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Theme: Endowment of gifts
Chapters 12-14 deals with the gifts of the Spirit. There had been abuses in the church in Corinth, especially with the gift of tongues. Paul writes to correct this wrong. There had been believers in Corinth that had received the gift of tongues, which means that they were given power to speak foreign languages without having learned them. But, falling back to their carnal side, these men stood up in meetings showing off, speaking in languages which the people did not understand, hoping their gift would impress others, instead of magnifying and honoring God. This all led to pride on one hand, and envy or feeling of worthlessness on the other. This is what led Paul to correct the wrong attitudes and create some controls in the way gifts were to be used, especially tongues and prophecy.
Gifts Are Given To Maintain
Unity in Diversity (1 Cor. 12:1-11)
1 Cor. 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. (KJV)
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant . . . spiritual gifts was one of the subjecst which the Corinthians seem to have written to Paul, which there were probably some disagreements among them. I would not have you ignorant . . . Paul wanted them to fully understand, from where all such gifts come, and why they are given, that being that each person should serve the church in the capacity in which God has placed him, and that there would be no arguments and no division in the Body of Christ.
Spiritual is in direct contrast to carnal. Back in the third chapter Paul was discussing the divisions among the Corinthian believers, and he wrote: 1 Cor. 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. (KJV) . . . That first section of the Letter is about carnal desires because their questions were about carnal things and the things that carnal Christians would be interested in. The carnalities had to do with their divisions, their arguing about different leaders, about adultery, about going to court against a brother, the sex problem, women's dress and men's haircuts, the love feast, gluttony and drunkenness at the Lord's Supper. All those things referred to carnality, and we find the same things in the church today. That section on carnalities was corrective.
Now Paul comes to the section on spiritual things, and that is constructive (beneficial, productive). It seems that Paul was glad to get to chapter 12. He was willing to discuss the other problems with them, but he really wanted to talk to them about the spiritual things. In this section Paul will speak on three subjects: the Spirit that unifies, the law of love and the victory TRUE believers have in the Resurrection. The gifts of the Spirit is one of the spiritual things.
1 Cor. 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. (KJV)
Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led . . . the Corinthians were Gentiles, previous to their conversion to the Christian faith. They were heathens, not guided by reason or truth, but hurried by their passions into ridiculous worship of nothing idols (1Cor.8:4; 10:19-20), the chief part of which was calculated only to excite and gratify carnal tendencies. Dumb idols . . . the idols were voiceless, idols that could not speak. Paul previously said the idols are "nothings." That is why the meat offered to the idols was not contaminated. The idols were nothing, but sad to say, everyone does not understand that.
Psalm 115:5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: (KJV)
Hab. 2:18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? (KJV) . . . Not only could the idol not speak, but the god or demon it pretended to represent, could not speak . . . full proof that an idol was NOTHING in the world.
1 Cor. 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (KJV)
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed . . . there is a great spiritual Truth here! The TRUTH of the Christian life, is the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ! NO man who speaks by the Spirit of God can possibly call Jesus accursed! You CANNOT belittle, blaspheme, curse or put down Jesus Christ in any way by the Spirit of God. It just will NOT work.
And that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost . . . on the other hand, NO man can say that Jesus is the Lord, EXCEPT by the Holy Ghost. Yes, an unbeliever can SAY the word Lord, but IF that person does not have the Holy Spirit abiding within them (Rom.8:9), they CANNOT call Jesus their Saviour and Lord! Mat. 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (KJV) . . . SO . . . a person can mouth the word “Lord”, but IF the love of Jesus is not in their heart, one day they shall hear the above words of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit commands the soul's obedience and allegiance to Jesus. The TRUE church is made up of those who have gathered around that truth as given to us by the Holy Spirit. The unifying work of the Holy Spirit today is to reveal the lordship of Jesus to all believers, and within this unity there is variety of gifts. See: TRUE children of God:
1 Cor. 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (KJV)
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit . . . there are many varieties of gifts which are gracious endowments of the Holy Spirit, and which can lead to amazing results; such as the gift of prophecy and teaching the Word of God. And all spiritual gifts come by the amazing influences of the Holy Spirit. In order to have the unity, He gives different gifts to different people. The Greek word for "gifts" is charisma. Some people try to make this word apply to tongues, and they speak of the charismatic movement. This reveals their ignorance, because the word refers to ALL the gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to the believers in the church.
