Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Words of Knowledge, Words of Wisdom, & Prophetic Words

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12:7-8, 10 writes: Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 ... to another prophecy...

A "word" (logos) of wisdom, a "word" of knowledge, and a prophetic word. What's the difference between the three? Biblical scholar Jack Deere writes: "The Bible's authors did not always explain the words they used when they wrote about their prophetic experiences... Paul never tells us the difference between "a word of knowledge," a "revelation" and a "prophecy." The phrase "word of knowledge" is used only one time and in a context that does not allow us to define it with certainty." (The Beginner's Guide to The Gift of Prophecy, 47)

I'd say we don't know if there are any differences. And we don't need to know. They are all manifestations of God's Spirit, all are given by the Spirit (it's especially important to understand that in the Corinthian context), and all are from God. They are all a kind of God-revelation, given for the common good of the church, to edify the people of God. The historically recent Western need to over-break these words down and arrange them in categories was not a Hebrew "method."