The Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Are you curious about the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit? What they are and how they operate? And are they really available to us today?

Here's a practical introduction to the Holy Spirit's gifts for any Christian wanting to be more effective in doing the works of Jesus. Learn how to exercise God's gifts with confidence.

Introduction to the Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit

By Don Bell | Reading Time: 14 minutes

The Hands of God Reaching Out With Spiritual Gifts"Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts" (1 Corinthians 14:1)
Source: ©choat/

It had been a busy day. I had finally gotten to bed and was starting to drift off to sleep. Suddenly the telephone rang. A distraught member of the local church we attended was on the line.

There had been a flare up, and a family member had abruptly left the home without any means of contact. Prayer was requested as there was some concern that the person might cause harm to themselves.

Immediately, I began to speak in tongues and within moments, the Holy Spirit prompted me with a strong word of wisdom: "This situation requires more than prayer; it requires your involvement."

Pushing aside the tiredness, I quickly dressed and then drove into the city not knowing where the person was but after sensing the gift of faith, I grew confident that God did.

The Holy Spirit began prompting me with words of knowledge as I reached the city center. "Keep driving straight ahead." I drove a couple of blocks and the thought came, "Turn left." After driving several more blocks: "Turn right and then left at the next corner." Then, "Keep driving."

Eventually, I stopped at a red light and glancing to my right I saw the person standing on the corner waiting for the Walk signal.

I opened the power window on the car's passenger side and beckoned the surprised person into the car.

The realization that I could not have driven to the person on a more direct route sunk in, and I gripped the steering wheel to steady my hands in the excitement.

Whether we got a coffee or not, I cannot remember, but we drove around talking for a while, and we prayed, and when I dropped the person off, they knew that they were special to God.

The crisis had passed, and the Lord had gotten the glory.

Several gifts of the Spirit were exercised in the above event including an unknown tongue, a word of wisdom, a gift of faith, and words of knowledge.

In the natural, I would simply have prayed for the situation in the comfort of my home. I would never have thought of driving into the city to speak with someone so late at night.

And in the natural, I could not have driven directly to that person when I hadn't the faintest idea of their location in a city populated with 60,000 people. But, God's gifts are not natural.

The nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are supernatural!

Also, what I did through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, you could also have done!

Allow me to share with you what the Holy Spirit's gifts are, how you can activate them, and how you can use them at home, in the workplace, and when meeting with the Body of Christ to bless people and advance the Kingdom of God.

Colored Pencils Highlighting the Book of John, Chapter 8, Verse 32"And You Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Shall Make You Free"
Source: ©Hriana/

The Bible is filled with examples of the gifts of the Spirit being manifested, from Genesis to Revelations, and as we examine the gifts in the light of God's Word, His Truth shall make you free from unsound doctrines and doubt, and you will find yourself keen to flow in God's anointing, and all nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I'll also share my own understanding along with some of my experiences in exercising the gifts to encourage you and offer you examples.

There's lots of helpful information on this site, and some of it might be new to you, so please keep an open mind and don't feel overwhelmed.

Simply read the topics in order, one by one, and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal His truths. All will become clear.

The Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit Explained

Towering Forest Trees Against a Bright Blue SkyAn Introduction to the Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Source: ©vapm/

Paul the Apostle taught on the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit to ensure that believers used them properly. They had been misusing the gifts in Corinth and since their leadership was unclear on how the Holy Spirit works through believers, some had been forbidden to use the gifts in public meetings. Sound familiar?

It's essential that we receive instruction on the gifts and their operation, yet it's a subject that's rarely taught in today's churches, and I'll offer you several reasons why in a later article. For now, let's dive in and explore the nine spiritual gifts that the Lord in His mercy has so generously given to us.

What Are the Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit?

Paul wanted the believers in Corinth to be well informed about the gifts of the Spirit, and it's right that we should be knowledgeable too.

Paul writes, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant" (1 Corinthians 12:1).

The Greek word ἀγνοέω (agnoeō), meaning ignorant, means by implication, to ignore through hesitancy, or reluctance. We are often fearful and reluctant to receive something when we don't quite understand what it is.

