This question is asked a lot when reading the Bible, and it comes up often in Churches when the topic is preached. What does it really mean to manifest holy spirit? There are varying answers to it depending on who you ask. There is truly only one answer, and it is found clearly in the New Testament. In this study, we will answer that question based on the context of scripture and historical evidence recorded in the book of Acts and the first book of Corinthians. What does it mean to manifest according to the Bible?
In John’s gospel, Jesus Christ alluded to it:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things [greater works] than these, because I am going to the Father.John 14:12 NIV
Jesus Christ spoke of born again believers doing greater works than he did when he was here on earth. What could possibly be greater than the amazing miracles, healings, signs, and wonders that he did?!?
We will cover that but before we get there, let’s cover the topic of manifesting.
One of the definitions that I have heard for manifesting the holy spirit is related to how we live our lives. Once we are born again we are expected to take the next step and live according to the scripture. But while this is an accurate teaching on our response to God’s blessing and salvation, it is not manifesting holy spirit in a literal sense. It is simply a natural “attitude adjustment” based on a new spiritual life.
Another explanation I’ve heard relates to how we show the goodness of God outwardly in a material sense. This may be in our behavior, in our words, in our actions, or how we do in the marketplace. We are called to be witnesses of the Gospel, and God desires we are prosperous. But this is not the Biblical definition of what it means to manifest holy spirit either.
There is nothing truly manifested (in a biblical sense) until something supernatural is revealed. For something supernatural to be revealed, there must first be a supernatural occurrence in us.
The very nature of the word “manifest” is to make something known. To manifest is to provide evidence of something, or prove it. To “reveal” it to the world. Often the context means something that has never before been revealed, as we will see later in the book of Acts.
Scottish Biologist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928 and the revolutionary life saving effects were revealed to the world. (Penicillins were among the first medications to be effective against bacterial infections from which many people suffered.) Countless lives have been spared because of this discovery. This is a great example of something that was unknown, and once revealed, was manifested to everyone.
You can see this type of “revealing” from the context used in the scripture. Knowing this, manifesting holy spirit cannot refer exclusively to how we live our lives or align our outward behavior. It cannot be the outward blessings we receive from God in the material world. It must refer to the unveiling of something spiritually significant. Let’s look at some examples of how manifest is used in the New Testament:
…praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the Mystery of Christ… that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.Colossians 4:3-4
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.Ephesians 5:13
…they which are approved may be made manifest among you.I Corinthians 11:19
For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.Luke 8:17
These examples show how something that was once concealed is revealed to everyone. The evidence is delivered, proving the case beyond a shadow of a doubt. The context in these verses is a revelation of information and a public display of the revealing for all to see. This is important to understand when we consider the context of manifesting the gift of holy spirit.
The first step to manifesting the spirit of God is to become a child of God. It is absolutely impossible to manifest holy spirit unless we are saved, or born again. Romans 10 is “as simple as it gets” to explain this concept
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9 NIV
That is how straightforward God made salvation. Nothing is required except to believe what is written in this verse! We declare and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised him from the dead and we are born again with life eternal! (also see II Timothy 2:8, I Peter 3:22)
The next logical step after being born again is to manifest. You may ask yourself; “How do I know for sure that I am born again?” Certainly, you have the scripture that tells you that you are. You may feel an overwhelming feeling of security and peace after salvation. God answers your prayers and you see His divine providence in your life. You meet amazing people who love God and love you. You may even be baptized before the congregation. Regardless, the question may remain for some; “How do I know that I am born again?” What follows is the answer to that question.
The first time that anyone, ever, manifested the gift of holy spirit was recorded on the Day of Pentecost in the book of Acts chapter two.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they [the apostles] were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit, Pneuma Hagion] and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.Acts 2:1-4 KJV
The first four verses of Acts 2 record the apostles manifesting holy spirit. This is what was hidden, and has now been revealed.
Pentecost was a one day celebration held in the Fall for the purpose of dedicating the harvest to God as the provider of the abundance they had been given. It is fitting that God chose this day to pour out His Spirit upon the people as a bold witness to all. The harvest was plentiful indeed!
Christ’s accomplishments through his birth, his sinless life, his ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension made it possible for us to be born again. Manifesting holy spirit by speaking in tongues is the evidence and absolute proof that we are born again.
In this case, God chose to provide additional visual and verbal evidence to the people present. This was shown in the vision of a fire, shaped like “cloven” (or split) tongues that came and sat upon each of the Apostles, a sound like a rushing mighty wind, and the sign of the Apostles’ speaking in other tongues (other languages unknown to them) This was a miracle for those present and it is not likely to be repeated the first time we manifest, however the manifestation of speaking in tongues is done frequently by those who choose to operate this spiritual ability. It’s easy and it’s a blessing. All you need to do is believe — and speak — and God provides the inspiration and the words to say through your holy spirit gift within. Any born-again believer has the ability to speak in tongues just like in the book of Acts. God does not limit who can operate the manifestation. God gives everyone the same measure of holy spirit. (John 3:33-34, Acts 10:34)
The other very important thing to note from this record is that the believers spoke with “other tongues” which means they did not understand the tongue or language themselves as they spoke it. This was not a language they learned, it was divinely inspired by God as they operated their gift of holy spirit. It is impossible to learn to speak fluently in another language that quickly, but God gave them the words “on demand” and they spoke the other languages perfectly. We read further in the next section:
Acts 2:5 – And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews [Jewish people, Judeans] devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
The Day of Pentecost was a big deal. There were people from “every kind of nation” of the known world represented here. Some of the countries are listed in later verses but the emphasis shows that there were lots of different people here from geographically diverse areas. And many of them were biblical scholars who had known of the prophecies from the Old Testament that were being fulfilled right before their eyes as they watched.