1 Cor. 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. (KJV)
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord . . . different offices in the church, such as apostle, prophet and teacher; which probably included bishop, pastor, deacon, etc. The qualifications for such offices, as well as the appointments themselves, come directly from the ONE Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Cor. 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (KJV)
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all . . .
miraculous effects applied on others; such as the expulsion of demons, inflicting extraordinary punishments, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, Elymas the sorcerer, etc., the healing of different diseases, raising the dead, etc. ALL these spiritual gifts proceeded from God the Father, as the fountain of all goodness and power, and the immediate Dispenser of every good and perfect gift.
In the three preceding verses we find more than an indirect reference to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
***Gifts are attributed to the Holy Spirit (verse 4).
***Administrations to the Lord Jesus (verse 5).
***Operations to God the Father (verse 6).
1 Cor. 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (KJV)
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal . . . Paul’s meaning seems to be: Whatever gifts God has bestowed, or in what various ways the Spirit of God may have manifested Himself, it is all for the common benefit of the church. God has given NO gift to any man for his own private advantage or profit. He has his gift for the benefit of others as well as for his own salvation.
There are those who have no specific natural talent. They say that since they cannot sing in the choir or teach in the Sunday school, there is nothing for them to do but to sit in the pew. That is a very tragic mistake in the church. This verse tells us that EVERY believer has a gift! But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. The word for "man" is a generic term and actually means man or woman, boy or girl. It does NOT make any difference who you are. If you are a child of God, you have a gift. You have been put into the body of believers as a member of the body, and you are to function as a member of the Body of Christ. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
1 Cor. 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; (KJV)
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit . . . it is very difficult to say what is intended by Paul here, by the different kinds of gifts mentioned by the apostle. Personally, I think that some gifts were supernatural, and were necessary at that time only, to the benefit the Church. I know that many say I am wrong. That is their right. But the way I see this, many of the spiritual gifts were ONLY for the primitive (baby) church, until the New Testament was written.
I think wisdom means insight into truth. I do NOT think that everyone can come to an understanding of the Bible, which is the reason why we need teachers, and the Spirit of God has given us teachers. Wisdom is insight into the truth of the Word of God. Knowledge means to investigate or to dig into the truth. Many people simply do not take the time, to dig into the Word of God, to dig out those ever so precious nuggets (Ps.126:6; 139:17; Pro.3:13-15; 20:15; 1 Pet.1:7; 2 Pet.1:4).
To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The word of wisdom . . . one has been endowed with wisdom, or has made exceptionally wise and careful, and has a broad view of the structure of redemption, and with an ability of clearly explaining it to people. It is not certain that Paul meant that this was the most important or most elevated endowment because he places it first in order. His plan does not seem to be to observe the order of importance and value; but to state the fact that these various gifts had been conferred on different men in the church. The sense is, that the gift (word) of wisdom would be given to some, and he would be a careful counsellor, an instructor and a learned adviser. To another the word of knowledge. . . . another would be well-known for knowledge. He would be well-read; would have a clear view of the plan of salvation, and understand the doctrines and duties of religion. This has been what has been observed in the ministry at all times. One man is distinguished as a wise man; another as a man of intelligence and knowledge; and both may be equally useful in their place in the church. By the same Spirit . . . all can be traced to the same Spirit; so that all gifts would be very useful and needed; and the one should NOT pride himself in his endowments above the other.
