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 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 Part One

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PostSubject: 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 Part One   Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:13 am

1 Corinthians 12:1-3

The state of spiritual gifts

Related to the subject of irregularities in the worship of the Corinthian church, was a question on the nature of spiritual gifts and their exercise in the public assembly. This subject should also be considered under the broader rubric of Christian freedom which Paul had been qualifying and regulating by the principle of love (starting with 1Co_8:1). The need for such regulation was certainly evident. A self-indulgent spirit, which debauched the principle of freedom in other areas, found similar expression in the area of spiritual gifts, and produced selfishness and disunity (1Co_12:7, 1Co_12:25; 1Co_14:4) and apparent chaos in the assembly (1Co_14:23, 1Co_14:33, 1Co_14:40).

Paul dealt with the problem by describing the nature and purpose of gifts (1Co_12:1-30), the superiority of love (12:31-13:13), and the regulating of the exercise of gifts by love (1Co_14:1-40). As in other areas, so in using gifts in the church, believers should promote the glory of God and the good of others instead of self-satisfaction. We see that the early church had much confusion about the gifts of the Spirit. There is more to Christianity than just the salvation experience. We find that many churches stop with the salvation experience, and really believe that these other gifts went out with the apostles. This is primarily because of spiritual ignorance on these points. We have a tendency to believe in only the things that have happened to us personally. This being a young church, here, at Corinth, they possibly had not gotten deep enough into Bible study to make them aware that there was more than salvation available to those who desired it. Another way of saying this is "gifts of the Spirit". When a person becomes a new creature in Christ, they are a babe at first. As they study the Word of God and the Holy Spirit reveals truth to them they grow into mature Christians.
Spiritual gifts are divine enablements for ministry that the Holy Spirit gives in some measure to all believers and that are to be completely under His control and used for the building of the church to Christ’s glory.

These had to be distinguished from the mystical experiences call “ecstasy” (meaning supernatural, sensuous communion with a deity) and “enthusiasm” (divination, dreams, revelations, visions) that were found in the pagan religions of Corinth.
Unity and diversity of gifts (1Co_12:1-31).

Before Paul began his discussion of spiritual gifts he thought it necessary to confront, at the outset, any in the Corinthian assembly who might contradict his message (cf. 1Co_14:37). The situation in Corinth, before Paul established the church there, had been idol worship and heavy involvement with the false religion of Aphrodite. "Gentiles", here, is speaking of people before they became Christians. Idol worship had been very prevalent here in Corinth prior to Paul.

Incredibly, some church members were mimicking certain dramatic and bizarre practices of the mystery religions in which they had been formerly involved. The practice of ecstasy, considered to be the highest expression of religious experience, involved supposed supernatural interaction with a deity, induced through frenzied hypnotic chants and ceremonies. The practice frequently included drunkenness and sexual orgies, to which the devotees willfully yielded themselves to be led into gross sin.

It is probably in this regard that 1Co_12:3 are to be understood.

Paul apparently believed that some of the Corinthians’ problems were due not entirely to their worldly attitudes (1Co_3:3) but also to the presence of false teachers who preyed on their spiritual immaturity and exacerbated the problems. The pagan background out of which many had come (and some were still coming; cf. 1Co_8:10; 1Co_10:14, 1Co_10:20-21) did not help them ascertain the presence of false prophets. When they were pagans, they had been influenced and led astray to dumb idols (1Co_12:2). Certainly lifeless idols are totally helpless in such matters! (In the Corinthians’ vaunted wisdom they showed themselves to be unusually gullible [cf. 2Co_11:1-21, esp. 1Co_11:19].)

Paul therefore laid down a simple test related to the person of Christ. The false teachers obviously claimed that their visions, revelations, and messages (cf. 2Co_12:1) were from God, but they apparently denied the humanity of Christ, as expressed by the words Jesus be cursed. This may have been a factor in the Corinthians’ aversion to Paul’s “message of the Cross” (1 Cor. 1:10-4:13). It may be surprising today to realize that the earliest Christological heresy (Docetism) denied Jesus’ humanity, not His deity. John had to deal with the same problem years later (1Jn_4:1-3).

