Scriptures

1 Corinthians 12

Introduction

The Corinthian Christians had coveted the gift of speaking in tongues. Apparently this gift was viewed in higher esteem than other gifts due to the fact that many pagan converts had made their way into the church.

These pagans once worshiped idols and spoke ecstatic utterances thinking that they were controlled by the respected idol deity. Those who had the gift of tongues exalted themselves over others as though they were superior or closer to God than others.

1 Corinthians 12-14 deal with the issue of gifts. Paul sets these gifts in their proper order and gives the purpose for their use.

While the function of gifts are discovered throughout God’s word, i.e., to prove that God is the one and only Lord, Isaiah 46:9-10, confirm the words spoken by the miracle worker as being of a divine origin, Mark 16:20 / Hebrews 2:3+4, produce faith in those who witnessed the gifts, John 20:30-31 / Acts 8:4ff, and to display God’s mercy, Matthew 14:14, these listed functions are not the objective of 1 Corinthians 12.

The Corinthians had lost sight of God’s intentions for gifts and thereby needed to be brought back to the objective by going back to the basics. 1 Corinthians 12 identifies gifts and instructs the Corinthians to see that their objective is not to benefit individuals only but rather the whole church, 1 Corinthians 12:7.

Paul explains to the Corinthians that the church is not comprised of one member but many. Whatever individuals in the church do, ought to be done in consideration of others.

Paul addresses the question of spiritual gifts.

“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:1-3

What is a spiritual gift?

The words ‘spiritual gift’ is a transliteration of the Greek word ‘pneumatikon.’

A ‘gift’ ‘charismaton’ is a word that simply means ‘favour’. The gifts were God’s favour to the Christians to prove to the world that God is the one and only Lord, Isaiah 46:9+10, confirm the words spoken by the miracle worker as being of a divine origin, Mark 16:20 / Hebrews 2:3-4, produce faith in those who witnessed the gifts, John 20:30-31 / Acts 8:4ff, to display God’s mercy, Matthew 14:14, and as this chapter reveals to edify and unify the local church.

There are 13 gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12-14. The apostle Paul did not want the Corinthians to be ‘ignorant’ of the gift’s purposes. Apparently the Corinthians had lost sight of the objective of these gifts. The emphasis was taken away from God’s real objectives for gifts and placed upon the self-importance of individuals. Again, the Corinthians were thinking like the world, 1 Corinthians 14:4 etc.

Through these ‘spiritual matters,’ gifts, God was made manifest, Isaiah 46:9-10. The idols or gods worshipped, on the other hand, had no such manifestation because they were ‘dumb,’ speechless, 1 Corinthians 10:20 / Psalms 115:4-7.

The Gentiles were ‘led away unto those dumb idols’ by the devil, 1 Corinthians 10:20. God is not ‘dumb’ but rather intelligent as the creator of all things. The Corinthians need not be ignorant of God’s will for these gifts.

One who would claim that Jesus is ‘anathema’ can only do so through ignorance and a spirit of ‘dumbness.’ The living God moves man to speak divine things for divine purposes. The ignorant and dumb do things for selfish purposes that have no real backing other than that of Satan, 1 Corinthians 10:20.

A conclusive test is now given to the Corinthians that they may determine who is performing gifts according to divine influence and who was not.

The apostle John gives a test as well that all may know who is truly in fellowship with God when he said, ‘This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.’ 1 John 3:10

Paul’s test is likewise simple. If one were to call Jesus ‘anathema’ he is certainly not doing so of God. The word ‘anathema’ means anything devoted to evil, an accursed thing. Jesus is not devoted to evil and neither is our Lord accursed.

Remember, the idol is dumb and cannot speak. Those so speaking are not being governed by God. There is only one left to blame, i.e., Satan, 1 Corinthians 10:20.

Conversely, one who would claim, ‘Jesus is Lord’ is in the Holy Spirit. The apostle John said, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” 1 John 4:2-3

Apparently there were false teachers and or selfish brethren in Corinth posing as spiritual yet proclaiming false doctrines. Paul is clearly telling the Corinthian brethren that we can determine whether a teacher is false by his doctrine.

The “spirit of truth and spirit of error” is clearly distinguishable through the doctrines brought forth, 1 John 4:6. Therefore a man speaking from God or against God would be known by his words, Deuteronomy 13:1-5.

Characteristics of God’s gifts to man

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

The word ‘diversities’, ‘diairesis’ means a dividing, division, of money, in the reckoning of the votes on either side. As there are different denominations of currency (i.e., 1p, 5p, 10p, 20p) even so there are differing gifts.

These different ‘gifts’ were ‘distributed’ to different people, believers by the Holy Spirit. The recipient of said gifts did not earn them. It was by the grace of God, through the Holy Spirit that these gifts were ‘distributed’ for the confirmation of his word, learning, and unity.

Though there are different gifts there is only one Holy Spirit. There were not gods responsible for each gift man possessed. Paul begins to explain to the Corinthians the oneness of the church as opposed to the multi-directional Corinthians paths of selfishness, faction, and division. These things are not as God would have the church function.

The word ‘ministrations’, ‘diakonia’ is the office of a diakonos, servant, deacons, members of the church etc. Clearly, the diakonia represents the service or function of these spiritual gifts as compared to bishops, preachers, teachers and all who would serve in proclaiming the gospel.

Each individual is distributed a gift for the purpose of confirming and learning the word of God. Though there are differing functions, for each gift there is but one Lord Jesus Christ.

The point being that just because an individual had a different gift with a different function than other members does not mean that this individual is separate from the one church or the one God!

The word ‘workings’, ‘energima’ means work, produce, effect. Though there are differing effects or outcomes to be performed by members of the body of Christ there is but one same God.

Interestingly, Paul has compared the oneness of the godhead, i.e., the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God the Father, with the plurality of gifts, their functions, and effects or outcomes upon man.

Though there are many men and women with various functions within the church there is only one God. The church is an organization with a single objective yet many members to achieve that objective.

Just as a business has structure and organization to obtain its goals so the church. While a business has labourers, managers, supervisors, presidents, the church has elders, deacons, preachers, and members, Philippians 1:1. The church in the beginnings also had members with gifts to achieve its objective.

Each of the above mentioned servants are distributed the ‘manifestation of the Spirit’. The word ‘manifestation’, ‘phanerosis’ from the root word ‘phaino’ is defined as to bring to light, make to appear, to shew forth, make known, reveal. Each individual who receives a gift has received a clear disclosure of revelation.

This clear disclosure of revelation is evident to all and is to profit all rather than a few, 1 Corinthians 14:31. One God, many members, and all are to disclose their gifts to profit all.

All are intended to be one through the gifts as the godhead is one. Paul’s point is that unity ought to be the outcome as the Holy Spirit distributes a plurality of gifts with a plurality of functions.

The age of the Spirit’s ministry

In John 14:15+16, having in mind His own imminent return to the Father after the fulfilment of His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus spoke to His followers about the coming of the Holy Spirit. He promised His followers, ‘I will pray the Father and He will send you another Comforter’. The word that is used, ‘parakletos’, translated ‘Comforter’ in the A.V. and the R.V., describes ‘one called alongside to help’.

Furthermore, Jesus promised that when the Spirit of Truth came, He would abide with believers ‘forever’. The word ‘meno’, abide, means remain permanently. He also explained, in John 16:7-15, that, the Holy Spirit’s ministry would be to ‘convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment’.

That ministry commenced on the Day of Pentecost, as Acts 2 reveals. The Holy Spirit came, as the Lord had promised. And the Holy Spirit has never left! Today we see the ridiculous sight of ‘Pentecostal’ congregations earnestly praying for someone to come who has never gone away! What is more, He will not leave until the close of the Christian Age, when the Lord Himself returns.

So, we see, then, that the plan of salvation which originated in the mind of the Father, was implement and fully realized in the life, death and resurrection of the Son, and today it continues to be made effective by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Good News.

That Gospel was first presented in its fullness by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, and it was on that day that he announced that those who believed the message, repented and were baptized, would receive not only the forgiveness of their sins, but also the gift of the Holy Spirit.

‘Gift not Gifts’

As I have already suggested, it is this second promise which many Christians find difficult to understand. Let us notice, therefore, that Peter spoke of the ‘gift’ not ‘gifts’ of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:38 the word ‘gift’ is the word ‘dorea’, which is accurately defined as ‘free gift’. One translation renders it rather expressively as, ‘the plus of the Holy Spirit’.

The word describes the Holy Spirit Himself as the extra gift, provided by God, for those who obey the Gospel. Thus, Acts 2:38 does not refer to some sort of miraculous or spiritual gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit. It tells us that the Holy Spirit Himself is the Heavenly Father’s Own gift to His obedient people; given to enable them to live a successful and satisfied Christian life.

