What are the manifestation spiritual gifts?
The gifts of the Holy Spirit equip the Church to express the fullness of God’s love to the world. Manifestation gifts are one “category” of spiritual gifts that are given to the Church to benefit both believers and unbelievers. These gifts represent the work God does through the life of a believer in a given situation to demonstrate His supernatural power.
Nine manifestation gifts are listed in I Corinthians 12:7–11:
- Word of wisdom
- Word of knowledge
- Gifts of healing
- Working of miracles
- Discerning of spirits
- Divers kinds of tongues
- Interpretation of tongues
After listing the manifestation gifts, the Apostle Paul added this critical statement: “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (I Corinthians 12:11). As you learn about the gifts, remember that the Spirit of God is the Source of these gifts, and they are manifested to bring God glory.
Some of these manifestation gifts are mentioned only once in the Bible and a thorough explanation of them is not given. On the other hand, several of these gifts are mentioned in numerous passages of the Bible and some are discussed at length.
To gain an understanding of the gifts, we must rely on a study of the terms (in context), an accurate interpretation of the Greek words used, and wisdom from the Spirit. (See John 14:26.) We will offer a summary of each of these gifts, define the Greek words used to record each gift, and present insights from Biblical scholars.
Word of Wisdom
This spiritual gift is mentioned in the Bible only once—in I Corinthians 12:8: “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom . . . .”
The Greek word translated as word is logos, which is defined in Strong’s Concordance as follows: “something said (including the thought): by implication a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive.” This Greek word is also translated elsewhere in the New Testaments as account, preaching, question, saying, speech, talk, utterance, work and tidings. The word wisdom is a translation of the Greek word sophia, whose definition is “wisdom.” A word of wisdom can be defined as a supernatural provision of divine wisdom or a right application of knowledge.
John Rea, author of The Layman’s Commentary on the Holy Spirit, offers these insights: “[Word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits] are given to Christians to enable them to know what to do or say in specific situations. Jesus manifested a word of wisdom when, to the Pharisees who were intent on trapping Him with their question about paying a tax to Caesar, He gave His famous reply: ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s’ (Matt. 22:21 NASB). He promised us similar wisdom for times of emergency, ‘for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say’ (Luke 12:12: NASB. . . .)” (Rea, page 138).
Arnold Bittlinger, in his book titled Gifts and Graces, explains: “In a difficult or dangerous situation, a word of wisdom may be given which resolves the difficulty or silences the opponent. It is not innate wisdom as a personal possession which is described here, but rather a word of wisdom given to someone in a specific situation” (Bittlinger, page 28). He points to several passages of Scripture as examples of the demonstration of the word of wisdom in action, including I Kings 3:16–28, Luke 20:20–26, Luke 13:7, Luke 14:6, and Luke 20:40.
Word of Knowledge
Here is another spiritual gift that is mentioned only once in the Bible, in I Corinthians 12:7, and no explanation of it is given within the verse.
The Greek word logos is once again translated here as word, and the Greek word gnosis is translated as knowledge. Gnosis means “knowing (the act), i.e. (by implication) knowledge.” (It is also translated once as science, in I Timothy 6:20: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science [gnosis] falsely so called.”)
Biblical scholars offer a fairly broad description of this gift, including “a declaration of gospel truth or the application of it,” but many scholars agree that a word of knowledge should properly be regarded as a “supernatural revelation of facts past, present, or future which were not learned through the efforts of the natural mind” (Rea, page 138).
This spiritual gift is one manifestation of divine knowledge that is given when information is needed immediately and when the only way to get that information is through supernatural means: a revelation of God. In I Corinthians 2:16, the Apostle Paul tells us that “we have the mind of Christ.” “This gift is used to protect the Christian, to show how to pray more effectively, or to show him how to help others” (Rea, page 139).
The manifestation gift of faith is different than saving faith or the faith listed as the fruit of the Spirit. The spiritual gift of faith is “a sudden surge of faith, usually in a crisis, to confidently believe without a doubt, that as we act or speak in Jesus’ Name it shall come to pass” (Rea, page 141). When this gift of faith is in operation, believers have an unshakable confidence that God will do what He has promised to do, even when it appears to be impossible. (See Matthew 17:20, 21:21; Mark 11:22–24; Luke 17:6; and I Corinthians 13:2.)
