The Word of Wisdom (Part 1)

von Johannes Justus

In 1 Corinthians Paul puts the word of wisdom at the beginning of his list of the nine gifts of the Spirit. As laid out in the previous article this gift, just as the word of knowledge and the discerning of spirits, belongs to the revelation gifts. This article takes a closer look at what the word of wisdom is.

Already in the beginning of his letter Paul clearly states that we must distinguish between divine and worldly wisdom. Measured against worldly wisdom, the gospel preached – the “message of the cross” – is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:19-27). Thus, access into God’s wisdom must be gained in a spiritual way. Paul emphasizes that his teaching is not based on human, but on spiritual wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:6,7,13).

1. Corinthians 12:8
„To one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit…“

The Greek word for wisdom is sophia. It describes the knowledge needed to act adequately in the various situations of life. One could say: Wisdom is applied knowledge. However, Paul does not use the term “gift of wisdom”, but he speaks of the “gift of word of wisdom.” This indicates that the gifted person does not possess divine wisdom permanently, but receives a word of wisdom on certain occasions. It is important to make this distinction, since man does not have the fullness of God’s wisdom at his disposal. It is not about man and his intelligence, but about the Holy Spirit who intends to act according to his sovereign will. Therefore, the word of wisdom is not a product of our intellect, but a gift from God. It is to be practiced solely under God’s authority.

Proverbs 2:6
For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

It is possible to have human intelligence, knowledge and expertise and still lack in spiritual wisdom. I remember a difficult conversation: A person close to my heart had asked for my advice. When listening to the person hundreds of seemingly correct thoughts flashed through my mind. Still I sensed that neither the books I had read nor the university degrees I had earned mattered – we only needed the power of God. After the conversation I called a friend and asked for advice. He presented a very clear word of wisdom to me. Suddenly I knew what I had to do. Incidents like this, when the Holy Spirit gives wisdom, I value highly and I do not want to live without them any longer!

In the next article I want to describe how the word of wisdom manifests and in which kind of situations it can be applied.

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