The Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Different (or diversities) of Gifts given by the Holy Spirit -1 Corinthians 12:8-11

In this study we are going to look at the first category i.e. Diversities or different kinds of gifts as given by the Holy Spirit. These nine gifts of Holy Spirit are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. As a Christian you can ask God for these gifts to manifest in your life. Remember that the Holy Spirit gives these gifts to us as He chooses (verse 11).

The nine gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 are...

1) The word of wisdom

2) The word of knowledge

3) Faith

4) Gifts of healings

5) Working of miracles

6) Prophecy

7) Discerning of spirits

8) Different kinds of tongues

9) Interpretation of tongues.

Every Child of God who has been baptized with the Holy Spirit may know and experience the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:1
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant".

Ignorance comes through a lack of knowledge and if we don't know about these gifts, how will we be able to desire and experience these gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:31
"But covet earnestly the best gifts"

Here the Greek word for gifts is "Charismata" and means "gifts of grace".

These nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are given and ministered by the grace of God and cannot be earned:

1 Corinthians 12:8-10
VS..8 "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;"

VS..9 "To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;"

VS..10 "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:"

There are nine gifts that are divided into three categories:

Three revelation gifts.

A. Word of Wisdom
B. Word of Knowledge
C. Discerning of spirits

Three power gifts.

A. Faith
B. Gifts of healing
C. Working of miracles

Three vocal gifts.

A. Prophecy
B. Divers kinds of tongues
C. Interpretation of tongues

Every Child of God may receive a gift of the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 4:10
"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."

Paul had the desire to impart to all believers a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 1:11
"For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established"

"We receive these gifts according to the measure of Gods grace toward us."

Romans 12:6
"Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us."

Every child of God is a candidate to receive a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is important that we do not neglect using the gift that the Holy Spirit imparts to us.

1 Timothy 4:14
"Neglect not the gift that is in thee."
We should never let this gift lay dormant and unused in our lives.

2 Timothy 1:6
"Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands."

The gift that is within us will be manifested and shown through us.

1 Corinthians 12:7
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal."

The invisible person of the Holy Spirit manifests himself through the operation of these gifts. Through us, He demonstrates His personality, will and purpose.

1 Corinthians 2:4
"And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:"

What is the purpose of these nine Gifts?

Through the nine gifts, the Holy Spirit meets the different kinds of needs of people:

1) The Word of Wisdom.
There is a significant difference between a Word of Wisdom and a Word of Knowledge.

A Word of Wisdom is directive and by that we mean that it gives direction.
Ecclesiastes 10:10
"But wisdom is profitable to direct."

Wisdom points or directs to knowledge and it uses that knowledge accurately and effectively. Knowledge is therefore information. Wisdom is the effective use of that information.
Proverbs 15:2
"The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright:"

A word of Wisdom is a tiny fragment and portion of Gods immeasurable wisdom given at a specific time, for a specific situation. By using this gift, the Holy Spirit supernaturally effects people, situations and things and brings about His desires and purposes.

Here are examples of the use of this gift.
In the Old Testament King Solomon used this gift in
1 Kings 3:16-28.

In the New Testament, a word of wisdom by Paul brought confusion to the counsel of those apposing him and seeking his death.

Acts 23:6
"But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question."

2) A Word of Knowledge.
The Holy Spirit is omniscient. He knows everything.
A word of Knowledge is a tiny portion of God's Knowledge supernaturally imparted by the Holy Spirit through man. It is Divine information imparted by God for a specific time and purpose. This knowledge is spoken out in words to people, to help them.

It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit gives all these gifts and He alone allows them to operate as He wills.

Secondly, it is helpful to know that, two, three or even more of the gifts can operate through us at the same time. In practise it is sometimes hard to determine how many of the gifts are actually operating.

We shall look at the operation of the gifts in their simplest state. To make this easy they have been divided into three groups

Revelation Gifts - Word of wisdom, word of knowledge and discerning of spirits.

Power gifts - Gifts of healings. Working of miracles and faith.