In I Corinthians 12, the Greek word pistis is translated as faith and is defined in Strong’s Concordance as “persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself.” In the New Testament, pistis is also translated as assurance, belief, believe, and fidelity.
Gifts of Healing
Once again, I Corinthians 12 does not provide a detailed description of this gift or its attributes, and Bible scholars vary in their interpretation of the Greek word that is used here: iama.
Strong’s Concordance defines iama as “a cure (the effect),” and this Greek word is translated only as healing when it is used in the New Testament. The word gifts is a translation of the word charisma, which means “a (divine) gratuity, i.e. deliverance (from danger or passion): (specifically) a (spiritual) endowment, i.e. (subjectively) religious qualification, or (objectively) miraculous faculty.” The word charisma is translated only as gift or gifts throughout the New Testament.
Healing obviously refers to removing diseases from the spirit, soul, or body. Most of us can quickly think of diseases of the body, but diseases of the spirit, such as bitterness, greed, and guilt, can be healed as well, by the power of God. Some of the diseases of the soul are discouragement, worry, jealousy, and other destructive attitudes. In this passage about the spiritual gifts, healing refers to supernatural healing of infirmities and diseases, for the glory of God.
Working of Miracles
In I Corinthians 12:10, the Apostle Paul names the gift of “working of miracles.” The word working is a translation of the Greek word energema, which Strong’s Concordance defines simply as “an effect.” This Greek word is also translated as operation elsewhere in the New Testament. The words of miracles are a translation of the Greek word dunamis, which means “specifically miraculous power (usually by implication a miracle itself).” In other verses within the New Testament, dunamis is translated as ability, abundance, meaning, might (-ily, -y deed), power, strength, violence, and mighty (wonderful) work.
The phrase working of miracles is found only once in the Bible—here in this list of the manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit. No detailed explanation of this gift is provided. However, the term appears to be straightforward. Based on the definitions of the Greek words, this is a supernatural ability to serve others as a channel of God’s miracle-working power. The definition implies no boundaries or limitations, which is appropriate, since the power of our mighty God has no boundaries or limitations.
This spiritual gift is manifested through direct, divine interventions that meet needs with dunamis—miraculous power. “Working of miracles” encompasses more than physical healings. “Included under the category of miracles would be the exorcizing of demons and the restoring of persons from death, such as Dorcas and Eutychus (Acts 9:36–41, 20:6–12)” (Rea, page 142). Natural or supernatural events with precise timing that brings glory to God are another way that working of miracles is observed in our midst.
The gift of prophecy is the only gift that is included in all three categories of spiritual gifts: (1) motivational gifts (see Romans 12:3–9), (2) ministry gifts (see I Corinthians 12:27–31), and (3) manifestation gifts (see I Corinthians 12:7–11). This gift is used by the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. (See John 16:7–11.)
In I Corinthians 12:10, prophecy is an English translation of the Greek word propheteia. Within the New Testament, propheteia is translated as either prophecy or prophesying, and Strong’s Concordance defines this word simply as “prediction (scriptural or other).” Accordingly, Wayne Grudem, author of Systematic Theology, concludes that “a fresh examination of the New Testament teaching on this gift will show that it should be defined not as ‘predicting the future,’ nor as ‘proclaiming a word from the Lord,’ nor as ‘powerful preaching’—but rather as ‘telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind’ ” (Grudem, page 1049).
John Rea explains that preaching is a means of expressing and explaining what one already knows, that which he has learned or studied previously. “Prophesying, however, is directly proclaiming the mind of God, by the inspiration and prompting of the Holy Spirit, and not from one’s own thoughts. It is supernatural speech in a known language . . .” (Rea, page 144). The Holy Spirit leads believers to express truths that are in agreement with the truth of the Bible.
