Spiritual Gifts: Helps

There is no doubt that in the writings of the Apostle Paul there is much teaching to assemblies and believers, not only in the early church, but also for us today on the subject of spiritual gifts. This is covered in: 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verses 8 to 10 and 28 to 30; Romans chapter 12 verses 6 to 18; and Ephesians chapter 4 verses 11 and 12.

Jack Hunter presents the gifts in three lists, where thirteen gifts are listed.1 He goes on to indicate that, including Romans chapter 12 and Ephesians chapter 4, there are around twenty gifts in total. There is much to consider in each of the gifts, but for the purpose of this article I wish to contemplate one gift which is only mentioned once and could almost be ignored and that is ‘helps’, 1 Cor. 12. 28. Vine indicates it to mean ‘to render assistance’.2

First, we must remind ourselves that gifts are given for the glory of God and for the good of others. Gifts are imparted for the edifying of the body of Christ and to equip the saints for their work. God’s purpose is that every believer should be like Christ and what better attitude than to do our best, by His Spirit, and to exercise that gift as He leads? Let us then consider those that were a ‘help’ in the early church and the challenge they present to us today.


Introduced to us in Acts chapter 4 verses 36 and 37, we can read of his charity, his care and concern, his commendation, his consideration, his call and companionship.

He was a ‘help’ to Saul in Jerusalem, Acts 9. 26-28, for the saints there did not believe Saul was a disciple. However, Barnabas took him and brought and introduced him to the apostles. From then on, Saul was associated with the believers at Jerusalem. Barnabas was a living letter of commendation.

In Acts chapter 11 he is a ‘help’ to a whole church and was concerned that they might be instructed in the truth. There was no one better suited, so he introduced Paul to the church at Antioch, vv. 25, 26, who then taught them for a whole year. Barnabas saw the potential of Paul’s ministry to the saints. He did not resent taking second place.

A ‘helper’ to one convert in chapter 9 and to a whole church in chapter 11; Barnabas was a true encourager. Such brethren are much needed today!

Ananias of Damascus

The Lord knows who He can use in His service. Under the sovereignty of God, Saul was permitted to persecute the believers and that is the background to the events of Acts chapter 9. On the road to Damascus, the direction of Saul’s life was to change. Perhaps, at first, we can understand the reluctance of Ananias when the Lord’s instructions were clear as to the place, street, house, and the man. This was Saul of Tarsus!

What a help he was, to carry out those instructions, and we are amazed at his first words when he met Saul, ‘Brother Saul’, v. 17. What would our reaction have been? Verses 13 and 14 are a summary of Saul’s pre-conversion life, and I am sure Ananias may have never learnt of the great work Saul/Paul was to undertake in the future. Paul was to relate in his testimony, Acts 22. 12-16, the help Ananias had been to him in his first steps on the Christian pathway. Could we be such a help to someone who may become greatly used of the Lord?


Philip was a Spirit-filled man to be a ‘help’ in evangelism, whether to many in a city, Acts 8. 5, or to one man in a chariot, v. 35. No matter where he was preaching the gospel, the message was the same and he saw results. God took him away from a place of blessing to speak to one man in a desert. God’s ways are past finding out.

Philip was a ‘help’ to the eunuch on his journey because he pointed him to Christ from the passage he was reading in Isaiah’s prophecy. He did not speak of the way of his or the eunuch’s journey, the weather, or the wilderness, but the conversation was around the word of God. No wonder the man went on his way rejoicing for the help given to him in the interpretation of the scripture, enlightening him to the truth.

Are we conversant with the scripture to speak to others? Proverbs chapter 11 verse 30 reminds us, ‘he that winneth souls is wise’. We may be just the help someone we are in touch with needs to hear a message from God’s word.


The term a ‘certain disciple’ is not only limited to men. It also includes women. In only seven verses of scripture, Acts 9. 36-42, we read of this woman’s devotion, her deeds, her death, and the distress it brought.

She was one who saw a need and was a great ‘help’ in her community. She used her fingers and her funds for the needy around her. Her inward love had an outward expression.

She was certainly full of good works. What help she brought to the people which had far-reaching consequences! Some may not have given much thought to her work, but her exercise was obviously appreciated.

