1 Corinthians 12 (NKJV)
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: 2 You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.1 Corinthians 12:1-11
4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
In this pivotal chapter, Paul speaks to the validity and value of spiritual gifts. He wants every believer to understand spiritual gifts in order to be active and utilized by the Spirit in the gifts. He points out that no one can even speak of Jesus as being Lord without the Holy Spirit enabling them, and that no one enabled by the Holy Spirit can speak evil of Jesus Christ. As is stated elsewhere in the Bible, it is the Spirit who enlivens one to even believe in Jesus Christ. Paul then speaks of the beauty of the actions of the Holy Spirit, in the unity found in great diversity within the realm of the Spirit. The Spirit offers many gifts, ministries, and activities, but there is a distinct unity within them. The manifestation of the Spirit is for the benefit of all.
Paul then lists nine gifts of the Spirit. This is not necessarily an exhaustive list, but nevertheless a basic list of the gifts that operate under the leadership of the Holy Spirit within the church. They have been divided into groups by some scholars, loosely grouped by the categories of power gifts, gifts of utterance, and gifts of the mind. The power gifts include faith, miracles, and healings. They demonstrate the power of God over the laws of nature and the power of the enemy to bring sickness The gifts of utterance are tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy. These gifts facilitate the direct communication of God to mankind through the Spirit operating through men and women. The mind gifts are word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits. These gifts allow men and women to speak truth to others as God inspires them, and allows Christians to discern good from evil in the words and actions that take place within the church. All these gifts work for the good of the church and the good of its members in the unity of the Spirit.
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.1 Corinthians 12:12-31
15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
Just as there is unity in the diversity of gifts that the Holy Spirit offers, there is equally a diversity in the body of Christ and works together in unity. We are all baptized into one body, and there is one Spirit that enlivens us all. No one who is truly a child of God acting in obedience would say that they are not part of the body because they are not just like another part. No, there are many parts, and each part serves its purpose. A body cannot be made up of all eyes, or all feet, and be able to function. Also, one cannot assume that they have no need of another body part. The head cannot tell the hands that it does not need them. How can the work of the head be carried out without the hands? Some parts are more visible than others, some are more honored than others, but all parts are necessary. Care for one another and esteem one another equally. Rejoice with those who have reason to rejoice, and suffer with those who suffer. That is body mentality. That is body ministry.
Paul then moves into specific “body parts” that are given to the church for its edification, training, development, and growth. God has appointed apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healings, helps, administrations, tongues, etc., to minister in the church. These are very different roles to be filled in the church, and cannot all be done by one person. Ministry is teamwork. Ministry is a group activity. Find the role for which God has made you, and work in it. Paul’s last few words in this chapter lead into the discussion in the next chapter. He instructs the reader to desire the best gifts, or greater gifts. This may mean that some are more useful or that some are simply more suited to an individual. He then hints at “a more excellent way” to be revealed in the next chapter.
Sometimes, God will use you in a gift that is public and out front, maybe even loud. Other times you may operate in a gift that is quiet and behind the scenes. Either way, consider yourself blessed to be gifted and gifting. God wants to use you for His glory. Sometimes you may get some glory. Other times someone else might have the spotlight. But when we work together as a body, glorifying God, there is no need to worry about who gets the glory here on earth. All that matters is that the glory of the Lord is seen so that men and women might be saved, delivered, and healed!
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