Books of Bible
The Holy Spirit and Some First Century Disciples
By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs
(A Study of Spiritual Gifts )
A. The apostles of Jesus received a direct outpouring of the Holy
Spirit administered by Jesus (Matt. 3:11; Acts 2:33).
1. The apostles of Jesus were empowered to administer
secondary gifts from the Holy Spirit by laying their hands
on some selected first century disciples.
(a) The expression "secondary gifts" means the gifts came
from the Holy Spirit through the apostles to a second
person or persons.
B. Specific instances where secondary gifts from the Holy Spirit
1. Gifts to the Samaritans recorded in Acts 8:9-19
(a) Note verse 18 ("Simon saw that through the apostles'
hands the Holy Spirit was given").
2. Gifts to the Ephesians recorded in Acts 19:1-6
(a) Spirit given when Paul laid his hands on them.
3. Gifts to Timothy recorded in 2 Tim. 1:6; 1 Tim. 4:14.
(a) Timothy received a gift from the laying on of the
hands of Paul (2 Tim. 1:6). He also received a gift
through the laying on of the hands of the presbyters
or elders (1 Tim. 4:14). The two gifts were obviously
not the same. Paul gave Timothy a measure of the Holy
Spirit; and the elders appointed him to preach in
Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3).
(b) Timothy had to study (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 2:15).
(c) The apostles did not have to study (Matt. 10:19-20;
Gal. 1:11-12). Therefore, what Timothy had as a gift
of the Spirit was not the same as what the apostles
4. Paul's intention to bestow spiritual gifts on some at Rome
recorded in Romans 1:11
(a) Paul wanted to give the Romans a spiritual gift.
This was not the gift of salvation because they
already had that (Rom. 6:1-4). It was not teaching
because Paul was teaching them in his letter to them.
The gift referred to must be gifts of the Spirit
which could only be given by the laying on of the
hands of an apostle and would therefore require
Paul's physical presence (See Acts 8:18).
II. Purpose and Use of Spiritual Gifts.
A. The purpose of spiritual gifts was to instruct, lead, and
edify the church in the first century while the entire New
Testament was being revealed and confirmed.
B. There were nine spiritual gifts. The gifts are listed in
1 Corinthians 12:4-11):
4. Gifts of healing
7. Discerning of spirits
9. Interpretation of tongues
C. Those who had one of the spiritual gifts worked with others
who also had a spiritual gift, as the members of the human
body must work together for the gifts to accomplish the
divine purpose of edifying and directing the church (1 Cor.
1. Spiritual gifts were limited to some first century
disciples (1 Cor. 12:28-30).
(a) There were many in the church in the first century
who did not have these spiritual gifts.
(b) The spiritual gifts administered by the apostles
were not necessary to salvation--some of the saved
had such gifts and some of the saved had no such
1. A person could exhibit only one spiritual gift at a time.
2. A person could request through prayer that his particular
spiritual gift be exchanged for a different spiritual
gift (1 Cor. 14:12-13), but he could not have two
spiritual gifts at the same time (otherwise the analogy
of the different members of the body working together in
order for the body to properly function breaks down).
(a) The determination as to which spiritual gift an
individual might have, and whether that gift could
be exchanged for a different one, was made by the
Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11).
E. When the church came together in assembly different members
of the church had different gifts of edification (1 Cor.
1. For the church to be taught, the various members having
spiritual gifts had to work together.
(a) This would prevent apostasy. If they went astray,
several people would have to cooperate in order to
F. Rules for use of spiritual gifts had to be followed.
1. Had to edify the church (1 Cor. 14:26).
2. Not more than three persons were permitted to speak in a
tongue at a given worship service (1 Cor. 14:27).
3. Only one person at a time was allowed to speak in a
tongue (1 Cor. 14:27).
4. Speaking in a tongue was not allowed in the absence of an
interpreter (1 Cor 14:28).
5. Only one person at a time was permitted to prophecy
(1 Cor. 14:27).
6. Not more than three prophets were to speak at a given
assembly (1 Cor. 14:29).
