Are spiritual gifts and church offices the same thing?

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Spiritual Gifts and Church Offices

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: “If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. (Titus 1:6–9 also Acts 6:3, 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1–13).

However, spiritual gifts, are given according to the will of the Holy Spirit without any stated qualifications: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:11, 18, 28; Ephesians 4:7; Romans 12:6).

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: “for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:8–11; 28-30 also 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: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift”But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11 also 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. “Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea” (Acts 21:9, 10 also 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.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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