Overview Of The Nine Gifts Of The Holy Spirit

Overview of the Nine Gifts of The Holy Spirit

By Rodney W. Francis and  Alistair Taylor (U.K)


"Why is it that the Pentecostal Churches are growing at such a phenomenal rate? Is it possible they have the Gifts of the Spirit which we have not?" (Dr. Donald Coggin, former Archbishop of Canterbury).

"A church where Charismatic Gifts in all their wonder and variety are not in evidence is something less than the Church founded at Pentecost" (Donald Bloesch).

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit have been given to build the Church and make it whole. We neglect them to our own loss. The Holy Spirit has been given, complete with nine beautiful Gifts, to help us to minister the love, life and power of Jesus through the supernatural.

In this "School of the Spirit" we desire to know more about the Gifts, what they do, how we can release them in an exciting practical way, and then to develop them through our becoming more excellent (1 Corinthians 14:12) in the ministering of them.

Let's look at the Greek terms that are used to describe Spiritual Gifts:

  •  In 1 Corinthians 12:1 Paul uses the word "pneumatikoi." It is usually translated "spiritual gifts," but a more literal translation would be "spiritual things" or more simply "spirituals." It is derived from the word "pneuma," another Greek word used in Scripture to describe the Holy Spirit of God. "Pneumatikoi" tells us the gifts are activated by the Holy Spirit (Who is already in us) rather than by natural ability.

  • In 1 Corinthians 12:4 Paul uses the word "charismata" which is most often translated simply as "gifts"; the term "gifts of grace" would more accurately describe the meaning of the Greek. This is Paul's most popular word for Spiritual Gifts and it denotes that they are bestowed by the Spirit as an act of divine grace. The Gifts are such that they are freely given to anyone who desires them.

  • In 1 Corinthians 12:5 Paul uses the word "diakonia" to describe Spiritual Gifts. The word is translated in the New Testament into the following English words (numbers of times in brackets):



















do service 


It is a firm reminder that the gifts are for the well-being of others. The verb "diakoneo" is used in Mark 10:45 by Jesus where, speaking of Himself He says, "the Son of man also came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." How we need to have that attitude in our desire to bless others through the Spiritual Gifts.

A Personal Challenge:

Think about the place of Spiritual Gifts in your own life. Can you write down some of the gifts God has used you to bless others, say in the last two years?

  • Are you satisfied with the way you flowed in those gifts? 

  • What do you think you need to do to let them flow more regularly?

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are our "tools" to enable us to minister to others in a God-glorifying way.


Some Examples:

The aim of God is to raise up a strong army that is equipped to do the same works that Jesus did. Spiritual Gifts in operation are a part of that purpose. Paul makes it very clear that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are for every believer (1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 14:31). It is not God's intention that the Gifts be confined to a "spiritual elite" or to a limited number of "superstars." God intends that every believer manifests Spiritual Gifts. That means YOU!

When using Spiritual Gifts our motives and words must be checked against the standard of love. Pastor Ray Macauley (South Africa) adequately reflected the importance of love when he said:

"The foundation for the power of God to move is the love of God."


"The Gifts ... of the Holy Spirit are the transrational ("beyond the mind and understanding")manifestations of God. They are given by God for the purpose of ministry taking place for the good of the Body of Christ" (the late John Wimber, "Vineyard," U.S.A.).

"But to each one is given the manifestation of the (Holy) Spirit - that is, the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit - for good and profit.

To one is given in and through the (Holy) Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same (Holy) Spirit;

To another (wonder-working) faith by the same (Holy) Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit;

To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight - that is, the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose; to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues.

All these [achievements and abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same (Holy) Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses"  (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, Amp.).

The Gifts are divided into three categories of three:

  1. GIFTS TO SAY: Prophecy, Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues.

  2. GIFTS TO KNOW: The Word of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge and The Discerning of Spirits.

  3. GIFTS TO DO: The Gift of Faith, The Gifts of Healing and The Working of Miracles.

1.  GIFTS TO SAY:(speak out):

THE GIFT OF PROPHECY (1 Corinthians 12:10):

Definition: "The Gift of Prophecy is the special ability that God gives to members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to His gathered people, a group among them, or any one of His people individually, through a divinely anointed utterance" (David Pytches).

Example: Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79).

