Are spiritual gifts and church offices the same thing?

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Spiritual gifts and church offices are not the same thing. The scriptures differentiate between church offices and spiritual gifts as follows:

A- Those who hold offices are ordained or chosen based on specific qualifications (Acts 6:3, 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:5–9). Spiritual gifts, however, are given according to the will of the Holy Spirit without any stated qualifications (Ephesians 4:7; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:11, 18, 28).

B- The scriptures mention only three church offices: apostles (Acts 1:21–25), elders/overseers (1 Timothy 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9), and deacons (Acts 6:1–6; 1 Timothy 3:8–13). By contrast, there are many gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8–11; 28-30; Romans 12:6–8; Ephesians 4:11) and every believer receives at least one of these gifts (1 Peter 4:10).

C- Though every believer receives at least one gift, not every believer has an office (Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11; Romans 12:4).

D- An elder “cannot be a recent convert” (1 Timothy 3:6), but gifts are bestowed without regard to age or experience.

E- The offices of elder and bishop/overseer are limited to men (1 Timothy 2:11–3:7), whereas spiritual gifts are given to both men and women (Acts 21:9, 10; 1 Corinthians 11:5).

The word “pastor” that we use today is not equivalent to the Biblical office of elder/bishop/overseer. In Ephesians 4:8–12, being a pastor is spoken of as a spiritual gift: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” The gift of being a pastor or caring for the flock can be undertaken by persons who work in different callings or ministries that are benefited by aspects of caring and not just holding the title of pastor as is commonly understood in today’s society.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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