The Spiritual Gift of Navigations

Class of Gift: Service 


1 Corinthians 12:28

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Section One


1.1 Every Born-Again Christian Has at Least One Spiritual Gift.  Every born-again believer in Jesus Christ has received a spiritual gift from God (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Please recall also that one spiritual gift may have a variety of ministries (“διακονιῶν”), with a variety of spiritual effects (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). Therefore, if you have the Spiritual Gift of Navigations, that single gift may result in a variety of ministries and spiritual effects. Although not all believers may have the Spiritual Gift of Navigations, they should be careful to guide people under the direction of God.

1.2 Meaning of the Term “Navigations.” I will use the term “navigations” (“κυβερνήσεις”–plural noun), translated by the New American Standard Bible as “administrations,” to describe the special ability to carry out the work of God similar to the work of a pilot of a ship (1 Corinthians 12:28). The pilot was not the same person as the captain of the ship. In Acts 27:11,  we see the distinction between “the navigator” (“τῷ κυβερνήτῃ”–translated as “pilot” by the New American Standard) and  “the captain” (“τῷ ναυκλήρῳ”) of the ship. A centurion, with Paul as his prisoner, boarded a ship for the journey to Rome. During their voyage, the centurion had to make a decision about where to harbor for the winter. Paul offered a prophecy from God that the ship would suffer great trouble, but the centurion was more persuaded by the navigator and the captain, who urged that they continue on to a harbor on Crete and winter there. Normally, the pilot possessed great local knowledge about weather patterns, currents, depths, and many other maritime matters for a particular area. The pilot worked as part of a team, but the head of the team on board was the captain.  The pilot took measurements and readings periodically during the voyage and made changes according to the sailing conditions. The pilot understood maps and knew about weather patterns. The pilot performed a group of tasks designed to reach the destination for the ship. For my purposes, I will use the term “navigations” to refer to the work of navigators, or marine pilots. Therefore, the term “navigations” refers to the spiritual ability to know the current location, the path forward to the destination, and the best route to get there. The pilot charted the course, but did not set the final destination. The pilot fixed the current position and offered course corrections to reach the destination. The pilot served as a navigator, and produced navigations. Notice the plural here. The work of the pilot produced many navigations. I have used that word “navigations” to describe the product of the work of the maritime pilot or navigator.  Also, please notice that the list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:28 consists of nouns, and so they do not focus upon the person entrusted with the spiritual gift (apostles, prophets, teachers), but with the product of the spiritual activity (healings, helps, navigations, kinds of tongues). Also, please note that the New American Standard Bible uses the term “administration” to translate a separate Greek word (“οἰκονομία”–Ephesians 3:9) and the root word of “administrations” includes a wide range of activities in the New Testament. Yet, Paul  chose a maritime term (“κυβερνήσεις”) and I have followed Paul’s lead to focus upon the work of the navigator (the maritime pilot), and not the larger use of the term for “administration”(“οἰκονομία”).

1.3 Navigations and the Spiritual Gifts. All believers must know and use their spiritual gifts to the glory of God. All believers, not just the pastors and church leaders, perform the work of navigations.  While all believers must perform the work of navigations, only some believers have the Spiritual Gift of Navigations, bestowed by the Holy Spirit upon some, but not all, believers as a gift of grace which works according to His power (Ephesians 3:7).

1.4 The New Testament Diversity of the Term “Navigations.” The Greek term translated as “navigations” has diverse applications in the New Testament.  As you read through these varying uses of the term “navigations” and related words, please keep in mind that I interpret these passages below as examples, on the one hand, of spiritual activities all believers will do at times; but, on the other hand, the person with the Spiritual Gift of Navigations in the forms described below will have a special gift from God to provide guidance along the way to glorify God. Let us explore some of those uses to gain insight into the different ways God gifts people to serve in His name and in His ministry to the Body of Christ. We will see below that the Spiritual Gift of Navigations involves different major areas of ministry. We will look at them one at a time.