The ‘gifts’, another subject. When, later, Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church about ‘spiritual gifts’, he was dealing with a very different subject. In 1 Corinthians 12-14, the nine gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit are described as ‘charisma’, or ‘grace gifts’, and it is important to distinguish between the Holy Spirit as God’s own gift, and the miraculous gifts which, in the New Testament age, the Spirit Himself bestowed.

Please notice that:

1. The ‘charismata’ were various miraculous abilities or endowments, which the Holy Spirit Himself gave to individual believers, according to His own, will. 1 Corinthians 12:11.

2. Believers did not all receive the same gift/s. 1 Corinthians 12: 29-30.

3. Nor were these gifts intended to last. 1 Corinthians 13:8.

4. In contrast, the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’ is the gift of God Himself, offered to every obedient believer, Acts 5:32.

5. All are offered the same gift, the indwelling presence of the His Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19 / Romans 8:9.

6. And, along with salvation, the gift of the Spirit’s presence will continue to be offered until the end of the Christian Age.

The Purpose of the gift. What will this ‘gift’ do for us? This is a question worthy of a separate study, but think about just two aspects of His ministry.

a. The Holy Spirit is described as the ‘Comforter’. That English word comes to us from the Latin, ‘con fortis’, which literally means, ‘with strength’. Thus, the Holy Spirit strengthens us. We need to learn to lean on Him.

b. Romans 8:26-27 tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us when we pray, taking our faltering, stumbling petitions and presenting them to the Father, as our intercessor. We should make use of His intercession.

If you have obeyed the Gospel and accepted God’s gift of forgiveness, the question is, have you also accepted His ‘extra’ gift?

Spiritual gifts

I said that they might be classified as:

1. Gifts having to do with intellectual powers. Knowledge. Wisdom.

2. Thaumaturgic gifts, which are gifts involving miraculous powers. ‘Thauma’ meaning ‘wonder’, thus, acts which produce wonder. Powerful Faith. The Gift of Healing. The Working of Miracles.

3. Gifts which had to do with the spoken word. Preaching and Teaching, Prophecy, ‘pro fetes’, to speak forth. The Ability to Distinguish between spirits. Possibly relating to exorcism. The ability to speak in other languages. Languages which had not been learned. The Ability to Interpret the languages used.

I think we also saw that, at that time and in those circumstances, these were not merely extravagant demonstrations of miraculous power, but gifts which were eminently practical; the purpose being to edify, build up the entire church.

Since that was the Spirit’s purpose in bestowing the Gifts, it was not necessary that every member of the church should possess them, nor were members regarded as second-class Christians if they did not possess gifts. The closing verses of 1 Corinthians 12 proves this; ‘Do all speak with tongues? Do all possess the gift of healing? Do all interpret?’ The implied answer to these questions is no!

1. Gifts having to do with intellectual powers.

1. Knowledge.

Knowledge, ‘gnosis’ is a knowing, knowledge. This gift is distinguished from the ‘word of wisdom’ in that information (knowledge) is in contrast with judgment and practicality of knowledge. The one with this gift had knowledge and the one with wisdom made application of that knowledge.

2. Wisdom.

Wisdom, ‘sophia’ is sound judgment, intelligence, practical wisdom. Individuals were given the gift of wisdom (and all other gifts) by being ‘moved (tell or announce) by the Holy Spirit’, 2 Peter 1:21. The Holy Spirit simply told these people what to say and do.

2. Thaumaturgic gifts, that is gifts involving miraculous powers.

3. Powerful faith.

This would not be the faith of Romans 5:1. This is a miraculous faith that enabled one to ‘remove mountains’, 1 Corinthians 13:2 / Matthew 17:20.

4. The gift of healing.

The gift of ‘healing’, ‘iama’ would be to heal, cure, or make one recover. Such a one helped the physically sick and diseased that all may know the reality of Jehovah God. Note once again the significance of the various gifts yet the ‘one Spirit.’

The gifts, though many, contributed to the public and brethren’s understanding of the one God’s will.

I want us to consider the gift of healing and the claims of those who profess to exercise this gift today.

1. I would like you to think about the confusion, which we find in the religious world, on the subject of healing.

2. Then, I want you to think about the unscriptural, false and misleading claims that are often made by so-called ‘faith healers’ today.

3. Then we shall see what the true gift of healing meant in New Testament times.

4. Finally, how the Gift was received and how long it was meant to last. Let us clearly understand what we are talking about.

We are talking about healing, not from the medical standpoint, but from the religious standpoint.

The confusion of names

The religious world uses different names. It is sometime called it divine healing, or spiritual healing or faith healing.

In fact, none of these descriptions is really accurate.

1. For instance, to call it divine healing is much too vague and too loose a description because examples of ‘divine healing’, that is, example of people being healed by God, can be found in the scriptures centuries before spiritual gifts were bestowed. Elijah and Elisha and others healed people miraculously.

2. And to call it spiritual healing misses the point, because the ailments which the Gift of Healing dealt with were unmistakably physical, not spiritual.

3. And as for faith healing. When so-called ‘Faith-Healers’, fail to heal the sick people who come to them, they always claim that the failure occurs because the faith of the sick person is not strong enough, or that they lack faith altogether. But the gift of healing had nothing whatsoever to do with ‘faith’ healing. Healing was bestowed whether faith was present or not.

So what precisely are we looking at? We are not asking if God can heal because we know He can. We are not asking if God does heal because we know He does. We are not asking if God heals in answer to prayer, because we know that James 5:15 tell us to pray for the sick. We are not discussing healing in response to faith which is, in fact, very closely related to healing in response to prayer.

What we are asking today is, are there people who possess the gift of healing, which was bestowed by the Holy Spirit in New Testament times? This is something I would like you to think about. Do today’s so-called ‘faith healers’ possess and demonstrate the gift of the spirit the gift of healing?

You know, it is positively amazing how many confuse the gift of Healing with faith healing, when the two are very different indeed. For example, I have a report concerning a healing campaign, which featured a man named Theo Jones.

At one of his meetings, well! Let the report speak for itself. ‘There was a totally blind woman led in by her husband. You are NOT BELIEVING, sister,’ Jones warned her. ‘Your faith is weak’, the blind woman was hustled off the platform immediately.

Now, I imagine you know what that really meant! Faced with a real physical problem and not some psychosomatic, or neurological, or undiagnosed, or unproven ailment, Mr. Jones was absolutely powerless, and therefore tried to cover his impotence by brazenly accusing the poor woman of not having sufficient faith. The element that was lacking in that case was not faith, but power. The man had no power.

If we turn to Acts 5:12-16, we see the miraculous power in action. Many wonders and signs were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. They carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on bed and pallets, so that, as Peter came by, his shadow might fall on some of them. Furthermore, people of the area around Jerusalem, ‘brought the sick, those afflicted with unclean were ALL healed’.

If we look at Acts 19:11-12, we see that the same thing happened in Paul’s ministry. God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs and aprons were carried from him to the sick and the diseases left them.

You see that, when a person possessed the gift of healing it did not matter if the patient had great faith, or faith, or little faith or no faith at all! But the power which the Spirit of God had granted.

I repeat that, what produced the healing was gift possessed by the healer, and it did not depend on the faith of the sufferer. This is why we say that ‘faith’ Healing and the gift of Healing are very different matters.

Needless to say, when people are suffering severe illness they are understandably willing to try anything in order to obtain a cure. And the trust and confidence they demonstrate in so-called faith healers, who mercilessly take advantage of them, are really pathetic.

Putting it bluntly, most of what passes as faith healing, in modern faith Healing campaigns is fraudulent and false. Some of the people who conduct the campaigns may be sincerely mistaken in their belief but the vast majority of faith-healing cases have proved to be frauds; people who are prepared even to lie in order to create a reputation for themselves.

And, at the same time to make of money for them under the guise of running non-profit making organisations, whose assets run, in millions of dollars.

A friend of mine has in his possession, a letter sent by an organisation calling itself ‘the Osborn foundation’, of Tulsa Oklahoma.

It enclosed a piece of burlap, sacking, which, the letter said, had been ‘prayed over’ for seven days, by Osborne and his wife, and, on receipt of ‘seed money’ they would spend more time in prayer, for whatever the was asked for by whoever sent the ‘seed money’ to them. To crown this fraud, the Osborne’s had the audacity to claim that they had sent the letter under the impulse of the Holy Spirit.

Do you think man and his wife are exceptions? Nothing of the kind! Some time ago I cut an article out of a magazine called ‘Coronet. It reported that such men as Jack Coe, Asa A. Allen, and the even better known Oral Roberts have all built up vast personal fortunes out of their so-called healing campaigns.

I recall that a few years ago, Roberts hit the news headlines because he announced to the world that, if he did not receive the money that he needed for one of his projects that he was building, by a certain date, ‘The Oral Roberts University’, the lord would take him.

Another fraud, Orval Jaggers opened a brief case on a plane, and a stewardess caught sight of bundles of dollar notes. Thinking that they might have something to do with a bank-robbery which had recently taken place, the pilot, radioed ahead, and the police were waiting for Mr. Jaggers when he stepped off the plane. It took him two hours to convince the police that the 70,000 dollars in the briefcase were what he had taken in from his latest campaign.

