Various efforts have been made to group or categorize the gifts mentioned in Scripture. Peter seems to distinguish between speaking gifts and service gifts in I Peter 4:10-11 where he writes, "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth." Some gifts focus primarily on "doing" and others on "speaking."
In order to serve various teaching purposes, others have attempted to categorize the gifts under various headings. They would be listed in their categories as follows.
|2. /Speaking /Serving
Each of these divisions has merit, depending on the purpose being served. The three-fold division between support, service, and sign gifts is helpful in its distinction between some of the permanent gifts. Some gifts carry with them particular honor because they are especially vital to the church. These are the support gifts which focus on the public ministry of the Word. In this sense they support the church. The other of the permanent gifts, although essential, do not carry such dignity. These are differences the apostle recognizes and will be developed in chapter 6. Also this grouping recognizes the special significance of sign gifts -- gifts, chiefly apostolic, which served to authenticate the apostles and their message. This also will be developed later in the discussion of the miraculous gifts.
The four-fold division of foundational, support, service, and sign gifts further recognizes the important distinction between the temporary foundational gifts and the other supportive gifts which are permanent, being a part of the superstructure phase of the church rather than its foundational phase of building.
For the purposes of this study, the simple two-fold division between the temporary and the permanent gifts will be maintained. It is especially important for us in this day to recognize which gifts are no longer in operation and which of them are. Part Two of this book will examine the permanent gifts; concerning them there is little debate today. Part Three will investigate the temporary gifts in some detail.
Whichever method of division is employed, it is important to recognize the differences which exist between certain gifts. There are differences in function, differences in importance, and differences in purpose which, when recognized, greatly enhance our understanding of the gifts themselves.