Vocal gifts - Prophecy, different kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues.

The above groups are for ease of explanation only. Other people might classify them differently. The nine gifts however are always the same.

Revelation gifts

All these gifts reveal (bring to light) something. The Holy Spirit gives you a supernatural insight into something that you could not have known naturally.

a) Word of wisdom. (Or message of wisdom) This gift operates by the Holy Spirit granting you a bit of prudence or understanding (or direction) about what to do in a given situation.

An example in the bible is found in 1 King 17:8-16

God had made provision for the widow to provide for Elijah (verse 9). The widow did not know this (verse 12). Elijah by a Word of wisdom told the widow exactly what to do (verse 13-14) and they were all provided for. Without the Word of wisdom, and indeed the subsequent miracle, they all would have starved.

Another example of a word of wisdom is found in 2 King 6: 1-7

Elisha knew exactly what to do to recover the lost axe head. A word of wisdom always gives us direction about what to do in a given situation. A word of wisdom is often accompanied by a word of knowledge, miracle or even another gift.

Jesus had the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34) and therefore was able to walk continuously in divine wisdom. We can see Jesus having a word of wisdom in the incident of the women caught in adultery (John 8:1-12) and during the tax issue (Matt 22:15-22) Try to identify them?

Word of knowledge

This is also called a message of knowledge (NIV) This is a gift of supernatural information that is not available to you naturally.

An example in the bible is found in 2 King 6:8-12

Each time the king of Syria made a plot against Israel, the Holy Spirit revealed the information to Elisha who in turned warned the King of Israel. You can see why the king of Syria was perplexed. He thought he had a spy in his mist.

Another example is found in 1 Samuel 9:1-27

The Holy Spirit gave Samuel information supernaturally about the whereabouts of Saul's ass.

Jesus used a word of knowledge when talking to the Samaritan women (John 4:1-26). The Holy Spirit revealed to him information about her married life (verse 18). You can see how useful the word of knowledge would be in a counselling situation.

Jesus also used a word of knowledge to get the donkey he rode into Jerusalem (Matt 21: 1-9) How else did he know the donkey was there? Can you also detect the word of wisdom?

Discerning of Spirits

The main difference between this and the word of knowledge is that the discerning of spirit is limited to supernatural information of the spirit world. With the gift of discerning of spirits you can perceive or even see which type of spirit (either good or evil ) is operating in a certain situation.

An example is found in. 2 King 6 : 13-18

Elisha's servant's eyes were opened and he discerned the angels around. In (Acts 16:1-24) Paul discerned that the girl following him saying "good things" was actually being used by an evil spirit. We also see Jesus discerning what spirits were in operation in some of the people he healed (Mark 9: 14-29). Notice how Jesus was able to call the demons by name when casting them out.

Since all sickness is not due to demons the gift of discerning of spirits can come in very useful when praying for the sick.

Power gifts

All these gifts enable us to get things done supernaturally.

A)...Gifts of healings

This gift is easy to explain. It is the gift of supernatural healing (of disease or ailment) without any natural (or medical) assistance.

We see Peter and John use the gift of healing at the gate to the temple. Acts 3:1-9

Jesus healed numerous people during his life Matthew. 8:14-17, Matthew 15:29-31

The gifts of healings are very useful in evangelistic meetings. When people see the love of God demonstrated with people getting healed it draws them closer to him.

B)...Working of miracles

This is a supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit's power to change or alter natural events or circumstances.

Moses did ten miracles in Exodus 7 to Exodus 12. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea in Exodus 12, this again was another miracle. Joshua commanded the sun to stand still (Joshua 10)

Jesus fed 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21) and again 4,000 (Matthew 15:32-39) He also raised dead people and walked on the sea. These were also miracles.


This is supernatural faith that the Holy Spirit gives us. The gift of faith comes into operation where our own faith stops or reaches its limit. However, since the Holy Spirit gives us these gifts he can grant us the gift of faith at any time.

