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The Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Explained

What are all the gifts of the Holy Spirit?


The word “gift” is used in different contexts, and as such, there are at least nine words that have been translated as “gift” in the English Bible.

In the context of gifts of the Holy Spirit, the word used is Charisma khar’-is-mah (Strong’s Greek Number 5486).

This word appears 15 times in the King James translation, and twice of these times, it appears as a “free gift.” Charisma refers to grace that has been made effective, specific, definite, and available in the life of a believer. 

According to Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians 12, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are:

  1. Word of Wisdom
  2. Word of knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Gifts of healing
  5. Working of miracles
  6. Prophecy
  7. Discerning of spirits
  8. Different kinds of tongues
  9. Interpretation of tongues

The gifts of the Holy Spirit (as outlined in the scripture above) can be classified into three broad categories, namely, Power Gifts, Revelation Gifts, and Vocal gifts.What are all the gifts of the Holy Spirit

The table below summarises the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit according to these broad categories.

Power Gifts Revelation Gifts Vocal Gifts
Word of Wisdom Faith  Prophecy
Word of Knowledge Working of miracles Different kinds of  tongues
Discernment of spirits Gifts of healing Interpretation of tongues

Let us take a closer look at each of these gifts in more detail below. 

The Word of Wisdomwhat are the 7 spiritual gifts

The word of wisdom should not be confused with the word of knowledge because they are different gifts.

The reason wisdom and knowledge are often confused is that the two are interdependent.

Solomon offers some insight that can help us understand this interdependence when he says:

The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly (Proverbs 15:2). This implies that when you have wisdom, you will know how to apply wisdom. While knowledge is informative, wisdom is more directive. The goal of wisdom is to provide direction.

In the words of scripture, wisdom is profitable to direct (Ecclesiastes 10:10). 

The best way to understand this gift is by looking at some examples from scripture.

The first example is found in Acts 13.

Some prophets and teachers of the word had gathered in Antioch, where they were in prayer and fasting. As they continued to seek God, a word of knowledge came to them.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2

This was divine wisdom because it came directly from God. As such, they laid hands on the two, and the Ministry of Saul and Barnabas to the Gentiles was kickstarted. 

Another illustration of the word of wisdom is in the book of Acts 15, when the church faced a very complex problem.

The church was at the crossroads because the Jewish Christians were demanding that the gentile converts be circumcised, and that resulted in conflict. But right amid that confusion, Paul spoke a word of wisdom in the following verses;

It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood. Acts 15:19-20

The Word of Knowledgegifts of the holy spirit explained

The word of Knowledge should not be confused with intellectual knowledge. It is a gift of the spirit and, therefore, supernatural knowledge.

Intellectual knowledge comes through study, but the word of knowledge comes from the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

This gift often works hand in hand with the word of wisdom because knowledge presents the facts, but wisdom tells us what to do with the facts. 

One of the most dramatic examples of the word of knowledge is found in the book of Acts 5:1-11.

It is the story of how Ananias and his wife Sapphira pledged to sell their land and give all the proceeds to God. However, the couple conspired to hide some of the money because they figured the apostles wouldn’t know how much they sold the land for.

However, the holy spirit revealed to Peter the amount they sold the land for, and he confronted them about it. Instead of coming clean, they tried to cover up through lying, and that resulted in their deaths. 

Another example is found in the book of John when Jesus met Nathaniel for the first time. Philip had told him about Jesus, but Nathaniel wouldn’t believe it. His response had been, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” However, Philip convinced him to come and see for himself. When he came near Jesus, he was greeted with a ranter strange salutation;

“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”

Philip was perplexed.

How could Jesus know that about him, and yet they had never met? And Jesus shocked him even more by telling him that he saw him while he was seated under the fig tree.

What Nathaniel didn’t understand was that Jesus was operating under the gift of the word of knowledge. 

Faithseven gifts of the holy spirit catholic

Every Christian was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, every Christian has a “measure of faith.” However, some have a special kind of faith. They can believe in God for things that are beyond human comprehension.

These people have the gift of faith. 

The Bible is replete with examples of men and women who demonstrated the gift of faith.

They had unquestionable belief in God’s promises, presence, and power.

As a result of their faith, these servants of God did heroic deeds that are still a source of encouragement to the church today. 

The Bible dedicates an entire chapter  (Hebrews 11) to document some of the men and women who had the gift of faith.

Even though it is not a comprehensive list, it does a good job of listing some of the notable men and women of faith (who lived in Old Testament times). Here are some examples:

  • Noah demonstrated faith by building the ark and thereby saving humanity;
  • Abraham demonstrated faith by believing God’s promise and leaving his country;
  • Joshua demonstrated faith by leading the march around Jericho;
  • Moses demonstrated faith by leaving the comfort of the palace to follow God’s call in the wilderness, etc.

Gifts of healingspiety gift of the holy spirit

When prophet Isaiah spoke about the coming Messiah, he said that one of the benefits of his crucifixion was that healing would be provided for the church (Isaiah 53:5).

When Jesus came, his ministry was punctuated with gifts of healing. And after he ascended back to his father in heaven, he released the gifts of healing in the church. 

The gift of healing is demonstrated when a sick person is supernaturally restored to health.