1 Cor. 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; (KJV)
To another faith by the same Spirit . . . there are indeed some Christians that are very well known for their faith. I think that these ‘strong in faith’ people help those who might be weak in their faith, urging and encouraging them to simply have confidence in God. Faith, we are told in the Scriptures, is the substance of things hoped for (Heb.11:1). Faith is a gift. Some people have the gift of faith.
To another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit . . . the gifts of healing was promised to the apostles of the Saviour; and in the early church was conferred on many (Acts 5:12,15,16; 19:12). It would seem from this Passage that the gift of healing was conferred on some in a more powerful degree than on others. That means that the sick were healed by the laying on of hands. I truly believe this was a gift given to the apostles and to men in the early church. That gift is not needed today. We should take our case directly to the Great Physician. We do NOT need to go through a man or woman down here and ask them to pray for us or lay their hands on us. We can take our case directly to Jesus! We certainly do NOT need these so-called faith healers who are greedy liars, out only to pad their ego and bank account. May God have mercy on these hypocrites. My friend, it reveals a lack of faith in Jesus to go to a so-called healer.
I think the Spirit of God gives gifts to the church . . . so that it might function, in whatever the age in which it finds itself, so that the whole body might profit from it. The early church needed more spiritual gifts that the church of today.
1 Cor. 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: (KJV)
To another the working of miracles . . . there has been some confusion in separating this Passage from what is mentioned in verse 9, the gift of healing vs the working of miracles. It seems that maybe in verse 9, Paul there may refer to the power of working miracles in healing chronic and powerful diseases. The working of miracles may possibly be inflicting punishments on sinners such as Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), and casting out devils (Mat.10:1; Mk.6:7; 16:17).
To another prophecy . . . which in general means to reveal the will of God, whether by the foretelling future incidents (as did the Old Testament prophets), or opening the Scriptures by preaching or teaching (as today).
To another discerning of spirits . . . a power where God further authorized and credited His Gospel in those primitive times, gave power to discern or recognize men's inward thoughts and hearts, allowing them to judge if a person was being truthful and sincere, or just the opposite, clearly seeing their falsehood and hypocrisy. It is my opinion that all TRUE Christians have this gift of discernment to some extent.
To another divers kinds of tongues . . . a power to speak to men in their languages, as we read in Acts 2:5-11. What happened that day of Pentecost was NOT a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that no one could understand! It was people from all over that area, who had come to the city of Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. When the Day of Pentecost finally came, they were all together in one place. Pentecost took place 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits.
***The Feast of Firstfruits. Lev. 23:15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: (KJV)
***Christ is the firstfruits! 1 Cor.15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (KJV)
To another the interpretation of tongues . . . this was a different gift from an ability to speak with divers tongues. It is possible that some that spoke with divers tongues could not interpret what they said, so that another who knew the language would interpret it. This was a gift to interpret foreign languages; or of interpreting the language which might be used by the "prophets" in their communications (1 Cor.14:27). This was evidently an ability different from the power of speaking a foreign language; and yet it was equally useful.
Miracles by the apostles: (Lk.10:17). Peter: (Acts 3:7; 5:5,10,15; 9:34,40) Paul: (Acts 13:11; 14:3,10; 16:18; 19:11; 20:10; 28:5,8) Stephen: (Acts 6:8) Phillip: (Acts 8:6-13)
See end of chapter for a comment on tongues.
1 Cor. 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (KJV)
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will . . . although the Spirit of God is but ONE, from whom these many different powers and abilities come, the Holy Spirit does not give all these gifts to all Christians, but one gift to this man, another gift to another. It is all done by the same Holy Spirit, as He pleases, for the glory of God, and for the good of the church.
Some of the doctrines which are taught by verse 11, are the following:
#1. The Holy Ghost is a Person. He acts as a person; distributes favors, gives endowments and special mercies "as he will." This proves that He is, in some ways, distinguished from the Father and the Son. The Holy Ghost is not an attribute of God. He has His own special place and job in the Holy Trinity.