The gift of faith gives us great faith, which enables us to receive whatever is needed from God. We can see the gift of faith in operation at a certain moment in Daniel's life.

Daniel 6:16-23... Daniel was cast into the lion's den. Daniel neither resisted being thrown into the den nor did he worry. That was supernatural faith in action. The lion's mouths were stopped.

Jesus always walked in faith and it would be hard to differentiate between his own faith and the gift of faith.

I believe one example is found in

Luke 4:27-30... Here the people attempted to push Jesus over the hill top. Notice how He escaped? Those people were rendered powerless to stop Jesus from walking away. Miracles are usually present when the gift of faith is in operation.

Vocal gifts.

All these gifts give us supernatural utterance. These gifts make use of our tongue.

Gift of prophecy.

This is hearing what God is saying and declaring it. Prophecy is for edification (building us up) exhortation and comfort.

The word of God is prophecy. God can give you part of a scripture as prophecy to someone. Prophecy is simply hearing what God is saying at any particular time and declaring or proclaiming it. Our preaching or even singing could be prophecy when we are hearing and saying what the Holy Spirit leads us to say. When the anointing of God comes on us it sometimes causes us to prophesy

We see examples in Numbers 11:16-30, 1 King 22:1-28, Acts 21:9-14

Here we see people speaking as the Holy Spirit gives them utterance. When we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, He can also lead us to prophesy. This gift should be more common during our prayer times.

Different kinds of tongues.

This is the Holy Spirit giving us the supernatural ability to speak in new tongues we have not learnt naturally. It could be tongues of another nation or even tongues of angels 1 Corinthians 13:1

Examples in the scripture are in...

Mark 16:17, Acts 2:3-11, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-10 Speaking in other tongues helps our prayer life tremendously. Paul, who wrote most of the new testament spoke in tongues a lot 1 Corinthians 14:18 Jesus said these signs would follow them who believe in him, they would speak with new tongues. Mark 16:17

Speaking in tongues is a gift which is associated with the new testament believer

Praying with our understanding means praying in a known (often mother) tongue. Praying with the Holy Spirit means praying in tongues unknown to us but given by the Holy Spirit. The scripture encourages us to do both. 1 Corinthians 14:13-15.

Praying with the Holy Spirit helps us to pray about those things we do not clearly understand. However, because the Holy Spirit knows everything He can pray through us in tongues more accurately Romans 8:26-28

Praying with the Holy Spirit also builds us up spiritually. It keeps us in God's love. To build ourselves up spiritually we need to spend more time praying in the Holy Spirit. Jude 20-21

Interpretation of tongues.

This gift speaks for itself. When we pray in tongues we can ask God to give us the interpretation (1 Cor. 14:13).

Because praying in tongues is praying with the Holy Spirit, when we interpret our tongues we are actually speaking the mind of God, this is the same as prophecy.

The Ministry gifts

There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 1 Corinthians 12:5

Jesus has called every member of the body of Christ to serve him in one way or another. Some of us are called into one (or more) of the five fold ministries.

Whereas the gifts of the Holy Spirit are supernatural abilities given to us by the Holy Spirit as he wills, on the other hand, the ministry gifts are individuals that Jesus has called and equipped to be a gift to the body of Christ.

In order to fulfill the ministry Jesus has called us into we will need to allow the Holy Spirit to work not only through us but also in us. Joseph (Genesis 37 - 41) and Moses ( Exodus 1- 7) are examples of two people called into the ministry. Notice how God touched and prepared them beforehand.

Not only do we need a good understanding of the Word of God, but our life and character also have to be modelled by God's word if we are to be effective ministers for him.

