What is the Gift of Wisdom?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Many people and churches are thoroughly confused about the gift of the word of wisdom, so what is the gift and do you have them?


What is the gift of wisdom and how do you know if you or someone else has it? The Bible describes a gift of the Holy Spirit called the word or gift of wisdom. We can read 1 Corinthians 12:8 which discusses the word of wisdom. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:8). In the early church, when the church had no New Testament books, God would sometimes give someone the gift of wisdom. In the New Testament, 12 of the 27 books use the word sophia (wisdom) and we know that wisdom is an attribute of God, but it is seen as an intellectual ability and not a revelatory ability. Perhaps the best example is that of Jesus Christ who is called the wisdom of God. In James 3 it is described as having a spiritual understanding of God’s will, and in Scripture, that is the primary use of wisdom (sophia), isn’t it? It is a spiritual understanding of God’s will (and His Word). The person with this gift has the ability to understand God’s will which enables them to make an application to it. True wisdom is to know God’s will and to behave in response to it in obedience.


Wisdom & Obedience

No one can claim to have the gift of wisdom and yet live in disobedience to the Word of God. True wisdom is not just knowing the Bible really well, even exceedingly well, but rather, it is obeying what has already been revealed in the Bible. It is not stating something that is extra-biblical or is not from Scripture. If it’s not from Scripture, we cannot truly call it wisdom. Wisdom is where we live in full accord with God’s will and obey it, no matter the consequences. This gift is not so much a speaking gift but one of counseling…one on one or in groups, and God gives this gift, even today, to build up the church but never to showcase it before others.

Other Gifts

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching …”

Two other gifts, speaking gifts, include the gift of teaching. Please note what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:7. He says that, “if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching,” so he who teaches, teaches the Word of God and not their own ideas. So what is this gift of teaching? The gift of teaching is to be consistent with the teaching of Scripture; otherwise, it is no gift at all. Whoever teaches must teach what is consistent with what God has already revealed in His Word. It is not new teaching. If it’s new, it’s not from God; if it’s from God, it’s not new. Clearly, we need to distinguish between the gifts and the office. You can be a teacher in the church, and that’s an official position. And if you were a teacher, you would certainly have the gift of teaching, however not all who have the gift of teaching are recognized as official teachers. That’s because the gift could be exercised in so many different ways.

Wisdom’s Curriculum

What’s the curriculum for the person with the gift of wisdom? Obviously, it is the Bible…the Word of God itself. This God-given gift can be used one-on-one, one-on-two, one-on-three, and one-on-five-thousand. It can be used with women, one-on-one, one-on-two, one-on-three, one-with-five-thousand. It can be used with a lady and little group of children. It can be used from a mother to a son. It can be used from a husband to a wife. It can be used in just about any conceivable way the Spirit of God desires. The ability to pass on truth in a systematic progression so that somebody receives it, implements it, and a change of behavior takes place. In fact, it’s a gift that belongs to a lot more of us than we even realize. Maybe you have this gift and don’t even know it!

The Book of Romans is chalk full of wisdom and knowledge.

Wisdom from God

God defines wisdom in only one way: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). This verse describes saving faith which necessarily includes both fearing God and departing from evil. This should initially take place at conversion. We all begin to be wise when we begin to have true fear of God by trusting in Him and repenting of our sins. It is not a fear of being struck dead by God, but a reverential, holy fear that shows deep respect and reverence for God and His Word. If you only have only human wisdom, then it is only earthy or from man, and mankind’s mind has been tainted by sin. Human logic, reasoning and wisdom is not from God and “is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic” (James 3:15). The fact is you or I cannot know God or true wisdom without the Holy Spirit. Without that critical first step, there is no relationship to the Giver of all wisdom and understanding and we’re bound in a plain of human understanding, which only leads to eternal destruction.


The true wisdom of God is found in Jesus Christ Who died for your sins, that is if you have trusted in Christ. If you have not yet believed, then all you have is human wisdom and all human wisdom will ultimately fail. It is futile wisdom unless God’s Spirit has quickened you to new life (Eph 2:1-5). If you have not yet come to repentance and faith in Christ, you will die in your sins and your wisdom will perish with you. Human wisdom cannot help you at all and it only leads to the judgment of God (Dan 12:1-3; Rev 20:12-15). I plead with you today, put your trust in the Savior and you can be saved…that is the wisest thing any person could ever do. If you refuse, your judgment surely comes (Heb 9:27). Trust in Christ today and you’ll find the wisdom of God which comes down from heaven (James 3:17).

Here is some related reading for you: Where Does Wisdom Come From? A Christian Study

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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