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Read Introduction to 1 Corinthians


8 “for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit…”
We find a catalogue of nine gifts in verses 8-10. Paul lists more gifts in the latter part of the chapter (12:28f). Romans 12 catalogues seven gifts with duplications from 1 Corinthians 12. Ephesians 4 lists four gifts (the definite article before pastor-teacher makes it one gift).
The word “for” connects verses 8-11 to verse seven and establishes the fact that the Holy Spirit gives special, supernatural capacities to Christians and edifies the church thereby.
to one is given
The word “given” indicates that when the Holy Spirit gives a special, supernatural enablement to serve the Lord, He gives it freely without merit from the receiver of the gift. The Holy Spirit gives these gifts apart from merit. We have a gift for one reason only – because the Holy Spirit decided it. It is not because we are better than anyone else or worse than anyone else. We do not have anything to do with the receiving of it.
the word of wisdom through the Spirit,
There are two lists of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, one beginning in this verse and the other at the end of the chapter. In this section, Paul describes nine ways the Spirit manifests Himself through believers. The first is the discourse of wisdom, not wisdom itself. Wisdom is the ability to apply truth to experience. Wisdom is the ability to assimilate fact and knowledge and then to appropriate, masticate, and use it. It is a gift of insight into both the principles of Scripture and how they apply to experience. The “word of wisdom” is the ability to speak in a way that appropriates the principles of Scripture into real-life experience.
to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
The phrase “word of knowledge” carries the idea of speaking knowledge or the “discourse of knowledge.” It is both the perception and communication of God’s Word. “Knowledge” itself is the accumulation of facts or data from the Word of God.
All God expects of us is to do what we can with what we have.
All God expects of us is to do what we can with what we have. If He gave us a four-cylinder gift, then that is what He expects; if He gave us a 16-cylinder gift, then He expects more from us. He does expect that we operate on all four cylinders if that is what He gave us. Some people know a lot but they cannot apply very much. They have a spiritual Charlie horse. They know some facts but they can’t do much with them. Wisdom deals with practical matters and the dexterity of daily living.
We cannot go over this list of nine gifts and pick and choose those we like, because the Holy Spirit sovereignly bestows gifts upon us. It is His prerogative. We live in a day of the specialist and when we go to a doctor, he sends us to a specialist. The Holy Spirit has made specialists of believers for the church.
When God puts a shovel in our hands, He expects us to use it. If God puts a pen in our hand, He expects us to write with it. The local church is an area where God expects us to use our gifts. It is not the place to sit in the grandstands cheering while others use their gifts. It is easy to criticize the players on the field from the grandstands.