However, knowledge displaces our fears and increases our desire to walk by faith in the things of the Holy Spirit.

Paul continues, "You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:2-3).

Paul was assuring the Corinthians that unlike demonic control, the Holy Spirit does not drive people into compulsive acts against their wills, they will always maintain self control and glorify Jesus when exercising the gifts.

Also, we might not have worshiped graven images, but powerless religious traditions, and man-made doctrines can be dumb idols that hold us back from receiving every good gift from the Holy Spirit.

Paul then goes on to explain in verse 4, "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:4).

Here, the Greek word χάρισμα (charisma, plural charismata), meaning gifts, refers to an assortment of miraculous abilities, sometimes referred to as charismatic gifts.

Therefore, the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit can be defined as supernatural abilities that Jesus entrusts to believers, enabling them to do the same works that He did.

Jesus says, "'Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son'" (John 14:12-13).

If we're to do the works of Jesus, we'll need to receive and exercise all nine supernatural abilities (gifts) that He has made available to us. Otherwise, how could we possibly do what He expects us to do?

These supernatural abilities are GIFTS in the same way that salvation is a GIFT; they are given based on the merits of Christ, and you receive them by grace through faith and not through any merit or deservingness of your own.

For that reason, there is no excuse for believers receiving the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit to feel they are in any way more special, more deserving, more spiritual, or more enlightened than believers who for whatever reason have chosen not to receive the gifts.

How Many Gifts of the Spirit Are There?

Paul lists nine spiritual gifts:

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).

Paul didn't list the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit in any special order, but they can be grouped in three categories, each category containing three gifts having a similar purpose:

The Utterance Gifts

The following supernatural abilities are called Utterance Gifts because they are all spoken by the mouth under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

  • Different Kinds of Tongues
  • Interpretation of Tongues
  • Prophecy

The Revelation Gifts

The following supernatural abilities are called Revelation Gifts because they reveal to us needed information that's humanly impossible to know:

  • Word of Knowledge
  • Word of Wisdom
  • Discerning of Spirits

The Power Gifts

The following supernatural abilities are called Power Gifts because they enable us to manifest God's power to answer special needs in impossible situations:

  • Miracles
  • Gifts of Healing
  • Faith

Are There More Than Nine Gifts of the Spirit?

No, just the nine.

Some people claim there are additional gifts to the nine that Paul listed. For instance, I've heard some say that the interpretation of dreams is an additional gift, when clearly it's not. The interpretation of a dream is a manifestation of the gift of a word of knowledge.

There are no Scriptural references to other spiritual gifts having the same characteristic natures of the nine, and to claim otherwise leads to confusion, and attention being drawn away from the basic nine.

What the Nine Spiritual Gifts Are Not

It can help us to better understand the nine spiritual gifts by describing what they are not.

They Are Not the Five Ministry Gifts

The five ministry gifts mentioned in Ephesians are not to be counted with the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. Ministry gifts are different, and they are given by the Lord for an entirely different purpose.

We read in Scripture, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13).

The Lord gives individuals having specific roles to the Body of Christ to perfect, mature, and equip the believers for the work of ministry and to grow the Kingdom.

They Are Not the Seven Spirits of God

The Seven Spirits of God are also known as the Seven Isaian gifts in the Catholic Church tradition, and they are not counted with the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah writes, "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD" (Isaiah 11:2-3).

There is much speculation about this mysterious Scripture. However, it's thought that the seven Spirits represent aspects of the Holy Spirit and affect the constant inner transformation of the believer whereas the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are instantaneous and outward in their operation.

They Are Not Independent of Our Human Wills

Manifestations of the Holy Spirit's nine gifts are often called signs and wonders, but not every sign and wonder is a manifested gift of the Spirit. Here's one example:

Jesus says, "'They will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them'" (Mark 16:18).

These signs and others like them are NOT abilities exercised by the will of the believer as the nine gifts are, as they are interventions subject only to God's will. This all becomes perfectly clear when we examine the operation of the nine gifts.

