Word of Wisdom in Christianity
In Christianity, the word of wisdom is a spiritual gift listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8. Among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians, it is regarded as the supernatural revelation of wisdom through the power of the Holy Spirit. This gift is closely related with the gift of the word of knowledge.
This is often termed the gift of wisdom, but this usage is incorrect. The term word of wisdom “implies a spoken utterance through a direct operation of the Holy Spirit at a given moment, rather than an abiding deposit of supernatural wisdom”. The gift, therefore, is a spontaneous manifestation of a God-given insight or perspective to the mind or spirit of the believer through intuition, bypassing the rational faculties.
Pentecostal and charismatic Christians believe the word of wisdom is commonly manifested for three purposes or uses:
Apostolic preaching, apostolic government, and wisdom for an emergency.
References to God’s secret wisdom in 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 and elsewhere in the letter may enhance the understanding of this gift. The secret wisdom pertains to the Gospel that Paul preached. This wisdom relates to that which God had previously hidden and destined for the glory of believers. It is a wisdom that speaks of those things that God has prepared for those who love Him. These emphases from the broader context of the Corinthian letter could imply that the gift known as the word of wisdom involves insight into God’s plans and preparations for the Christian believer. These things are not made known through human wisdom; they are revealed or manifested by the Holy Spirit.
While Pentecostals acknowledge that this should be the normal function of all preaching, they are quick to say that without the Spirit humans cannot possibly understand or teach others these things. When the word of wisdom is in operation, a revelation of Christ and biblical truth is given in words to the speaker. Of this function of the word of wisdom, Donald Gee writes:
But in ministry of a truly Pentecostal order there ofttimes comes shining forth a revelation in words that make our hearts burn within us. Many of us have experienced the holy awe and the thrilling exaltation of spirit that accompanies a ministry of the spiritual gift of the word of wisdom on these lines. We have recognized once again ‘not the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.’ And with the recognition has come a deep thankfulness that these glorious ministrations of the Spirit are still active in the church.
Pentecostals believe this gift might also manifest itself in church government. When the gift of the word of wisdom is in operation, “One is deeply conscious that the supremely right thing has been said and the true course of action indicated. No further appeal is desired because the heart rests in a calm satisfaction that the will of God has been revealed”.
Given the nature of this gift, it is often seen in those who hold positions of leadership and governance of local churches. However, “there are occasions when any believer may expect a gracious personal manifestation of any one of them to meet an urgent need and respond to an opportunity”. Matthew 21:25 and Matthew 22:21 are offered by Pentecostals as examples of the word of wisdom evident in Christ’s own life.