understood.


Through the gift of exhortation, the Spirit chooses a person to be the medium of motivation, counseling, encouragement, and comfort to other believers during the time of testing and trials.
This uplifts the troubled spirit of the fellow believers and helps them strengthen their faith in God all the more.


The gift of giving, surpasses one's acceptable limit of charity and donations. The chosen ones display extraordinary generosity when it comes to giving away their personal possessions, be it material or spiritual, to help those who truly need them.


Every group needs to have an efficient leader, for it is only a true leader that decides the course that needs to be taken to fulfill the targeted goals. In Christianity, while God is the ultimate leader, the Spirit comes upon those who are chosen by God to fulfill His will on earth.


We are living in a very cruel and stone-hearted world today.
While sympathy and compassion is seen towards those we tend to love, the mercy that comes from the Spirit is for all mankind, and not just close friends and relatives.
It is mercy that paves way for compassion and care towards the deprived and unfortunate, and this is the very essence that is needed for Christians to be selfless and helpful towards all of mankind, and save it from being lost.
❝And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.❞
― 1 Corinthians 12:28, English Standard Version


Often considered on the same lines as the 'Gift of Service', which is more group-oriented, the gift of helps is more person-oriented in nature. Those with this gift possess the tendency to go beyond normal limits to help the needy, sick, and poor.


Also known as the 'gift of government', the Greek word used to describe this gift is 'kubernesis', which means to steer or guide.
Therefore, this gift is linked with the ability of a helmsmen to steer a ship to its destination. Although this gift is closely associated with leadership, the responsibilities associated with administration are far superior in nature.
❝And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,❞
― Ephesians 4:11, English Standard Version


The Greek word for apostle is 'apostolos', which means 'one sent forth with orders'.
While the title of 'Apostle' was aptly reserved for the early Christians who became the first leaders of Church, there are certain Christian denominations that believe in apostolic succession even today.
Hence, the gift of apostleship is marked by the ability to begin and/or supervise new churches and ministries with authority from none other than God Himself.

Shepherd or Pastor

Jesus is the true shepherd, for He knows how to take care of His flock of sheep.
Through this gift, a worthy believer possess the abilities to care, provide, feed, find, guide, and protect the flock of believers who need a good shepherd to lead them into green pastures and still waters. Who restores their lost soul and leads them in the path of righteousness in the name of God.


The word comes from the Greek language, 'euaggelistes', which means 'preacher of Gospel' or the one who delivers the good news of the Gospel. Those with this gift are known to possess excellent abilities to understand and preach the Gospel, either personally or in groups, and save many unbelievers.
❝Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.❞
― 1 Corinthians 7:6-9, English Standard Version


Though, it has not been mentioned as a command, but as a point of view, celibacy is also considered by many Christian denominations as one of the spiritual gifts, as it isn't easy for a normal human to control one's sexual urges and remain single all throughout life.


Many sources also include marriage as one among the gifts of the Spirit. This is because it is God who joins two people together in holy matrimony and also warns others to not separate the two chosen ones. Those married to each other are not only chosen to come together in body, but also in spirit.
❝If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.❞
― 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, English Standard Version

Voluntary Poverty

It is only through the intercession of the Spirit that one can take the extreme step to live in poverty, and let go of all the material comforts of life. Even Jesus, irrespective of being the only Son of God, lived on earth as a poor man. This just emphasizes on the fact that wealth is not a prerequisite to work on one's ministry towards God.


The human mind tends to be filled with fear and becomes selfish, but if one is filled with the Spirit of God, fear ceases to exist. It is only through the Spirit that believers offer their lives for the name of God and His glory.
❝Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,❞
― Ephesians 3:7-8, English Standard Version


To be a missionary is to have the willingness to step outside one's comfort zone and preach the Gospel to those belonging to another land and culture. With this gift, it is the Spirit of God that leads His chosen ministers to cater to those who need to be saved.
❝Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.❞
― Romans 8:26-27, English Standard Version


Every Christian lives on the power of prayers. We all tend to pray for our own needs, or the needs of those who we know. However, those with the gift of intercession tend to pray for the needs of others who are not even known to them in person. Through their prayers, they work on God's mission to save all those who are lost, be it in a known or an unknown land.
❝Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:❞
― 1 Peter 4:9-10, English Standard Version


Normally, hospitality is confined to the known ones who come as guests in our homes, often informing us before arriving. However, spiritual hospitality is when believers tend to open the doors of their house to all those who need shelter, food, and clothing, even when they seek shelter in the middle of the night. The Greek word for hospitality is 'philoxenos', which means who loves strangers.
❝But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.❞
― Acts 1:8, English Standard Version
Witnessing the glory of God is a gift that every Christian seeks. However, not all get the privilege to be His witnesses. Take the example of Christ's resurrection, it wasn't the disciples, but Mary Magdalene who witnessed this epic moment. With this gift, one gets the honor to witness the glory of God and be the living proof of His existence.
❝and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft.❞
― Exodus 35:31-33, English Standard Version


Craftsmanship comes with creativity and skills, and while one may be naturally talented to accomplish this task, the Old Testament states how the Spirit can also induce the skill and artistic knowledge to perform some extraordinary craftsmanship.
❝They said to him, 'We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.' And Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.'❞
― Genesis 40:8, English Standard Version

Interpretation of Dreams

Dreams have often been a subject of mystery in the human world. The Old Testament is filled with instances where God has communicated with His chosen ones through dreams. While one dream can be interpreted in many ways, it is only through the Spirit that one can understand and explain the significance of dreams in the true sense.
Other than the gifts mentioned above, there are some sources that include exorcism, and the ability to compose poetry, prose, and spiritual music also as the gift of the Spirit. Note that the spiritual gifts are distinguished from the gifts of the Holy Spirit. While the latter can be used for one's personal benefit, the spiritual gifts are used only for the benefit of others.