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
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
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
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,
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
To another, divers kinds of tongues. He who spoke with
tongues, spoke languages that he had never learned. See
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
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
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
27-31. Now, ye are the body of Christ, etc. All were "baptized
into one body"
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;
nine positions in the church are now given.
Apostles. The twelve, Paul, and such evangelists as Barnabas and
sent by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel.
Prophets. See note on
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.
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