Similarly, A. A .Allen, the magazine reported was driving home from a ‘healing campaign’, with money in the boot of his car, when he was stopped by the Police and arrested for drunken driving. He had to deposit $1000 in bail, which, I might add, he forfeited because he did not turn up at Court.

He was excommunicated by the Pentecostal church of which he was a member, and his private secretary signed a sworn statement, which declared that not one of Allen’s alleged cures could be verified, despite his claims that people had been instantly healed.

Let me also mention at this point, that in the faith-healing business, most of these men began in the so-called Pentecostal church, and today most of the religious bodies which hold such campaigns have originated, either directly or indirectly, from that religious body.

The men whom I have named, Coe, Jaggers, Allen and Roberts, ALL began in the Pentecostal movement and were either disfellowshipped, or left to start their own organisations.

Oral Roberts, who began in Oklahoma City with $30 and went on to make a fortune of millions, decided to move up into a higher social class and joined the Methodist church. The Methodist Church in the U.S.A. seemingly attracts people of a higher social class than in this country.

At least 60 of these ‘faith-healers’ have set up their own organisations, and some have made extremely grandiose claims for themselves. One black ‘healer’ from Detroit, gave him the title, ‘the Rev. Dr. James F. Hones. DD., Universal dominion ruler, internationally known as Prophet Jones’.

I believe that I could keep you entertained all day, telling you about these frauds, confidence tricksters, who can still be heard on American Radio and T.V. Here is a final example which would be hilarious, if it were not so tragic.

I took it from an associated press report. From Washington DC, Aug 4 1951. It concerned a meeting in Fairmont Heights, Maryland. And I quote. ‘A coffin was lowered into a grave, after a tent-meeting Revivalist told his audience that the doomed man would be raised from the dead.’ As the earth was shovelled onto the coffin, someone saw the corpse crawl out of a tunnel just outside the tent. The corpse escaped during the ensuing riot’.

Some years ago, the British medical association, which, as you know, is the highest medical authority in the land, conducted a two yearlong study of all kinds of healing, at the request of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

A special committee of eminent medical men was set up to conduct the investigation, and their report was published in a special report, during their Annual Conference. This is that report which I cut out of the British Medical Journal.

1. It states that 3 prominent RC doctors were invited to be on the committee, but they declined. Probably because they knew that they would be expected to investigate the alleged miracles, which are reported from Lourdes.

2. Most of the ‘cures’ of organic diseases claimed, are explained in the view of the Committee, by mistaken diagnosis, or prognosis, alleviation or remission, spontaneous cure, or combined treatment. Some cases, which were said to be epilepsy, appeared to be cases of hysteria.

3. As for the ‘miracles’ of Lourdes. An authority in Lourdes, known as the ‘Bureau Des Constatations’ investigates cases of so-called ‘miracles’, in order to exclude psychogenic and hysterical conditions and here follows a quotation from the Bureau.

‘In spite of the immense pressure of popular enthusiasm, the number of miracles actually attested and registered over the years, has been exceedingly small (not even one a year), and every attempt is made to emphasize the spiritual value of the pilgrimage, rather than such healings as may be claimed’.

There is much more in this report, as you see, but here is the conclusion. ‘As far, then, as our observation and investigation have gone, we have seen no evidence that there is any special type of illness cured solely by spiritual healing, which cannot be cured by medical methods which do not involve such claims’.

The report continues ‘The cases claimed as cures of a miraculous nature present no feature of a unique and unexpected character outside the knowledge of any experience physician or psychologist.’

And the last word: ‘The Committee finds no evidence that there is any type of illness cured by spiritual healing ALONE, which could not have been cured by medical treatment, which necessarily includes consideration of environmental factors’.

5. The working of miracles.

This individual ‘produced,’ ‘miracles’, ‘dunamis’. Dunamis is power, might, strength: then, generally, strength, or power, ability to do a thing. At Matthew 22:29, the Word of God said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God”

The word translated power is the same translated miracles in 1 Corinthians 12:10. Jesus tells us that these powers include healing the sick of diseases, Mark 6:5 / Luke 9:1, inspired teaching, Luke 1:17, removal of unclean spirits, Luke 4:36, raise the dead, John 11 and so forth.

3. Gifts which had to do with the spoken word.

6. Prophecy.

‘Prophecy’, ‘propheteia’ is the gift of interpreting the will of the gods, in New Testament, the gift of expounding scripture, of speaking and preaching. A ‘propheteuo’ is one who speaks and preaches under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Later Paul will reveal the importance of prophecy over tongues, 1 Corinthians 14:5.

Gifts of prophecy, including the ability to foretell future events, were the endowment of certain Christians in the apostolic age and there would appear to have been two orders of these, the higher including those mentioned under 1 Corinthians 12:8, and others whose ability concerned the prediction of events such as those prophesied by Agabus Acts 11:28 / Acts 21:11. But not always ‘prediction,’ but elevated and inspired discourse, the power of preaching to edification.

What does 1 Thessalonians 5:20 mean, when it says, ‘Do not despise prophesying’? “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

When one encounters a problem passage, it is important to consider the context. In practice, this means looking at the verses which go before, and those, which follow. That is always sound advice, and it is advice worth following as we consider the question before us this month.

The previous verse v.19 says, ‘quench not the Spirit.’ Now, the Spirit referred to be unquestionably the Holy Spirit. Notice that in this verse the present imperative tense is used, which means that we have here a statement which relates to something which the believers in Thessalonica had evidently been doing and were continuing to do up to that moment.

An ‘imperative’ is a command or an instruction, so the sense of this verse is literally, ‘Do not continue to quench the Spirit’. This tells us that the Thessalonians were giving offence to the Holy Spirit. They were disregarding and perhaps even repressing, a particular manifestation of the Spirit.

We see from the next verse that the specific gift involved was the gift of prophecy, because the word which is translated ‘prophesying’s’, ‘propheteia’, occurs on only two other occasions, 1 Corinthians 14:6 / 1 Corinthians 14:22, where Paul discusses the exercise of spiritual gifts.

The Church at Thessalonica therefore is told, in effect, ‘Do not continue what you have been doing, quenching, or suppressing, this manifestation of the Spirit’.

Certainly, at the very least, they were discouraging the exercise of the prophetic gift.

The apostolic command in 1 Corinthians 12:19 is followed by the verse, at which we are now looking, 1 Corinthians 12:20, ‘And do not despise prophesying’. Here, again, this is a present imperative, and it means, ‘Do not continue to despise prophesying’.

You will notice that there is a significant difference between the Authorized Version and many modem versions in the way in which 1 Corinthians 12:19-20 are rendered.

In the A.V., we find two short sentences, ‘Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesying’s.’ But in modern versions, (the Revised Standard Version for example), the two verses are separated only by a comma, so that they read as one sentence, ‘Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying.’ The implication is that, to despise ‘prophesying’ was to quench the Spirit.

Clearly, then, Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, regarded the exercise of that particular gift, the gift of prophecy, as of very real importance to the spiritual growth and wellbeing of the infant church in Thessalonica.

Now, this letter was written during the second missionary journey, and is, therefore reliably regarded as one of the earliest of the apostolic letters, it was written from Corinth, where Paul arrived about 50 AD, after leaving Thessalonica, and where he stayed for 18 months. Acts 18:11.

We arrive at this date because we know that the proconsul Gallio, which is mentioned in the next verse, took up his position in Corinth about that time. The letter was probably about 51 or 52 AD.

It is even likely, although not stated, that it was Paul himself who imparted spiritual gifts to the Thessalonian Church as he had at Corinth during the year and a half he remained in that city.

On the matter of spiritual gifts in the infant church we learn that Paul informed the Ephesian believers that prophets were among the Lord’s gifts to the Church. Ephesians 4:11.

Earlier in the same letter he had stated that apostles and prophets had laid the foundation on which the Church is build; that foundation being Christ himself, Ephesians 2:20. He followed this, in chapter 3:5, with the assertion that the Spirit used apostles and prophets as instruments for the revelation of truth.

Although we do not believe that there are such inspired men alive today, it should not be difficult for anyone to understand that in those days, apostles and prophets fulfilled an essential role in the revelation of the truth and the establishment of the Church.

Bear in mind that the New Testament had not then been compiled. Indeed, as I have already implied, many of the books, which comprise our present New Testament, had not even been written.

Therefore, instead of being able to study written instruction and teaching, we find that prophecy, ‘oral,’ that is spoken instruction, was the means by which the early Christians were taught.

Bear in mind, also, that the word ‘prophesying’ does not mean that a new revelation was presented every time the prophet opened his mouth! The word ‘profetes’ means ‘to speak forth’, and covers preaching and teaching generally.

And, if you examine the Old Testament books, you will find that many of the writers never fore-told future events, but simply delivered a message on God’s behalf.

In fact in the Old Testament, a prophet.