Paul calls it “gifts of healing” to illustrate that there are different kinds of healing. For instance, the Bible says:

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. Acts 10:38

This verse insinuates that Jesus not only healed those who were sick but also those who were demon-possessed. So, we can say that Jesus had the gift of healing. 

Working of miracleswhat is the gift of the holy spirit

The gift of working of miracles is mentioned thrice in 1 Corinthians 12 (Verses 10, 28, and 29). This gift refers to a supernatural ability.

By definition, this gift is a supernatural power to perform miraculous deeds. A miraculous deed is anything that would appear to be impossible humanly speaking. 

The Greek word that is translated as miracle is the word dunamis. This word means “power, potential, or ability.” However, in this context, it means “power, potential or ability for the miraculous.”

A miracle is supernatural, which means it is beyond the natural. In other words, a mighty deed (miracle) cannot be explained naturally. 

For instance, in Mathew 8:23-25, Jesus was crossing the lake with his disciples when they were hit by a bad storm. The disciples were terrified, and so they woke him up (he had been sleeping as if unbothered by the storm).

When he arose, he rebuked the winds, and suddenly, there was a great calm. Just like all other miracles recorded in the Bible, this goes against natural logic or natural laws – because miracles are supernatural. 

The gift of miracles is given to the church to build the faith of the believers. But miracles are also given as a witness to non-believers. When non-believers see God’s power in action, they are easily drawn to God.

For instance, when Paul and Silas sang while jailed until there was an earthquake that broke the shackles of all prisoners, the jailers asked;

“sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Paul and Silas then led them with their entire households to the Lord. 

Gift of Prophecygifts of the spirit explained

The gift of prophecy is the most popular of all the 9 gifts because it is mentioned more.

Some of the scriptures where this gift is mentioned include Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:28, 29; 13:1-3, 8; 14:6, and Ephesians 4:11.

The gift of prophecy can be defined as the unique or divine ability to speak God’s message.

This is because a prophet is defined as God’s spokesman. His role is to speak the message of God to God’s people.

As such, a prophetic message can be delivered to an individual, a group of people, a church, a society, or a nation.

Even though prophetic utterances are often thought of as predicting the future, the more accurate definition is proclaiming God’s word to his people – which is not always about the future.

The gift of prophecy was regarded as one of the most important gifts in the early church.

We know this because whenever the gifts were listed, it was often listed very close to the top. For instance, when Paul is talking about the fivefold ministry, he lists prophets as second after apostles.

But an even more interesting observation is when Paul encourages the church to desire the gift of prophecy more than the rest.

Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1).

We can safely infer that this gift was highly regarded because it has to do with proclaiming God’s word and as the Psalmist recorded, God has exalted his word above his name (Psalms 138:1). 

Discerning of spiritsexplain the gifts of the holy spirit

The gift of discernment of spirits is also referred to as distinguishing of spirits.

Even though the gift is only mentioned once, it is an important gift because it helps to distinguish between the godly and the ungodly.

The Bible repeatedly warns us about the false prophets that are in the word. Paul also mentions that the devil often masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). 

Apostle John encourages us to test every spirit.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out. 1 John 4:1

The only way to test the spirits is by the gift of discernment. When the gift of discerning spirits is in operation, the church will not be led into deception. 

Different kinds of tonguescounsel gift of the holy spirit

The gift of speaking in tongues is probably the most controversial of the 9 gifts.

Some believe this gift was only for the early church and should not be practiced. But even those who believe in it do not agree on how it should be exercised.

For instance, some believe speaking in tongues shouldn’t happen in congregational worship but should be restricted to closeted prayer.

Others believe that speaking in tongues should be encouraged in the congregation. 

There are two types of tongues – the tongues of men and the tongues of angels. The tongues of men refer to actual human languages. When this gift is in operation, people can supernaturally speak a language they have never learned or even heard before.

This is what happened on the day of Pentecost when the different language groups present heard the disciples speaking their native languages (Acts 2:7).

The tongues of angels, on the other hand, refer to a special prayer language that cannot be understood by any human.

Paul reckoned that when you speak in this language, you are speaking mysteries to God (1 Cor. 14:2). It is also worth noting that the Bible says not to forbid speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39)

Interpretation of tongues7 gifts of the spirit

The gift of interpreting tongues came in handy when tongues were spoken in a worship service.

Because those hearing could not comprehend what the speaker was saying, it was important for an interpretation to be given.

Just like one can supernaturally speak in a new language, the one that has the gift of the interpretation of tongues can also interpret those tongues into a language that can be understood.

This is true for both the tongues of men as well as tongues of angels. 

During the day of Pentecost, the tongues spoken were heard by those present because the believers were speaking in their native languages. Even though they could interpret, this does not pass as an example of interpreting tongues.

That’s because they used their natural knowledge. However, the gift of interpreting tongues is supernatural, and the person who flows in the gift is one who doesn’t know the language. That is what makes it a supernatural gift of the spirit. 

Takeawaygift of the holy spirit

In conclusion, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were given to the church for the edification of the body.

Every Christian should aspire to get at least one of the gifts because the Holy Spirit freely gives these gifts to the one who desires them.

In the words of scripture, he will give good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew 7:11).


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