Moses and others in the OT were seized with an ecstasy ascribed to the, or to a, Spirit (Num. 11: 29), but it is in the epistles of Paul that specific gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed and said to be the natural endowment of any faithful believer—though differently distributed (Rom. 12: 6). Together they contribute to the health of the whole Body (Rom. 12: 4–5). The lists of gifts in the Pauline and other NT documents divide the gifts into audible manifestations (prophecy, ecstatic speech and its interpretation), practical works of charity, and the gift of apostleship which comes first at 1 Cor. 12: 28; it derives from the authority of Christ and gives the best witness to his resurrection.

Paul is embarrassed by the incoherent babel of ‘tongues’ (1 Cor. 14: 12) and by the time of 1 Pet. (4: 10–11) unintelligible speech is not reckoned amongst the gifts.