The Greek word for prophecy, "propheteia," implies that one is speaking for another; speaking on behalf of God. We are exhorted to specifically desire to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1,31)

Prophecy is designed by God to:

  1. Strengthen the Church (1 Corinthians 14:3).

  2. Encourage the Church (1 Corinthians 14:3).

  3. Comfort the Church (1 Corinthians 14:3).

  4. Instruct the Church (1 Corinthians 14:31).

  5. To affect unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:24).

Prophecy touches the Church at its point of need. It is based on revelation ... the revelation of God's love, care and desire for His people to be built up. It is not to be used to criticize or "bash" the Church.

MANY KINDS OF TONGUES (1 Corinthians 12:10):

Definition: "The Gift of Tongues is the supernatural ability to speak to others and/or to God in a language or utterance never learned by the speaker" (Dr. Bill Bright, Campus Crusade forChrist, U.S.A.).

There are two approaches:

  1. That The Gift of Tongues, when coupled with The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues, is equal to The Gift of Prophecy.

  2. The second approach suggests that tongues is expressing praise to God, and therefore any interpretation is also in terms of prayer, praise or thanksgiving to God Himself. The emphasis is that true Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues are directed toward God rather than directed from God to the Church.

"The man who speaks in a 'tongue' addresses not men (for no one understands a word he says) but God: and only in his spirit is he speaking spiritual secrets" (1 Corinthians 14:2, J.B. Phillips).

"For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the (Holy) Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding].

But [on the other hand], the one who prophesies - who interprets the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching - speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation" (1 Corinthians 14:2-3, Amp.).

On the day of Pentecost the tongues spoken were interpreted as "we do hear them speak ... the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:11).

It was Godward rather than "man-ward."

I believe the Gift of Tongues as in 1 Corinthians 12 is different to the tongues we receive at our baptism in the Holy Spirit.


Definition: "The Gift by which God made intelligible what was hidden from all" (Leon Morris).

The word "interpretation" here is from the Greek "harmeneia" meaning "explanation" or "full interpretation" (Bullinger's). It is the ability through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to bring understandable meaning to an inspired public message in tongues. If one accepts that The Gift of Tongues is directed toward God in the form of prayer, or praise, or thanksgiving, or exaltation of the Name and Majesty of God, then The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues will be of the same character.

Dr. Michael Harper (U.K.) said: "We should expect the interpretation to be mainly an expression of prayer or worship and, therefore, different from a prophecy."

It is a Spirit-inspired declaration of praise, exaltation and honouring of God Himself.


THE WORD OF WISDOM (1 Corinthians 12:8):

Definition: "The supernatural application of knowledge" (Rev. Dennis Bennett, U.S.A.).

"Wisdom" is "skill, cleverness, the right application of knowledge."

The Word of Wisdom gives us the skill in knowing how and when to minister accurately by the Holy Spirit into peoples' lives. It makes the timing right and enables the other Gifts to make a significant impact.

THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE (1 Corinthians 12:8):

Definition: "The revelation of facts past, present or future which were not learned through the efforts of the natural mind" (Rev. Dennis Bennett).

"God-given disclosures" (Michael Green).


  • Jesus telling Peter where to find his taxation money - in a fish's mouth! (Matthew 17:27).

  • Ananias in the conversion of Paul (Acts 9,22 and 26).

  • Cornelius in finding Peter, who then was instrumental in bringing the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles (Acts 10).

The Purpose of The Word of Knowledge:

  1.  To bring supernatural encouragement.

  2.  To give confirmation to what God has already been saying or doing.

  3.   To give insight and understanding of what is ahead in the purposes of God.

  4.   To help in counselling/evangelistic situations.

  5.  To unlock hindrances to healing/unanswered prayers.

  6.   To give strategies in spiritual warfare.

  7.   To reveal where sin is being covered up.

  8.  To open up a meeting or situation for God to move.


Definition: "The Gift that gives the Christian insight into the supernatural world. The Gift is to enable the person to know the motivation behind a situation or person" (Rev. Alistair Taylor).

The word "discerning" is from the Greek word "diakrisis" meaning:

  • "a thorough judging" (Young's);

  • "a distinguishing, discerning clearly, discriminating" (Bullinger's);

  • "recognizing or perceiving clearly (the differences)" (Collins).

Example: The Apostle Paul discerned a spirit of divination in a girl (Acts 16:16-40).

This Gift is for the discerning of good spirits more than the evil spirits. Someone has said there were only one-third of the angels who fell from heaven with Lucifer, which means that two-thirds are still on God's good side. Two to one!