1. Delivered a message from God.

2. Interpreted current events He explained what was happening at that moment. (And very often. the explanation the prophet gave. was very different from what the people thought!)

3. And sometimes was able to tell the people what God was going to do.

In the New Testament, the exercise of the gift of prophecy simply meant that men were led by the Holy Spirit to speak in order that the Church might be strengthened and built up.

Now it is clear from 1 Thessalonians 5:20, that some of the Thessalonian Christians had been inclined to undervalue this particular gift, because the word ‘despise’ means ‘set at nought’. So Paul is urging them, not to ‘set at nought’ these Spirit-led teachers, or the messages they delivered.

However, he also issues this warning, ‘Test everything’. In other words, ‘Be on your guard, and hold fast what is good’, verse 21. I stress again, that this instruction, to pay attention to the prophets, was valid as long as the spiritual gifts, which included apostles and prophets, remained. But when they were removed, the specific sense of these words ceased to apply.

Yet there is a sense in which they contain a message for us today. ‘Prophesying’ means ‘speaking forth’. And prophecy, in the general sense of the word, is that which is preached. It is preaching and teaching.

There is no one today who possesses the gift of prophecy, about which Paul writes. Be on your guard, and do not trust those who claim to predict future events.

Remember that almost 2000 years ago, Paul said that prophecies would fail, the word means ‘cease’. The gift of tongues, which was the ability of people to speak in languages they had not learned, would cease, and the gift of miraculous knowledge would end. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.

We have no inspired, Spirit-led messengers; no apostles and prophets such as those who served the infant church. But we do have those who preach and teach that which the Holy Spirit has preserved for us and presented to us in the Word.

We have inherited the rich blessing of ‘all things that pertain to life and godliness’, in the New Testament Scriptures. We have the recorded words of ‘holy men of God who were moved by the Holy Spirit.’ 2 Peter 1:3 and 1:21.

It is as imperative today as it ever was, that we who love the Lord should not under value, despise the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.

We should never forget that the Lord himself told his apostles. ‘He who listens to you, listens to me; he who rejects you, rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects Him who sent me’. Luke 10:16.

I wonder how anyone can claim to accept the authority of Christ, whilst rejecting the writings of the apostles whom he authorized to speak on his behalf.

And so as a quick recap, we need to remember to keep this in the context of its date, when the writer is writing they were still in the age of miraculous revelations from God. We know miracles, wonders and signs had a purpose and was to confirm the preached Word, Mark 16:20 / Hebrews 2:4.

We also know what these miracles, signs and wonders were, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and finally we also know when the miraculous would cease, 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 / Ephesians 4:7-16.

It was the Holy Spirit who was the one who empowered those who prophesied for the purpose of giving God’s revelation to men and so to despise prophecies, would be to quench the work of the Holy Spirit, and so remove one’s self from the life giving revelation of God Ephesians 4:30.

Today, if we turn our back on the result of the Spirit’s work, (the word of God), we can, in a sense, quench the Spirit.

God’s word was made known through His Holy Spirit, John 16:13, in Old Testament times, God did this through prophets, 1 Peter 1:10-11 / 2 Peter 1:20-21 and in New Testament times, God did this through the apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ, John 16:13 / John 14:26.

Throughout history mankind has always had problems accepting God’s Word, even God’s own people Israel struggled with this, Hosea 4:1. Romans 1:18-23 reminds us that even the Gentiles had problems accepting God’s Word.

And so what the writer is telling the Thessalonian church is, don’t refuse to listen and obey what the Holy Spirit was making known to them through revelations at that time. He’s reminding them not to despise prophecies, in other words don’t belittle the prophecies which were being made through the prophets, don’t refuse to accept what God was revealing through them.

But and this is important, they cannot simply just accept any ‘new’ revelation, they have to test them, and the reason they had to test them was because they had to recognise that NOT every claim to be from God was true.

John reminds us in 1 John 4:1 that were are ‘not to believe every spirit, but test the spirits.’ Why? Because many false prophets have come into the world.

And so today especially within the charismatic churches, we need to test what people say when they claim they have a ‘new’ revelation from God, or God is still performing miraculous, signs and wonders through them, today we need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, they received the word with great readiness but they also searched the Scriptures daily to find out for themselves as to whether what Paul was teaching was true or not.

We should accept everything which is in harmony with the Scriptures and it’s teaching, and reject everything which is not. 1 John 4:6 / Acts 2:42.

We are hold on to everything that is good and reject everything which is evil. Amos 5:15 / Psalm 97:10 / Romans 12:9. That word reject is sometimes rendered abstain, the Greek word for abstain is the word, ‘apechomai’ and it literally means to run in the opposite direction. Are we actively running away from evil or running towards it?

7. The ability to distinguish between spirits.

The word ‘spirits’ has to do with one’s character or disposition in the New Testament. It is often used of one’s attitude toward truth, John 4:23 / 1 Corinthians 5:3 / 1 Corinthians 6:17 / 1 John 4:1-2 / 1 John 4:6. I know a man’s character, regarding truth, by what he teaches and practices. Others may claim that a false teacher’s character is good; however, God refers to his character as that of ‘error’, 1 John 4:6.

The one with the gift of ‘discerning’, ‘diakrisis’ spirits is one who is able to make a separation, dissolution… a decision, judgment, regarding who is of error and who is of truth.

 ‘the discerning of Spirits’. 1 Corinthians 12:10

We must remember to try to understand these gifts in the context of the historical period during which they were exercised. This verse, which seem so strange to us, would be perfectly understood by the people alive at the time of the writing of Paul’s letter.

For example, his readers would understand that, when he writes in 1 Corinthians 14:37 about those whom he describes as ‘spiritual’, he was referring to those who were believed to be possessed by a spirit, because this was the name by which such people were known.

Also, Christians were not the only ones who believed in ‘spirit- possession’ i.e. individuals who were regarded as being under the influence of spirits which used them as their ‘instruments’. Both Jewish and Pagan religions also had their prophets, whom they believed were under spirit-control.

Paul hints at this in 1 Corinthians 12:1-2. But, because men recognized the existence of both good and evil spirits, it was essential to determine by which spirit a person was being ‘possessed’ and ‘controlled’.

We know that during the ministry of the Lord Himself, there were times when He encountered and dealt with people who were possessed by evil spirits.

The man at Gadara, and the spirit-controlled son of the man who came to Jesus because, he said, the disciples could not cure the lad. Acts 16 records the experience of Paul at Philippi, in dealing with a spirit possessed girl.

With this in mind, Paul lays down two criteria that must be used in making this judgment.

1. ‘Sanity’.

For centuries about 500 B.C., in fact, the Greeks had flocked to temples where priests or priestesses were believed to contact and be controlled by, the gods, for who they acted as ‘mouthpieces’ , as the gods spoke through them to deliver messages.

Whether it was real or faked, when these people were under the control of their gods they foamed at the mouth, their hair streaming out, and their limbs wildly flailing, as in an epileptic fit, all of which was taken to prove that they were being ‘moved’ by the spirit of the god whom they served.

Not so the prophets of the church. They did not scream or foam at the mouth, or roll on the ground! The Holy Spirit enlightened their minds and sharpened their vision. They did not claim that they were the Mouthpiece of God, but the Messengers of God.

2. The ascription of honour to Christ.

The well-used Christian confession of faith in New Testament times was ‘Jesus is Lord’, and, as Paul reveals in 1 Corinthians 12:3, this was the formula by which the prophets were to be judged either true or false.

Bear in mind that, beginning with Caesar Augustus, Roman Emperors had begun to regard themselves ‘gods’, and everyone in the Empire was required to recognize and acknowledge this!

Citizens had to declare their loyalty to Caesar as a god by saying the words, ‘Caesarea Kyrios’, ‘Caesar is Lord’. In fact, at the entrance to every Roman Camp there was an altar onto which the soldiers were expect to throw a pinch of incense in the worship of the Emperor, whilst saying those words, ‘Caesar is Lord’, and, woe betide any man who failed to do so!

But when the favour with which Rome had originally looked on Christians turned into persecution, this affirmations of loyalty to Caesar was something that the Christians also were required to make, and failure to make it usually meant death.

At the same time, there was a quite different affirmation that was being freely made by both Jewish and Pagan enemies of the Church. They were saying, as Paul records in 1 Corinthians 12:3, ‘Jesus is accursed’, and, obviously, only the enemies of Christ would utter those words!

Furthermore, when a Christian refused to speak those words which were taken as an acknowledgment of Caesar’s deity, their refusal was taken as a denial of his deity and that was treason which brought the death-sentence.

Thus, the distinction between the prophet inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the false prophet was, in this way, easily made. The one was happy to say, ‘Jesus is Lord’, whilst the other, because he was under the influence of an evil spirit said, ‘Jesus is accursed’.

John also writes about the importance of making this distinction in 1 John 4:1-3. One needs little imagination to understand that in a pagan world, there were many who pretended to be possessed and controlled by the gods, so that they might claim to be speaking in their names.