#2. The Holy Ghost is Sovereign. He gives to whomever He pleases. In regard to spiritual endowments, He deals with men as He sees fit, be they temporal or eternal blessings. He does not bestow the same blessings on all, nor make all alike. He dispenses His favors by a rule that He alone knows. We may be assured, all that he does is in accordance with wisdom and goodness. He wrongs no one; and he gives to all the favors which might be connected with eternal life.
#3. No man should be proud or ‘show-off’ his gifts. Whatever they may be, they are the gifts of God, bestowed by His sovereign will and mercy.
#4. No man should be depressed, or should hate his own gifts, however humble they may be. In their own right, they may be just as important as the higher endowments of others. A person should strive to improve his "one talent" (Mat.25:24), and do all he can to make himself useful in whatever place God has placed him or her.
#5. No man should look down on another because he has a more humble gift, or is less favored than himself. God is the One in charge, and we should respect and honor His arrangements and His will, and should show respect and honor to ALL with loving-kindness, no matter what gift was bestowed upon them.
The Holy Spirit is sovereign in the giving of spiritual gifts. The Corinthians were carnal Christians, living on a very low spiritual level. They were fascinated by the tongues gift. That is why Paul is discussing it in this Letter. He was trying to correct the many things that were wrong in the Corinthian church. He tells them that there are many gifts and that the Holy Spirit distributes to each one individually as He wills, and not to question His decision.
Members of the Human Body Compared
To Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:12-31)
1 Cor. 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (KJV)
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body . . . the common feeling which Paul had been illustrating and enforcing was, that all the gifts which were possessed in the church were the work of the same Holy Spirit, and that these gifts should be cherished and prized, as being very useful and valuable in their places. This sentiment he now illustrates (verses 12-27), by a striking likeness taken from the mutual dependence of the various parts of the human body. The human body is ONE body, and yet is made up of many different members and parts, and all these parts must unite in harmony as a whole for the body to do well.
So also is Christ . . . the church is represented as the Body of Christ (verse 27), meaning that it is one, and that He sustains to it the relation of Head (Eph.1:22-23). Since the head is the most important part of the body, it may be put for the whole body; and the Name Christ here, the Head of the church, is put for the whole church of which He is the Head; and means here the Christian church. This figure, of a part for the whole, is one that is common in all languages.
Romans 12:4-5 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (KJV)
1 Cor. 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (KJV)
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body . . . meaning by the work of the same Spirit, the Holy Ghost, we have been united into one body. The idea here is the same as was presented above in verses 7-11, by which ALL the endowments of Christians are traced to the SAME Holy Spirit. Are we all . . . every member of the church, no matter his rank or talent, has received his gifts from the same Holy Spirit. Baptized into one body . . . there are many who think that this is refers to the ordinance of baptism by water. I disagree. This has to be understood as the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Mat.3:11). I think it means that by the work of the Holy Spirit they had all been fitted, each to his proper place, to make up the Body of Christ, the church. Water baptism does NOT place a person into the Body of Christ . . . water baptism simply reveals that a person has taken a stand with the Lord Jesus Christ. A person MUST be baptized by the Holy Ghost (Spirit), or they are NOT a child of God. Baptism of the Holy Spirit: (Mat.3:11,16; Mk.1:8; Lk.3:16,22; 24:49; Jn.1:32-33; 3:5; Acts 1:5; 2:1-4,38,41; 8:15-17; 10:38,44,45,47; 11:15-16; 19:2,6; 1 Cor.12:13; Tit.3:5-6; 1 Pet.3:20-21).
