Related Verses: Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11, 27-31; 13; Eph. 4:11-13
Leading Question: Is there a clear distinction between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit?
The official study guide makes the point that the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit are not the same. And one could say that generally speaking, the gifts are tasks, enabled by the Spirit while the fruit of the Spirit represents qualities manifest in the human experience. We can discuss this lesson under three headings: Gifts, fruit, and miraculous manifestations.
Gifts: A composite list.
Romans 12:6-8: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing mercy.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10: message of wisdom, message of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different tongues, interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:28: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, helping, guidance, tongues.
1 Corinthians 13: faith, hope, love: love is the greatest (13:13).
1 Corinthians 14: prophesy and tongues; prophecy preferred, but tongues not excluded: “Be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues” (14:39).
Ephesians 4:11: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers.
Note: There appears to be some overlap between gifts and fruit, especially in the case of love. At the end of 1 Cor. 12 with its listing of gifts, the transition to chapter 13 suggests that faith, hope and love are also gifts and the greatest is love (13:13).
Similarly, some of the gifts listed in Romans 12 almost shade into the realm of fruit: serving, encouraging and showing mercy; helping and guidance in 1 Cor. 12:28 are similarly on the borderline between gifts and fruit.
Finally, some of the gifts are more clearly in the realm of the miraculous: healing, miraculous powers, speaking in different tongues (1 Cor. 12:8-10); miracles, healing, tongues (1 Cor. 12:28); tongues (1 Cor. 14).
The gift of prophecy is in the cracks. If one follows an Old Testament model, the gift of prophecy shades more into the miraculous; in the New Testament, it seems almost to be the equivalent of the gift of teaching. The gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians seems to be closer to a charismatic manifestation; in Acts 2 it is could described as the gift of ears: each person heard in their native language. Christian communities that are more rationalistic by nature are inclined to downplay the more charismatic gifts, even denying them altogether.
Fruit. Since this lesson is on the gifts and the previous one was on fruit, this can be a short comment. In general, we could say that those with the gifts should manifest the fruit of the Spirit. But it is possible that those with the gifts fall short of fulfilling the fruit in every respect, a pastor, evangelist, or teacher with rough edges, for example.
Miraculous manifestations. As noted above, several of the gifts include the miraculous element: 1 Cor. 12:9 mentions “gifts of healing” and 12:10 lists “miraculous powers” and “speaking in different kinds of tongues; 1 Cor. 12:28 lists “miracles,” “gifts of healing,” and “different kinds of tongues.” The gift of tongues of 1 Corinthians 14, though apparently not the same as the gift of foreign tongues, still seems to shade more into the supernatural realm.
Question: With all of these gifts, how can one be certain that they are gifts of God, gifts of the good “Spirit,” and not of the other realm? After all, 1 John 4:1 admonishes us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”