The second list of spiritual gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. This passage is part of a paragraph that includes 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. Let’s examine this list of spiritual gifts in context:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV)
In this passage, Paul lists the following spiritual gifts: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, distinguishing spirits, various kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Paul lists gifts and the individuals gifted in this list, but he does not say anything about the specific gifts themselves. The only common gift between this list and the list in Romans 12 is the gift of prophecy.
This passage contains the first of three lists of spiritual gifts and gifted individuals in 1 Corinthians 12-14, a section that deals predominately with spiritual gifts. However, we should still consider each list separately to try to determine why Paul used the list.
In these particular verses, the reason for the list seems clear. In four sentences (vs. 4, 5, 6, and 11), Paul emphasizes the varieties of gifts within the unity of God. The gifts are described as gifts, service, and activities in verses 4-6. But, as Paul says, though the gifts vary, they each have the same purpose: the common good. And, though the gifts vary, they are each given as God through his Spirit desires.
This lists of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are simply examples of the “varities of gifts” that are given according to the will of God and for the common good. This sets the stage for the following passage concerning the body of Christ. According to Paul, every member of the body is important, and every gift is important. There are no unimportant parts of the body of Christ. In fact, Paul will say that the parts that seem unimportant are actually considered more important and are given more honor by God.
Therefore, the author does not list spiritual gifts in this passage in order to discuss how to exercise each gift, but instead to show that the gifts are given for the good of other people – in other words, there is one purpose in spite of the fact that there are many different gifts.
Series on Spiritual Gifts