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date: 23 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The New Testament (NT) refers to spiritual gifts in several passages, and the Old Testament provides important background to the NT teaching. In church history, spiritual gifts have at times been controversial and at other times largely ignored. Evangelicals showed growing interest in gifts in the twentieth century, in large measure due to the impact of Pentecostal and charismatic movements. The church inhabits the space between the unity of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 and the diversity of the “great multitude from every nation” of Revelation 7:9. Spiritual gifts are best understood within these wide parameters of unity and diversity, and in light of the historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The church always lives within a particular cultural context—even as Jesus in his incarnation came into a particular social context. Culture therefore plays a part in the church's life and witness, and thus in the exercise of spiritual gifts. Since spiritual gifts are God's ongoing provision for the church, they have no special connection to the end times. However, gifts and eschatology are in fact linked.

Keywords: New Testament, spiritual gifts, Old Testament, eschatology, church, culture, Trinity, unity, diversity

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