1 Corinthians 12 – 14
- Ch.12 is the the endowment of gifts, “the spirit of power“
- Ch.13 is the motive of their operation, “the spirit… of love“
- Ch.14 is the exercise of gifts for the profit of all, “the spirit of… a sound mind“ (2 Tim. 1:7).
1 Corinthians 12
- The Manifestations of the Spirit (12:1-11)
- Introduction (v.1)
- Spirit-led Ministry Will Always be Christ-exalting (vv.2-3)
- Spirit-led Ministry Emanates from a Single, Divine Source (vv.4-6)
- Spirit-led Ministry is for the Profit of the whole Body (v.7)
- Spirit-led Ministry is Worked out through a Diversity of Gifts (vv.8-10)
- Spirit-led Ministry is Sovereignly Orchestrated by the Spirit, not by Man (v.11)
- The Body of Christ: Its Unity and Diversity (12:12-27)
- A Proper View of Gifts and their Role in the Assembly (12:28-31)
The Manifestations of the Spirit (12:1-11)
Five marks of Spirit-led Ministry (vv.2-11). Genuine, Spirit-led ministry will always:
- Be Christ-exalting (vv.2-3)
- Be evident that it comes from a single, Divine source; i.e. it will be unified, orderly, and cohesive, and it will not have human conventions (vv.4-6)
- Be profitable for the whole body; i.e. it will not merely consist of vain repetitions, nor will it be pure emotional hype. It will not merely benefit an individual, but profit all (v.7)
- Be worked out through a diversity of gifts; i.e. will not be restricted to one or even a few clergymen (vv.8-10)
- Be sovereignly orchestrated by the Spirit, not arranged by man; i.e. it may be unpredictable at times, though always orderly (v.11)
Spirit-led Ministry Will Always be Christ-exalting (vv.2-3)
Spirit-led Ministry Emanates from a Single, Divine Source (vv.4-6)
Charismata and domata. Two different Greek words are used for a spiritual gift. The first is charismata, used in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and 1 Peter 4. Charismata means "gracious gift", and it refers to a special ability given to a Christian to enable their service for the Lord. Once a person has been given a charismata, it can never be taken away. In 1 Tim 4:14 and 2 Tim. 1:6 we have the expression "the charismatos (gracious gift) that is in thee". Timothy had been given a spiritual gift, and it remained inside him, even if he wasn't using it. The second word is domata, used in Ephesians 4. Domata means "gift" in a broader sense, and it refers to a person who is given to the universal Church to edify and build her up. The Apostle Paul had a charismata (teaching), but he was a domata (a teacher). We are told that every believer has a charismata, but not every believer is a domata. That being said, there is a slight difference in charismata as used in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12.Read more…
Spirit-led Ministry is for the Profit of the whole Body (v.7)
Spirit-led Ministry is Worked out through a Diversity of Gifts (vv.8-10)
Christians have been given special gifts to aid us in our service for the Lord, and to benefit the whole body of Christ. These spiritual gifts are special abilities given to a believer to aid in the service of the Lord. These abilities are supernatural, although they do not always appear to be "miraculous" in the conventional sense of the word. Spiritual gifts are "spiritual", in that they do not come from man, although they could be given by apostolic power as in the case of Timothy (2 Tim. 1:6). People are not born with spiritual gifts, nor can they be gained by study or theological training. They are conveyed to a believer by the Holy Spirit upon salvation; hence they are "gifts". You cannot purchase a gift of God with money (Acts 8:20). God can use “unlearned and ignorant men” like Peter and John the fishermen, or He can use a well-educated man like the Apostle Paul, who learned at Gamaliel's feet. The Spirit uses "whom He will" (1 Cor. 12:11). I do not believe the lists of gifts in scripture are exhaustive, but does give us generally the spheres of Christian ministry.Read more…
These spiritual gifts are mentioned in a number of different contexts, and it is helpful to keep in mind the distinctions between gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, and Romans 12, etc.Read more…
There is a great deal of misunderstanding today with regard to these gifts. I will make a few brief points. First, these gifts were given as a sign for unbelievers (1 Cor. 14:22). It was very rare for the apostles to heal believers (one exception might be when Peter healed Dorcas; Acts 9:36-42), and they never used their gifts to heal themselves. Secondly, sign gifts were given to confirm the spoken Word of God. When the apostles went forth, the Lord worked with them, allowing them to perform miracles, etc. "confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16:20, see also Hebrews 2:3-4). Thirdly, scripture indicates that sign gifts would fade with time (1 Cor. 13:8). F.B. Hole gave the example of a new ship. When a new ship first sails out of the harbor on it's maiden voyage, it is covered with flags and streamers to mark the occasion. But once the voyage is underway, those flags are taken down, and the regular operation of the ship commences. It was fitting that God would mark the early days of the Church with these signs, but now their use has faded, except perhaps in mission fields etc. where they are really needed to reach the unbeliever.
