Discerning of Spirits
Discerning Of Spirits (διάκρισις πνευμάτων, discrimination of spirits, 1Co 12:10). This expression is now usually understood to mean a high faculty, enjoyed by certain persons in the apostolic age, of intuitively probing the heart and distinguishing the secret dispositions of men (compare 1Co 14:29; 1Jo 5:1). It appears to have been one of the gifts peculiar to that age, and was especially necessary at a time when the standards of doctrine were not well established or generally understood, and when many deceivers were abroad (2 John 2:7). This faculty of supernatural insight seems to have been exercised chiefly upon those who came forward as teachers of others, and whose real designs it was important that the infant churches should know. Authentic instances, however, do not appear to show the method of its exercise, although the cases of Ananias and Sapphira (Ac 5:3,9), of Simon Magus (Ac 8:21), and of Elymas (Ac 13:9), are cases in point. SEE GIFTS, SPIRITUAL.