But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit…to another prophecy. 1 Cor. 12:7,10
Here we see three different gifts or charisma of the Holy Spirit. Root word is charizomai which means give or forgive as well as to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favor to, gratify. The other word is charis which is the word grace which means that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech.
From what I’ve seen in the body of Christ is confusion or misinterpretation of these three gifts: Knowledge, Wisdom, and Prophecy. I would add interpretation of tongues but I’ve rarely heard corporate tongues and interpretation of tongues in Church. It may be a more Pentecostal thing but not so much so in Charismatic churches. Also discerning of spirits could be thrown in the mix too but I’ll focus on the three. On a side note, I would love to bring attention to the fact that the Apostle Paul saw that the gifts were being abused or misinterpreted and wrote this passage in the epistle to teach the Church…the Church and not the apostles. So in other words, the gifts weren’t given to prove the Apostles office or the confirm the canon or whatever opinion some believe. The gifts were given for the common good of the Church as a whole. Especially considering 1 Corinthians 14:5 which indicate Paul wanted the Church as a whole to speak in tongues and prophesy even more. And yes there are different tongues, not really different but tongues as a whole has different applications but that may be for another blog.
In my opinion based on what I’ve learned and been taught, is that the gift of knowledge tends to be more diagnostic or it gives a diagnosis which means the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms. Word of knowledge coincides with the fruit of joy. Knowledge in Greek is gnōsis which means knowledge signifies in general intelligence, understanding. So God gives a word of knowledge, then what do we do? Immediately deliver it? Yes and no. While I firmly believe in the saying, “deliver the mail don’t interpret it,” there are times when we should sit back with this diagnostic word of knowledge and ask God to show us what to do with it. Let Him direct you with the word without you trying to understand the word. He may say to release it. For instance, I don’t remember who it was, a speaker got a word of knowledge and it was simply “macaroni & cheese.” ??? Really? So this person just spoke it out in faith without reading it and “macaroni & cheese” meant the world to an individual in the seats. This woman was praying for someone’s salvation or something like that and the person being prayed for drove a Kraft Macaroni & Cheese truck. This was the confirmation that woman needed to encourage her. More on confirmation later. But on the other side I recall a story from Graham Cooke where a man came up for prayer and Graham immediately saw a spirit of lust all over the man (this knowledge came from discerning of spirit mixed with word of knowledge). Graham didn’t release it but stepped back into his spirit and asked God what to do. In this instance releasing it could have cause a lot of damage, heartache, etc. What did God say? To proclaim the opposite (which would be prophecy) and to release what was needed to set the man free. Graham released something like this, “I see an incredible amount of purity coming upon your life. I see you loving you wife and cherishing her.” The man broke down in tears…beautiful healing and life-giving tears. There are some who probably would have said, “Thus saith the Lord God Almighty. You have lust all over you and you will burn for it unless you repent.” Not really life-giving nor seasoned with salt. Again God may have you say something like this to the person not using a microphone, “God showed me a spirit of lust operating in your life. You need to stop it otherwise your life will be in shambles. God is not into public shaming but public redeeming! They only public shaming Jesus did was against religion and the religious structure that promoted public shaming. So we receive a word of knowledge and step back into our spirit and ask God what to do with it. Next will come either a word of wisdom or the gift of prophecy may manifest.
The gift of prophecy is probably the most controversial amongst the three. The gift of prophecy coincides with the fruit of goodness. Prophecy in Greek is prophēteia which means a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events. Most people when you say the word “prophecy” they only think of prophecy in the Scripture foretelling Christ or other events. But of course in New Testament there is both as we see in many epistle, gospels, and the book of acts. We also see prophecy in regards to day-to-day things like in Acts 21:11 which says,
And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Funny thing is the word of knowledge/prophecy pointed to a negative thing but the recipient, Paul, knew full well what would happen and accepted it. Almost like another confirmation for Paul. Personal prophecy is a beautiful thing. Truly beautiful. I call personal prophecy in a meeting a “public honoring.” God points you out and highlights you. He confirms in open what He has spoken to you in private. Beautiful! I love personal prophecy. It is a great thing. I would also like to note that personal prophecy is, generally speaking, conditional. 1 Corinthians 14:29 says
But let two or three Prophets speak and the others discern.
Even a large amount of Old Testament prophecy was conditional in regards to current day-to-day things. Do this and that will happen. Do this and that won’t happen. Some get a prophetic word and run with it. Some rely on prophetic words to know what to do. Both are imbalanced in my opinion. Yet some get a prophetic word that makes no sense and they toss it out which is also not a good thing to do. You won’t lose your calling or destiny by throwing out a word that doesn’t make sense but it may cause delay because there was a nugget in there you needed to get to the next step. There are some who have receive prophetic words 5-30 or more years ago that are just now coming to fruition. Personal prophecy is personal promise with conditional and relational involvement. When Scripture says we are co-laborers then we are co…laborers. We are saved by grace through faith yes, but our growth is determined by our plow.
So the gift of prophecy provides an expected end or expected signpost. A glimpse into the future you and the future space around you. I love Graham Cooke’s teaching “Bringing the future into today” which basically means you take your prophetic word and see the character that is needed to walk in it and start acting in that character now. Prophecy speaks the potential and possibilities. It will provide a future and a hope. It can also provided the prognosis of the diagnosis. Prognosis means a forecast of the likely outcome of a situation. I said it before, “do this and that will happen.” So what happens from word of knowledge to prophecy….?
A word of wisdom. This coincides with love. Wisdom in Greek is sophia which means wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters and the intelligence evinced in discovering the meaning of some mysterious number or vision. When I think of the word of wisdom I think of how to get from point A to point B and possible pitfalls in the middle. You get a word of knowledge to diagnose something then receive the prognosis by prophecy but now you need a word of wisdom in order to walk through it all. The word of wisdom can give you a course of action. The remedy for a situation. Supernatural wisdom they may defy logical action. Jesus told different people different things in order to get healed. He didn’t just say you have “this” or you have “that” but said go wash over here or here is some mud…put that in your eyes to help you see. I would say a lot of dream interpretation comes from the word of wisdom as well or even dreams are a word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and/or prophecy. Words of wisdom offer the prescription to get you from the word of knowledge to the prophecy.
I do hope this all makes some sort of sense. Biggest issue I have is getting what is jostling in my brain into something coherent. The illustrations I used hopefully explained the differences and similarities of the three gifts. Three manifestations or diversities of gifts but the same Spirit work in all. There can be much more taught, discussed, and experienced with these three gifts. Let all be done decently and in order, thinking of others before ourselves or platforms. Regarding one another more highly than ourselves. The fruit is always the foundation for the gifts.
Be blessed this Resurrection Sunday for without the resurrection we would still be in our sins and new life wouldn’t be possible. Check out my blog from last year about Great Friday!