The New Testament provides instruction about spiritual gifts in four primary passages: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. The lists in each of these chapters differ both in content and length. But it is the shortest reference to spiritual gifts that helps us to understand the structure and nature of the gifts. In his letter, Peter writes:
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pet 4:10–11; NASB)
So Peter refers to the gifts not with specificity, but with two general categories: speaking and serving. And that serves as a template for all the spiritual gifts in all the lists. All the gifts given in the other passages can be placed into one of these two categories, as pictured here.
To further understand the kinds of gifts given, we can also distinguish between those gifts which were foundational and ceased with the closing of the canon of Scripture and those which have continued to today:
With these gifts, the Lord has given the church all she needs to equip every believer to accomplish all that needs to be done in the church so that every believer is built up and matured and so the body as an organism is unified (Eph. 4:11-13).