See Baptism: http://www.hisservants.org/why_baptism_h_s.htm
Whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit . . . Jew, Gentile, slave or free . . . there is no difference. ALL are on the same level in God’s eyes. No distinction is made, whatever may have been our former condition of life. Bond or free . . . it is clear that many who were slaves were converted to the Christian faith. The Gospel regards all as on one level; and confers no favors on the free that it did not on the slave. This doctrine would tend to secure, more than anything else could, the proper treatment of those who were in bondage, and of those who were in humble positions of life. At the same time it would not lessen, but would increase their real respect for their masters, and for those who were above them, if they regarded them as fellow Christians, and destined to the same Heaven (1 Cor.7:22-24). And have been all made to drink into one Spirit . . . this probably refers to their partaking together of the cup in the Lord's Supper. The sense is, that by their drinking of the same cup commemorating the death of Christ, they had partaken of the same influences of the Holy Ghost, which descend alike on all who observe that ordinance in a proper manner. They had shown, also, that they belonged to the same body, and were all united together; and that, no matter how different their graces and gifts might be, yet they all belonged to the same great family.
Gal. 3:27-29 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (KJV)
See our article, Religion or Christ? http://www.hisservants.org/religion_or_christ_h_s.htm
1 Cor. 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many. (KJV)
For the body is not one member, but many . . . just as the natural body is a whole, consisting of many members; so too is the church the spiritual Body of Christ, and is not made up of just one single member, but of many different members.
1 Cor. 12:15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (KJV)
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?. . . just as all the members of the body are dependent on each other, and care for the general support of the structure, so is it in the Church. All the private members are closely connected among themselves.
1 Cor. 12:16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (KJV)
And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body . . . the idea here is, that as the foot and the ear could not pretend that they were not parts of the body, nor could they say that they were not even important, because they were not the eye or the nose. They were not more honorable parts of the body, so no Christian, no matter how humble his gift, could pretend that he was useless because he was not more highly gifted, and did not occupy a more elevated position.
1 Cor. 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? (KJV)
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? . . . there are several actions to be performed by the body of a man, either for the support and the upholding of it in life, or for the help of it while it lives; seeing, hearing and smelling, are not needed for the upholding of life, but they are highly useful for a man's better being, and the help of bodily existence; therefore there is need of a variety of body members, instruments of sight as well as of hearing, and organs of smelling as well as hearing.
1 Cor. 12:18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. (KJV)
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him . . . the Almighty and ever so wise God, has created no member of man's body in vain! Every single part of the body has its place to the well-being of the body. He has also appointed every member its place, and there it stays. It cannot shift its station or office. So too, it is in the church of God (verse 27).
1 Cor. 12:19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? (KJV)
And if they were all one member, where were the body . . . since the body consists of many members, it could not be a body if there was just one member, one part. How could the body perform all the many actions necessary for the well-being of it, if it consisted of only one member?
1 Cor. 12:20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. (KJV)
But now are they many members, yet but one body . . . the vast array of members, having several uses and offices for the service of the whole body, does not make a collection of bodies, for the body still is just ONE body.
1 Cor. 12:21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. (KJV)
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you . . . the hand in its place is just as needed as the eye; and the feet as the head. The eye and the head could not perform their proper functions, or would be very useless, if it were not for the help of the hands and feet. Each member is useful in its proper place. So too, in the church. The ones who are most talented, and most richly endowed with gifts, should NEVER say to those with a lesser gift, that there is no need of their help. ALL are useful in their place. Those who are most richly endowed could very well, perform their duties very imperfectly, without the aid and co-operation of those of more humble gifts.
1 Cor. 12:22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (KJV)
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary . . . the ones which seem to be more feeble, weaker than the rest . . . are necessary in the church! Maybe Paul is referring to the brain, the lungs, the heart, etc., as more feeble in their structure, and more liable to disease, than the hands and the feet. Are necessary . . . the sense seems to be that a man can live, even though the parts and members of his body which are more strong were removed; but NOT if those parts which are more feeble were removed. A man can live if his arm or leg is amputated; but NOT if his brain, his lungs or his heart be removed. The church can better spare many a man, even in the ministry, who is learned, and eloquent, and popular, than some obscure and humble Christian, that is to the church what the brain, heart and lungs are to the body. The one is strong, vigorous, active . . . like the hands or the feet, and the church often depends on them. The other is feeble, concealed, yet vital, like the brain, heart or lungs. The strength of the church could be continued though the man of talent and learning should be removed . . . as the body may live when the arm or the leg is amputated; but that strength could not continue, if the saint of humble and timid piety and of fervent prayerfulness were removed, any more than the body can live when there is no brain, no heart and no lungs.
