How many gifts did the early Christians receive from the Holy Spirit?




I was wondering from I Corinthians 12:4-11 and other related passages, what you think to these questions.

1. Did a Christian receive from the Holy Spirit only one spiritual gift or was it possible to receive more than one? In Acts 8:7, we read of Philip able to cast out demons and heal people. Is this one gift or two? Besides Philip, I could not think of another specific example outside the apostles.

2. Was there a difference between the spiritual gifts Christians received and those the apostles were endowed with?

As I studied these questions on my own I found that most commentators and books observed the "Passover" on them (meaning the passed right over them). Please give me any scriptural evidence you can with your answers.

In 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, Paul wrote, "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."(NIV)  That passage alone implies that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not distributed equally.  In I Corinthians 14:1, Paul adds, "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy."  This implies that it was possible to be granted more spiritual gifts than what was originally given.  If one could be granted more, then that would imply that there is not a "one person, one gift" rule.

I'm not sure there is anything to be gained by determining if casting out demons is the same gift as healing.  If it was the same gift, what would it prove?  If it wasn't, what would that prove?  Given that there is nothing to be gained, I look at it as not being worthy of determining. 

The biggest distinction that I know of between the gift the apostles had and everyone else is that the apostles could impart the gift to others.  Acts 8 is the best example of that.  Philip had the Spirit (verse 7), people were baptized and thereby saved (verse 12), but they could not be granted the Spirit until Peter and John arrived.  If Philip could impart the Spirit, he could have saved Peter and John the trip.  If having the miraculous gift of the Spirit was essential to salvation, then these people would have had no reason to rejoice until Peter and John arrived (verses 16-17).  Therefore we can conclude that having the miraculous gift of the Spirit is not essential to salvation -- which is the most significant point anyway.

Darrell Hamilton

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding the Holy Spirit
Questions and Answers regarding Miraculous Gifts