Gifts of the
of Wisdom and Word of Knowledge
Having been introduced to the gifts of the Holy Spirit by
Paul, let us now examine each of them more in-depth. As
we cover each of the gifts, and discuss other relevant
issues later on, let’s do so prayerfully and with great
devotion to scripture. Remember the praise given to the
Bereans for comparing Paul’s teachings against scripture.
I hope you would do no less. There are different
viewpoints from here on out. Where there is conflict, I
will present both sides as fairly and accurately as
possible. Then you must prayerfully consider these views
in light of scripture, and make your own judgments. In
this portion of the “gifts” study, we’ll focus on the
first two gifts mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12.
“For to one is
given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another
the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;” – 1
Corinthians 12:8 [emphasis added]
In this verse, the Greek logos sophia ()
translates to “word of wisdom” and logos gnosis ()
translates “word of knowledge.” While the translation is
clear, the meaning and application is less so.
These two gifts are given perhaps the
least amount of treatment by Paul, and are among the least
contentious of the gifts -- especially when compared to
tongues. The problem with defining these gifts lies in
the fact that 1 Corinthians 12:8 is the only place in the
New Testament in which they are specifically mentioned.
Paul does not provide us with a definition of these gifts,
nor does he clarify their purpose and application within
the body of Christ.
There are some who feel that the word
of wisdom and word of knowledge are gifts in which the
recipient possesses some insight into the grace and nature
of God. Perhaps this insight relates to the unique
relationship between God and his children. Matthew Henry
defined word of wisdom as “a knowledge of the
mysteries of the gospel, and ability to explain them.”1
Referring to the word of knowledge, he states,
“that is, say some, the knowledge of mysteries: say
others, a skill and readiness to give advice and counsel
in perplexed cases.”2 This view of
these gifts implies more of a sustained insight and
understanding, as opposed to spontaneous revelation.
Others view these gifts as more
revelatory in nature. In other words, they are a
supernatural imparting of knowledge or wisdom to the
recipient by the Holy Spirit. One example that would
illustrate this interpretation is an incident involving
noted nineteenth century evangelist Charles Spurgeon.
While preaching at Exeter Hall in London, he once
interrupted his sermon, pointed in a particular direction,
and said, “Young man, those gloves you are wearing have
not been paid for: you have stolen them from your
employer.” Spurgeon was apparently right about this (in
spite of having no personal knowledge of the young man),
and the person in question was taken aback and convicted
by the Holy Spirit for his sin. This story relates a
revelatory, spontaneous impartation of knowledge that
could not otherwise be known. Could the Holy Spirit have
spoken a “word of knowledge” to Spurgeon in order to reach
that young man? It’s certainly possible, and there are
some that would say that’s exactly what happened.
Whether you believe the word of
wisdom and word of knowledge are spontaneous, supernatural
utterances, or a more sustained insight into the mysteries
of God, the indisputable fact is that these are gifts that
are dispensed by the Holy Spirit, according to His will.
Perhaps only someone who has been blessed with one of
these gifts could easily explain them. Regardless, may
the Lord who has redeemed us unto Himself bless you as you
eagerly seek out His gifts (1 Corinthians 12:30.)
Commentary on the Whole Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Zondervan Publishing House, 1961), 1819.