Many sisters realize their position in the light of scripture, and they can be a ‘help’ to others where they live and further afield.


Lydia is only mentioned in three verses of scripture, Acts 16. 14, 15, and 40. She became a valued member of the assembly at Philippi.

She was a successful businesswoman and despite her work she found time to worship according to the Jewish faith. But that was not enough. The Spirit of God worked in her life and opened her heart, and she was saved. She was baptized to identify herself with her newfound faith in Christ. Thus, we read of her opened ear, v. 14, her opened heart, v. 14, and her opened home, vv. 15 and 40. Her record of ‘help’ in hospitality to the Lord’s servants was also given after Paul and Silas’ remarkable release from prison.

Like Lydia, many a sister has been of practical help to the Lord’s servants, and their record is in heaven.


All that scripture states concerning Phebe is found in Romans chapter 16 verses 1 and 2 and it is commendable. This is the only time ‘servant’ is used of a woman.

Her name means ‘radiant’, and she was a radiant sister, v. 1, a radiant servant, v. 1, and also a radiant succourer, v. 2. Paul’s commendation of her, ‘receive her’ and ‘assist her’ was because others had benefited from her godly life. She was indeed a ‘help’ to the Lord’s people. No mention is made of a husband, but she could be trusted to take the epistle Paul wrote to the church at Rome.

Much work has been done, and is being done, by godly sisters and we are thankful for each one who serves the Lord. We should appreciate their help and give thanks for them.

Aquila and Priscilla

It is always good when we have a godly couple like Aquila and Priscilla in our assemblies today. We do not read of them writing a book or planting a church but, in their own way, they did much to expand the work of God. They were hospitable, available, discernible, and useable.

Paul describes them as ‘my helpers in Christ Jesus’, Rom. 16. 3. Not only did they have an open hand to help but also an open home to accommodate the local assembly, v. 5. As we never read of them separately, it is clear that they were one in marriage - their hearts beat as one - but they were also one in the Lord. They were also one with Paul in their daily occupation, Acts 18. 3, and they were one in their fellowship with Paul, Rom. 16. 4.

In their knowledge of scripture, they were one, Acts 18. 26, and acted together in the home in the spiritual development of Apollos. They were one in their service for the Lord.

There is so much we can learn today from this godly couple. They were a ‘help’ in the locations they lived, whether it was Rome, Corinth, or Ephesus. In their witness, the Lord was honoured and glorified.

The Philippian believers

Some have titled the Epistle to the Philippians as ‘Paul’s thank you letter’. He wanted to encourage them against despondency and so urges them to rejoice, 1. 26. He warned them against disunity, 2. 1-3; 4. 2. However, he thanks them for the distribution of a gift. They were the only church to support his ministry.

Paul appreciates their consideration of his circumstances in their material support. They remembered his affliction and made it their own.

Their gift was a ‘help’ to relieve the apostle’s need. He mentions their fellowship in the gospel, 1. 5, and their fellowship in giving, 4. 15. It is good to have a part in the work of the Lord -the giving of His people moving them to meet the needs of others. How often when an assembly has offered help to one of the Lord’s servants, or had fellowship with another assembly, it has often been recorded that ‘it has come at the right time’. Paul had a thankful spirit and a tremendous appreciation of their gift. It was a wise investment. The Lord keeps the books and will pay a spiritual dividend in His time.

Those we have considered were entrusted with work for the Lord, empowered for the task, and engaged wholeheartedly in the work that was given to them to undertake. May we be usefully employed in the spiritual welfare and work of God’s people. The challenge to us is that whilst we might not be given the responsibility of preaching or teaching, we can be a ‘help’, as the Spirit leads. We must recall the words of the psalmist, Psalm 121 verse 2, ‘My help cometh from the Lord’. The writer to the Hebrews writes, ‘The Lord is my helper‘, 13. 6.

The question that needs to be answered is ‘am I a help or a hindrance in my personal life, home life, and assembly life?’.



J. Hunter, First Corinthians, in K. Stapley and T. Wilson (eds), What the Bible Teaches, John Ritchie, pg. 152.


W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.


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