Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
I know what I think my answer to this question is, but I want to answer it with scripture and not my own flawed opinions or knowledge. The first thing one must do to answer the question is to put it back into context. 1 Corinthians 12 talks about the gifts of the Spirit and about the body of Christ. Looking at verses 12-26 which immediately precede the question, we see that we are all members of the body and like the body, not everyone can be the mouth or the head or the foot. That is why we have a variety of gifts, we all have a purpose in the body. There is someone at your church gifted at teaching, someone else gifted at pastoring, and someone different gifted at prophecy, healing, and administration. We need the variety of gifts. So, no not all are apostles, prophets teachers, healers etc. But, is this the end of it? No, there is more to consider.
Regarding the gifts, in verses 4-11 Paul says,
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 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. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
This passage says that to one this is given to another this is given. Paul also says, “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” This implies that not everyone has every gift. But what the Spirit really called to my attention in this section was verse 6, “and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”
You see God in the Holy Spirit gives these gifts to each one as He wills, the same Spirit empowers them all in everyone. This is not a contradiction, He gives as He wills and He gives to everyone. He is able to do as He wills or chooses. God gives good gifts to His children who ask Him. (Matthew 7:11) and whatever we ask for in His name or in agreeance with one another and with faith we will receive (Matthew 18:19, Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, John 15:7, John 15:16, and more). So just as God wills that all are saved, the scriptures infer that God wants to give everyone gifts and blessings.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:31 just after he poses the question, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts.”
What this means to me is that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to everyone, but we can ask for more, we can ask for all of them. Do all? No. Can all if we ask? Yes. Will He give those gifts to us when we ask? The answer is yes but with qualifiers. Yes, He gives whatever we ask Him for in His name, that is as His representative. He gives when we ask in agreeance with other saints, we would not agree for something evil. And He gives when we ask with faith. James explains this in James 1:5-6 when he talks about asking for the gift of wisdom,
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
This passage has given many a charlatan reason to explain why people are not healed by him or why people did not get the new Lexus they asked for. But what James is saying is that if you ask for wisdom (or some other gift) you must ask with faith because otherwise you would not listen to God for the wisdom or use the gift you asked for because you don’t really believe He gave it to you. You are double minded therefore hoping He gave it but not trusting He did. You would wait for some miracle to happen and empower you in a shimmering shower of gold or a gust of wind to hit you and make you suddenly sprout wise sayings or tongues or lightning to shoot from your hands and cause healings all around you. Without that faithful assurance, you will follow whatever speaker, teacher, or pastor gives you some teaching that tells you the steps you have to take to have the gifts that the Bible says God has already given you. With faith, you ask and then, knowing God gave you the gift, you use it. You listen for the wisdom, the word, or the knowledge. You step out in faith and declare healing or miracles in Jesus’ name.
God would not tell you to desire the higher gifts if He were not going to give them to you when you ask. He would not tell us to ask for them if He were not going to give them to us. Perhaps, you have asked for a gift and have not seen it manifested. Maybe it isn’t time yet for you to get it. Maybe you need to take a step or two first. One thing many of us don’t consider doing is having the gift ignited by prayer and laying on of hands from elders or others already anointed and using the gift. In 2 Timothy 1:5-7 Paul reminds Timothy to do this. He says,
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Paul knew Timothy had faith, that was not the issue, He wanted the elders of the church to lay their hands on Timothy and fan into flame the gift of God that was in him. How was the gift in Timothy? Paul had laid his hands on Timothy when he prayed for the Holy Spirit to indwell him. He reminded Timothy that we have a spirit of self-control, not fear. We can choose through our self-control to practice these gifts or we can choose to let fear rule us and not practice them in case we do not have the gift.
If God wants someone healed, He will heal Him through you or the guy next to you or the woman who meets the person next. He is the same Holy Spirit in you, your pastor, the person famous for his healing gift, and the person in your church who is gifted with it. He is the same Spirit in you as the person gifted with prophecy or knowledge or teaching. in your body. The same Holy Spirit who indwelled and empowered Paul, Peter, John, and James indwells you, Believer.
We must also practice the gifts we were given. We cannot and should not let them sit unused within us. That does no one any good, not us and not the people learning from us or watching us. In 1 Timothy 4:14-16 Paul said,
Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Earlier in the letter Paul in 4:7-8 Paul told Timothy “Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Encouraging him that just as we train our physical bodies we should train our spirits as well.
Let’s go back to Paul’s question now, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” No, all are not, but it could be that way. We can operate in all the gifts, if we ask with faith, if we declare this in front of the body and let the elders lay hands on us to impart the anointing and fan the gift into flame, if in faith we step up and practice and use the gifts, knowing it is the Holy Spirit, not us who is wise, healing, miracle working, speaking, encouraging, and loving. We must remember too that Paul went on from that question to tell us the better way, the way of love. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that without love, none of the amazing things we do is worth anything. If we do these great things without love we are nothing and gain nothing. These gifts, our faith and our hope are all part of this temporary earth. Prophecies will one day be in the past. There will be no need of healing or encouragement because we will be living in perfect unity with Jesus Christ in New Jerusalem on the New Earth forever. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain. Earth and all its brokenness and sin will have passed away (Revelation 21:4)