Spiritual Gifts Definitions

Encouragement & Exhortation

Definitions of encouragement include reassurance, exhortation, help, inspiration, cheer, praise, backing, reinforcement, boost, lift, support, backup, and mercy. Encouragement is the gift of coming alongside with someone with words of encouragement, comfort, consolation, and counsel, helping him or her to be all that God wants them to be.

People with the gift of Encouragement see the silver lining in every cloud. They offer deep and inspiring hope to the fellowship and look for and commend the best in everyone. They empower others to feel good about themselves and to feel hopeful for the future. Not concerned by appearances, they hold fast to what they know to be true and right and good.

People with the gift of Encouragement are attracted to those who are discouraged or struggling. Through healing words, gracious truth and compassionate counsel, they build up those who may be faltering in their faith. People with the gift of Encouragement demonstrate high levels of patience and optimism.

Greek Word: paraklesis – calling to one’s side

Related Scripture: Romans 12:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:11, Acts 14:22 and 2 Timothy 1:5

Preaching & Prophecy

Preaching is also known as the act of speaking, advising, and campaigning. This is the gift of speaking the word of God clearly and faithfully. Preachers allow God to speak through them to communicate the message that people most need to hear. While sometimes unpopular and/or prophetic, preachers are able to say what needs to be said because of the spiritual empowerment they receive. They proclaim God’s future by revealing God’s perspective on our current reality.

Greek Word: prophetes – the forth-telling of the will of God; ‘pro’=forth; ‘phemi’=to speak

Related Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:8-13, Acts 5:12-16, 2 Corinthians 12:12, Acts 1-2


Evangelism can also be defined as speaking, advising, discoursing, talking, addressing, orating, advocating, urging, and persuading. This gift is to be a messenger of the good news of the Gospel: that is, to have the ability to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who have not heard it before or with those who have not yet made a decision for Christ. This gift is manifested in both one-on-one situations and also in group settings. Evangelism is a connected relationship with another person or persons that requires the sharing of personal faith experience and a call for a response of faith to God.

Greek Word: euaggelistes – preacher of gospel; eu-well, angelos=message – messenger of good

Related Scripture: Ephesians 4:11, Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:10, Ephesians 4:11, Acts 2:14-21, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Acts 8:1-8


Management, guidance, direction and governance are words that describe leadership. This is the gift of orchestrating the gifts and resources of others to accomplish the work of God. Leaders move people toward a God-given vision of service, and they enable others to use their gifts to the best of their abilities. Leaders are capable of creating synergy, whereby a group achieves much more than its individual members could achieve on their own.

Greek Word: proisteu – to superintend, guard, protect

Related Scripture: Romans 12:8, 1 Timothy 3:5, Hebrews 13:17


Words describing wisdom are understanding, knowledge, sense, insight, perception, astuteness, intelligence, acumen, prudence, and sagacity. This is the gift of translating life experience into spiritual truth and of seeing the application of scriptural truth to daily living. The wise in our faith communities offer balance and understanding that sometimes transcend reason. Wisdom applies a God-given common sense to our understanding of God’s will. Wisdom helps us remain focused on the important work of God, and it enables newer, less mature Christians to benefit from those who have been blessed by God to share deep truths.

Greek Word: sophia – broad knowledge, skill expertise

Related Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:8, 1 Corinthians 1:25, 1 Corinthians 3:18-19, Acts 6:3-4


Marshaling, driving, guiding, steering, propelling and directing all describe the act of Shepherding. This is the gift of spiritually caring for, protecting, guiding, and feeding a group of believers entrusted to one’s care. Using this gift of guidance, shepherds nurture others in the Christian faith and provide a mentoring relationship to those who are new to the faith. Displaying an unusual spiritual maturity, shepherds share from their experience and facilitate the spiritual growth and development of others. Shepherds take individuals under their care and walk with them on their spiritual journeys. Many shepherds provide spiritual direction and guidance to a wide variety of believers.

Greek Word: poimen – a herdsman, one who care for others

Related Scripture: Ephesians 4:11, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, John 14


Other words that describe Faith are confidence, trust, reliance, conviction, belief, assurance, devotion, loyalty, faithfulness, commitment, fidelity, constancy, fealty, dedication, allegiance and belief. This is the gift of being firmly persuaded of God’s power and promises, which accomplish His purpose, and also in displaying confidence in Him and His Word. It is the exceptional ability to hold fast to the truth of God in Jesus the Christ even in the face of pressures, problems, and obstacles to faithfulness. More than just belief, faith is a gift that empowers an individual or a group to hold fast to its identity in Christ regardless of the challenge. The gift of faith inspires those who might be tempted to give up to hold on.

Greek Word: pistis – conviction of truth, fidelity

Related Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Hebrews 11, Matthew 17:20


Curative, remedial, therapeutic, medicinal, curing, restorative, soothing, recovery, restoration, recuperation, therapy, treatment and reinvigoration are all other ways of defining the word Healing. This is the gift of conducting God’s healing powers into the lives of God’s people. Physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological healing are all ways that healers manifest this gift. Healers are prayerful, and they help people understand that healing is in the hands of God. Often their task is to bring about an understanding of God more than it is to simply erase negative symptoms. Some of the most powerful healers display some of the most heartbreaking afflictions.