The significant contrast between these frenzied fakers, and the calmness of the Spirit-led Christian prophets are, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:26-33, ‘The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets’.

In other words, there was no wild abandonment in the manner in which they delivered their message. Everything was done in an orderly manner, because ‘God is not the author of confusion, but of peace’.

A final observation, the exercise of the Gift of Discerning of Spirits was to be used when several prophets spoke in the service. See 1 Corinthians 14:29.

8. The ability to speak in other languages.

The word ‘divers’, ‘genos’ is race, stock, family. The word ‘genos’ is used 21 times in the New Testament and for the most part indicates one’s nationality. This helps us understand what the gift of tongues was all about.

The word ‘tongues’, ‘glossa’ is defined as a tongue, language. Clearly, the language spoken was of differing nationalities. One who had the gift of tongues was able to speak a language of another race of people without ever studying the language.

Modern day ‘tongue speaking’
What is it?

1. Books, giving instruction how to speak in tongues are easy to obtain, and, instruction is often given in ‘Pentecostal’ assemblies to those who are anxious to learn!

When a friend of mine worked with the Wembley congregation, a man who professed to possess the ‘gift of tongues’, offered to give him a ‘demonstration’! This could hardly be described as ‘the work of the Holy Spirit’.

2. Scientific studies by highly qualified people have proved that ‘glossolalia’ is a learned behaviour.

This is how it is described by Dr Felicity Goodman, a Psychological Anthropologist, in her work entitled ‘Speaking in tongues. A cross-cultural study in Glossolalia’, which was published by the University of Chicago Press, in 1972. She studied tape-recordings of tongue-speaking, made in Pentecostal Churches in American, Spain Mayan, and in other Englishspeaking groups, as well as pagan rituals in Japan, Africa, Borneo and Indonesia.

Her concluding statement reads, ‘Glossolalia is a learned behaviour, because direct instruction is given on how to speak in tongues.’

Just over 25 years ago in 1987, in fact, in ‘The Encyclopaedia of Religion’, Dr Goodman wrote, ‘Modern researchers accept that there is an association between trance and glossolalia.’

Another Researcher, Dr. Sheila A. Womack, pointed to the similarities between modern tongue-speaking and what is called ‘T.S.’, the abbreviation used for ‘trouette syndrome’, which is a disorder of the nervous system that is demonstrated by ‘uncontrolled movements and sounds.’

And one more testimony, the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women who were said to be speaking in tongues and discovered that the frontal lobes, the ‘thinking’ reasoning part of the brain, through which people control what they do were inactive. And the sounds were being produced by the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions and feelings.

Furthermore, the scans also recorded a reduction in the activity of the left claudate, the part of the brain which is active when the subject is experiencing positive emotion or pleasure. The researchers came to the conclusion that the subjects had yielded some control over their bodies and their emotions. And they knew it. And were enjoying it.

My friend was told that to speak in tongues one must put his mind into ‘neutral, take a deep breathe, and let the sound come out’!

It is impossible to believe that they were acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Biblical References

‘Tongues’ are mentioned three times in the Book of Acts. Note that in 16ll, the word ‘tongue’ meant ‘language’. Acts 2:2-3. Pentecost. Notice the definition, ‘other tongues’. The phrase, ‘unknown tongues’ is not found in the Scriptures. What was heard were not incomprehensive noises, not ‘babble’, but known languages.

In fact, considering the number of nations represented in the chapter, 16 in all, the miracle was that they all heard in the language in which they were born. This fact has raised an interesting question, was this only a miracle of speech, but was there also a miracle of hearing! Acts 10:44-48.

The House of Cornelius

Although Cornelius was a Roman it seems evident from the special attention he received from the Holy Spirit, that he was a Proselyte. He had embraced Judaism, to some extent, so that his prayers were being heard in Heaven.

Notice also, that the reference is to ‘the same ‘gift’ as at the beginning’ suggests that the bestowal of this gift was not something that had recurred very frequently up to that time. This kind of event was not something with which Peter and his Jewish brethren had encountered before.

Ephesus Acts 19:1-7

The men involved in this incident were also Jews who had received the baptism of John after it had been superseded by the Lord’s Baptism. These examples suggest that the gift of tongues was bestowed, initially tab least, to enable the message to be preached in a manner that provided the Jews that the Gospel was from God.

1. Peter in Acts 2, refers to Joel 2:28. ‘It shall come to pass…….pour out My Spirit…’

2. In Isaiah 28:11 the A.V. use of the word ‘Stammering’ is likely to be misunderstood does not mean stuttering!

Look at 1 Corinthians 14:21 and you will see that Paul reveals that the statement of Isaiah predicted the gift of tongues! Using Paul’s statement, we see that through the prophet Isaiah, God declared that He would speak to ‘this people,’ the disobedient Jews through the gift of language.

Now look at Acts 18, and you will see that one of the first Converts in Corinth, was Justus a ‘God worshipper,’ which is a term for a devout keeper of the Law. And his house was ‘next to the synagogue’.

You must imagine the first meetings of the Christians in Corinth meeting with the Apostle Paul, in the House of Justus, next door to the synagogue, exercising the gift of tongues, after had the hands of Paul the Apostle laid on them! If this occurred, the Jews would wonder what was happening!

The gifts were originally bestowed by the Holy Spirit, as witnessed on the Day of Pentecost. Later, they were bestowed by the imposition of the hands of the Lord’s Apostles. Hence, Paul writes to Timothy, ‘do not neglect the gift’. 2 Timothy 1:6

In Acts 8, the apostles Peter and John went to Samaria, and laid hands on the converts, Acts 8:17, and Simon the Sorcerer saw that in this way the Holy Spirit was given. This can only refer to the bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit, because at their baptism, the Samaritans would have received the ‘dorea’ of the Spirit, as promised in the Gospel.

Furthermore, the laying on of the hands of the apostles must have been followed by a demonstration of spiritual gifts, because Simon ‘saw’ something that led him to ask that he, also, might be given the same power, Acts 8:18.

However, since those who received the gifts in this way were not able to pass on the power, the bestowal of spiritual gifts by the laying on of the hands of an apostle passed away with the deaths of the apostles themselves.

We have already looked at the claims of those people who profess to speak in tongues today and, I hope we have seen how mistaken they are. Perhaps ‘self-deceived’ is the kinder and more accurate description of their condition.

Biblical tongue speaking

1. In 1 Corinthians 14, the term ‘unknown’, in regard to tongues was italicized in the KJV because it does not appear in the original Greek text, 1 Corinthians 14:2-4 / 1 Corinthians 14:13-14 / 1 Corinthians 14:19 / 1 Corinthians 14:27.

By inserting this word into their translation, the translators were attempting to aid the English reader. They undoubtedly were hoping to convey the idea that the languages to which Paul referred were unknown to the speaker, i.e., the speaker had no prior training by which to learn or know the language. He spoke the language strictly by God’s miraculous empowerment.

‘Unknown’ certainly was not intended to convey the idea that the tongues were unknown to all humans and, as such, were non-earthly, non-human languages.

2. The events reported at the very beginning of the Christian religion, Acts 2 set the precedent for understanding that tongue-speaking entailed no more than the ability to speak a foreign human language, which the speaker had not studied, to people from a variety of geographical locales, Parthians, Medes, Arabians, Acts 2:9-11.

The unbiased Bible student must conclude that what is described in detail in Acts 2 is the same phenomenon alluded to in 1 Corinthians 14.

All tongue-speaking in the Bible consisted of known human languages, ideally known to the very audience being addressed that were unknown, i.e., unstudied, unlearned, by the one who was speaking the language.

3. There is simply no such thing as an ‘ecstatic utterance’ in the New Testament.

The tongue-speaking of 1 Corinthians 14 entailed human language, not incoherent gibberish. A simple reading of the chapter demonstrates that known human languages are under consideration.

For example, Paul paralleled tongue-speaking with the use of the trumpet in warfare. If the bugler sounded meaningless noise, the military would be thrown into confusion.

It was imperative for the bugler to blow the proper notes and tones, i.e., meaningful musical ‘language,’ so that the army would understand what was being communicated, whether to charge, engage, or retreat. Sound without sense fails to achieve the very purpose of tongue-speaking.

Paul then stated, ‘So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.’

Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.

If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me.’ 1 Corinthians 14:9-11.

Obviously, Paul was referring to human languages, those that exist ‘in the world.’ He envisioned a scenario where two individuals, who spoke different languages, are attempting to communicate with each other. If one speaks in Spanish and the other in German, as they attempt to speak to one another, each would be a ‘foreigner’ to the other.

Neither would understand what the other was attempting to say. Hence the need for tongue-speaking, i.e., the ability to speak human language unknown to the speaker but known to the recipient.

Later in the chapter, Paul quoted Isaiah 28:11-12 where God threatened the Israelites with the fact that their failure to listen to Him, by means of the words spoken by His prophets, meant that He soon would be communicating to them through the language of their Assyrian conquerors, conquerors whom God would send against them.

