Let’s begin by reading 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the WORD OF KNOWLEDGE by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”

These verses tell us of the evidence of the Holy Spirit that indwells “every man” that knows the Lord Jesus Christ as his/her savior.  The different manifestations of the Spirit in the believer’s life given here are: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the gift of healing, the working of miracles, prophesy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.  These various gifts will all work together as led by the Spirit of God. Verse 4 of our chapter tells us, “Now there are diversities of gifts, BUT THE SAME SPIRIT.”

The first two manifestations of the Spirit given are gifts of the intellect…wisdom and knowledge.  The use of the word ‘word’ indicates these are speaking gifts.  We read in 1 Peter 4:11, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”  The Holy Spirit, working in the different believers in the body of Christ, will ALWAYS draw attention to and uplift the name of Christ.  The Lord Jesus, in speaking of the Spirit said in John 16:13-14, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. HE SHALL GLORIFY ME: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”  Therefore, the ‘word of wisdom’ and the ‘word of knowledge’ have to do with one having the ability to dispense wisdom and knowledge to others. 

The ’word of wisdom’ speaks of one’s ability to understand God’s Word and apply it rightly in his own life, and to share with others that same understanding.  Stephen, as he was explaining and defending God’s Word exhibited great wisdom.  We read in Acts 6:10, “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.”  Stephen’s ‘work of wisdom’ did not convince these unbelievers, although his words were irresistible.  They lied about him, and eventually killed him. (Read Acts 7.)

The ‘word of knowledge’ is similar, but somewhat different.  Here, I’ll quote from William MacDonald, “The word of knowledge is the power to communicate information that has been divinely revealed. This is illustrated in Paul’s use of such expressions as “Behold, I tell you a mystery” (1 Cor. 15:51) and “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15). In that primary sense of conveying new truth, the word of knowledge has ceased, because the Christian faith has been once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). The body of Christian doctrine is complete. In a secondary sense, however, the word of knowledge may still be with us. There is still a mysterious communication of divine knowledge to those who live in close fellowship with the Lord (see Psalm 25:14). The sharing of that knowledge with others is the word of knowledge.” (MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary.)

It is vital to see that the word of knowledge is dependent upon reading God’s Word and seeking Him to show us precious truths from His Word.  Knowledge of the Lord comes from the Word of God. 

  • We read in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 
  • We read in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
  • We read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

If we are given the gift of the ‘word of knowledge’ (in this secondary sense), it requires time in God’s Word in dependence upon God’s Spirit to teach us His truths and to lead us in the proper path. Psalm 119:105 instructs us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  (CC)  (517.6)