Spiritual Gifts- The Word of Knowledge
The second Manifestation Gift of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 is the word of knowledge. Like the first gift, the word of wisdom, this gift is often misunderstood by people who have not experienced it. The NIV translates this gift as “the message of knowledge” while the NLT comes a little closer with “a message of special knowledge.”
A word of knowledge is a word or phrase, even a whole message, that comes to a person by means of the Holy Spirit. It is often information that the person could not know by any natural source.
A good friend of mine was once walking along the water’s edge in his home city. He met a couple he did not know coming the other way. The word “divorce” came into his head, and so he stopped them and asked them if that word meant anything to them. As he tells the story, it evidently did as they took off as quickly as they could. Perhaps he could have used a word of wisdom to go with the knowledge.
Often the word of knowledge can be experienced when we are ministering to someone. I often find that as I am praying with a person, various words will pop into my head which often give insight into the true source of the person’s problem. Alternatively these words may indicate something that is more important or more pressing from God’s perspective than the issue we have been praying about.
The American revivalist and healer Smith Wigglesworth would pray for healing for many people at each of his meetings. People could come and ask for apparently identical ailments and Wigglesworth would cast a demon from one, pray healing for the next and address emotional issues for the third. This is the word of knowledge in action showing the true cause of a physical sickness.
I have been in meetings where a person with a healing ministry would be very specific about an injury or ailment, naming a particular vertebra for example.
In Acts 5 we read of a word of knowledge that carried tragic consequences. A couple named Ananias and Sapphira had decided to sell some spare property and give the proceeds to the church. They kept some of the money for themselves, but tried to say that they have brought the full amount. Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, confronted him about this. There was no way he could have known that they had lied about the sale of the land except by the Holy Spirit. As he aid they were free to sell the land or keep it, and were free to do as they wish with the money. But they had lied to the Holy Spirit. Ananias was struck down dead. When his wife came some time later, Peter asked her about the value of the land, and she again lied and was also struck dead.
The actual operation of the gift operates differently from person to person. One person might have a word or phrase pop into their mind. Other people see the words written moving like a news ticker on a television screen. Some people see images or video. However it is experienced, the word of knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit.
On one occasion, I was leading Communion when I felt this severe pain in my left knee. I asked if anyone had a pain in their knee. There was no response. I explained that I was feeling this pain and it seemed to indicate that the Lord wanted to heal someone with a sore knee. Still no response. When I was more specific and mentioned which knee, a lady behind me called out “Oh, that’s me!”
As stated earlier, the word of knowledge often requires a measure of wisdom in its use. We don’t need to blab every word we receive. Sometimes it may not be obvious what we need to do with a particular word of knowledge. On occasions, it may not be appropriate to speak the word explicitly, but we can use it to inform our prayer or other ministry.