1 Corinthians Chapter 12

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THIS chapter commences a new subject, the discussion of which continues to the close of the fourteenth chapter. The general subject is that of spiritual endowments, or the right mode of exercising their spiritual gifts, and the degree of honour which was due to those who had been distinguished by God by the special influences of his Spirit. It is evident that many in the church at Corinth had been thus favoured; and it is evident that they had greatly abused these endowments, and that those who were thus favoured had claimed a precedency of honour above those who had been less distinguished. It is not improbable that they had, in their letter to Paul, (1Cor 7:1,) requested his counsel on this subject, and asked him to teach them what measure of honour should be given to those who had been thus endowed. This subject, as it was of importance not only for them, but for the church at large in all future times, he proceeds to discuss in this and the two following chapters; and this discussion closes the second part of the epistle. See the Introduction. The general scope of these chapters is this:

(1.) He shows that all those endowments were conferred by the Holy Ghost, and were all for the use of the church; that the church was one, but that there was a necessity for diversified operations in that church; and that, therefore, no one should value himself on that gift above his brother, and no one should feel himself dishonoured because he had not been thus favoured. All filled important places in the church, just as the various members and parts of the human system were necessary for its symmetry, action, and health; and all, therefore, should be willing to occupy the place which God had assigned them, 1 Corinthians Chapter 12.

(2.) In Chapter 13 he recommends love, or charity, as of more value than all other spiritual gifts put together, and therefore recommends that that should be especially the object of their desire.

(3.) In Chapter 14 he gives particular rules about the proper exercise of spiritual gifts in their public assemblies. This chapter, therefore, is occupied in stating and illustrating the position that all spiritual gifts are conferred by the Holy Ghost, and that no one should so value himself on this gilt as to despise those who had not been thus endowed; and that no one who had not thus been favoured should be dejected, or regard himself as dishonoured. This statement is illustrated in the following manner:

(1.) Paul states the importance of the subject, 1Cor 13:1.

(2.) He reminds them that they were formerly in a state of ignorance, sin, and idolatry, 1Cor 13:2.

(3.) He states one mark of being under the influence of the Spirit of God; that is, that it would lead them to acknowledge and honour Jesus Christ. If the spirit by which they were influenced led them to this, it was proof that it was the Holy Ghost, 1Cor 13:3. If any pretenders to inspiration were in the habit of speaking disrespectfully of Jesus Christ, or of calling him "accursed," it proved that they were not under the influence of the Holy Ghost.

(4.) There were diversities in the operations of the Spirit; but however various were these operations, they all proceeded from the same agent, 1Cor 13:4ff. All were not, therefore, to expect precisely the same influences or operations; nor were they to suppose that because there were various operations, that therefore they were not influenced by the Spirit of God.

(5.) Paul states and illustrates the truth that the church is one, 1Cor 12:12ff. As the body is one, yet has many members, so is it with the church, 1Cor 12:12. The body has many members, and no members in the body are useless, but all perform important parts, however unimportant they may seem to be; and no one member can say that it has no need of the others. So it is in the church, 1Cor 12:13ff.

(6.) This beautiful allegory, drawn from the functions of the various parts of the human body, Paul applies now to the church, and shows (1Cor 12:28ff) that the same thing should be expected in the church of Christ. It followed, therefore, that those who were not as highly favoured as others, should not regard themselves as useless, and decline their station in the church. It followed, also, that those who were in inferior stations should not envy those who had been more highly favoured; and that those who were in more elevated stations, and who had been more signally favoured, should not look down on those beneath them with contempt. It followed, also, that they should regard themselves as one body, and love and cherish each other with constant Christian affection.

(7.) Paul tells them that it was not improper to desire the highest endowments, but says that he will propose an object of desire to be preferred to these gifts -- and that is LOVE, 1Cor 12:31.


1: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. edit

2: Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. edit

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. edit

4: Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. edit

5: And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. edit

6: And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. edit

7: But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. edit

8: For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; edit

9: To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; edit

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: edit

11: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. edit

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. edit

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. edit

14: For the body is not one member, but many. edit

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? edit

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? edit

17: If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? edit

18: But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. edit

19: And if they were all one member, where were the body? edit

20: But now are they many members, yet but one body. edit

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. edit

22: Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: edit

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. edit

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. edit

25: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. edit

26: And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. edit

27: Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. edit

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. edit

29: Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? edit

30: Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? edit

31: But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. edit

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