The patristic authors1 enumerate the following list of gifts or emanations of the Holy Spirit among other lists of moral virtues. According these authors, these qualities are completely demonstrated in Christ and are also demonstrated by believers in the Church. They are

  1. Wisdom,
  2. Understanding,
  3. Counsel,
  4. Fortitude,
  5. Knowledge,
  6. Piety, and
  7. Fear of the Lord.

According to a number of sources, the list of these Spiritual gifts or virtues comes from Isaiah 11:1-3 (emphasis mine):

(KJV) And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

And 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;

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

It appears that only six of the seven gifts listed above appear in this verse. Why is piety also included in the list to make seven gifts?

1. For example, see Victorinus, Commentarii in Apocalypsim Iohannis 1, 4: Septiformem spiritum in Esaia legimus '(Esa., XI, 2), spiritum' videlicet 'sapientiae et intellectus, consilii et fortitudinis, scientiae et pietatis, spiritum timoris Domini.' Authors such Augustine, Hilary of Poitiers, and John Cassian all speak of the gifts with familiarity.


2 Answers 2


According to Roman Catholicism, believers receive these gifts at baptism, which are then made more perfect by the rite of Confirmation. Consider the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1285,

"The reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace." For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

In order to determine the number of gifts observed by the patristic authors, consider the Vulgate Latin text of the verses you mentioned:

et egredietur virga de radice Iesse et flos de radice eius ascendet

et requiescet super eum spiritus Domini spiritus [1]sapientiae et [2]intellectus spiritus [3]consilii et [4]fortitudinis spiritus [5]scientiae et [6]pietatis

et replebit eum spiritus [7]timoris Domini non secundum visionem oculorum iudicabit neque secundum auditum aurium arguet

In the Latin, you'll see seven gifts, the sixth of which is pietatis or piety, and the seventh of which is timoris Domini, or fear of the Lord. In most English language Bibles (NIV, NET, ESV, NASB, KJV, et al), the original words for piety and fear of the Lord are both translated as "fear of the Lord", and so the seven distinct gifts are not preserved.

  • 1
    Interestingly, even the Catholic-originated New American Bible uses "fear of the Lord" in both verse 2 and verse 3. May 19, 2016 at 14:53
  • 1
    @MattGutting I also found that interesting. LXX is πνεῦμα σοφίας καὶ συνέσεως, πνεῦμα βουλῆς καὶ ἰσχύος, πνεῦμα γνώσεως καὶ εὐσεβείας, πνεῦμα φόβου θεοῦ.
    – Andrew
    May 19, 2016 at 15:10

There are two verses in this verse that are an equivalent to the gift of Piety..Piety from Oxford dictionary means; reverence and devotion to God or any other act relating to the reverence and devotion to God, if the definition is furthered. The first verse is Isaiah 11 verse 2a..."the spirit of wisdom and of understanding. Remember,Proverbs 9vs10:"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and KNOWLEDGE of the Holy One is understanding" Note: It is through devotion that one gains the knowledge of God; with Devotion being fervently affectionate to something or strongly dedicated to something and in this specific case God.It is also referred to as a "religious zeal" that same zeal which was dominant in Paul's ministry. Secondly, verse 3 which talks about the fear of the Lord. In my definition of Piety there is the term reverence which if defined relates to Awe and respect and the fear of the Lord is usually associated with awe and respect....actions like falling on the feet, bowing down etc. Revelations 1vs 17. That is how you account for the piety as the seventh gift.


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