Discerning of Spirits
In I Corinthians 12:10, the word discerning is a translation of the Greek word diakrisis, which means “judicial estimation.” John Rea explains that this word refers to “a seeing right through to the inner reality with a judgment based on that insight. Dennis Bennett explains that by this gift, the believer is enabled to know immediately what is motivating a person or situation (The Holy Spirit and You, p. 143)” (Rea, page 140). In the New Testament, diakrisis is also translated as disputation.
The word spirits is a translation of the Greek word pneuma, which means “a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational and (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit.” It is also translated in the New Testament as ghost, life, spiritual, spiritually, and mind.
God expects His children to learn to discern between good and evil. To accomplish this goal, God has given us, among other things, His Word. (See II Timothy 3:14–17.) However, the spiritual gift of discerning of spirits is not a discernment that can be learned by study of God’s Word, although a thorough knowledge and understanding of God’s Word would certainly equip any believer with increased discernment of good or evil.
The Holy Spirit, in particular situations, imparts this spiritual gift to believers. It is supernatural discernment, knowledge given directly by the Holy Spirit, and not knowledge that comes as a result of study, training, instruction, or maturity. Wayne Grudem describes it this way: “Distinguishing between spirits is a special ability to recognize the influence of the Holy Spirit or of demonic spirits in a person” (Grudem, page 1082).
Divers Kinds of Tongues
Perhaps more than any others, the spiritual gifts of divers kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues have been confused and misunderstood among believers. It is important to remember that all of the gifts are unexplainable in natural terms. They are supernatural giftings. We should study what the Scriptures say about these gifts and trust God to direct them according to His will. As the Holy Spirit gives these gifts, believers are equipped to serve others and glorify God.
In I Corinthians 12:10, “divers kinds of tongues” is listed as one of the spiritual gifts that God has given to equip the Church. The English words divers kinds are a translation of the Greek word genos, which means “kin—abstract or concrete, literally or figuratively, individually or collectively.” In the New Testament, genos is also translated as born, country (-man), diversity, generation, kind (-red), nation, offspring, and stock.
The English words of tongues are a translation of the Greek word glossa, which Strong’s Concordance defines as “the tongue; by implication a language (specifically one naturally unacquired).” Throughout the New Testament, glossa is translated only as tongue (singular or plural). Therefore, we could say that “divers kinds of tongues” refers to “kindred languages that are not naturally acquired.”
As we study what the Scriptures tell us about this gift, we find that this gift can be given to fulfill several purposes:
- As a means of divine worship, praise, or prayer by an individual. (See Jude 20–21.)
- For the purpose of edifying the Church through instruction, exhortation, or correction. In these cases, interpretation of tongues is needed since God’s message to His people in a tongue cannot be understood without interpretation. (See I Corinthians 14:5, 9, 12–13, 27–28, 39–40.)
- As a sign to unbelievers. (See I Corinthians 14: 22.)
Interpretation of Tongues
The word interpretation is a translation of the Greek word hermeneia, which is defined simply as “translation.” The word tongues that is used in this phrase is another instance in which the Greek word glossa (“the tongue”) is used. “Interpretation of tongues” could be paraphrased as “translation of languages that have not been naturally acquired.” Grudem defines interpretation of tongues simply, as follows: “reporting to the church the general meaning of something spoken in tongues” (Grudem, page 1076).
“Are tongues known human languages then? Sometimes this gift may result in speaking in a human language that the speaker has not learned, but ordinarily it seems that it will involve speech in a language that no one understands, whether that be a human language or not” (Grudem, page 1072).
Let All Things Be Done Decently and in Order
The Apostle Paul devotes much of his first letter to the church in Corinth to issues relating to spiritual gifts. He concludes the instructions and insights of I Corinthians 12–14 with this exhortation: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40). Earlier in the letter, Paul had stated, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (I Corinthians 14:33).
The motivational, ministry, and manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit all contribute to the orderliness of God’s design of working in the Church and the world. These supernatural, spiritual gifts are awe-inspiring. As instruments of God’s work, we must seek to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and to submit to God, instead of yielding to the influence of our sinful natures. Then when the Holy Spirit works among believers and bestows spiritual gifts, there will be peace and orderliness, not strife and confusion. God will be glorified and the Church will be edified!