1 Cor. 12:23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. (KJV)
And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour . . . and those members of the body, asthe back parts of it: which we think to be less honourable; even though really useful, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; by clothing them, for a man's garments are his honor and glory.
Matthew 6:29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (KJV) . . . Not even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as the flowers of the field. For more of Solomon's glory, see: 1 Kings10:14-29.
The teaching of Jesus is absolutely incomparable! NO one can even come close! It is best left in its own transparency and simplicity. I think God wants us to be as presentable as possible, and although some of us don’t have much to work with, we should do the best we can with what we have, what He has given us!
1 Cor. 12:24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: (KJV)
For our comely parts have no need . . . the face, eyes, nose, lips, cheeks stand in no need of an external covering . . . so are such as are blessed with the bounties of nature and providence, with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and are well-known for grace and holiness, and are enabled to walk worthy of their calling. Their lives are suited to the Gospel of Christ, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience (1 Tim.3:9; 2 Tim.1:3). These have no need of such a covering, to hide and conceal them from the world.
But God hath tempered the body together . . . He has made it in such a way, created it in such order, all its parts mixed and united in a perfect manner, that they all benefit each other; and all are in harmony of the whole . . . that it is a most beautiful structure.
Having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked . . . that part which is the least. Such too is the nature and structure of the church, having mixed rich and poor persons, of greater and lesser gifts, together, for mutual good of all. I conclude from Paul’s teaching here that the least attractive gifts could very well be the most important.
1 Cor. 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. (KJV)
That there should be no schism . . . division (1 Cor.11:18). The idea here is, that the body of Christ might be united, and be one harmonious whole. There should be no separate interests; and all the parts should be equally needed and truly dependent on each other. No member should be considered as separated from the others, or as needless to the welfare of all. No member of the church, no matter how weak, feeble, illiterate or obscure, should be looked down on or regarded as unnecessary or no value, that everyone of them are needed in their particular places; and it should not be thought that they could not get along together, any more than the less honorable and comely parts of the body should be regarded as unworthy or unfit to be united to the parts that were thought to be more beautiful and honorable.
But that the members should have the same care one for another . . . should equally regard the interests of all, as feeling an equal interest in all the members and parts of the body, desiring the preservation and the harmony of the whole. Whatever part of the body is affected with disease or pain, we feel a deep interest in its preservation and cure. No member of the church should be overlooked or despised. The whole church should feel a deep interest for, and exercise a constant loving kindness for all its members.
1 Cor. 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. (KJV)
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it . . . we all know, this is how it is with the body. A pain in the foot, hand or head motivates deep concern. The interest is not confined to the affected part, but our entire body demands our care. No man should consider it a burden and hardship to help a poor or afflicted brother in the church, than it should be thought a hardship that the head, the heart, and the hands should sympathize when any other member of the body is hurting.
Or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it . . . if applied to the body, this means, if one member or part is be treated with special care; be thought honorable; or be in sound, healthy and vigorous condition. If applied to the church, it means, if one of its members should be favored with extraordinary endowments; or be raised to a station of honor and influence above his brethren in the body of Christ, all the other members should partake of the benefit and honor. If one member be sound and healthy the benefit extends to all. If the hands, the feet, the heart, the lungs, the brain be in a healthy condition, the advantage is felt by all the body members, and all get an advantage from it. So too, in the church. If one member is favored with remarkable talent, or is raised to a station of influence, and exerts his influence in the cause of Christ, all the members of the church should rejoice in it.
