Some observations from Vern Poythress on the basic characteristics of spiritual gifts according to 1 Corinthians 12:

  • Every person who trusts in Christ for salvation belongs to Christ and so belongs to the church, the body of Christ. (“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” [1 Cor. 12:27].) God does not want Christians to live in isolation, but as part of his special community, the church.
  • Each person in the church is like one member of a human body. God appoints each person to have a function in the body (1 Cor. 12:12).
  • Each person has his own function in the body; not all are the same (1 Cor. 12:14–25).
  • The Holy Spirit empowers each person to serve according to what God wills (1 Cor. 12:11).
  • The whole body, the church, suffers if one member suffers (1 Cor. 12:26). Given the concern in 1 Cor. 12 for the functions of different members, the verse seems to imply that the body may suffer partly because one member is not carrying out its functions, which help the whole body.
  • The whole body flourishes when one member is honored (1 Cor. 12:26).

—Vern Poythress, What Are Spiritual Gifts? [free PDF online].