Also Jesus who had suffered was now the Jesus who reigns as Lord, whom Paul represented (1Co_1:1) and who was to be obeyed. Only believers, speaking by the Holy Spirit, acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. To denounce Jesus as God in the flesh, was what this was speaking of that caused them to be accursed. Notice, what those who are speaking by the Holy Ghost call Jesus. They call Him Lord. It is one thing to know Jesus as your Savior, but it is an entirely different thing to know Him as your Lord. When He is your Lord, you have turned your will over to His will. It is the Holy Ghost within that calls Jesus Lord. Know Him as your Lord means that you have totally submitted your will to Him as your Lord and Savior.

Some of the Corinthians were fleshly and given over to ecstasies that were controlled by demons. In that condition, they actually claimed to be prophesying or teaching in the Spirit while demonically blaspheming the name of the Lord whom they were supposed to be worshiping. They had been judging the use of gifts on the basis of experience and not content.
What a person says and believes about Jesus Christ is the test of whether he speaks from the Holy Spirit. He always leads people to Christ’s lordship.

Nonbelievers — including false teachers — deny His sovereign lordship. Thus anyone who tries to controvert Jesus’ authority and His Word will suffer the consequences (1Co_14:38; 1Co_16:22).

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Paul had referred to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in 1Co_12:3. Now in reverse order he stressed the unity of the Godhead in relation to the different spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit gives a diversity of gifts (cf. “Spirit” in 1Co_12:7-9, 1Co_12:11) so that individuals can serve the Lord and His body, the church, in various ways (cf. 1Co_12:7, 1Co_12:27), all empowered by God and exercised under His aegis (cf. 1Co_12:18, 1Co_12:24). "Diversities", here, means distinction, variety, difference. Then, this is saying, there are many different gifts, but all gifts come by the same Spirit. James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." The differences in the gifts are as wide as the people receiving the gifts.

These “diversities of gifts” or categories of giftedness are not natural talents, skill, or abilities, such as are possessed by believers and unbelievers alike. They are sovereignty and supernaturally bestowed by the Holy Spirit on all believers (verses 7 and 11), enabling them to spiritually edify each other effectively and thus honor the Lord. The varieties of gifts fall into two general types, speaking and serving (see verses 8 and 10).

The speaking or verbal gifts, (prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, teaching and exhortation) and the serving, non-verbal gifts (leadership, helps, giving, mercy, faith and discernment) are all permanent gifts that will operate throughout the church age. Their purpose is to edify the church and glorify God.

The list here and in Romans 12:3-8 is best seen as representative of categories of giftedness which the Holy Spirit draws from to give each believer whatever kind or combination of kinds He chooses (v.11).

Some believers may be gifted categorically similar to others but are personally unique as the Spirit suits each grace gift to the individual. Miracles, healing, languages and the interpretation of languages were temporary sign gifts limited to the apostolic age and have therefore, ceased. Their purpose was to authenticate the apostles and their message as the true Word of God, until God’s written Word was completed and became self authenticating.

Though there are different kinds (diaireseis) of gifts… service, and working, the same Spirit… the same Lord (Christ), and the same God are involved in all of them. This, on the basis of an individual, means that a person administers the gift God has given them in his own unique way. I believe this goes even further than individuals and is speaking of different denominations, who might not cross every T and dot every I the way another denomination does, but is still administering the gifts the Holy Spirit has given them to the best of their ability. One may call themselves Methodist and another call themselves Baptist, but they are serving the same Lord. I could have used any other protestant church, but everyone is very familiar with these two. No harm was intended.

Bottom line is that the Lord gives believers unique ministry arenas in which to fulfill their giftedness and provides varieties of power to energize and accomplish them. I always say, it is alright to be a Baptist, if you are a Christian Baptist, not a Baptist Christian or a Methodist, or an Assembly of God, or a Pentecostal, etc. We are all worshipping the same God. We may be taking a little different route to get to heaven, but we all have the same destination. Read the 4th chapter of Ephesians to understand better. Why do we Christians fight each other about denomination, when we should be banning together fighting the atheist and those who do not look to Jesus as their Savior?