1 Cor. 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (KJV)
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular . . . the reference to the human body is here kept up. As all the parts of the human body make up one body, having a common head, so it is with all the members and parts of the Christian church. The idea is, that Christ is the Head of the whole church; that He presides over all; and that all its members put up with each other in the relationship of fellow-members in the same body, and are all subject to the same Head (1 Cor.11:3). The church is often called the Body of Christ (Eph.1:22-23; Col.1:18,24).
And members in particular . . . you are, as individuals, members of the Body of Christ; each individual is a member of that church (Eph.5:30).
1 Cor. 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (KJV)
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues . . . God has appointed, constituted, ordained and established these different orders or ranks in the church. The apostle, having illustrated the main idea that God had granted various gifts on the members of the church, proceeds here to specify particularly what he meant, and to refer more directly to the various positions which existed in the church.
Some in the church . . . some in this place seems to mean, those whom God has placed in the church.
First apostles . . . the first rank or order; or as superior in honor and in office. He has given them the highest authority in the church; he has more fully endowed them and qualified them than he has others. Comment: there are NO apostles in the churches today. An apostle was a man who was directly chosen by Jesus, a man who had actually seen Jesus. NO one today can qualify.
Secondarily prophets . . . second in respect to endowments and importance. For the meaning of the word prophets. Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; (KJV)
Thirdly teachers . . . teachers occupy the third place of importance and valuable endowments. On the meaning of this word, and the nature of this office: Romans 12:7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; (KJV)
After that miracles . . . power from Christ. Those who had the power of working miracles is referred to in (1 Cor.12:10).
Then gifts of healings . . . the power of healing those who were sick (1 Cor.12:9; Jam.5:14,16).
Helps . . . this word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means aid, assistance, help. There is no evidence that it refers to a distinct and permanent office in the church; but may refer to aid rendered by any class in any way. Probably many persons were profitably and usefully employed in various ways as aids in promoting the temporal or spiritual welfare of the church.
Governments . . . this word is usually applied to the government or steering of a ship. The word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though a like word (governor) occurs in Acts 27:11, rendered master, and in (Rev.18:17), rendered "shipmaster." It is not easy to determine what particular office or function is here intended.
Diversities of tongues . . . those endowed with the power of speaking various languages (Acts 2:5-11).
There is NO reason to think that the terms here used referred to permanent and established ranks and orders in the ministry and in the church; or in permanent offices which were to continue to all times as an essential part of the Christian church. It is certain that the "order" of apostles has ceased, and also the "order" of miracles, and the "order" of healings, and also the diversity of tongues. And it is also certain that in the use of these terms of office, the apostle does not say that they would be permanent, nor would they be essential to the very existence of the church. SO, from the Passage before us, it cannot be argued that there was to be an order of men in the church who were to be called helps, or governments. The truth probably was, that the circumstances of the primitive churches required the aid of many persons in many different capacities which might not be needed or proper in later times and circumstances.
1 Cor. 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? (KJV)
Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles . . . these questions imply, with a very strong emphasis, that it could NOT be, and should NOT be, that there should be a perfect equality of gifts. Not all men were equal, not all were qualified for the offices which others sustained. It was a simple matter of fact, that some were qualified to perform offices which others were not; that some were gifted with the abilities necessary to the apostolic office, and others were not; others were endowed with prophetic gifts, and others were not; that some had the gift of healing and others were not given that gift, or the gift of speaking different languages, or of interpreting, and that others had not. It was all in the very wise hands of the Holy Ghost!
1 Cor. 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? (KJV)
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? . . . Paul continues with more questions. What he is saying is, all are not, nor can anyone have all the spiritual gifts, any more than the body should have more than one pair of ears, or eyes, or hands, or feet. Paul tells them and us, that you cannot expect, in a governed body, that all should be rulers. NOT everyone can work miracles, prophesy, heal those that are sick or speak with tongues, The Spirit distributes to every one as He sees fit. We must accept this and be content no matter what gift the Spirit gives us, even though our gift is lower and less than someone else; and we must NOT look down on or despise others, if we have a greater gift than someone else has.
