The Romans 12 Motivational Gifts


For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the proportion of one’s faith; if service, use it in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

-Romans 12:3-8

These are my notes from Bruce Wilson's article: The Romans 12 Gifts: Useful for Person-Job Fit

1. Prophecy (perceiving)

“The Spirit-given ability to proclaim the written word of God with clarity and to apply it to a particular situation with a view toward correction or edification.” (Leslye Flynn, 19 Gifts of the Spirit, 61.)

"Revealing, manifesting, showing forth, making known, and divulging vital information." (Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007)

"The extraordinary ability to discern and proclaim truth." (Wilson)

Included but was not limited to: (a) public declaration of revealed truth, (b) prediction of the future, (c) unsolicited advice, (d) exhortation, or (e) remonstration. (Robert Jewett, (2007) Romans: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 746-7)

2. Serving (serving)

It can be interpreted as the God-given ability to identify the unmet needs involved in a task and to make use of available resources to meet those needs and help accomplish the desired goals. This is not one-on-one or person-centered but task-oriented. (C. Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1979))

A general meaning of waiting on tables, running errands, being ready and available to help, but not that the term connoted menial or subservient tasks or that the person serving was seen as a slave/servant. (Jewett, Romans)

3. Teaching

To instruct, clarify, elucidate, illuminate, simplify, and to illustrate for the sake of communication and understanding. (Charles V. Bryant, Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1991))

One who is teaching and does not, as such, refer to an “office” of teacher. (Jewett)

4. Encouraging (exhortaion)

To be with and for another. (Bryant)

The “care of the soul” in which certain folk came along side of others to comfort, encourage, as well as incite the people to continue in their cause. (Jewett)

“If teaching provides guidance for what people ought to do then encouragement helps them achieve it.” (Mounce, The New American Commentary, 235.)

5. Giving

The God-given ability to understand the material needs of others and then meet those needs generously. (Newell, Romans Verse by Verse, 466.)

The giving/sharing of what one has with others in a manner that is neither in secret or with reluctance. (Newell)

6. Ruling (leading)

To be put in front of or to placed as the head of; take a position of standing over one. (Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, 1482.)

"Jewett notes that πρoισταμενoσ is the passive participle and may have been specifically selected to denote either a collective leadership model or one in which people have asked someone to take the position of ruler." (Wilson: Jewett, Romans)

The God-given ability to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate these goals to others in a way that they harmoniously work together for the glory of God. (DellaVecchio and Winston, “A Seven-Scale Instrument,” 4.)

Selected people put in charge of local churches. (Jewett, Romans)

“One who has authority". (Newman and Nida, A Translator’s Handbook, 238.)

Other verses with the word πρoισταμενoσ (proistamenos):

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you,

-1 Thessalonians 5:12

He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity.

Deacons are to be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently.

-1 Timothy 3:4 and 12

"The use of the measure for this gift in the method by which the gift is demonstrated—the diligence σπoυδη (spoudei)—is intriguing in that, according to Jewett, during this time in the Roman culture aggressiveness and expediency were considered to be virtues." (Wilson)

The gift of ruling in Romans 12 is not to be confused with the gift of leading (administration) in 1 Corinthians 12:28, which is not ruling/management over/of people, but like a pilot, who steers. (HELPS Word-studies) The 1 Cor. 12:28 gift of leadership is when someone is gifted by the Spirit to lead in affairs relating to the church. For example, leading in having coffee and foods Sunday morning, or leading the church in worship.

7. Mercy

The extraordinary ability to feel and to act upon genuine empathy for others who suffer distressing physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual pain. (DellaVecchio and Winston, “A Seven-Scale Instrument,” 11.)

The God-given ability to feel genuine empathy and compassion for individuals, both Christian and non-Christian, who suffer distressing physical, mental, or emotional problems and to translate that compassion into cheerfully done deeds. (Wagner)

To, "have compassion on". (Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, 532.)


Top photo is from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Ministry Council website