Permanent and Temporary Spiritual Gifts

There are two lists of spiritual gifts and one list of spiritually gifted men in the New Testament. These are identified as God’s gifts to the local church.  Some of the terms and functions of these gifts overlap.

  • I Corinthians 12:6-8 (8 gifts)

  • Romans 12:6-8 (7 gifts)

  • Ephesians 4:11-12 (5 gifted men)

When we look at these lists, we immediately have to question why some of the gifts seem in regular use today while others are not. Should I expect to see every one of these gifts being used? For example, are there apostles today? What about the gift of healing? What about miracles?

One way to answer these questions is to realize that out of the entire list of spiritual gifts (all of which were given for edifying or building up believers), some are still active in the church and others gradually disappeared when they were no longer needed.

Permanent spiritual gifts are general in nature and contribute to the ongoing spiritual health and vitality of the Body of Christ—the local church. Temporary spiritual gifts were active immediately after the start of the church and were evident in the Book of Acts in the first century. By the end of the first century and upon completion of the Apostle John’s Book of Revelation, the need for sign gifts like healing and miracles had become unnecessary. The purposes of sign gifts were to certify God’s true messengers (the apostles and prophets). Edifying gifts like prophecy were to give churches verbal revelation directly from God until the apostles and prophets wrote their down their inspired revelation.

Today, the New Testament Scriptures are sufficient and complete revelation from God and are all we need “for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-4) and we do not need new, supplemental revelation (Revelation 22:18-19). God’s New Testament messengers (the apostles and prophets) have been identified and recognized as authentic in the Gospels and Epistles by many eyewitnesses (Ephesians 2:19-22). Any new or special revelation today that claims to be from God lacks authentication by genuine, divine sign-miracles (John 3:2; Hebrews 2:1-4). Any information claiming to be of divine origin that disagrees with the written Scriptures is to be rejected (Galatians 1:8-9; Titus 3:10). The believer’s duty today is to compare spiritual information with words of the apostles and prophets to see if they agree (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1-5). If in agreement, those words are sound doctrine and acceptable (Titus 1:9; 2:1).

Next – Temporary spiritual gifts and why they gradually ended.