Click to Change

Return to Top

Return to Top

Printer Icon


Prior Section Next Section Back to Commentaries Author Bio & Contents
The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part Two)

Don Stewart :: What Is the Gift of the Word of Wisdom?

toggle collapse
Choose a new font size and typeface

What Is the Gift of the Word of Wisdom?

The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part Two) – Question 20

Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge for the correct purpose. All Christians are to ask God for wisdom on how to live. James wrote the following words.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5 NKJV).

Note that if we ask for wisdom, then the Lord has promised to give it to us.

In the same manner, Jesus promised wisdom for believers. Luke records Him saying.

For I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict (Luke 21:15 NRSV).

God has promised that believers can receive special wisdom.

There Is a Special Gift of Wisdom

However, the Bible speaks of the gift of the word of wisdom. Paul wrote the following about this gift to the Corinthians. He said

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8 NKJV).

Interestingly, this gift of wisdom stands first in a list of spiritual gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. Therefore it seems to be an extremely important gift. However, this is the only place in Scripture where the gift is listed.

There Is a Difference of Opinion as to the Meaning and Purpose of the Gift

Bible-believers differ on the exact nature of the gift of the word of wisdom. Some believe it was a temporary gift given to believers to receive and understand divine revelation. Others do not believe that this was the sole purpose of the gift.

It Is Different than the Word of Knowledge

This is different from the gift of the word of knowledge. The word of knowledge is the supernatural understanding of some type of truth while the word of wisdom uses knowledge for its proper end: the furtherance of God’s kingdom.

The Word of Wisdom Is Not Human Genius

The gift of the word of wisdom transcends any human genius, or insight. It is a supernatural gift of God that only the Holy Spirit can impart. Paul made it clear that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.

He wrote the following to the Corinthians.

So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all who believe. God’s way seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven to prove it is true. And it is foolish to the Greeks because they believe only what agrees with their own wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God. This “foolish” plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength (1 Corinthians 1:20-25 NLT).

God’s wisdom is not the same as the wisdom of the world.

The Word of Wisdom Can Be Applied in Various Ways

The gift of the word of wisdom can be applied in the following ways.

The Word of Wisdom Can Manifest Itself through Persecution

The Holy Spirit may grant the believer the word of wisdom when answering persecutors. Jesus promised this.

And you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matthew 10:18-20 ESV).

The Book of Acts gives examples of God providing wisdom to His people under these circumstances. The gift was manifested in Peter and John as they spoke before the rulers and teachers in Jerusalem.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus (Acts 4:13 NRSV).

It was shown when Stephen confronted the religious leaders:

But they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke (Acts 6:10 NIV).

A valuable lesson is learned from this episode. Even though a person speaks the supernatural wisdom of God there is no guarantee that people will listen to it. The crowd murdered Stephen.

The Word of Wisdom Is Used in Defending the Faith

The word of wisdom can also be given to those defending the faith among unbelievers. We are all instructed to defend the faith.

But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15 ESV).

However, there are certain occasions when the word of wisdom is needed in answering unbeliever’s questions about Christianity.

We find that Jesus exercised this many times.

Then some of the scribes answered and said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.” But after that they dared not question Him anymore (Luke 20:39, 40 NKJV).

The Apostle Paul exercised this gift:

Then he entered the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, engaging in discussion and trying to persuade them about the things related to the kingdom of God (Acts 19:8 HCSB).

Special wisdom was given when the faith was defended.

The Word of Wisdom Is Used in Problem Solving

The word of wisdom can also be used in solving difficult problems. When the apostles were distracted from preaching the gospel because of business matters they chose certain believers to help them as administrators.

Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty (Acts 6:3 ESV).

One of the requirements was wisdom, which was used in solving problems in the church.

The Word of Wisdom Can Be Used in Dealing with Unbelievers

Wisdom is also needed in dealing with those outside of the church. Paul wrote the following to the Colossians.

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time (Colossians 4:5 NRSV).

Believers are to act wisely toward unbelievers.

The Word of Wisdom Can Be Used in Everyday Living

This gift can be used in everyday living situations. When problems arise we are told to ask for wisdom. James wrote.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:5 NIV).

James also wrote.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom (James 3:13 NKJV).

James then concluded.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (James 3:17 ESV).

Thus, God will grant us wisdom on how to live a consistent life, glorifying Him.

The Word of Wisdom Can Be Used in Interpreting God’s Truth

Wisdom is also needed to understand some of the things that God has revealed.

This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six (Revelation 13:18 NRSV).

We also read in the Book of Revelation.

And now understand this: The seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills of the city where this woman rules. They also represent seven kings (Revelation 17:9 NLT)

Scripture encourages the believer to exercise wisdom.

There Is Skill Needed in Imparting God’s Truth

Wisdom should be used in imparting the truth of God.

So everywhere we go, we tell everyone about Christ. We warn them and teach them with all the wisdom God has given us, for we want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ (Colossians 1:28 NLT).

God’s truth needs to be imparted skillfully.

All Wisdom Can Be Found in Jesus

All wisdom can be found in Jesus Christ. Paul said that all treasures of wisdom are found in the person of Jesus Christ.

In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. (Colossians 2:3 HCSB)

Jesus was known for His wisdom. Indeed, Matthew writes about the response Jesus received when He came back to His hometown of Nazareth.

Jesus went to his hometown and taught the people in the synagogue in a way that amazed them. People were asking, “Where did this man get this wisdom and the power to do these miracles?” (Matthew 13:54 God’s Word).

They recognized Jesus had unique wisdom.

Jesus Christ Had the Gift in the Supreme Way

Jesus possessed this gift in a supreme way. When the religious leaders attempted to trick Him by their questions His wisdom left them speechless.

And as he said this, all his opponents were being humiliated; and the entire multitude was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him (Luke 13:17 NASB).

Luke also wrote.

And they could make no reply to this (Luke 14:6 NASB).

They could not respond to the wisdom of Jesus.

Some Believe the Gift Is No Longer Available

There are some Christians who teach that the gift of the word of wisdom is no longer available. They believe the gift was one of the foundational gifts that God gave to the church. It was characteristic of those who were apostles and prophets. The gift is understood as involving receiving and understanding, direct revelation from God and then presenting it to the people. Since God is no longer giving direct revelation to His people, this gift is no longer available.

Summary – Question 20
What Is the Gift of the Word of Wisdom?

Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. The gift of the word of wisdom is the application of knowledge. While all Christians are commanded to ask God for wisdom there is a special gift of wisdom that God gives to certain of His people. Jesus Christ possessed this gift in a supreme way.

Some Christians link this spiritual gift of the word of wisdom exclusively with the apostles and prophets. Consequently they believe the gift no longer operates.

Others disagree that this was the main purpose of the gift. Instead, they believe that the Lord is still imparting it today to certain believers.

The Bible says that wisdom can be exercised through persecution, defending the faith, problem solving, dealing with unbelievers, everyday living, interpreting God’s truth, and imparting God’s truth.

All wisdom is found in Jesus. He is the one who exercised wisdom in the supreme way. We are to always follow His example.

What Is the Gift of the Word of Knowledge? ← Prior Section
What Are the Tests for Assessing Any Present-Day Claims of Miracles? Next Section →
BLB Searches
Search the Bible

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval

Daily Devotionals

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.