On the Impartation of Spiritual Gifts

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In 1 Corinthians 12:8–10, Paul listed nine miraculous “manifestations” of the Spirit. These gifts were scattered among various members, with some apparently receiving no gift at all (vv. 28–30). Since possession of these gifts was not universal among the saints, by what means were they imparted? Consider the following:

  • Jesus promised His apostles unique and wondrous powers by sending the Holy Spirit unto them upon His return to the Father (John 14:26; 15:26–27; 16:13). He identified this promise with their being baptized in the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4–5, 8). The apostles received this promised baptism (immersion) in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension (Acts 2:1–4).
  • The preaching of the apostles on Pentecost resulted in Gospel obedience of about 3,000 people (v. 41) and the establishment of the church Jesus had promised to build (v. 47; Mat. 16:18). On that occasion Peter promised those believers who repented and were baptized (in water, Acts 8:36; 10:47–48; et al.) to receive remission of their sins that they would receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Some assert that this promise refers to miraculous powers. However, chapters 2–5 of Acts belie this assertion. There is no hint that even one of the “wonders and signs” of which we read in these chapters was done by any others besides the apostles (2:43; 3:1–10; 4:7–11; 15–16; 5:12–16).
  • Acts 6:1–6 tells of the appointment of seven men to serve the daily needs of the Grecian widows in the church. Upon these seven the apostles “laid their hands” (v. 6). The first record after Pentecost of miracles being by anyone other than an apostle occurs immediately in the text as Stephen, one of these seven, did “great wonders and signs” (v. 8). The next occurrence of miraculous activity was in Samaria by Philip, another one of the seven (8:6–7, 13). Two of the apostles (Peter and John) then joined Philip in his work. Several had been baptized in water for remission of their sins, thus receiving the “gift of the Holy Spirit” promised on Pentecost (Acts 2:38; 8:12). However, only when these apostles came and laid their hands on these converts did they “receive the Holy Spirit,” enabling them to work miracles (vv. 14–19).
  • Acts 19:1–7 tells of the apostle Paul’s baptizing about a dozen men and thereafter laying hands on them, whereupon they were able to speak in other languages and prophesy, but there is no indication that they could impart the ability to perform these miraculous acts to others.

The common element in each of these cases is that the ability to impart these miraculous gifts to others came through the apostles and only through them. With the passing of the last apostle (i.e., John, cir. AD 100), the means of impartation of the gifts ceased—as therefore did the gifts themselves. The manifestation of those powers likewise ceased with the death of the last saint upon whom an apostle had laid his hands (enabling him or her to possess and exercise one or more of the supernatural gifts. All claims of such powers since that time (i.e., mid AD 2nd century) are false.

[Note: I wrote this article for and it was published in The Denton Record-Chronicle, Denton, TX, March 30, 2007.]

Attribution: From thescripturecache.com; Dub McClish, owner, curator, and administrator.

Author: Dub McClish