Jesus calls us into the ministry. It is his choice not ours. You don't choose to be an Apostle (or any other ministry) it all depends on what the Lord wants you to be. Remember he made you and he alone knows best what you can do. Romans 1:1, 1Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1

Ministry means service. This means serving as the Lord intends and not as you desire. Being called to be a pastor does not necessary mean starting a church. You might be called to work along side with someone. Its not the title that matters but the service. You can be part of a church, pastoring people, but not the leader of the church. 2 Timothy 4:11

You have to be faithful to the Lord if you are to serve effectively in your ministry. This means being faithful in small things. This is how ministry starts. 1 Timothy 1:12

You have to work at the ministry 2 Timothy 4:5, 1 Timothy 4:11-16 This means spending time in studying the Word, prayer and waiting on the Lord. You can manifest a gift of the Holy Spirit with no effort on your part (Acts 19:6), but if your life is going to be of service to other believers you will need to get rooted in the Word and faith. Ministry is giving people out of what you have received from the Lord.

Notice what Paul said to Timothy 2 Timothy 2:14-16 Also observe how Paul himself studied and waited on the Lord before entering his ministry Galatians 1:15-18

We need to learn from other believers in the faith. Paul conferred with Peter. We need to learn from other people of God, but we also need to let Jesus teach us through his Holy Spirit. Afterall, his the one calling us into the ministry

Be aware of people who are helpful to your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:11, Philippians 2:25 God will direct people along to you who will encourage and support the work of ministry. People like this are very essential if you are to succeed. They will be people who share your vision and commitment to Christ. They will respect you and pray for you.

The Ministry Gifts

Ephesians 4:11 Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers

Firstly we should recognise how these gifts came about (Ephesians 4:8-10). Jesus by his death and resurrection gave these gifts to us. He alone can call a person into this ministry. We do not choose what we want to be. Jesus chooses us.


These are the sent ones. An Apostle is the combination of all of the other ministry gifts. They are anointed to plant, establish and build up the body of Christ. They are pioneers. All the disciples of Jesus were apostles Matt 10:2, Acts 2:42. Paul was also called to be an apostle 1 Timothy 1:1

When Jesus calls a person into the ministry, the person has the responsibility to become grounded in the word and faith to fulfil that call. Notice that the disciples of Jesus were called Apostles right from the start Matthew 10: 1-2. One of them, Judas, never made it. He did not fulfil his part of the ministry Acts 1:15-17

Jesus does not change his mind. When he calls a person into the ministry it is a permanent offer. We might not respond to the offer immediately, or even try to run away from it or only be partially committed and therefore not fulfill it. But Jesus' calling on our life will always remain.

Romans 11:29


These are anointed to speak prophetically about the will of God. Prophets speak to the body of Christ as well as the unbelieving world. Being a Prophet is much more than just prophesying. It involves speaking the counsel of God in several ways. A prophet will preach, exhort and may even sing and pray to get the counsel of God across. No doubt the gifts of the Holy Spirit (especially the Word of Wisdom, Knowledge and prophecy) will constantly be in operation in his or her life.

A prophet is someone who is constantly hearing from heaven. By virtue of the demands of the ministry, a prophet will always have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading.

Examples of Prophets in the Bible are Acts 11:27-30
Acts 21:10-14

Remember that none of the ministry gifts should take our eyes off Jesus. Only Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:2

A prophet can tell you what God is saying at any particular time, but only the Holy Spirit can instruct you on what to do. Romans 8:14 - 17.

Prophets help us to hear from God and can even confirm what God has already told us. It is only a false Prophet that will attempt to play the role of God. Notice how the prophet Agabus was informing Paul of what was going to happen and not instructing him on what to Acts 21: 10-14.


These are anointed to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their ministry is clearly defined in Luke 4:18-19

Philip was an evangelist Acts 21:8

Take a look at his ministry Acts 8:4-13, 26-40

Timothy was also an evangelist 2 Timothy 4:5

It would be useful for you to read the whole of the book of Timothy to get the full picture of what Paul was telling Timothy about his ministry.

Sometimes we may not be very clear on what ministry we have been called into. The most important thing is that we are faithful in what we are doing. If we are not faithful in small things God will not commit greater things into our hands. As we grow more rooted and grounded in the faith the call of God upon our life will become more apparent.