Greek Word: lama – a means of healing, a remedy

Related Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28 & 30, Luke 5:17-26, Matthew 8:5-13, Acts 3:6-8, Acts 8:5-8

Serving & Helping

Other words for serving and helping are supplying, providing, distributing, serving up, helping, aiding, attending, assisting, and obliging. This is the gift of making sure that everything is ready for the work of Christ to occur. Servants assist others to accomplish the work of God, often work behind the scenes and attend to details that others would rather not be bothered with. They function faithfully, regardless of the credit or attention they receive. They provide the framework upon which the ministry of the body of Christ is built. Servants understand their role in the body of Christ to be that of giving comfort and aid to all who are in need. To serve is to put faith into action; it is to treat others as if they were Jesus Christ. The gift of service extends our Christian love into the world.

Greek Word: diakonia – ministering through charity to others

Related Scripture: Romans 12:7, Timothy 3:8, Romans 16:1-2, Timothy 1:16.


Knowledge can be defined as information, wisdom, learning, education, intelligence, and erudition. This is the gift of knowing the truth through faithful study of Scripture and the human situation. Knowledge provides the information necessary for the transformation of the world and the formation of the body of Christ. Those possessing the gift of knowledge challenge the fellowship to improve itself through study, reading of Scripture, discussion and prayer.

Greek Word: gnosis – moral intelligence of the faith

Related Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:8, Colossians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 12


Wonders, phenomena, marvels, sensations, visions and dreams are other words for miracles. This is the gift of operating at a spiritual level that recognizes the miraculous work of God in the world. Miracle workers identify God’s power in accomplishing what appears to be impossible or impractical by worldly standards. Miracle workers see the extraordinary nature of the ordinary world, thereby increasing faithfulness and trust in God. Miracle workers pray for God to work in the lives of others, and they feel no sense of surprise when their prayers are answered.

Greek Word: dynamis– strength, inherent power, authority

Related Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28 & 30, Luke 5:17-26, Matthew 8:5-13, Acts 3:6-8, Acts 8:5-8


Judgment, acumen, discrimination, taste, shrewdness, sensitivity, and selectivity are descriptors of discernment. This is the gift of being able to clearly distinguish truth from error by judging whether the behavior or teaching is from God, Satan, human error, or human power. It is the ability to rely on spiritual intuition to know what God is calling the church to do. Discernment allows us to focus on what is truly important and to ignore that which deflects us from faithful obedience to God. Discernment aids us in knowing who to listen to and who to avoid.

Greek Word: diakrisis – the ability to distinguish and/or judge

Related Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:10, Matthew 7:5, Acts 5:1-6, 1 John 4:1


This gift enables certain Christians to pray for extended periods of time with great positive effect for the building of the Kingdom. The special ability empowers the Christian to pray faithfully for others and to identify specific responses to those prayers. It is widely recognized as an activity that was used to great effect by the disciples of the early church. Paul interceded regularly in prayer on behalf of the church he established.

Greek Word: proseuche - to offer prayers, to pray; entygchano - to light upon, pray, entreat

Related Scripture: Colossians 1:9-10, Colossians 4:12-13, John 17:20-22, Matthew 6:6


Words such as sympathy, empathy, concern, kindness, consideration, care, kind-heartedness and benevolence describe compassion. This is the gift of exceptional empathy with those who are suffering, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally and then acting with deeds of love to help alleviate their distress. More than just concern, compassion demands that we share the suffering of others in order to connect the gospel truth with other parts of life. Compassion moves us beyond our comfort zones to offer practical, tangible aid to all God’s children, regardless of the worthiness of the recipients or the response we receive for our service.

Greek Word: eleeo – to help the afflicted

Related Scripture: Roman 12:8, Acts 9:36, Matthew 25:42-45


Definitions of giving include the words philanthropic, generous, open-handed, benevolent, bountiful, providing, contributing, presenting, furnishing, donating, bequeathing, passing, handing, lending, delivering, bestowing, granting, awarding, conferring, assigning, allotting, according, imparting, and sharing. This is the gift giving ability to manage money to the honor and glory of God. Beyond the regular response of gratitude to God that all believers should make, those with this gift typically take great joy in giving above and beyond, can discern the best ways to put money to work, can understand the validity and practicality of appeals for funds, and can guide others in the most faithful methods for managing their financial concerns.

Greek Word: metadidomi – to impart, give

Related Scripture: Romans 12:8, 2 Corinthians 9:6, 1 John 3:17, Acts 4:34-37, Acts 20:35


Teaching is also known as instructing, coaching, training, schooling, imparting, explaining, clarifying, instilling, and demonstrating. This is the gift of bringing scriptural and spiritual truths to others. More than just teaching Christian education classes, teachers witness to the truth of Jesus Christ in a variety of ways and they help others to understand the complex realities of the Christian faith. Teachers are revealers. They shine the light of understanding into the darkness of doubt and ignorance. They open people to new truths, and they challenge people to be more in the future than they have been in the past.

Greek Word: didasko – to explain, have discourse, instruct

Related Scripture: Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11, Acts 2:42, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, John 16:13


Administration is described as managing, directing, running, governing, dispensing, supervising, organizing, and processing. This is the gift of being able to steer people toward the accomplishment of God-given goals and directives by planning, organizing, and supervising others. This includes the ability to plan and work with people to delegate responsibilities, track progress, and evaluate the effectiveness of procedures. Administrators attend to details, communicate effectively, and often take as much pleasure in working behind the scenes as they do in standing in the spotlight.

Greek Word: kubernesis – to steer, guide, helmsmen

Related Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:28, Luke 14:28-30, Acts 6:1-7, Titus 1:5