The Christian church is blessed, IF all the members consider their responsibility! Instead of coveting the highest positions, or the best gifts, we should leave the appointment of His gifts to us, to God. I think we should remember that those who desperately seek the chief places, will not be approved on Judgment Day, but instead those who are most faithful to the trust placed in them, and who are most diligent in their Master's work.
Tongues is different languages, NOT mumbo-jumbo of the charismatic churches! And please take note: tongues is LAST on the list of spiritual gifts!
1 Cor. 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (KJV)
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way . . . to covet means to desire earnestly (1 Cor.14:39). The desire of heavenly things is really admirable; while the desire of worldly things is sinful in God’s eyes. A person may possess the best of these spiritual gifts, and yet be deficient in what is basically necessary to his salvation, for he may be without that love or charity which Paul here calls the more excellent way, and which he will continue in the chapter 13.
Paul did not say that it was wrong to desire high gifts, but he showed them that a gift which was more valuable than all the others; which was accessible to all; and which, if possessed, would make them content and produce harmony in all the parts of the church. That gift was LOVE. Best gifts: (Mat.5:6; Lk.10:41-42).
Comment on Tongues
I am bringing this excerpt from our commentary in Acts.
Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. (KJV)
They had come from everywhere because of the Feast of Pentecost. This is why they were in Jerusalem.
Acts 2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. (KJV)
When this was noised abroad . . . means when this sound (the wind) took place. Because of the sound a multitude gathered. The sound the people of Jerusalem heard had never been heard before; so they came rushing toward it. Probably all 120 believers were there (Acts 1:15).
The people who went there were bewildered because every man heard the apostles speak in his own language. It was not only that the language of their country was spoken, but each man heard his own dialect as it was spoken in his area of the country. This was NOT like the mass confusion of some of today’s churches.
These men were NOT talking gibberish. They were NOT talking in unknown tongues.
These men were speaking the dialects of the people in the multitude.
Some Bible commentators believe that what is meant here is that the apostles were NOT speaking in other languages at all, but were speaking in their own Galilean dialect, and the miracle was in the hearing because it says: “every man heard them speak in his own language.” SO . . . we all can agree that there WAS a miracle that special day. . . BUT . . . was the miracle that broke down the language barrier in the speaking OR could it have been in the hearing?
Also, consider the following: NOWHERE in Acts do you find the term "Baptism of the Holy Ghost" in connection with speaking in tongues. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is related to salvation, NOT tongues (1 Cor.12:13).
There is NO command in the Bible to speak with unknown tongues.
A person who does not have the Holy Spirit is not saved (Rom.8:9; 1 John 4:13).
A wicked generation seeks a sign (Mat.12:39).
The tongues movement of today is NOT the Acts 2 tongues but the CARNAL tongues of 1 Corinthians.
Jesus does NOT command us to speak in ANY different "tongues."
Acts 2:7-11 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. (KJV) . . . Emphasis mine. 18 languages!
Acts 1:4 says: “as the Spirit gave them utterance” meaning as the Spirit gave them power to speak. This clearly states that they now had the ability to speak languages which they did not know . . . or understand a language they did not know. Their native tongue was that of Galilee, the common language used in Judea, the Syro-Chaldaic. Many attempts have been made to try to figure a way other than this being a miracle. BUT . . . the natural and clear meaning of the Passage is: they were endowed by the miraculous power of the Holy Ghost with ability to speak foreign languages they did not know! PERIOD! I do not think that each one had the power to speak all the languages which named (Acts 2:9-11) but that this ability was among them, and that together they could speak these languages; probably some one, and some another.
The following may be helpful:
(1.) This ability was predicted in the Old Testament. "With another tongue will he speak to this people" (Isa.28:11). 1 Cor.14:21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. (KJV)
(2.) The Lord Jesus stated that they would have this power. Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (KJV)
The Lord Jesus NEVER tells us that we must speak in tongues to be saved, as some of those charismatic churches teach today. They LIE! Believe Jesus . . . NOT these heretical false teachers.
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