Some Purposes of The Gift of Discerning of Spirits:

  • Being aware of good people and the good spirit that motivates them, i.e. gentle, sweet, loving, faithful, etc.

Example: Jesus talking of Nathanael (John 1:45-51).

  •   Counselling situations: discerning the genuine from the dishonest (truth from lies).

  •  Revealing error in individuals or ministries, e.g. when Peter spoke to Jesus and then was rebuked (Matthew 16:21-23).

  •  Evaluating the operation of Spiritual Gifts.


A GIFT OF FAITH (1 Corinthians 12:9):

Definition: "The mysterious surge of confidence which sometimes arises within a person faced with a specific situation or need" (the late John Wimber).

This can apply personally, or for others, or for Christian projects, i.e. finance for church building.

"Faith" here is translated from the Greek word "pistis" meaning:

  •  "faith, faithfulness, steadfastness" (Young's);

  •  "firm persuasion, the conviction which is based upon hearing, not upon sight or knowledge; a firmly relying confidence in what we hear from God in His Word"(Bullinger's).


  •  Daniel in the lions' den (Daniel 6).

  • Financial provision for church buildings, projects, etc.

  • Ross Tooley (Y.W.A.M.) standing in a queue to buy an airline ticket with no money in his pocket.

THE GIFTS OF HEALING (1 Corinthians 12:9):

Definition: "To supernaturally bring cure for the sick, physical, spiritual and emotional; to make whole in the fullest sense of the word; saving from disease and its effects" (Rodney Francis).

Notice this Gift is in the plural: "Gifts."

"Healing" in 1 Corinthians 12:9 is translated from "iama" meaning:

  •  "healing" (Young's);

  •  "a cure, healing" (Strong's);

  •  "healing, (the termination denoting the complete act; the result or product of the act)"(Bullinger's).

Healing was a vital part of Jesus' ministry. He taught His disciples to follow His example and also heal the sick. It should be an ordinary part of our lives and ministries.

Example: Paul on the island of Melita (Acts 28:1-9).


Definition: "A remarkable or surprising event that happens by the direct intervention of God, not following the general known laws of nature" (Dr. David Yonggi Cho, South Korea).

The word "working" is, of course, an action word and is translated from the Greek word "energema" meaning:

  • "an energy, inworking" (Young's);

  • "to be in work, to be effective, active, operative, to energize or be energized"(Bullinger's).

The word "miracles" is translated from the well-known word "dunamis" meaning:

  • "act of power" (Young's);

  •  "special miraculous power (usually by implication a miracle itself) (Strong's);

  •  "capability, power to do anything; then, power, might in action ... a miracle as wrought by divine power; a work, with reference to the power required for its performance"(Bullinger's).


  •  Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:25-33).

  •  Joshua commanding the sun to stand still (Joshua 10:12-14).

  •  Jean's dad praying for the child who was healed of a club foot.

  • The man thrown out of the meeting in Ruatahuna, N.Z.

  •  Late Rev. David Sugar (Fiji Islands) delivering deaf and dumb people.

  •  Frank Skierski (U.S.A.) praying for broken down machinery.

This Gift is desperately needed to impact an unbelieving Christendom and an even more unbelieving world!

So here we conclude a very brief overview of the nine beautiful Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

If you are desirous of flowing more freely in these Gifts, apply yourself to the following practical pointers:

  1. Ask God to help you.

  2. Set aside time so that God can speak to you.

  3.   Confess any sin, fears, doubts or unbelief that is in your life, so you can be a much more effective instrument in His hand.

  4.   Cultivate a strong desire for the Gifts.

  5.  Expect God to use you.

  6.   Work alongside people who are already flowing well in the Gifts. Learn as much as you can.

  7. Seek an impartation for a greater release of the Gifts.

  8.   Always remain teachable.

  9.  Work within the guide-lines/frame-work set by the Leadership of your local church.

Special thanks goes to Rev. Alistair Taylor (U.K.).

The basis for "An Overview of the Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit" has been taken from "Spiritual Gifts" (by Alistair Taylor), International Bible Institute of London, U.K. and developed by Pastor Rodney W. Francis (New Zealand).

"The Gospel Faith Messenger" Ministry. , New Zealand.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


"The Gospel Faith Messenger" Ministry.  PO Box 57, Paraparaumu 5254, New Zealand.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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