This is a guest post by T.C. Robinson, blogger at New Leaven and he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies and a Master’s degree with an emphasis in New Testament Greek
Spiritual gifts are those special capacities imparted to believers by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God and the good of the Body of Christ (1 Pet. 2:10-11; 1 Cor. 12:7).
In verse one, Paul uses the term πνευματικῶν, which may be translated either “spiritual people” or “spiritual gifts.” But the consensus in light of the context of 1 Corinthians 12-14 fits better with “spiritual gifts.”
But from verses 4-11, Paul uses another word, χαρίσματα, “grace gifts.” For example, our English world charisma or charismatic is derived from this Greek word.
However, these Corinthian believers were calling attention to themselves in their use of the gifts—like many today—and Paul had to take both in a corrective and prescriptive approach, as reflected in chapters 12-14.
Paul begins this section with these verses:
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:1-3)
Notice how Paul quickly switches to χάρισμα, charisma, from πνευματικός, pneumatikos. The reason: the Corinthians were bringing attention to themselves with the use of πνευματικός––we are “spiritual people” because we have all these “spiritual gifts” (v.1).
Paul is not impressed.
In fact, to show his disapproval, Paul uses χάρισμα to call attention to the source of the gifts – they are “grace gifts” (v. 4).
In the end, according to Paul, the real evidence of the Spirit in us is not “the gifts” he bestows but the love that blossoms – hence, 1 Corinthians 13.