This powerful illustration presupposes the fact that in both Isaiah and 1 Corinthians, human languages are under consideration.

After quoting Isaiah, Paul drew the conclusion that tongue-speaking was intended by God to be directed to unbelievers. Why? Because it would prove to the unbeliever that the tongue-speaker, who did not possess the natural ability to speak that language, was being empowered by God to speak in the language spoken by the unbeliever.

The unbeliever would recognize the divine origin of the tongue-speaker’s ability, and thereby be willing to consider the words being spoken as the instructions of God.

Again, an examination of 1 Corinthians 14 yields the result that no contextual justification exists for drawing the conclusion that the Bible refers to, let alone endorses, the notion of ‘ecstatic’ speech.

Tongues of angels! But what about Paul’s passing reference to the ‘tongues of angels’ in 1 Corinthians 13:1? Would not this reference prove that tongue-speaking could involve languages beyond those spoken by humans?

In the first place, consider the role, purpose, and activity of angels described in the Bible. The word ‘angel’, in Greek is ‘angelos’, in Hebrew it is the word ‘malak’ and it simply means ‘messenger’ one who ‘speaks and acts in the place of the one who has sent him’.

It does not mean merely ‘to send,’ but rather ‘to send a messenger/message’. It is true that angels in both the Old and New Testaments carried out a wide range of activities beyond message-bearing, including, worshipping God, Revelation 5:11-12; comforting, aiding, and protecting, Daniel 6:22 / Matthew 4:11 / Luke 22:43 / Acts 5:19 / Hebrews 1:14 and executing judgment and inflicting punishment and death, Matthew 13:49 / Acts 12:23.

But it still remains true to say that the meaning of the term ‘angel’ is a messenger, one who communicates a spoken message.

Therefore, their principal role in God’s scheme of things was to function as messengers to humans. Consequently, angels always are represented in Scripture as communicating in human language.

In the second place, what logical reason exists for humans to speak in an alleged ‘angelic’ language that is different from human language?

What would be the spiritual benefit? The Bible certainly makes no provision for humans to communicate with angels in such a language, nor would there be any need for an angel to communicate to a human in a non-earthly language.

The whole point of 1 Corinthians 12-13 was to stress the need to function in the church in ways that were meaningful and understandable. Since God, by His very nature, never would do anything that is superfluous, unnecessary, or frivolous, it follows that He would not bestow upon a human being the ability to speak in a nonhuman language.

The ability would serve no purpose! The Bible simply offers no rationale nor justification for identifying the ‘tongues of angels’ in 1 Corinthians 13:1 with some heavenly, otherworldly, non-earthly languages.

In the third place, if, in fact, the ‘tongues of angels’ refers to known human languages, what was Paul’s point? Since angels were God’s appointed spokesmen, they naturally would perform their assignment in such a way that God would be represented as He would want to be.

God’s own angelic emissaries would have complied with their responsibility in such a way and manner that they would have God’s approval.

In other words, angels would naturally articulate God’s message as well as it could be expressed, i.e., perfectly. When God inspired mere humans to communicate His will, He integrated their own educational background, stylistic idiosyncrasies, and vocabulary into their oral and literary productions. No such need would have existed for angels.

Their communications would have been unfiltered through human agency. Their announcements would have been the epitome and pinnacle of eloquence and oratorical skill.

Perhaps, then, Paul was not drawing a contrast between human and nonhuman languages at all. Before referring to the ‘tongues of angels,’ he referred to ‘the tongues of men.’ Why would Paul say, “Though I speak with the tongues of men”? After all, isn’t that precisely what all adult humans do? We humans speak at least one human language!

Paul must have been referring, then, not to the ability to speak a human language, but to the ability to speak all human languages.

No tongue-speaker in the first-century church had the ability to speak all human languages. In fact, the textual evidence indicates that most tongue-speakers probably had the ability to speak only one human language, which he, himself, did not understand, thus necessitating the need for an inspired interpreter, 1 Corinthians 12:30 / 1 Corinthians 14:26-28.

Paul could apparently speak more languages than any of the others, 1 Corinthians 14:18. If the ‘tongues of men’ referred to the number of human languages, rather than referring to the ability to speak a human language, then the ‘tongues of angels’ would refer, not to the ability to speak an angelic language but to the ability to speak human languages the way angels do.

Here, then, would have been Paul’s point, even if a tongue-speaker could speak every human language known to man, and even if that tongue-speaker could speak those human languages with the efficiency, skill, and perfection that God’s angelic messengers have spoken them in history, without love, the ability would be wasted.

With this understanding of the text, Paul was not contrasting human with nonhuman language. He was encompassing both the quantity, if I could speak all human languages and the quality, if I could speak them perfectly, of speaking human language.

One final point on the matter of the ‘tongues of angels’ merits mention. Even if the expression actually refers to angelic tongues that are nonhuman, it still is likely that tongue-speakers were incapable of speaking such languages. Why?

Paul was speaking hypothetically and hyperbolically. No human being, with the exception of perhaps Jesus, has ever been able to speak in all human languages. For Paul to suggest such was to pose a hypothetical situation. It was to exaggerate the facts.

So Paul’s meaning was, ‘even if I were capable of speaking all human languages, which I’m not.’ Likewise, no human being has ever been able to speak the tongues of angels. So Paul’s meaning was, ‘even if I were capable of speaking the languages of angels, which I’m not.’

This conclusion is supported further by the verse that follows the reference to the ‘tongues of angels.’ There, Paul used two additional hypothetical events when he said, “If I, know all mysteries and all knowledge” and “if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,” 1 Corinthians 13:2

But no one on the planet, with the exception of deity, has understood all mysteries and all knowledge, nor has had faith that could literally remove mountains. Again, Paul was merely saying, “even if I could do such things, which I can’t.”

4. Paul stated very clearly that tongue-speaking was a sign to unbelievers, not believers, 1 Corinthians 14:22.

Tongue-speaking was to be done in their presence, to convince them of the truth being spoken, i.e., to confirm the Word.

The tongue-speaking being practiced today is done in the presence of those who already believe that tongue speaking is occurring and, when an unbeliever, who is sceptical of the genuineness of the activity, makes an appearance in such an assembly, the claim often is made that tongue-speaking cannot occur because of the presence of unbelief. Once again, the New Testament teaches the very opposite of those who claim the ability to speak in tongues today.

5. The recipient of a miraculous gift in the New Testament could control himself, 1 Corinthians 14:32.

He was not overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit so that he began to babble or flail about. Tongue-speaking today is frequently practiced in a setting where the individuals who claim to be exercising the gift are speaking uncontrollably at the very time that others are either doing the same thing or engaging in some other action.

This overlapping activity is in direct violation of three of Paul’s commands,

1. That each individual take their turn one at a time,

2. That no more than three tongue-speakers speak per service, and

3. That tongue-speakers remain silent if no interpreter is present, 1 Corinthians 14:27-28.

The claim by many today to be able to speak in tongues is simply out of harmony with New Testament teaching. Anyone can babble, make up sounds, and claim he or she is speaking in tongues. But such conduct is no sign today.

It is precisely the same phenomenon that pagan religions have practiced through the centuries. In the New Testament, however, no one questioned the authenticity of tongue-speaking.

Why? The speaker was speaking a known human language that could be understood by those present who knew that language and knew that that particular speaker did not know that language beforehand.

If and when self-proclaimed tongue-speakers today demonstrate that genuine New Testament gift, their message could be accepted as being from God. But no one today has demonstrated that genuine New Testament gift.

9. The ability to interpret the languages used.

As one had the gift of speaking a language from other kindred so some were able to miraculously understand the language and expound the meaning to others in a native tongue of the audience even though they had no formal training in the language.

Along with the gift of ‘speaking in tongues’, another spiritual gift mentioned in the list found in 1 Corinthians 12:10 is the gift of ‘interpreting tongues’.

The gift of interpreting tongues is the ability to translate a foreign language into the language of the hearers.

The gift of interpreting tongues is always alongside the gift of speaking in tongues. It is a separate gift, but it is always used in conjunction with the gift of speaking in tongues.

A person with the gift of interpreting tongues could understand what a tongues-speaker was saying even though he did not know the language that was being spoken. This is what distinguishes the spiritual gift from the natural gift of being able to understand and speak a variety of languages.

The tongues interpreter would then communicate the message of the tongues speaker to everyone else, so all could understand and benefit from the truth being spoken.

The tongues were known languages, not ecstatic utterances. According to the apostle Paul, and in agreement with the tongues described in Acts, speaking in tongues is valuable to the one hearing God’s message in his or her own language, but it is useless to everyone else unless it is interpreted/translated. Paul’s concern is edification of the church, 1 Corinthians 14:5+12.