Spirit-led Ministry is Sovereignly Orchestrated by the Spirit, not by Man (v.11)
One particular evil that has pervaded the Church is clericalism. The clerical principle is a special kind of sin against the Holy Spirit, because it denies the Spirit's place in the Church, and replaces Him with a false system. The clerical principle states that all true ministry flows from the clergy, and any lay preaching is from the Devil. You can see how this evil is of the same character as what the Jewish leaders were guilty of in Matthew 12:30-31. As Israel spoke injuriously against the Spirit in their dispensation, so Christendom has denied the Spirit in our dispensation. The Church has effectively denied the presence and power of the Holy Spirit on earth. Collectively, the Jewish system came into judgment in 70 A.D., and one day the clerical system of Christendom will come into judgment as well, at the middle of Daniel's seventieth week. While we wouldn’t call the clerical principle "blasphemy" against the Holy Spirit, we can see that it is "sin" against the Spirit, and certainly the dispensational counterpart to what Israel was guilty of.1Read more… Have we set up a system, formal or informal, that seeks to orchestrate ministry and the use of gift? If so, we are grieving the Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30).
The Body of Christ: Its Unity and Diversity (12:12-27)
The body of Christ is a figure used in the New Testament to describe the assembly of God. The body of Christ was formed on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God was sent down to the earth, and indwelt the believers present, linking them to Christ in heaven. Believers on earth who have the Spirit indwelling them are members of the body (Rom. 12:5). Christ in heaven is the head of the body (Col. 1:18). Christ's mind is to be displayed by His body on earth. The Holy Spirit is the one who directs the members of the body; similar to how the nervous system in the human body works. It is important to understand that the body is not a mere concept. It is a reality!There are really only two mentions of the mystical body of Christ in 1 Cor. 12. It is mentioned in v.13 and v.27, but indirectly in v.12. All other mentions of “the body” refer to the human body. In v.13 we get the universal aspect of the body, and in v.27 we get the local aspect. The body of Christ is the sphere in which the Spirit acts, and the vehicle through which the manifestations of the Spirit are displayed. The apostle brings out the connection between the unity of the body of Christ and the unity of Spirit led ministry. It is not only the next logical argument in the progression begin in vv.1-11, but it is a significant development of Church truth. Read more…
Formation of the Body of Christ (vv.12-13)
You will see from this scripture, that the term “the body of Christ” is no mere figure of speech, as is so often alleged; but that it expresses a reality — the reality indeed of our union with Christ, as also of our union with one another. And I am sure that you will see that our responsibilities to Christ as the Head of the body, and our responsibilities to our fellow-members, cannot even be understood, much less discharged, if this truth is overlooked or ignored. But, on the other hand, when it is known, not only have we the joy of conscious union with Christ; but we can also rejoice in our union, our indissoluble union, with all the members of His body in all parts of the world. It leads moreover to very practical results. For example, if I am asked to connect myself with any of the denominations around, I instantly reply that I cannot do that which denies, plainly denies, this blessed truth. “You ask me,” I should say, “to join a certain number of Christians who agree upon certain things; but I am united to all believers, and I need them all, and I cannot therefore accept a ground of union which excludes any.” Again, if it is proposed to me to unite with a number of Christians irrespective of denominations, I should answer, “I am a member of the body of Christ; and I cannot therefore make any ground of union apart from that of the body. I must be on God’s ground or upon none at all.” Until therefore I know the truth of the body of Christ, I cannot understand the place which the Lord would have me to occupy upon the earth.2
- The inferiority-complex… discontent with one’s own role (vv.14-19).
- The superiority-complex… disdain for another’s less-prominent role (vv.20-24)
Discontent: 1st Attitude that Militates Against Unity (vv.14-19)
Disdain: 2nd Attitude that Militates Against Unity (vv.20-24)
The Proper Attitude for the Members of the Body (vv.25-26)
The Body-Character of the Local Assembly (v.27)
A Proper View of Gifts and their Role in the Assembly (12:28-31)
The Order of Importance of Gifts (v.28)
- Helps is the special ability to discern needs, gaps, or weaknesses among God’s people, and to meet or ease those burdens. The word “helps” is actually connected with ancient maritime terminology. In Acts 27:17 the sailors “used helps, undergirding the ship”. Apparently these ‘helps’ were great straps or cables that were run around the belly of the ship to hold everything together in extreme weather conditions. In a similar way, those with the gift of helps can be instrumental in holding the assembly together in various ways. Phoebe might be an example of a sister who had the gift of helps; “she also has been a helper of many, and of myself” (Rom. 16:2).
- Governments is the special ability to direct individuals in the things of the Lord and collectively to help organize things. This is closely connected with the gift of a pastor, or shepherd. It may also be similar to “he that leadeth” (Romans 12:8). The original word comes from a Latin word which means to steer or to pilot. It is closely connected to the word for shipmaster in Acts 27:11. Someone with the gift of governments can guide their local assembly safely through numerous problematic situations, while others might steer them onto the rocks. Office or administration is local (bishops or elders), but gifts go beyond office in their extent, and therefore this gift seems to be more than administration. If the brother is in communion, this gift can be greatly used for the preservation of the assembly. Not everyone can guide in this way.