Loading

One Corinthians Twelve

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

1 Corinthians 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

accursed. The Greeks at Corinth were familiar with the ecstatic utterances of the oracles and other devotees of the pagan gods and goddesses. Since these messages were often demonically inspired (1 Corinthians 10:20), it was entirely possible that some would utter blasphemous statements concerning Christ. Some could no doubt imitate the gifts of the Spirit discussed in this chapter, especially the gift of “tongues,” and Paul would warn that no Spirit-inspired message could blaspheme the Father or the Son, nor could it deny God's Word (note Isaiah 8:19, 20; xTerm 4:1-3).

the Lord. By the same token, only those truly indwelt by the Holy Spirit could meaningfully and truthfully make the familiar statement of faith, acknowledging that “Jesus is Lord” (compare Romans 10:9).

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

diversities of gifts. In this verse, the Greek word for “gifts” is charisma, meaning “grace-gifts,” or “free gifts.” The Spirit, by sovereign grace, gives one or more such “grace-gifts” to “every man” (1 Corinthians 12:7), as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). The same word is used in 1 Corinthians 12:9, 28, 30, 31. It is also used in Romans 12:6, which similarly lists a number of gifts of the Spirit. On the other hand, in 1 Corinthians 12:1, “spiritual gifts” is a translation of the Greek pneumatikos, meaning “Spirit-energized gifts,” implying a distinct supernatural element. This word is used again in 1 Corinthians 14:1 and 14:12. Whichever word is used, the gift is a “free gift” of the Holy Spirit (like the free gift of eternal life in Romans 6:23, where the same word is used) neither earned nor forced. Furthermore, it is God-given, therefore not man-generated.

1 Corinthians 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

given by the Spirit. There are thirteen different gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and 28-30, while seven are given in Romans 12:6-8 (two of which, however, are also listed in 1 Corinthians 12). Another list of four (possibly five) gifts is found in Ephesians 4:11, but there they are listed as “gifts” (still a different Greek word, doma, meaning “a present”) of Christ ... unto men,“ implying these are gifts to those in the church for the edifying of the whole church (Ephesians 4:16). Only two in this list are still different, making a total of twenty different gifts. One more may be the gift of celibacy, mentioned as a charisma in 1 Corinthians 7:7. Since the three lists are all different, it is obvious that none are intended as complete lists, but rather simply as typical lists. No individual would have all the gifts, nor (probably) would any one church. Some would cease with time, others would be added, as needed. They are gifts of the Spirit “as He will” (1 Corinthians 12:11), not “as we wish!”

wisdom. The “word of wisdom” and the “word of knowledge,” as special gifts of the Spirit, surely imply more than natural wisdom and knowledge, but they are not defined anywhere in Scripture. Perhaps the “word of knowledge” applies to a God-given ability to learn and retain in one's memory an abundance of information of value in the ministry, while the “word of wisdom” applies to a similar special ability to apply such knowledge in the making of wise decisions. Others have understood these terms in a more supernatural sense, however, to be applied as specially needed in particular situations that arise from time to time. Similarly the “gift of faith” would refer not to the faith through which we are saved (all believers have that faith), but special faith for special needs.

1 Corinthians 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

gifts of healing. The “gifts of healing” (note the plural, indicating a repetitive gift) were used frequently in the early church, and were clearly miraculous in nature. However, even Paul, who certainly used such a gift successfully on various occasions, was not always successful (note 2 Timothy 4:20, for example). This, like the other gifts, was bestowed individually according to God's will. Paul was not even able to bring about his own healing (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). The “gift of miracles” was similar, except that it was for special needs other than healings.

1 Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

prophecy. The “gift of prophecy” was especially for guidance of believers before the New Testament was completed, conveying special revelations from God whenever needed for such a purpose. Sometimes, but not usually, it included predictions of coming events. This gift would definitely cease when no longer needed (1 Corinthians 13:8; Revelation 22:18), and this would also be true of tongues and knowledge (1 Corinthians 13:8), and therefore probably of the other supernatural gifts, when and if they were no longer needed or might be misused for personal benefit.

tongues. The “gift of tongues” has been the most controversial of the gifts, especially in connection with the charismatic renewal of recent decades. The word “tongue” itself (Greek glossa from which we get “glossolalia”), as used in both Biblical and extra-Biblical Greek writings, always refers either to a definite structured language or else the physical organ of speech (never to meaningless noises). Its use is clearly described in Acts 2:4-6 when the gift of tongues was first given, and included known ethnic languages that were unknown to the respective speakers. The “interpretation [i.e., “translation”] of tongues” similarly was the supernatural ability to understand and translate words spoken in a language unknown to the translator.

1 Corinthians 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

are we all. The verb should be “were,” denoting an event of the past. Also note the word “all,” twice used in this verse. Thus, all true Christians, those who have “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9), have been baptized (i.e., “immersed”) into the spiritual Body of Christ, when they were saved by grace through faith. They are all members of that Body, each with a particular gift or gifts, serving in ways analogous to the various functions of the different members of a physical body. Not all believers have the gift of tongues or of teaching, any more than all members of a body function as eyes or ears.

baptized. There are numerous references to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all consistent with the teaching here that all true believers in Christ have been baptized into His body, thus sharing His eternal life. See Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16). Note that the Greek preposition en, here translated “by,” can just as well be rendered “in” or “with.”

1 Corinthians 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.

1 Corinthians 12:15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

1 Corinthians 12:16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

1 Corinthians 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

1 Corinthians 12:18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

1 Corinthians 12:19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

1 Corinthians 12:20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

1 Corinthians 12:21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

1 Corinthians 12:22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

1 Corinthians 12:23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

1 Corinthians 12:24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

1 Corinthians 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

1 Corinthians 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

first apostles. The gift of apostleship obviously lasted only as long as the last of the apostles (evidently John) was living. One of its prerequisites was that of seeing the resurrected Christ in person (see note on 1 Corinthians 9:1). The idea of an apostolic succession in later centuries is without Biblical support, but the missionary in some measure is similar in function. The gift of prophecy was also to cease (1 Corinthians 13:8) after it was no longer needed, probably when the New Testament was completed and accepted by the church.

thirdly teachers. The gift of teaching, however, which in effect would supplement and finally replace the gift of prophecy, would be needed in all churches from then on. This gift uniquely (except for that of prophecy, which it replaces) is carried in all three listings of the gifts of the Spirit (Romans 12:7: 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11).

diversities of tongues. Note again that the gift of tongues involves many different languages, not one heavenly tongue.

1 Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

1 Corinthians 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

1 Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.