1 Corinthians 12:7-10

The gifts had a unity in source (1Co_12:4-6), and they also had a unity in purpose. They were given, not for personal enrichment (cf. 1Co_14:4; 1Pe_4:10), but for the common good of the body of Christ, the building up of others (1Co_10:24; 1Co_14:12). Paul listed some of the gifts here. It is not for God's profit for us to have the gifts of the Spirit. It is to help us be more effective ministers. How would you like to build a house without a hammer? The gifts of the Spirit are the tools that we build with. They are our very present help. Manifestation is something that is made real. The world cannot see God with their physical eyes. They see the followers of Jesus. We must be so full of the Lord Jesus that when they look at us, they will not see us, but will see Christ in us. A very good friend of mine explains Jesus in us, this way. He says, we are the glove, and Jesus is the Hand in the glove. We Christians are actually a kingdom in exile. Our King is in exile, as well. He is Jesus Christ. We will be in exile, until Jesus comes back to this earth and sets up His Kingdom. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. We are better workers, if we have the Holy Spirit inside of us guiding us and teaching us as we minister.

“Manifestation of the Spirit: No matter what the gift, ministry or effect, all spiritual gifts are from the Holy Spirit. They make Him known, understood and evident in the church and in the world, by spiritually profiting all who receive their ministry.

Others, along with some of these, are given in Rom_12:6-8; 1Co_12:28-31; Eph_4:11; 1Pe_4:10-11.

The list here includes nine gifts. Wisdom refers to insight into doctrinal truth. Paul exercised and expressed this gift in this letter (e.g., 1Co_2:6). Knowledge refers to the ability to apply doctrinal truth to life. "Wisdom" is an understanding that is a gift from God. "Knowledge" is accumulated learning. In this case, there would be a supernatural ability to accumulate learning through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom is from above and knowledge is from within. I know a number of older people who never went past the second grade in school who have great wisdom. Many of them can understand the Bible better than some of the highly educated people. Wisdom is a gift from God. You do not earn it, or accumulate it. Knowledge is accumulated learning. The gift of knowledge could be explained by someone who studies his Bible regularly and the Holy Spirit helps him understand what it is saying.

In the New Testament, “wisdom” is most often used of the ability to understand God’s Word and His will, and to skillfully apply that understanding to life.

“Word of knowledge”: This gift may have been revelatory in the first century, but it is today the ability to understand and speak God’s truth, with insight into the mysteries of His Word, that cannot be known apart from God’s revelation. Knowledge majors on grasping the meaning of the truth; wisdom emphasizes the practical conviction and conduct that applies it.

Paul also exercised and expressed this gift in this letter (e.g., 1Co_12:1-3; 1Co_11:3). (Cf. the recurrence of the phrase “Do you not know” in 1Co_3:16; 1Co_5:6; 1Co_6:2-3, 1Co_6:9, 1Co_6:15-16, 1Co_6:19; 1Co_9:13, 1Co_9:24; also cf. 1Co_8:1-3, 1Co_8:10-11). Faith as a spiritual gift is probably an unusual measure of trust in God beyond that exercised by most Christians (e.g., 1Co_13:2). Healing is the ability to restore health (e.g., Act_3:7; Act_19:12) and also to hold off death itself temporarily (Act_9:40; Act_20:9-10). Everyone has their measure of faith. This is not speaking of that, but a supernatural knowing and trusting in God. This is the faith that moves mountains. We read in the 14th chapter of John beginning with the 12th verse, that all believers can heal the sick with the power of Christ working in them. This is speaking of something more. Some have been anointed of God to pray for healing. This, again, is a supernatural ability to heal, such as Paul had. Peter had so much of this gift operating in him, that his shadow falling on people healed them.

Faith: Distinct from saving faith or persevering faith, both of which all believers possess, this gift is exercised in persistent prayer and endurance in intercession, along with a strong trust in God in the midst of difficult circumstances (Matt. 17:20).
“Healings”: A temporary sign gift used by Christ (Matt. 8:16-17), the apostles (Matt. 10:1), the seventy (Luke 10:1), and a few associates of the apostles, such as Philip (Acts 8:5-7). This ability was identified as a gift belonging to the apostles (2 Cor. 2:12).
Although Christians today do not have the gifts of healings, God certainly still hears and answers the faithful prayers of His children (James 5:13-16). Some people feel that healing should be common and expected in every era, but this is not the case. Physical healings are very rare throughout the Old Testament record. Only a few are recorded. There was never a time before the coming of Christ when healings were common. Only in His lifetime and that of His apostles was there a veritable explosion of healing. This was due to the unique need to accredit the Messiah and to authenticate the first miracles of the gospel. Jesus and His apostle temporarily banished disease from Palestine, but that was the most monumental era of redemptive history and called for such authentication.