Paul’s conclusion regarding tongues that were not interpreted is powerful, ‘But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue’, 1 Corinthians 14:19

There is no benefit to others in hearing something they cannot understand. More importantly, there is no benefit, and much harm, done in churches where the speaking and interpreting of a tongue brings forth that which does not line up with Scripture or which cannot be verified in Scripture.

Paul was also concerned about order in worship. His concern was that everything is done for edification of the church. He goes on to say that there should only be two or three speaking in a tongue and one should interpret.

If there is no interpreter present, then one should be quiet, 1 Corinthians 14:26-28. The temporal nature of the gift of tongues assumes that the gift of interpretation of tongues was also of a temporal nature.

If the gift of speaking in tongues were active in the church today, it would be performed in agreement with Scripture. It would be a real and intelligible language, 1 Corinthians 14:10.

It would be for the purpose of communicating God’s Word to a person of another language, Acts 2:6-12, and it would also be in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14:33, ‘For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.’

Each of the nine gifts mentioned above were all given to individuals by the Holy Spirit for divine functions that all may profit. Though there are nine gifts listed there is only one godhead. Though there are many members with many gifts there is yet one church. The Lord never intended man to separate by gifts.

The personality and individuality of the Holy Spirit is seen here in that He distributed gifts to individuals ‘as he will.’ The Holy Spirit made a judgment as to who was to receive what gift.

The church compared to a body. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

The scope of spiritual gifts was that they were to profit and edify all in the church, 1 Corinthians 12:7 / 1 Corinthians 14:12 and that all may learn, 1 Corinthians 14:31.

The guiding principle behind gifts at this time was their profitability to those hearing or seeing them and not to the individual performing them.

This section of 1 Corinthians shall review the idea that the church is to be united in truth, revealed by gifts rather than elevating self over others based on a gift.

The Corinthians were obviously separating themselves by the gifts they had. It may be that those who spoke in tongues had their followers and those who healed the sick had their followers and so on. Such an event is contrary to the objective of gifts, the unification of the body.

The ‘one’ of the ‘body’ is both literal and figurative. One indicates the singular status of the church of Jesus Christ and secondly it represents the purpose of all the ‘many members’ that comprise it.

The one church, body of Christ is indicated by a number of Scriptures, Ephesians 1:22-23 / Ephesians 4:4. The one purpose of the ‘many members’ is indicated by a number of scriptures as well, Psalm 133:1 / John 17:21 / 1 Corinthians 1:10 / Ephesians 4:1-7 / Philippians 1:27.

The idea of verse twelve is that in the human body we have many parts, i.e., the hands, feet, arms, legs, head, various organs etc. however, an individual is one. Just because there are many body parts does not make a person ‘many.’

The whole of the human body functions together for the betterment of the single unit. Even so, Paul said, ‘is Christ.’ The body of Christ, the church, is like the human body in that all members function together for one purpose, heaven, 1 John 2:25 / 1 John 5:12-13.

The significance of the oneness of the godhead as contrasted with the many gifts and members of the body cannot be underestimated. The spiritual gifts that the Corinthians had were never intended to elevate or benefit one person only.

There are many gifts for many members of the body and they are to be used to help the one body. Christians are not to look at themselves as separate and distinct from the other members of the body. The Corinthian’s gifts were to make the whole body healthy and strong rather than the individualized into parties or factions.

Notice that the same Greek phrase ‘in one Spirit’, ‘en pneumatic’ was mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:3 / 1 Corinthians 12:9. Verse three revealed a test as to who was truly speaking and teaching truth verses those who were not. Those speaking truth did so by the instructions of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:9 indicated gifts that were distributed by the Holy Spirit. Revelation and distribution of gifts was a work of the Holy Spirit. Apparently, Paul continues the idea here of the work of the Holy Spirit in relation to revelation. By revelation, instruction man is ‘baptized into one body.’

Divine revelation reveals a fact here regarding the consequence of baptism. Following divine revelation, regarding the instructions for baptism, one finds himself ‘in one body.’

Paul told the Galatian brethren, ‘For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye are all one man in Christ Jesus’. Galatians 3:27-28

One who is baptized by divine instructions is now ‘in Christ.’ To be ‘in Christ’ is to be in fellowship with God and to abide in His truths, 1 John 1:3 / 1 John 1:5-6 / 1 John 2:6 / 1 John 2:24 / Galatians 3:27. The phrase ‘were baptized’ is one word in Greek, ‘hebaptisthemen’.

Clearly, baptism is a onetime act. Those baptized are no longer separated from God and the body of Christ but are now members of the one body of Christ. Why would one individual who has been baptized into the body of Christ do something that would not benefit the body as a whole?

‘And were all made to drink of one Spirit.’ This entire phrase is represented by one Greek word ‘hepotisthemen.’ There seems to be a connection between the ‘drinking of the one Spirit’ and ‘baptism’ due to the fact that both are in the aorist tense.

Apparently, as one examines the work of the Holy Spirit in divine revelation, the meaning here is that divine instructions revealed the need for baptism at one point in one’s past.

Such a one obeyed that divine revelation and now is to continue in faith. This person did, past action drink of the ‘one Spirit’ with drink involving a partaking of divine instructions.

Note again the significance of the oneness of the godhead, the saints, and the church. To take a gift from God and not use it for the one body would be to go against God’s divine will, Acts 16:16ff.

Many are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and they are then added to the body of Christ, the church, Acts 2:38-42.

The forgiven sinner is no longer separated from the Lord but rather joined to the church. Once a part of the many in the world that obedient person is now a part of the one body of Christ, Ephesians 2:1-5 / Ephesians 2:18-20 / Colossians 1:13-14.

By divine revelation those who are in the one body are one in purpose, John 17:14-25. The members agree and are united in this one divine revelation. Though there are many members that comprise the church universal, they are one in purpose.

As the human body with its various parts, members, function together to achieve its goal of health so the spiritual body is made up of many members who have functions to achieve for the spiritual health of the whole body, Titus 1:13 / 2 Timothy 1:13 / 2 Timothy 4:3.

The intimate relationship of the members of the body of Christ is magnified here. Christians are all part of each other and should do all things that would benefit the whole rather than self. When a member of the body of Christ has a different approach to divine authority they have the potential of making a local body unhealthy, 2 Timothy 2:16-18.

“Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:15-20

These two verses give us insight into the on goings at the church in Corinth. Apparently there were brethren who did one of two things.

First, they were attempting to elevate self over others in the body as though they were not part of that one body. Paul says, ‘No matter how forcefully or confidently a hand, ear, or eye says they are not a part of the body they are nonetheless part of the body.’

Secondly, some of these brethren who were dividing along the lines of differing gifts were making some brethren feel that they were worthless for not having a specific gift. We are introduced here to the fact that some gifts were elevated above other gifts in the minds of the Christians. A member who said, ‘I have not the gift of tongues, therefore I am not a significant part of the body’ is making a mistake.

Paul tells us what makes one a part of the body in verse 13, baptism for the remission of sins. While sin separates man from God baptism joins a man to the body of Christ. A baptized believer is a part of the body whether he has a certain gift or not.

A member today is in fellowship with God whether he leads singing or not, etc. The Corinthians had apparently lost sight of the spiritual nature of the kingdom of God and began looking selfishly to spirituality.

The physical body is dependent upon all of its members to function. Likewise, the spiritual body is dependent upon all of its members to function. The church of Jesus Christ has a work to do, evangelize the lost, edify the saints and provide care for its own needy.

This work can only be accomplished when each member is doing their part. God has organized the church so that its functions can be accomplished, Philippians 1:1.

Each part of the body of Christ, like our human bodies, are important in relationship to achieving the work of the church. Such a statement infers that each member is responsible for this work. Not all may lead singing or preach yet they must find what they can do and do it with all their heart for the benefit of the whole.

A fact is now given. God ‘set’ each member in the place he has ‘as it pleased him.’ The word ‘set’, ‘tithemi’ is to put, place, to put or plant it in his heart. One gets ‘in the body’ through the act of baptism as mentioned above.

The Holy Spirit distributed gifts to individuals ‘as he will’, 1 Corinthians 12:4 / 1 Corinthians 12:11. As the Holy Spirit distributed gifts as he willed even so God adds to the church those who have been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, i.e., sets them in the body.

The body is comprised of many members doing their own function. If the whole body were an eye how would it get about? If every member had the gift of tongues where would be the interpretation of those tongues?

If every member today did one thing how would other works be accomplished? The beauty of the diverse gifts during these days was that it accomplished the unified purpose of the church.

The body is not one member but many who are one in purpose. The purpose of spiritual gifts was to establish faith, Mark 16:20 and teaching or edification, 1 Corinthians 14:31 that the whole body may be healthy, sound in the faith, Titus 1:13 / Titus 2:1.

We must note that though miraculous gifts do not exist today there are nonetheless gifts of each member of the body in relationship to talents. There are song leaders, men who pray publicly, preachers, deacons, elders, and so forth. Each person does what they can to benefit the whole, Ephesians 4:11ff.

