Friday, August 7, 2015

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

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. 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.

Vs. 1-2 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. 

The Apostle Paul before addressing true Spiritual gifts wants to make clarify for them what is of the Holy Spirit and what is just of demon spirits which are associated with idols and their worship (see Lev. 17:7; Deut. 32:17; 2 Chr. 11:15; 1 Cor. 10:20; Rev. 9:20). And thus he says, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant", that is ignorant of what is a gift of the Holy Spirit of God and what is not. Since any work of the Holy Spirit by any true Spiritual discernment will not contravene the Word of God, and thus the fruits of the Holy Spirit as revealed in it (Gal 5:22-23), nor any revelation given us that has already come through it. Thus if one does not have control of ones tongue and body (as Paul makes clear in 1 Cor 14 when he addresses tongues and prophesy usage in the assembly, with prophesy as the far greater gift), than that spirit is not from the Holy Spirit of God. It is either just a work of flesh, or of demon spirits.

Vs. 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."

Therefore in discerning "the spirituals", the Apostle Paul now says, "no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed." Jesus is Lord. Thus for anyone to say that Jesus is accursed then they are most definitely not speaking by the Holy Spirit of God whose purpose in coming into believing mankind and manifesting God's Spiritual Presence and gifts through us is to glorify God's Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus make Him known to one and to all, so that all might believe and receive Christ for themselves. Therefore anyone who claims to be speaking by the Holy Spirit of God, yet would speak a word against the Lord Jesus' Christ's Glorious Person, Name, or His salvation, which is freely offered to one and to all, is not speaking by the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore having addressed the erroneous, the Apostle Paul now states the obvious, and that is that "no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit."  For it is the Holy Spirit who brings each and every believer to Spiritual life and into union with Christ. Thus any believer can easily say Jesus is Lord because the Holy Spirit is the Person of God now in their lives. For outside of Holy Spirit union with Christ confession that Jesus is Lord is not possible. And that is how one distinguishes the Holy Spirit of God from a demonic spirit. The Spirit of God always seeks to glorify Christ through those who believe in Him, while Satan always seeks to undermine the Lord and His own, through his own. 

Vs. 4-6 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. 

Gifts, ministries, activities. First gifts, these are Spirit gifts that are given by the Spirit of God to each individual believer as He wills (vs. 11). Notice then there is a diversity of gifts in the Body of Christ, yet it is the same Spirit who gives themThus unity for us is not found in conformity to one Spirit gift, because there are a diversity of gifts which are all given by the Holy Spirit of God, who gives gifts to each believing individual as He wills. Beware then of any assembly that lays stress on any one gift, or of it being the mark of anything, because the Spirit of God and Scripture do not. 

Similarly there are differences of ministries as well as diversities of activities, but the same Lord. Thus we have Christian ministries and activities that serve the church and believers there, and we have Christian ministries and activities that serve the Lord's purposes outside of it. There are then innumerable types of Christian ministries and activities in every era and in every culture that serve the Kingdom of heavens purposes. Again some take place in the church, and some outside of it. Yet all have the same Lord, being born out of His life and Godly desires within us all who believe to do good wherever and whenever we can. Thus each one is of the Lord, and each one will be recompensed by the Lord according to the work that was done for Him. Now if you don't know where your ministry is, please consider that where there is a need there is a ministry, and start there. 

Vs. 7 "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all"

First and foremost the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each believer for the profit of all. Thus it is for the churches profit that the Holy Spirit gives us these gifts and seeks to manifest the gifts He gives through us. And so where the churches edification is being sought, there the Holy Spirit is at work, ministering and manifesting the Gospel by His power through the gifts He gives us for the profit of all. Now in contrast to that, where bitter envy, self-seeking, and confusion exist, there every evil thing will be. For just as Jesus' Life and Ministry was not for Himself so the Spirit of God's ministering His gifts to us and through us to us is not about Him exalting Himself, His gifts, nor anyone else, but only building up the church and ultimately glorifying Christ. And thus whatever is not being done in accord with the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God (see Gal. 5:22-23) should not be attributed with the outworkings of the Holy Spirit of God (see James 3:13-18, vs. 15, also 1 Cor 14:33). For the manifestation of the Spirit is for the profit of all, not the individual believer, though the individual believer can and should be edified as the gifts of the Spirit are at work in the church through our persons and lives. But if the focus is on oneself, on one manifesting or trying to manifest a particular gift, then the focus is all wrong and door is left wide open for Satan to come and manifest counterfeit spiritual gifts. Thus the fruits of the Spirit manifest the true character of God and Christ in each one of us who believe in Him wherever we are. While the gifts of the Spirit are given us primarily for the profit and building up of the church or family of God in love (Eph 4:1-16).