Before leaving on a mission trip to St Petersburg, Russia in the mid 1990s, my wife and I asked God to protect us from disease and food poisoning.

It was known that the city's drinking water was contaminated with giardia and that restaurant food was sometimes set out at room temperature for long periods of time, yet we did not suffer any ill effects.

We returned home in excellent health and did so again after a later trip to Russia. We have no doubt that God protected us from anything deadly that we had eaten or drank.

We read in Scripture, "But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, 'No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.' But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm" (Acts 28:3-5).

Paul the Apostle was supernaturally protected from an accidental encounter with a poisonous snake on the island of Malta, but he did not purposely handle the creature as that would be tempting God.

As God commanded the Children of Israel in the dessert, "'You shall not tempt the LORD your God as you tempted Him in Massah'" (Deuteronomy 6:16).

And as Jesus rebuked Satan in the wilderness, "'It is written again, "You shall not tempt the LORD your God"'" (Matthew 4:7).

We are NEVER to test or put to proof God's character and power!

They Are Not Natural Abilities

It's important to remember that the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are not developed natural abilities or God-given talents such as writing, singing, playing a musical instrument, or public speaking. They also cannot be determined by personality types and spiritual gifts tests.

The Holy Spirit's gifts are supernatural abilities that operate entirely at the will of the believer, as the Holy Spirit empowers.

Jesus says, "'You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth'" (Acts 1:8).

Here the Greek word δύναμις (dynamis) meaning miraculous power, refers to the power we receive to manifest the supernatural abilities (gifts).

These nine supernatural gifts are given to equip followers of Christ for the work that God has called us all to do. And make no mistake, these gifts are for EVERY believer, not just those active in full-time ministry.

They are available for us to use at gatherings of believers, at the workplace, and as we go about our personal lives. What's more, we can use these supernatural abilities anywhere and anytime at will, as the Holy Spirit leads and empowers.

They Are Not Satanic Counterfeit Gifts

Jesus warned that it's possible for people to exercise counterfeits of the spiritual gifts that have the potential to deceive.

Jesus says, "'Then if anyone says to you, "Look, here is the Christ!" or "There!" do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect'" (Matthew 24:23-24).

For instance, the Apostle Paul had to contend with a demon possessed young woman who counterfeited the gift of prophecy by fortune-telling.

We read in Scripture, "Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, 'These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.' And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 'I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.' And he came out that very hour" (Acts 16:16-18).

Satan and his demons counterfeit God's gifts hoping to deceive unwary people. For that reason, we must learn how to recognize the nine genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and then the counterfeit gifts will stand out like a bad penny.

My first full-time job was working for a major trust company and part of my training was learning how to spot counterfeit currency.

I was handed a quantity of genuine $20, $50, and $100 banknotes and told to spend time counting them, feeling them, and examining their markings to become totally familiar with them. I was never handed a counterfeit bill to examine!

Once you know the genuine, you will NEVER be fooled by the counterfeit!

More will be shared about how to recognize and deal with counterfeited spiritual gifts when we study the gift of discernment of spirits.

For now, rest assured that when you desire the gifts the Holy Spirit, He will not give you a counterfeit.

Jesus says, "'Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!'" (Matthew 7:9-11).

Trust God to give you good gifts!

Gifts of the Holy Spirit Are Found Throughout the Bible

As we study the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, we will find them mentioned throughout the Bible in both The Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. The Bible is filled with examples of the gifts being exercised by His people.

The Spirit of God came only to certain individuals in the Old Testament to anoint them with supernatural abilities (gifts) for specific purposes. The Holy Spirit had been WITH those individuals, but His presence was not yet dwelling IN them.

However, in The New Testament, before His ascension, Jesus announced to His followers that a Heaven-sent transition would take place.

Jesus says, "'And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells WITH you and will be IN you'" (John 14:16-17, emphasis added).

The Holy Spirit was given to abide IN us forever. Paul writes, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells IN you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16, emphasis added).

And because God's Spirit now dwells IN us, we have the amazing privilege of receiving the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Don Bell of Kingdom Anointing

By Don Bell, follower of the Christ.

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