On Prophecy, Knowledge & Wisdom

On Prophecy, Knowledge & Wisdom April 10, 2023

on prophecy, knowledge & wisdom

This is something I’ve taught on extensively, a question asked by a fellow Pentecostal-Charismatic.

What’s the difference between prophecy, knowledge, and wisdom?

Of course we are referring to the Gifts (charisms) of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12.4-11

There’s actually a 4th similar Gift if we count the interpretation of tongues. To learn about interpretation, read the brief article: a distinction regarding speaking in tongues CLICK

These Gifts edify the church, something Paul makes a case for in 1 Corinthians 14.

prophecy is not foretelling as often as it is forth-telling

We all have different ideas when we think about a prophet.

Dennis Jarvis | Gandalf | 08.22.17 | creative commons

In 1 Corinthians 12, prophecy is more about the activity which any Christian can participate in, than it is about the person (prophet). There are other Passages describing the prophet.

Prophecy: a fresh word from the Lord comes forth for a particular people in a specific place in a certain time. In a very real sense NT preaching, and congregation-specific sermons today, are like prophecy.

Worship can even be prophetic.

However the gift can be used in different ways, for the gathering or the individual. Of course prophecy can be a foretelling as well, but it doesn’t have to be. Paul talks a lot about it in 1 Corinthians 14.

wisdom and knowledge aren’t so easy to separate

Knowledge can be like a revelation of facts. There are times in counseling and the church the Spirit has given me the knowledge into the situation but I had to wait until the right timing to speak it. Knowledge is something you could NOT find out on your own. As I said, it is like a revelation of insight for the congregation or individuals.

what is wisdom then?

A trite answer would be knowledge plus a plan of action. It’s applicable. There is a formation to be realized. It’s like formatio an oft-neglected step of Lectio Divina. What are we to do with this knowledge today and in the future? How do we respond? Wisdom takes us there.

The nuances of prophecy, knowledge, and wisdom are multifarious. In this brief, I’m relying mainly on NT interpretation and tradition. I could factor-in definitions from the Hebrew Bible. Nonetheless, these answers reflect a lifetime of experience and decades of scholarship.

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