Vs. 8 "for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit"

Notice first that the Apostle Paul says, "for to one is given...", a gift. Thus from the outset the Apostle Paul makes it clear that not all receive, or will receive, the same gift. That said, each believer will receive at least one gift, and more than likely others as they progress in their faith, though again that is up to the Spirit of God to decide and give to each one as He wills. And so it is that through the Spirit all gifts are given. Now the first two mentioned are wisdom and knowledge. Now both of these gifts have similarities in that both involve the mind, and both give one understanding, which comes directly from God through the Spirit, and is definitely in accord with God's revealed Word. As well both of these gifts are often manifested through the Spirit's speaking gifts and or "offices", i.e. prophecy, teaching, evangelism, exhortation etc., and so they are mentioned together. Yet both are not limited to being manifested through verbal communication, though that is the primary means of their being manifested through believers so equipped, and is the emphasis the Apostle stresses here.
Now the gift of wisdom is mentioned first, which is the Spirit of God giving the word of wisdom (Gr. sophia) too and then revealing it through the believers He chooses to equip with this gift. Thus the gift of wisdom is the Spirit ability to declare and bring forth Divine truths and insights. Hence the wisdom mentioned here is not mans acquired or learned "wisdom". Levels of education or training by no means then indicate one having God's gift of wisdom. Rather the gift of wisdom comes only by the Spirit of God in support of the Gospel and God's Word, bringing forth Divine truths, insights, and understanding to the church and believers within it. As well by the Spirit the gift of the word of wisdom also brings forth insights and understanding to all kinds of matters and affairs; whether this is regarding the church and it's affairs, or the family, or even counseling believers individually. Just as the the prophet Isaiah forseeing Christ, declares of Jesus:
“The Lord GOD has given Me
 The tongue of the learned,
 That I should know how to speak
 A word in season to him who is weary." Isaiah 50:4
And so giving wise and Godly counsel by the Spirit, who again brings forth a word of wisdom that is insightful, and thus very helpful, for those facing difficult situations and circumstances is one way the Spirit uses this gift of the word of wisdom to help strengthen the church and the believers within it. Another way is in preaching and teaching the Word of God, and thus presenting the Gospel. Now in the early church one of the earliest and best examples of the Holy Spirit deploying the gift of wisdom is through the Apostle Peter and his preaching the Gospel immediately after Pentecost. The incredible illumination of the Scriptures in his preaching truly shows a man who is filled not only with the Spirit of God, but is also manifesting the gift of the word of wisdom in his preaching the Gospel. On one occasion in particular the Apostles Peter and John having Supernaturally healed a crippled man by the Holy Spirit's Power in the Temple; which then serve as a platform for them to preach the Gospel to all there; and so it was while doing so that the Apostles Peter and John are arrested, taken into custody, and then later brought before the Sanhedrin council. Now it was when they are before the Sanhedrin council, that the Apostle Peter will make not only a defense for themselves, but also he will make an irrefutable defense of the gospel (see Acts 4:5-12). And so it is having made their defense, the Scripture then states of the high priest and those of the Sanhedrin council assembled there,  "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled." Acts 4:13  Notice that by the Sanhedrin councils own assessments of them, both Peter and John were "untrained and uneducated men". And yet they speak with such boldness and wisdom that the highly trained and educated men of the counsel cannot refute them, nor the Gospel they preached to them, and thus they marvel at them. Likely much like those in Jesus' hometown did when they first heard Him preach (see Matt 13:54-58). And with that they are only left with threatening them, and warning them to speak no more in Jesus' Name (see Acts 4:14-22). And thus through Peter and John we see the the Spirit empowering them to reason and speak Scriptural truth with great wisdom and boldness so that Christ may be revealed and God glorified through them.
Similarly we also see this gift of wisdom (and the understanding and ability it gives one) displayed through the martyr Stephen, whose defense of the Gospel before the Sanhedrin counsel is another excellent outworking of it (see Acts 6:8-7:60). Now Jesus also promises this ability to all who believe in Him when we are likewise brought before councils, tribunals, and courts of men for our faith in Him (see Matt 10:18-20; Luke 21:15). Though that is not what is being presented here as a gift of the Holy Spirit, for that is an ability to speak a word of wisdom in that moment, while what is being presented here is the gift of the word of wisdom from God which the Holy Spirit distributes to us who believe as He wills. Thus a word of wisdom which not only empowers "the foolish" in the eyes of this world, (that is those who believe, trust in, and ultimately seek to obey Christ) to bring forth Divine insights and understanding which ultimately confounds "the wise" of it (see 1 Cor 1:18-30). But God also brings forth His Words of wisdom, and thus Godly counsel through individuals so equipped. Just as we see in the prophets Joseph and Daniel who God used mightily in the pagan societies they dwelt to accomplish His purposes, and bring forth His Word. Even interpreting dreams as they did, was a by-product of God empowering Joseph and Daniel by the Spirit to do so, though that is not the exclusive domain of the gift of wisdom, but also discernment as well.
And thus the gift of wisdom not only empowers one to understand, but also how to speak or present Scriptural insights well, making them accessible to all who believe. Wisdom then is a critical gift in the body of Christ for it's running smoothly, effectively, and efficiently. Now the gift of wisdom begins with Christ Himself who is God's Wisdom Personified, who by His life, Crucifixion death and Resurrection from the dead has made available to us all God's Wisdom, which brings peace and truth to us all who believe in Him, and by His Spirit makes us all effective and fruitful in our lives.