The preacher is not more important than those who pray. The elders are not more important to the body than the deacons. When brethren begin putting levels of importance upon certain parts of the body they lose sight of God’s will to use each of these talents and offices to benefit or profit all!

The antecedent to ‘they’ would be the body parts in the illustration and people in the church, those baptized and added to the church. There are many people in the church yet one church. Paul continues to hammer away at the oneness of all things spiritual. One Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Church. Many with one purpose!

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it”. 1 Corinthians 12:21-26

Evidently there were some in Corinth who felt that their gift was superior to others and they were even dividing themselves up according to their gifts, 1 Corinthians 14:18-20.

Paul’s point in using the human body illustration was to show the Corinthians that just as the human body depends on its parts such as the foot, hand, ear and eyes even so the body of Christ has members with varying gifts that function together as a whole.

The Corinthian Christians needed to understand that as each member of the body did their part they functioned as a whole. Each member is needed no matter what their work in the church achieving its divine work may be. Each member is significant and needed.

No one is better and no one is lesser in importance. Those who divide themselves up according to gifts are working contrary to God’s divine will for the gifts. How can one take the gifts of God and use them for a purpose that opposes the very one who gave them?

To be ‘less honourable,’ ‘atimos’ is not deemed worthy of, deprived of privileges, without price or value. Those people in the church who seem insignificant or without value actually are bestowed abundant honour and value.

The moment we get to thinking that we are greater than others or that others are insignificant is the moment the germ of disunity begins. The ‘uncomely’, ‘askemon’ parts is misshapen, unseemly.

Paul’s point is human reason may conclude that a member of the church is feeble, unnecessary and without value if they do not have the abilities or gifts that I have. Paul’s point continues to be that the body is one and as a unit, all are needed no matter how insignificant and week one may seem.

Those who are ‘comely’, not lacking, strong and apparently valuable seemingly have no needs of the supposed week members. Appearance is deceptive!

To ‘temper’, ‘sugkerannumi’ is to mix up with, commingle or blend with, temper by mixing with, to mix together. The Corinthians may have viewed the gift of tongues as most prized and valuable, however, God placed it last in the list of gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:10 / 1 Corinthians 12:30. The teachers were set forth in the front of the list.

The member of the body that seems to lack in gifts is actually given more abundant honour due to the ‘mixing and blending together’ of all members. The members of the body of Christ, with their individual gifts, are depicted as being blended together in a homogenous mixture so that one could not tell the difference in one from the other.

The word ‘schism’, ‘schisma’ is a cleft, a rent in a garment, division of opinion. Now Paul plainly states the issue. If the Corinthians would recognize God’s divine intention for gifts, i.e. to prophet all through teaching, they would be blended together as one.

‘Ignorance’ however, was currently ruling their hearts in relationship to gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:1. Rather than being one the church had ‘schism.’

Each member is to rather have the ‘same care one for another.’ This phrase helps us understand what type of division Paul is speaking of in its context. Apparently there were brethren who were separating themselves by gifts.

The word ‘care’, ‘merimnao’ is to care for, be anxious about, think earnestly upon, to be careful to do. Each individual is to think of each other, no matter what gift they possessed, the same.

Why? Because as the body is one it shares in one purpose. All members of that body will do their part to see that the function of the body is accomplished. No one views any task as more or less important. Each is to do their given part.

When all members of the body view each other, care, as significant then this unity will hurt when one part hurts and rejoice when one member rejoices. Herein is a commentary on the oneness of the church. Unity in the body of Christ exists in perfect form when all members are following the teachings of Jesus Christ and are in agreement with its interpretation.

So close are the saints that when one member suffers all suffer and when one member is valued highly, we are all valued. There is a sharing of the suffering and good because the members are united as one. Schism has no place in such an environment. When brethren individualize themselves or seek a following they bring trouble to the church.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:27-31

The Corinthian brethren were part of the body of Christ, the church, through baptism. It was not just one or two that made up the church but “severally members thereof.”

One or two ignorant or selfish brethren within a congregation of God’s people makes up a faction. Church members are blended together as one and they do all things for the benefit of the one body rather than for their self.

Paul, once again, uses the phrase God hath ‘set’. The meaning of this word was examined in 12:18, put, place, to put or plant it in his heart. Here the deposit or planting is clearly identified as ‘apostles, prophets’. These gifts were distributed that the church may function according to God’s standards.

Note that it was the Holy Spirit that distributed the gifts and thereby we see the deity of the Holy Spirit here as he is referred to as ‘God’.

A closer look at the gifts mentioned here

1. ‘Apostles’, ‘apostolos’, a messenger, ambassador.

As one who represents another one government to another the apostles went forth from the kingdom of God to the world.

These men represented Christ’s kingdom in the world ruled by Satan, Ephesians 6:20. Their work was to reveal the mind of God, Ephesians 2:20 / Ephesians 3:5.

2. ‘Prophets’, ‘propheteia’ see comments on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

3. ‘Teachers’, ‘didaskalos’ is to teach, instruct a person.

4. ‘Miracles’, ‘dunamis’ see comments on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

5. ‘Gifts of healings’, ‘iama’ see comments on 1 Corinthians 12:9.

6. ‘Helps’, ‘antilepsis’ is one who aids, assists, or helps.

This same Greek word is used at Luke 1:54 to illustrate the spiritual aid God grants to man for salvation through the blood of Christ. The word is also used at Acts 20:35 to denote financial aid granted to the needy. It is an apparent gift to aid one spiritually and financially.

7. ‘Governments’, ‘kubernesis’ is to act as pilot or helmsman, used metaphorically as to guide, govern.

The governing gift may very well be the elder or bishop Paul had in mind.

8. ‘Diverse kinds of tongues’, ‘gene glosson’ different tongues for different nationalities, 1 Corinthians 12:10.

The answer to these rhetorical questions is no. God has, through the Holy Spirit, distributed various gifts to individuals ‘as he will’ or as ‘it pleased him’, 1 Corinthians 12:11 / 1 Corinthians 12:18.

The function of these gifts was to produce faith, edify, and unify the body as a whole, 1 Corinthians 12:17-18. If all people were apostles how would the church function? If all people were miraculous healers how would the church be one in purpose? If all spoke in tongues where would the interpretation be? We need each other in the church!

The word ‘desire’ explains the Corinthian problem. Their desire was for certain gifts not that all may profit in the one body of Christ but rather that they may gain personal or individual profit.

Noticeably this verse helps us understand that though each member had gifts that differed from another and all were necessary, all were not equal. There were ‘greater gifts.’

Paul list the greater gifts in order when he said, ‘first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers’. 1 Corinthians 12:28. Those who had the gift of teaching divine revelation were greater because they delivered information that was of utmost importance to the salvation of souls that all could hear and understand.

Paul concludes saying, ‘and moreover a most excellent way show I unto you.’ The way of love is the ‘greatest’, 1 Corinthians 13:13

Summary of 1 Corinthians 12

Another problem in the church of Corinth is introduced in chapter 12. We do not see the accusations until chapter 14, however, the exposed Biblical facts, regarding spiritual gifts, are first given. Paul begins by setting forth facts regarding the purpose of miracles.

First, God alone is deity and so proves by His servants performing miracles in His name, Isaiah 46:9-10 / 1 Corinthians 12:1-2. Secondly, spiritual gifts are designed to promote unity in the body of Christ, the church, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

As there is one God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and church even so the members of the body must be one in purpose. Other objectives of miracles are addressed elsewhere, i.e., confirmation of truth, Mark 16:20 / John 20:30-31 / Hebrews 2:3-4 and edification, 1 Corinthians 14:12 / 1 Corinthians 14:31.

Paul’s objective, at this point of the study, was to get the attention of certain erring Corinthian Christians away from themselves and back on the church as a whole. When one looks to self-importance and self-opinions the end result is a faction rather than unity, 1 Corinthians 12:25.

Apparently there were Christians in the church at Corinth separating from each other due to the specific gift they possessed. Said separations were not healthy for the church and identified as a ‘schism’, 1 Corinthians 12:25. Those who had participated in this disorder were ‘ignorant’ in relation to the function and objective of gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:1.

1 Corinthians 12 list nine spiritual gifts. The focus of this chapter is to expose the unifying effects of spiritual gifts. Christians are ‘baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free.’ 1 Corinthians 12:13. This one body is the church, 1 Corinthians 12:27-28 compared to Ephesians 1:22-23.

Though by human reasoning men may judge certain members of the body of Christ as lesser in regards to a specific spiritual gift, God reveals that all are equally significant.

Rather than fussing over who has the more desired gift, the brethren in Corinth needed to see that they were all to use their distributed gift for the betterment of all, 1 Corinthians 12:7 / 1 Corinthians 12:31.

1 Corinthians 12 is followed by 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter of love. If only the Corinthians could open their minds to the function of the spiritual gifts the church would be unified.

At this point; however, they lacked love for one another in relation to these gifts.

Go To 1 Corinthians 13

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

1 Corinthians 10:13

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