1 Corinthians 12
SUMMARY.--The Test of the Spirit of Christ. The Variety of Spiritual Gifts. All Given by the Same Spirit. The Human Body Has Many Members, with Different Offices. So it is of the Church, the Body of Christ. But All Parts of One Body. The Various Offices and Gifts.
1-3. Spiritual gifts. The supernatural gifts bestowed in the early church by the Spirit. These were especially needful, before the church had the New Testament as a guide, and in the inauguration of Christianity. 2. Ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols. Idolaters worshiping idols. These false gods had oracles, and priests professed to speak under the influence of the spirit of the god. The oracle of Delphos, not far distant from Corinth, was especially celebrated. 3. No man speaking by the spirit of God, etc. How should they test those professing to speak by the divine Spirit? If a heathen priest professed to speak by the spirit and called Jesus accursed, he had not the Spirit of God. In times of persecution Christians were asked to say Jesus Anathema. If one speaking by the spirit pronounced Jesus the Lord, he had the Holy Spirit. This confession from the heart is always moved by the Spirit.
4-6. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. The especial gifts of the Spirit imparted to fit members for various duties, are now discussed. These are various in their manifestations, but all proceed from the same Spirit. 5. Differences of ministrations; of ministries or offices, but all are in the service of the same Lord. 6. Diversities of workings. The inward workings of the Spirit are not always the same, but it is God, one God, the same God, who causes them all. The object of this section is to show that one divine source accounts for spiritual gifts diverse in their manifestations.
7-11. But the manifestation of the Spirit, etc. However varied these manifestations, all are for the profit of the whole body. No gift of the Spirit is for the benefit of the recipient. This is now shown. 8. To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom. The ability to reveal divine truth, such as possessed by the apostles. To another, the word of knowledge. The aptitude to teach unerringly what had been revealed to the apostles and prophets. 9. To another, faith. Not that faith which comes by hearing, <! -- [Ro+10:17] --> but that faith which carried miraculous power. See 13:2 Matt. 17:20 . 10. To another, prophecy. The prophet was one who, under divine impulse, spoke words given by the Holy Spirit. To another, discerning of spirits. The power of reading hearts and determining whether men spoke by the divine spirit, or some other impulse. To another, divers kinds of tongues. He who spoke with tongues, spoke languages that he had never learned. See Acts 2:6-8 . Sometimes their utterances were not understood by the audience. Hence another gift was the interpretation of tongues, the ability to explain the meaning of those who spoke with tongues. There are named here nine gifts, all supernatural, imparted by the same spirit, which distributes them according to its own will.
12-20. The body is not one member, but many. The unity of these diverse gifts, all given by the same Spirit, is illustrated by the human body, which has many members and organs with different offices, but all parts of one body. No member could claim that it was not of the body because it is not the eye, the ear, or some other organ. Each is a part, each necessary, each set where God pleased, and all taken together make up the body. So also is Christ. The spiritual body of Christ, the church. 13. For in one spirit we were all baptized into one body. "For by means of one spirit we were all baptized into one body" (Meyer). Rather, moved by one spirit acting through the apostles and evangelists, we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free. The idea is that, though diverse in race and condition, all have been made parts of one body by baptism, and that this had all been done under the direction of one spirit. All, too, receiving it as a gift, drank of the same spirit. Hence, if special and extraordinary spiritual gifts were imparted to the members of this body, these would be due to one spirit.
21-26. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee. Every member of the body has its place and is needed by every other member.
27-31. Now, ye are the body of Christ, etc. All were "baptized into one body" ( verse 13 ), and hence are severally members or parts of the one body, with offices to discharge like those of the members of the human body. 28. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles. The various offices of the members are pointed out. Some had stations to which they were assigned by the spirit. Nine spiritual gifts have already been named; <! -- [1Co+12:8-10] --> nine positions in the church are now given. Apostles. The twelve, Paul, and such evangelists as Barnabas and others; men sent by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel. Prophets. See note on verse 10. Teachers. Men gifted by the spirit to teach in the church. Miracles. Those who had the power to work miracles. Gifts of healing. One division of miraculous powers granted. Helps. Spiritual aid granted to helpers, such as deacons. Governments. The administrative abilities of the presbytery. To each the Spirit granted the special gifts required. 29. Are all apostles? Only a few had this office given them, and so of each of the other gifts. 31. Covet earnestly the best gifts. The highest spiritual gifts. <! -- [See 1Co+14:12.] --> I show a more excellent way. There is something still better than these which all may possess. This best of all things is shown in the next chapter .