To normalize healing would be to normalize the arrival of the Savior. This gift belonged to the sign gifts for that era only. The gifts of healings were never used solely for brining people physical health. Paul was sick but never healed himself or asked another human to heal him. His friend Epaphroditus was near death (Phip. 2:27), and Paul did not heal him. God intervened. When Timothy was sick, Paul did not heal him but told him to take some wine (1 Tim. 5:23). Paul left Trophimus “sick at Miletus” (2 Tim. 4:20).
Healings were not the everyday norm in Paul’s ministry, but did occur when he entered a new region, i.e. Malta, where the gospel and its preacher needed authentication (see Acts 28:8-9). That healing was the first mention of healing since the lame man was healed in Lystra (Acts 14:9) in connection with the arrival of Paul and the gospel there. Prior to that, the nearest healing was by Peter in Acts 9:34, and the resurrection of Tabitha in 9:41, so that people would believe the gospel Peter preached (9:42).

Miraculous powers may refer to exorcising demons (Act_19:12) or inducing physical disability (Act_13:11) or even death (Act_5:5, Act_5:9). Prophecy is the ability, like that of the Old Testament prophets, to declare a message of God for His people (1Co_14:3). Ability to distinguish between spirits is the gift to differentiate the Word of God proclaimed by a true prophet from that of a satanic deceiver (cf. 2Co_11:14-15; 1Jn_4:1). If the Corinthians possessed this gift (cf. 1Co_1:7), it was not being put to good use (cf. 1Co_12:1-3). Tongues refer to the ability to speak an unlearned, living language (e.g., Act_2:11). Interpretation was the ability to translate an unlearned, known language expressed in the assembly (1Co_14:27). You would think at a glance that working of miracles would be the same as healing, but it is not. This is speaking of things like the water turning to blood on Moses command. It would, also, be things like the Red Sea parting. We know, from reading the Old Testament, that there were people who had the gift of telling of things in the future. That is what a prophet is. God reveals things to them that will happen in the future. Discerning of spirits is a very important gift to have. We can be deceived into thinking that someone is of God, when they are not, if we do not have this gift. We are told to try the spirits and see whether they are of God or not. All believers in Christ are to do that, but this means that a person filled with this Spirit can determine right off whether they be of God or not.
Not all believers in Christ speak with tongues, but it is a manifestation of the Spirit of God. This just means, if your native language is English, you might speak in Hebrew or French, or some other language foreign to you. This is true, because the Bible says that every man heard them in his own language.

Acts 2:6-10 "Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language." "And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?" "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia," "Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,"

We see, also, why it would be important for someone in a congregation to be able to interpret for everyone, if the message from God was to be understood by all. Even in the natural world, an interpreter is very useful to men of different languages who want to communicate with each other.

In chapter 14 we will again discuss “tongues” in much more detail which the Corinthians seemed to have abused so greatly.
With the possible exception of faith, all these gifts seem to have been confirmatory and foundational gifts for the establishment of the church (cf. Heb_2:4; Eph_2:20) and were therefore temporary.

1 Corinthians 12:11

The gifts were not meant to be selected by individuals or personally solicited by them, but were instead given by the… Spirit… as He determined. We must notice from this, that we are not limited to receiving just one of these gifts from God by the Holy Spirit. We can have as many of these gifts as we desire, if we will be willing to use them fully to minister with. Notice, severally, as he will. Several mean more than one. All of these are free gifts from God by the Holy Spirit of God. We must show a desire to receive them, and then we must use them for God's purposes and not our own.

“One and the selfsame Spirit”: While stressing the diversity of gifts (verses 4-11), Paul also stressed the singular source in the Spirit. This is the fifth mention, in this chapter, of the source of gifts being the Holy Spirit. It emphasizes that gifts are not something to seek, but to be received from the Spirit “as He will”. It is He alone who “works” or energizes (verse 6), all gifts as He chooses. “The Spirit” is referred to six times in 1Co_12:7-11.
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1 Corinthians Chapter 12 Part One
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