The Difference Between prophecy and Giver of Gifts
Gifts are as varied and diverse as people themselves. For some, a gift would mean something small, practical, and useful; for others, a gift may mean something special, unusual, and extraordinary. A gift, therefore, is just an object given to somebody with no expectation of exchange or any return. Conversely, an object isn’t really a gift unless the one who receives it already owns it. While gift-giving may involve only a hope of compensation, a gift is intended to be entirely free. It’s intended to be given with no expectation of return.
Gifts are not limited to humans alone. Gifts are appropriate and even expected among animals like fish, dogs, and birds. In fact, the idea of giving gifts to animals is found as far back as the time of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, animals are sometimes even said to possess “gifts.”
During the times of Jesus, the New Testament teaches that certain types of gifts were given by the Holy Spirit to His followers. Some of these gifts were to help the church members speak well, to have knowledge of the future, to have power to cast out demons, to have the ability to heal, etc. Other gifts, like prophecy, tongues, and healing were also given. Gifts have various kinds according to the type of work they’re meant to perform.
In 1 Corinthians 13, we’re told to give the gifts to the churches which we belong. That is, we ought to manifest the gifts of our faith to those who are in the church. This seems obvious. After all, Paul says that we ought to assemble ourselves together and distribute to the people the things concerning the gospel that we have received. The logic of this is quite obvious.
However, it gets more problematic when we examine what the early church fathers meant by the gifts. In their view, the gifts were not essentially spiritual but physical. For example, when we pray, we should do so with the right hand. If we hold the right hand in prayer, then that is a physical action that has a corresponding effect physically. Similarly, if we have spiritual gifts, then that’s something that has a corresponding effect whether we’re performing it with our hands or not.
This is problematic because most of us are aware that the Bible teaches that we should give heed to the spirit rather than the flesh. This can be seen throughout the New Testament, as many times there are verses which say, “obeying” and “utterly” or “hypnotically” or “intended for.” These words clearly indicate that the actions that take place in the spiritual realm have corresponding physical meanings. Therefore, it is quite clear that the Apostle Paul was correct when he taught that prophecy is done with the power of the tongue, for the Greek word has a completely different meaning when compared to Hebrew and Aramaic. Furthermore, since the Holy Spirit is omnipresent within the Holy Spirit, we also have a guarantee that He will always have the ability to speak throughout the globe and speak to all who listen to Him no matter where they are situated.
This leads to an interesting thought – if prophecy, prophesying, and tongues are gifts from God, why would God give certain people specific gifts, such as ministers, to share in his purposes? Many people who are gifted in these areas are very good at ministry and know how to effectively use their gifts. While it may seem unimportant to give such gifts to certain members of the church, it is crucial for the church to have functioning ministers. Having functioning ministries means the church will have trained and experienced ministers who are equipped to minister effectively in whatever area the church is called to deal with.
The fact is, the bible does not teach that the giver of gifts is required to give specific gifts. The giver is not required to give specific gifts, but it is important that the giver has specific gifts! If you are in the prophetic or teaching, you should not be required to give specific ministries. If you are in the spiritual ministry, you should not be required to give specific Bible studies or general books on the Bible!