Section Two

The Ministry of Navigations:

Charting the Course

2.1 Maritime Pilot.  During his trial before Porcius Festus, the Roman Governor over the land of Israel (Judea was the name of the Roman province), Paul appealed to Caesar in Rome.  Paul had that legal right because, under Roman law, any Roman citizen could appeal his case directly to Caesar, the emperor of the Roman Empire. As Paul traveled from the land of Israel, the Romans assigned a centurion to take Paul to Caesar in Rome. Paul traveled by boat and made stops along the way. The journey did go not as quickly as planned, and winter with its storms was approaching fast. The centurion consulted with the captain of the ship and the marine pilot (“τῷ κυβερνήτῃ”) about the best course for the ship so that it could find safe harbor for the winter. Paul warned everyone that great tragedy would come upon the ship, and the cargo and human lives would be lost. Even so, the centurion was more persuaded by the advice of the captain and the pilot. Not long after the majority on the ship decided to sail and seek safe harbor on Crete, a huge storm caught them and threatened the ship. During the storm, Paul again prophesied and said that the ship would be lost, but now all the lives on the ship would be saved. Just as Paul prophesied, the ship and cargo were lost, but every life was saved. In that seafaring story, the role of the maritime pilot was clearly not the same as the captain. The pilot apparently knew about Phoenix, a safe harbor on the island of Crete, which faced southwest and northwest, and would be a good place for wintering. This kind of local knowledge about the harbor and how to pick the right weather and the right course to sail there characterized the work of the maritime pilot. In this case, even the best laid plans of the captain, the maritime pilot and the majority of the people on board plunged the ship into great peril, because they ignored Paul and his prophecy from God (Acts 27:1-44). Even so, the story provides a nice example of how the maritime pilot was not the same as the captain of the ship. Both the captain and the maritime pilot spoke to the people on board, and persuaded the majority to set sail for Phoenix, a safe harbor, if only they could reach it in time.

IdentificationIf you have ministry of charting the right course for a group to reach a destination fixed by God, and you use your superior spiritual knowledge of the people and the conditions, so that you can safely navigate to God’s destination, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Navigations.

Section Three

The Ministry of Navigations:

Steering Clear of Danger

3.1 Safe DistanceIn the future, God will bring judgment upon Babylon the Great City (Revelation 18:1-8). Babylon had made the merchants of the earth very rich, but she will be destroyed. Babylon and its inhabitants will be filled with torment, weeping and mourning. In one hour, Babylon and its wealth will be laid waste. Every marine pilot (“κυβερνήτης”) will keep a safe distance from Babylon, as they watched the smoke of her burning. Those shipmasters knew that they must steer clear of the smoking ruin of Babylon the Great City.

IdentificationIf you have a ministry of identifying great danger, and steering a path to keep the group safely away from such danger, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Navigations.

Hallmarks of the Spiritual Gift of Navigations

Navigations: Understanding the Spiritual Gifts. The believer with The Spiritual Gift of Navigations may minister in many ways, helping believers to reach the destination of God, while steering the best course, and steering clear of dangers.

Please review this entire article to understand The Spiritual Gifts of Navigations and to see if you have that spiritual gift.

If you want to examine yourself regarding The Spiritual Gift of Navigations, then see if you have a special ability to help other believers glorify God and to provide navigations from God. If you find yourself participating in some of the activities listed below, then you may have The Spiritual Gift of Navigations.

♦  Navigations-gifted believers may have a ministry of charting the right course for a group to reach the destination of God, by using superior knowledge and experience, often gleaned from the Bible.

♦  Navigations-gifted believers may have a ministry of steering the group away from dangers, so that the group may arrive at its destination safely.


Because the word “navigations” only appears a few times in various forms in the New Testament, we have very little direct lexical evidence to determine what the word means in the New Testament. Therefore, I am cautious about its meaning in the context of The Spiritual Gift of Navigations. Based upon the work of the maritime pilot recorded in the Book of Acts and the Book of Revelation, we gain some insight into how the maritime pilot chartered the course to reach the destination fixed by God, and steered the group clear of dangers.


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