Now when this [their manifesting holy spirit by speaking in tongues] was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded [bewildered, amazed] because that every man (every one) heard them speak in his own language.Acts 2:6 KJV
The multitude heard clearly the manifestation of speaking in tongues operated by the Apostles (in an unknown language to the Apostles) but the people understood it in their own respective native languages. This was supernatural and inspired by God. But what about today? Can this still happen?
A modern day example would be if a Portuguese speaking person from Brazil visited the United States and heard an English speaking person manifest using perfect Portuguese dialect even though they don’t know even a single word of the language. Speaking in Tongues was, and still is, truly supernatural. This happens even today in parts of the world where there are multiple languages spoken by the audience. The people present here in the book of Acts were amazed and in complete awe of the power of God shown forth.
I have spoken to multilingual people who have experienced this during an international gathering of believers. They heard the manifestation of speaking in Tongues operated by someone who only spoke English but it was in their own language. When the speaker interpreted the message, it was perfectly interpreted. The consensus from this and other similar accounts shows that not only was the language spoken accurately, but the tone, inflection, and even accent were also done properly as well. And it was an interpretation, not a word-for-word translation. It was conversational. Only God can do this. This is the proof that salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit is true and real. Continuing in Acts 2, we read:
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?Acts 2:7-12 KJV
It would be marvelous enough if one person from one other country heard a message from God their own language spoken perfectly by someone who had never learned it. This was clearly miraculous. But to hear these Galileans speak all of the other languages of the known Eastern world was a marvel which proved God’s presence and inspiration beyond all doubt. This was demonstrating the power of God in a way that it had never before been shown to the world. The “greater works” of John 5:20 were now revealed!
Speaking in Tongues was one of the “greater things” that Jesus Christ was unable to do while he was on earth. Even with all of the miracles, healings, resurrections, and acts of God’s power that Jesus Christ performed, speaking in tongues was not available to him. Christ finished his work on earth, was crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended into heaven — thus making available salvation to all. With this gift of holy spirit salvation also comes the manifestations of the Holy Spirit (there are more than one)
You might ask why this is not taught in some churches, and the reason for that is simple. You cannot teach that which you do not understand. So this topic gets overlooked or avoided in many churches and ministries.
And some Christians have erroneously operated this manifestation “in chaos” while falling on the floor, screaming out, running around, and doing other strange things. These actions are not related to the manifestation of Speaking in Tongues itself and are the choice of the people acting this way. God does not inspire chaos, He is the God of Peace. Those who have seen or participated in this type of disorderly worship are probably hesitant to invite other people to see it. Either way, the manifestation of Speaking in Tongues is a good thing, is from God, and is in the Scripture so we should be as informed as possible on the subject. Paul speaks of these spiritual matters in the first book of Corinthians:
Now about the gifts of the Spirit [or, concerning the matters of the Spirit] brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed [ignorant, unaware]1 Corinthians 12:1 NIV
Paul is encouraging the Corinthian people to be diligent to understand spiritual matters. He then reminds them of their past so they can look at a better future:
You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. [silent false gods, lacking power] Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.1 Corinthians 12:2-3 NIV
Shortly after Jesus Christ was resurrected and ascended into heaven [Mark 16:19] the miracle of Acts 2 that we read earlier occurred and the believers manifested Holy Spirit for the first time. Everyone present witnessed the power of God evidenced (more than three thousand were born again, plus additional bystanders not counted) The people who were there witnessed God energizing the manifestations of Speaking in Tongues, and Interpretation of Tongues. Some of those who were present at the time questioned whether the tongues spoken were cursing Jesus. Paul and the disciples were correcting any errors in judgement by the people in this matter.
There are different kinds of gifts [manifestations] but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working [operations, manifestations] but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NIV
In verse 4, many translations say “different kinds of gifts” but that should more accurately read “manifestations” based on the context of what follows in verse 7.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one [for this purpose] there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NIV
This is the only place in the Bible where all of the manifestations of holy spirit are listed together. They are:
- Word of Wisdom
- Word of Knowledge
- Faith (Believing)
- Discerning of Spirits
- Speaking in Tongues
- Interpretation of Tongues
The English translation of I Corinthians 12:7-11 makes it sound like the nine manifestations listed here are selectively given to one person as God would see fit. This is not the case, however when you look at the original Greek and Hebrew. (all grammar, punctuation, and even sentence structure was added by translators and is not always authoritative) All of the manifestations of the holy spirit are given to everyone, for the purpose of profiting and benefiting the people who operate them as well as those around them.
