1 Corinthians 12
1 Corinthians 12-14 is Paul's teaching about the Practice of Unity in regards to spiritual gifts. A “gift” (spiritual gift) is God’s supernatural power (ability, enablement) that He gives to us that is necessary for us to accomplish the ministry that He calls us to. Since there is no set number of ministries that God calls us to…there is no set number of gifts that He gives to us.
- Chapter 12 deals with the diversity of spiritual gifts and how this strengthens the unity of the body.
- Chapter 13 teaches that love is the power that unifies all the parts of the body together and the principle by which the spiritual gifts are to operate.
- Chapter 14 deals specifically with the gifts of prophecy and tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:1-3-Paul begins by saying that pagans can make whatever decision they want to about matters of their religion…its beliefs and practices. After all, there is no real god giving them direction. However, for those of the Christian faith that is not so. The decision making is done by the Holy Spirit...and that is true about spiritual gifts. You don't make decisions about spiritual gifts on your own, but the Holy Spirit makes them for you.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6-Paul says that the same spiritual gift may be used in several ways. He says there are "varieties of gifts" that are used in "varieties of ministries" that result in "varieties of effects". The same gift can be used in different ministries and in each ministry have a variety of applications. But it is the Holy Spirit Who determines these things (not us).
1 Corinthians 12:7-11-The Spirit gives gifts and their use results in good for the whole body. Paul gives several examples of these gifts: wisdom, knowledge (:8), faith, healing (:9), miracles, prophecy, distinguishing spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues (:10). Again Paul tells us that it is the Spirit Who determines who will receive what gift.
1 Corinthians 12:12-26-Paul compares the body of Christ to the human body...every part is necessary...and God has placed them there as He desires. Some gifts receive more recognition than others because of the nature of their use. However, we should be careful to honor all members of the body equally (:25). In fact, even as the human body is affected by what happens to its individual parts…so the body of Christ is affected by what happens to its individual members (:26).
1 Corinthians 12:27-30-Paul now lists some of the gifts (and gives an order of their benefit to the body, not their superiority within the body)...apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, helps, administrations, tongues. He says that not everybody has all of the gifts (:29)...nor is anybody required to have any particular gift in order to be a part of the body (:30).
1 Corinthians 12:31 is an introduction to chapters 13 and 14. Paul admonishes members to “earnestly desire” (to be zealous for something) the “greater gifts”…those that are most productive for the entire body. Members of the church should be enthusiastic and passionate towards those gifts that are most productive for the health and welfare of the whole body.
Paul then writes, “And I show you a still more excellent way.” Which means, “I will show you the most effective way this can be done.”
Excel, Excellency, Excellent:
lit., "a throwing beyond," hence, "a surpassing, an excellence," is translated "excellency" in 2Cr 4:7, AV; RV, "exceeding greatness." It always betokens pre-eminence. It is used with kata, "according to," in the phrase kath' huperbolen, signifying "beyond measure, exceedingly," Rom 7:13, "exceeding sinful;" in 2Cr 1:8, RV, "exceedingly," for AV, "out of measure;" in Gal 1:13, "beyond measure;" in 1Cr 12:31, "more excellent." In 2Cr 4:17, there is an expanded phrase kath' huperbolen eis huperbolen, lit., "according to a surpassing unto a surpassing," RV, "more and more exceedingly," which corrects the AV, "a far more exceedingly;" the phrase refers to "worketh," showing the surpassing degree of its operation, and not to the noun "weight" (nor does it qualify, "eternal"). In 2Cr 12:7, the RV has "exceeding greatness," the AV, "abundance."
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,
In chapter 13, he does this by showing that the guiding principle for the use of all the gifts is love. Chapter 14 tells us that what makes one gift greater than another is the extent of the positive effect that it creates within the body of Christ. Paul demonstrates this by showing that prophecy has a more positive effect on the body than tongues...the gifts at the two ends of the list that he had previously given (:28). Evidently, there were those in the church that were trying to give greater recognition to gifts that had less positive effect on the body. They were seeking the gift for the benefit it gave them (attention, popularity), and not for the benefit of the church (healthy, growth, maturity).
Prayer: Father, show me how to use the gift that You have given to me for the greatest benefit or Your people, the church. Please don't let me seek to bring glory to myself through its use...but to give all of the glory and praise to You.