Understanding the gifts of the Holy Spirit

February 28th, 2015

The Bible tells us that each Christian is given a spiritual gift or gifts when they come to saving faith in Christ and that we should use these gifts for the good of others (1 Peter 4:10). The Bible also tells us that these special gifts are bestowed by the Holy Spirit upon Christians for the purpose of building the church. We find a list of these Spiritual Gifts that are given by the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. In this article I will give a summary of the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit and show some Biblical examples of how they were used.

A Breakdown and Explanation of the Gifts

The Gifts of the Spirit can be grouped into three areas, the gifts to say (prophecy, tongues, interpretation); the gifts to do (healings, miracles, faith); and the gifts to know (discernment of spirits, knowledge and wisdom).

1. The gifts to say

Prophecy – Speaking prophetically or bringing a prophecy message is when someone gives a supernatural message that conveys a specific vision of God’s will for his people. It is so they are comforted, encouraged or challenged. A prophetic word can also confirm something God has been speaking privately to a person in their personal prayer times.

Tongues – The speaking in tongues is the supernatural ability to praise or communicate with God in a language never learned. The primary use of tongues is private for personal edification and making a connection with God, although sometimes it is spoken public when an interpretation is needed.

The Interpretation of tongues – The Interpretation of tongues is the supernatural ability to interpret public messages that are spoken out loud in tongues. Like a prophecy, the interpretation gives comfort, encouragement or a challenge to the people.

2. The gifts to do

Gifts of healing – The gift of healing is the supernatural ability to bring Christ’s healing power and deliverance to those who lack mental, emotional, physical or spiritual wholeness.

Miracles – The gift of miracles is the supernatural ability to bring God’s power to bear on an “impossible” situation so that natural laws are suspended.

Faith – The gift of faith is the supernatural ability to go beyond general and saving faith, and to believe that the impossible will happen. When someone has the gift of faith, they just “know” God is in control and will intervene in the situation that is before them.

3. The gifts to know

Discernment of spirits – The discernment of spirits is a supernatural ability to discern whether a particular manifestation comes from the Holy Spirit, the human spirit or a demonic spirit.

Word of knowledge – A Word of knowledge is a supernatural revelation, concerning a difficulty or need, of facts not known naturally to those involved. The Word of knowledge often accompanies of prophetic word and confirms that message to the hearer.

Word of wisdom – A Word of Wisdom is a supernatural revelation from God that gives a solution to a particular problem or crisis that is otherwise unknown by the people involved in the situation.

Examples of these Gifts being used in the Bible

In the Bible we see that Jesus and the early believers used these gifts in their ministry efforts. Jesus used a Word of Wisdom when the woman was caught in adultery in John 8:2-11. He used His finger to write the sins of the people on the ground. He wrote the sins He knew supernaturally. As a result the people in the crowd slowly moved away one by one. He was left alone with the woman and He forgave her sins and sent her away to sin no more. Jesus also used a Word of Knowledge when He was alone by the well with the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-39). He was able to tell her everything she ever did (v39). Jesus also used the Gift of Healing for the man beside the Pool of Bethesda in John 5:1-14.

Likewise we see the other Apostles and believers moving in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul was able to use Discerning of Spirits of the slave girl who was following him in Acts 16:16-18. She knew the future and worked as a fortune teller for her master and made him lots of money. Paul knew it was an evil spirit and told it to come out of her. Earlier we see the Apostle Peter used a Word of Knowledge when Ananias and Sapphira lied about how much money they sold their property for (Acts 5:1-11).

Why are these gifts so important to us today?

When talking about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit it is important to remember that they are for the purposes of building up the church. That is to bring people to Christ for salvation and in encouraging and strengthening the body of Christ – the Church.

There are many examples in the New Testament about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit being used in the lives of the early followers. There is also no place in the Bible that tells us that these Gifts were for a certain time and will cease after the initial setting up of the church. Jesus Himself said we will see greater things than these! We still have access to the same Holy Spirit that the early Apostles and church did. He still gives us gifts today for the purpose of building up the church. As the Apostle Paul says to the church in Corinth we should eagerly desire the greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31). If we think we can build the church on our own, we will eventually burn out and become ineffective. We need the gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) and draw people into His church and fulfil our part in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20.


In this article I have given an outline of the spiritual gifts that are given by the Holy Spirit to build up the church. These are the gifts of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues; the gifts of healings, miracles and faith; and finally the gifts to discernment of spirits, the word knowledge and word of wisdom. As we saw above they can be grouped in to the gifts to say, the gifts to know and the gifts to do.

All of these gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to us today as He wills. He gives each person a gift or gifts that is required to play their part in building in the church. Jesus, the Apostles and early believers moved in these gifts and saw it as a normal part of life in the Spirit. Likewise we should seek to find, develop and use our gifts to build up the church and bring glory to God today too.