God inspires the operations but each one of us have the ability to manifest in one or all of these categories as we walk with God. Together, we all make up the body of Christ.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.I Corinthians 12:27-31 NIV
Each of us operate within the Body of Christ as God inspires us with His Holy Spirit. All of the manifestations are available to us, but God energizes them through different people as the situation requires it. Each manifestation is for a specific purpose that God designed. Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, and Prophecy are the manifestations shown outwardly as a witness of His power both to the person operating the manifestation as well as the people present. Earlier I mentioned the various ways that people operate the manifestations in chaos. This is not God’s intention. Paul writes:
Let all things be done decently and in order.I Corinthians 14:40
God wants us to do things “decently and in order” –His word says that he is not the author of confusion, but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33) The context of this verse is specifically regarding the manifestations of holy spirit. These manifestations are given to us by God when we become born again and they are immediately available for our blessing and benefit. God does not want them to be operated in chaos, which distracts from the incredible witness of the operation of Speaking in Tongues in the Church.
What language do we speak when we operate the manifestation of Speaking in Tongues?
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.1 Corinthians 13:1
God inspires us to speak either one of the languages on earth (tongues of men) or a language of the Spirit (tongues of Angels)
When Speaking in Tongues is operated publicly it is always to be interpreted immediately after. God gives the interpretation the same way as the message in tongues. Paul covers this in verse 5 of 1 Corinthians 14:
I [Paul] wish that all of you [would] speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be edified.1 Corinthians 14:5 BSB
Prophecy is given directly in the language of the people present. So unless speaking in Tongues is interpreted, prophecy is preferable because it can be readily understood. When interpreted, speaking in tongues is equally beneficial and is a witness of the power of God!
Speaking in Tongues is both a prayer and a form of worship and praise. It should always be interpreted in public when operated so that the audience present can be blessed by the words from God.
John 4:24 says – God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (The translated modern Bibles say “God is a Spirit” but it should read “God is Spirit” or “God is THE Spirit” since he is the one and only creator, Holy Spirit, not just another deity among many)
What does it mean to worship in the Spirit?
Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, and Prophesy are how we worship in the spirit.
All other forms of worship are with our 5 senses. These are great also, but worshipping in the spirit is done via the manifestations of Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, and Prophecy. Speaking in Tongues is our connection to God
In our private prayer life, Speaking in Tongues also builds up the spirit within and is the foundation for God energizing the other 6 manifestations.
Let’s look at examples from the Word regarding these other 6 manifestations in operation.
When he [Jesus Christ] was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped [paid respect, homage to] him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. [that was the man’s faith, believing] 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, [word of wisdom, leprosy was extremely contagious!] saying, I will; be thou clean. [word of knowledge] And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. [gifts of healing & workings of miracles]Matthew 8:1-2 KJV
There are two types of healings in the Word: immediate and ultimate. God designed our bodies to heal themselves, but immediate and miraculous healing is available to whose who believe.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. [this was that man’s faith, believing] When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith [believing], no, not in Israel. And Jesus said unto the centurion, [by word of wisdom] Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. [word of prophecy] And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. [he was healed immediately = gifts of healing & workings of miracles] And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, [word of wisdom] and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. [gifts of healing & workings of miracles]Matthew 8:5-15 KJV
The manifestations of Holy Spirit work together in unison to bring deliverance!
When the even [evening] was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, [discerning of spirits, word of knowledge, word of wisdom] and healed all that were sick: [gifts of healing & workings of miracles] That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.Matthew 8:16-17 KJV
Wow! Isn’t there so much depth to the Word? It is so cool to see God at work in Jesus Christ as well as all of the other great ministers in the Bible who brought forth these signs, miracles, and wonders. And we can do the works of Christ and greater!
If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit [manifest]Galatians 5:25 KJV
God wants us to operate this ability, and we can do the works that Jesus Christ did and greater (John 14:12) as we walk in the Spirit by manifesting.
Galatians 5 and Ephesians 5 also list the fruit of the spirit, or the results of operating these manifestations of Holy Spirit that God gave us:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience and empathy], gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness [humility] temperance:…Galatians 5:22
The analogy of fruit is used to show results from a season of growth. We start small, learn to operate the gift of Holy Spirit, and grow over time.
For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truthEphesians 5:9
God gives us so many benefits as we learn his Word, as we understand our spiritual gift, operate the manifestations of Holy Spirit, and trust Him as our sufficiency in all things.
Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, and Prophecy are the greater works that we now have because Christ died, was resurrected, ascended into heaven, and brought about Salvation through the gift of Holy Spirit.
As we learn to operate these manifestations, God bring us love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, humility, temperance, righteousness and truth.
I encourage you to study these records and make this journey of spiritual growth a part of your daily life. To learn more or to get connected to people who can help you learn how to operate the manifestations of Holy Spirit, contact me here.
All verses KJV unless otherwise noted
From a June 2010 Teaching, revised 2023