What Does the Bible Say about Spiritual Gifts?
It is easy to be confused about spiritual gifts. You know they are the things the Holy Spirit uses in and through you to get His work done. You likely know the Bible talks about the work of the Holy Spirit in you. But there are lots of different ideas and teaching about just what this looks like. You may have filled out a Spiritual Gifts assessment. You may have taken a workshop to try to figure out your role in the church.
I understand the thought behind these methods and know they can be helpful. But the problem with them is their concentration. At heart, the focus of these tests you. It is fleshing out what you feel, sense, and are comfortable with in ministry. It tends not to be on the Holy Spirit. This is a mistake.
Spiritual gifts are just that, gifts. They are given freely not based on your merit or talents. The Holy Spirit is the One giving for God’s purposes. This means your gifts to be used for God’s purposes. This may not be what you are good at or the things that are comfortable. It is often the case that God uses those who can’t but are willing over those who can but whose hearts are not with God.
David was the forgotten little brother who was not called to participate in the King selection process when God chose him to become King David. Why was David Chosen to Be King? Faith in the Lord is Everything!
God qualifies those He chooses for His purposes. He does not always choose the qualified. God Doesn’t Call the Qualified, God Qualifies the Called
Moses thought he was ready to be the protector of his people when he killed the Egyptian. It took 40 years in the desert for him to understand he was helpless without God’s gifts. Gideon was hiding from God’s enemies when God called Him. Notably, his greatest victory involved breaking clay pots to allow a fire to shine out into a dark night. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit moving in you.
He is amazingly powerful so you don’t need to be. So, yes, it can be good to assess yourself to try to see what you are good at and like to do in the Church. Spiritual Gifts Tests can give you insight into you. But the gifts of the Holy Spirit are often used to give you the power to do what you could never do. God asks His people to do what they would normally would never choose to do but bring God glory.
So let’s look at what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit and His gifts with this in mind. Here are 27 Powerful Verses on the Holy Spirit’s Gifts to get you started. For more on how to find your spiritual gifts, please read The Real Spiritual Gifts Test
27 Powerful Verses on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
1) Joel 2:28-30
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.
2) Romans 12:1
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
3) Acts 1:8
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.”
Note: the word “power” in the Greek here is the same word from which we get dynamic, dynamo, and dynamite. The Holy Spirit’s power is something big and explosive.
4) Romans 12: 3-8
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
5) 1 Peter 4:10-11
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
What is Peter saying here? Why are you given gifts? It is not to increase you but to serve others, bless God’s church, and bring God glory.
6) 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: 2 You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
Important passage! Paul refutes very clearly any argument a specific gift is needed for salvation. He says there are a diversity among the Body of Gifts. Each person has their own gifts and they are not the same as their brother in Christ. They are also given according to the Holy Spirit’s will. So if you don’t have a gift that your brother does not, it just makes you blessed in a different way that he.
7) Ephesians 4:11-16
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, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, …
8) 2 Timothy 1:6-7
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
You also can encourage or hinder God’s gifts in you.
9) Romans 1:11
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—
10) 1 Corinthians 13: 1-10
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
Another hugely important passage from Corinthians. If you think you have gifts from God and you are not filled with God’s love, what is Paul’s conclusion? For more on this please read A Christian Man without Love
11) Exodus 31:1-6
The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. …
12) 1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
13) Ephesians 4:1
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
14) 1 Corinthians 1:7
So that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Corinth was a church in crisis. They were doing bad things in church. Paul’s letter is one of correction. Yet, they were blessed with spiritual gifts. The presence of spiritual gifts does not mean a church or person is healthy. They are not based on the person.
15) 1 Corinthians 12:28
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.
16) 2 Timothy 1:6
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,
17) Luke 11:11-13
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
18) James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
19) 1 Corinthians 14:1-5
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
20) Jeremiah 1:4-6
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”
21) Romans 12:8
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.
As the exhortation goes “Do your job”. This means trusting God’s plan and staying in your spiritual lane unless told by God to change lanes. It also involves faith in the Lord that He controls the other lanes.
22) James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
23) 1 Peter 4:11
Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
24) Matthew 25: 13-39
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Talent refers to money here. A talent was a measure of silver or gold in ancient times. God is not only referring to “talents” as the world thinks of them today in this passage. The point is to use what the Master gives to you in His service trusting His reward.
26) Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
27) 1 Corinthians 7:7
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.