Pastors takes care of the flock of God. Another word for Pastor is Shepherd. The work of a shepherd gives us a good understanding of the role of a Pastor

The tasks of a Near Eastern shepherd were:
- to watch for enemies trying to attack the sheep
- to defend the sheep from attackers
- to heal the wounded and sick sheep
- to find and save lost or trapped sheep
- to love them, sharing their lives and so earning their trust.
(courtesy Strong's Greek and Hebrew Lexicon)

The ministry of a pastor is a very demanding one. It requires the spiritual gifts as well as natural abilities. While all the other ministry gifts may simply visit the church and leave, the Pastor is always there. Just like parents have to deal with good children and disobedient children who do not want to learn or grow up so does a Pastor.

1 Peter 5:1-5 mentions the roles of Pastors

1 Timothy 5:17-21 also instructs us on how elders (and Pastors) should be treated by the flock.


These are anointed to explain and interpret the word of God. This has nothing to do with a natural ability. Paul was very well learned before his conversion but he understood nothing about God. Acts 7:58, Acts 22:1-10

To operate in any of the ministry gifts you must be anointed with the Holy Spirit. You cannot become a teacher (i.e. Ministry gift one) by simply studying loads of books or listening to other people teach. It is a calling.

Jesus was a teacher of the word and the people noticed the difference Matthew 13:53-55

A person called to teach will have to study the word of God a lot 2 Timothy 2:7

A teacher does not just repeat what another person have taught, but rather receives the word of God into his / her heart and then ministers to the hearts of other people.

The Holy Spirit is the main teacher. Someone called to the ministry of a teacher must learn to be taught by the Holy Spirit before being able to teach other people God's word . John 14:26

A teacher receives revelation of the word from the Holy Spirit and passes this on to the body of Christ.

All the Apostles were teachers of the word. As you read their epistles you will notice how they had a good understanding of the whole bible. A teacher must be well rooted in the whole bible.

Its important to remember that people called to be ministry gifts to the body of Christ are not the only people in the ministry. All of us can teach, evangelise, prophesy or pastor other Christians to a certain extend. The ministry gifts are simply people who have a greater anointing (than ours) to do a particular serve to the body of Christ. In other words, we should all be involved in ministry and not leave it to a few people.

The main role of the ministry gifts are....

To prepare God's people (all believers) for works of service, this will enable the body of Christ to grow and fulfil its task of spreading the gospel. Ephesians 4:12

To help the church reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, so that the body of Christ will become mature and be just like Jesus - full of power with signs and wonders following us. Ephesians 4:13

To stop us being spiritual babies. This will prevent the church being deceived by the lies and false teachings of satan. The church will then be able to stand firmly against the attacks of the evil one. Ephesians 4:14

To help us speak the truth in love. It is only when we learn to walk in love with one another that we will have true unity. Our doctrines won't bring unity, only love can. Ephesians 4:15

To help the body of Christ build herself up, so that each part (or individual) will play his or her role. The strength of the church lies in the fact that each of us must recognise our roles and fulfil them. Ephesians 4:16.

Service Gifts - Gifts of service.

"And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all" . 1 Corinthians 12:6

The gifts of service (or diversities of activities) mentioned in Roman 12:6-8 are various activities that all members of the body of Christ can fulfil. Many of these gifts are God given abilities which become gifts to the body of Christ as a result of the individual submitting to God.

The anointing of God upon our lives will enable us to use our abilities (or talents) for building up the church. They may not be spectacular in operation but they are very essential to the successful operation of any local church or fellowship.

The gifts of service have to be in constant operation if the church is to grow and successfully fulfil its ministry.

Gifts Of Service (or diversities of activities) Romans 12:6-7

Ministry (or service)
Exhorting (or encouraging)
Giving (contributing to people's need)
The adjustments.

Romans 12:1-3 mentions what we should do with our bodies and mind. Try to mention them ? It is important that we renew our minds with the word of God if we are to be of use in the church. We should not consider ourselves of more importance than others. The body of Christ's strength lies in its unity. All the activities we perform are essential and none are to be looked down upon. We should all be able to see where we fit in with regards to the gifts of service.

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