Spiritual Gifts 1

((Yes, it’s long, but meaty, and I need input, too, please.))

I have FINALLY found a place to get ‘meat’.  Okay, at least it’s challenging ME to dig for meat, and I *am* able to bounce a few ideas off people in RealTime ((although it seems a little more like I’m armed with a paintball gun and my ideas go “SPLAT!” rather than fit the illustration of the tennis ball and racket.  I’m assuming they’re just not used to me and need to be broken in or something.  Yeah.)).  Anyhow, this place and these people would be Sunday School.

Right now in SS (for short), we’re looking at spiritual gifts.  He asked us last week to look at the four passages on spiritual gifts that are in the New Testament.  I did a *little* more than that (you know me), and made a chart that looked like this:

Spiritual Gift Comparison Chart

Rom 12:6  

1 Cor 12:8-10

 Eph 4:11 

1 Cor 12:28

Prophecy

Wisdom

Apostles

Apostles

Ministry

Knowledge

Prophets

Prophets

Teaching

Faith

Evangelists

Teachers 

Encouraging

Healing

Pastor/Teacher

Miracles

Giving

Miracles

Healing

Leadership

Prophecy

Giving

Mercy

Discernment

Leadership

Tongues

Tongues

Interpretation

Interpretation

Okay, so after I made my chart, I noticed a few things.  First of all, the Romans list has SEVEN items in it – seven meaning ‘completion’.  Usually that’s noteable, so I noted it.  What does that mean?  I honestly haven’t figured it out, yet.  Does it mean that those seven encompass the spectrum of gifts within themselves?  What do you think?  Sevens in scripture are *never* accidental.  But I want to check a few commentaries and see what, say, Matthew Henry and a few others have to say about it.  I wish the old-n-dead-guys had been more into Biblical numerology, but then beggars can’t be choosers, right?  More to come on that, as I delve into it.

Next I noticed that ‘tongues’ and ‘interpretations’ are always last.  That they aren’t as important?  That they simply aren’t as ‘showy’ (I beg to differ on THAT idea!!)  Yet there they are, at the bottom.  I don’t know what that means, either.  I’m just saying.

Next up, I noticed that Prophecy and Teaching was on every list – noted by the red and the blue on my chart.  Which I didn’t really do more than note, UNTIL the sermon on Sunday, and there was this HUGE ‘a-ha!’ moment when Pastor lingered on Colossians 1:28:  Whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ.  D’ja see that!?  It looks a LOT like the two ‘gifts’ being used in order that perfection should be worked in us thru Christ.  I don’t think he planned for that to tie into the SS lesson, but I caught it and started green lighting and geeking all over the place.  ((Most of the commentaries I skimmed thru also noted that there are two fore-running gifts – prophecying and teaching.  I don’t know why that stuck out to me, but it did.))

Next was the obvious ‘More Four’ observation that you KNEW I was going to make… the Ephesians list has four items in it.  And of course I’m going the “More Four” route with it.  ((For those of you who don’t know me and fours… it’s a LONG story.))  The question is, does it fit?  Well, if the “Four” are spiritual, relational, intellectual, and physical aspects of Love… then Pastor/Teachers would be relational (intimate with people), Prophets would be spiritual (messages from God)… but after that I’m not sure.  They SEEM to fit… but I need more information on the last two.  ((I also noticed, upon writing this, that there are four passages.  I haven’t yet tried to apply ‘More Four’ to that, so I’ll keep you posted.))  Anybody got any ideas that might make it clearer than the mud it is to me?

The next thing to notice is that list #2 and #4 both have nine items in them, but they’re different items, and in different orders.  In 1 Cor 12:28, Paul indicates that he has them in order of importance, by saying FIRST, and SECOND, etc.  But what about the other 1 Corinthians list?  Well, what I’m noticing is a sort of chronological order of spiritual growth.  Do you see it?  If “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”, then we must have wisdom and knowledge before being able to come to a decision of faith, which would lead to healing in our lives and a miraculous working of the Spirit.  At that point, we would be at a place where we could handle the interpreting of scriptures and prophecies, and discerning the Truth therein and about us… and from there we could take those messages out to all tongues and nations.  See the progression?  I don’t know if that’s what was intended with the specific ordering Paul had, but it jumped out at me, nonetheless.

I did a bit of research on the Ephesian Four (The Fantasic Four?)… and got both the Strong’s definitions and some ‘job descriptions’ from expositories, commentaries, and more.  Here’s what I found out – Strong’s definitions first, then the commentary below that:

 Apostle

  Prophet 

 Evangelist 

  Pastor/Teacher 

apostolos
specifically an ambassador
of the Gospel; officially a
commissioner of Christ;
Messenger: he that is sent.

prophetes
a foreteller; an inspired
speaker by analogy.

euaggelistes
a preacher of the Gospel.

Poimen
A shepherd, literally
or figuratively; pastor
Didaskalos
an instructor; doctor,
master, or teacher.

Apostles were all chosen by
Christ. All had to be witnesses
of His resurrection (Acts 1:22)
They, therefore, could have no
successors, but their own
office continues.  They remain
teachers and in authority by
their writings and example.

  Prophets, by whom
are meant not… ordinary
ministers of the Word, but
extraordinary ones, who had
a peculiar gift of interpreting
the Scriptures, the prophecies
of the Old Testament, and of
foretelling things to come.

 Evangelists had neither the
authority of an apostle, nor
the gift of prophecy, nor the
responsibility of a pastoral
supervision over a portion
of the flock.  They were
itenerant preachers, having it as
their special function to carry
the Gospel to places where it
was previously unknown 

  Pastor/Teachers… were
not distinct offices. Bishops,
elders, and especially those
“who labored in Word and
Doctrine,” came under this
head.  A pastor should
always be an elder, but it is
not certain that a teaher was
always an elder.

Here’s what else I read:  “These offices were all given for the purposes indicated in the next verse (Eph 4:12) – for the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, the edifying of the body.  They must be continued in some form ‘unto the unity of the faith’.  So does that mean that ‘apostle’ is continued in the form of the New Testament, and that ‘evangelist’ is continued in the form of missionary, and ‘shepherd/teacher’ is continued in the form of pastor/elder, and prophet… hrm.  What about prophet? ((Nobody in their right mind is going to own up to THAT one, y’know!))

Anyhow, looking at all of this… I’m a LOT confused.  ((Which is why I’m bringing this here… I give you my insights, you give me yours, right?))  Do those commentary comments mean there *are* no more apostles (actually more than one said this)?  One source I looked in said that Prophets tell what is, Pastor/Teachers tell what should be, Evangelists tell what was, and Apostles oversee it all.  Do you think that’s true?  I have a problem with the office of Apostle being ‘over’, personally.  I can’t tell you why, I just… don’t like that.  It doesn’t sit right.  It’s like incorporating something without into the ‘gifts’… Spirit and Truth (aka Holy Ghost and Scripture) aren’t gifts… but then again, if the Word is inspired by the Spirit, then perhaps it *is* the apostolic ‘gift’ to the church.  I don’t know – what do you think?  Do you see the ‘More Four’ in the Ephesians list that I’m foggy about?  Do you think the first 1 Corinthians list looks like a chronologial thang?   And another thing… the statement that evangelists don’t have the gift of prophecy… I don’t sit well with that one, either.  What do you think about that statement?

Here’s your chance to get ‘meaty’ with me.  Take a look and let me know what your thoughts are.  I’m eager to learn more.

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