7. The worship service had to be decent and orderly;
confusion was not permitted (1 Cor. 14:23, 32, 40).
8. Those who possessed spiritual gifts had the power to
control the use of the gift (1 Cor 14:32).
G. When the church came together, different ones would have a
psalm, teaching, revelation, tongue, interpretation.
1. One brother might give a lesson; another brother make a
revelation in a tongue; another brother would interpret
the tongue for the group; another brother would discern
this to be the spirit of truth; another brother would
heal someone, or perform a miracle in order to confirm
the truth of what had been taught or revealed.
(a) The purpose was instruction that produced growth in
understanding and character (1 Cor 14:3-5, 24-25,
(b) They learned and grew through words given to them by
(c) The Holy Spirit works through and by the word of God
(b) The system of spiritual gifts required the disciples
to work together, as the various members of the
human body must work together, in order to know what
God would have them to do in the absence of a living
apostle of Jesus, or before the word was written.
A. Spiritual gifts ceased by their own limitation.
1. Only an apostle could impart spiritual gifts.
2. Those who received spiritual gifts from an apostle could
not impart them to others. Philip, for instance, could
not by the supernatural power he possessed impart
spiritual gifts to the saved in Samaria (Acts 8:8-18).
3. Therefore when the last apostle died, and the last
person upon whom an apostle had laid his hands in order
to impart a spiritual gift died, the arrangement died.
B. The written, confirmed record (New Testament) became the
source of all teaching and edification.
Comments On The Outline
The apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit whereby they received
a knowledge of all saving truth and they had the ability to perform
signs and miracles for the purpose of confirming that word. God
gave the apostles the ability to pass on spiritual gifts by laying
their hands on the intended recipient. That person then could
exercise his gift in the absence of an apostle. Until the word
of God existed in written form, those with spiritual gifts could
impart their knowledge of the word to others. Once the revealed
will of God was completed, the work of the apostles and the necessity
for spiritual gifts ceased. What the apostles did in that first
generation does not need to be repeated. The word was revealed
one time for all time (Jude 3) and that revelation is final and
complete and for all time. It is the perfect will of God and we
dare not add to nor take away from nor change that revelation
in any manner.
If any person claims revelation in addition to and other than
the teaching of the gospel as preached by Paul and the other apostles,
he is accursed (Gal. 1:8-9). Paul repeats the warning to emphasize
the extreme danger of claiming revelation from God after the first
We may not know everything about the nine spiritual gifts mentioned
by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:8-12, but we can be absolutely certain
they do not continue and are not in the church today. The supernatural
gifts of knowledge and wisdom would mean information and the ability
to properly apply it. The supernatural gift of faith is more difficult
to explain. We know that it was not ordinary saving faith because
disciples of the first century had that kind of faith before receiving
spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit through the apostles' hands.
It may have been courage to speak the truth in the presence of
kings and the powerful of the earth, or it may have been used
in connection with supernatural signs of confirmation, such as
striking Elymas blind (Acts 13:8-11). Gifts of healing involved
the perfect recovery of those who were sick and disabled. Miracles
would be like stilling a storm or being impervious to venom or
poison. Prophecy would be supernatural teaching. There were some
prophets in the first century church who had no miraculous power.
Tongues, the interpretation of tongues, and the discerning of
spirits had to do with speaking foreign languages, the translation
of the alien language, and the inspired determination of the spirit
of truth as opposed to false spirits.
The most common mistake in studying the miraculous spiritual gifts
of the first century is to approach the subject with trepidation,
supposing the matter to be so deep and mysterious that it cannot
be understood. Paul said to the Corinthian saints concerning these
spiritual gifts "I would not have you ignorant" (1 Cor.
12:1). This shows the subject is capable of being understood.
It is shrouded in mystery merely because men have superimposed
their human anticipation on something that is really very simple.
The supernatural tongues were foreign languages, as is demonstrated
in Acts chapter two, "we hear them speaking in our tongues
the mighty works of God" (Acts 2:11), and in Paul's explanation,
"There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world,
and no kind is without signification" (1 Cor. 14:10).