Now the gift of knowledge is the Supernatural impartation by the Holy Spirit of knowledge of what is not known. It is distinguished from wisdom in that the gift of the word of wisdom primarily gives one a Divine Word to speak with insight and understanding appropriate to a situation or circumstance, while through the gift of the word of knowledge God through the same Spirit is revealing something directly to the believer who is equipped with this gift, usually as this relates to His Word. The Apostle Paul was clearly equipped with this gift (and many others as well) as his knowledge of the Gospel did not come through the instruction of man, but rather the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12; Eph. 3:3-5).  That said, all believers must now be very leery of anyone claiming to have new knowledge of God or His salvation. For the faith has been once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Thus with the closing of the canon of Scripture this gift now primarily enables the believer who in diligently seeking the truth in God's Word is Supernaturally guided into a true knowledge of God through it.

Vs. 9 "to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit" 
The gift of faith is simply the Spirit given ability to trust God to do not only great things, but also things that could not be accomplished by mere mortal means (consider Matt. 21:18-21). Thus one can see how this gift can not only inspire others in their faith, but also help one achieve those impossible things which only God can receive the credit for doing. Mentioned next is the gift of healings. Though seemingly separate gifts, it is always ones faith in the Lord and His ability to heal them that brought about ones healing in the Gospel (consider Matt. 9:22; 9:28-29; 15:28; 17:19; 18:42; Luke 5:17-25, vs. 20;  James 5:15 etc.). Same in the early church where this gift finds it's most active and powerful manifestations through the Apostles, which in the case of the Apostle Peter usually precipitated his then preaching the Gospel (as in Acts 3:1-26). And thus this gift wasn't so much about supernaturally healing people, though that is what the Spirit did through those He equipped with it in the early church; and thus brought much comfort to the church, as when Dorcas was healed (see Acts 9:36-43); rather through through the gift of healing, "with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus..." Acts 4:33 Which is fully in accord with Jesus' exhortation in Mark 16:14-18 when He promised to do these things through them. And so the gift of healings I believe was given primarily to serve as a powerful and undeniable witness to the Lord Jesus' Christ's Resurrection. Thus healing someone and preaching the Kingdom of heaven went hand in hand in the Apostles ministry (consider Luke 9:1-2). That said, this Spirit ability, and then gift, which was first bestowed upon the twelve, and later was seen in the early church, especially through the Apostles, really tapers off as more and more revelation is given to the Apostles. Which in many ways parallels Israel's rejection of the Gospel as a nation, and the Gentiles acceptance of it. Thus this gift of healings, and the various others sign gifts which were so frequent in the early years immediately after Pentecost to demonstrate the truth of the Gospel through the Apostles, occur far less frequently, and take a far less prominent role, as the church grows in it's faith and understanding. For the Word preached and believed is the only means of salvation. Therefore the faith having now been delivered once and all to the saints (Jude 3) we must all now "walk by faith not by sight" (2 Cor 5:7). Therefore we are not to be signs and wonders, or preaching wisdom, but only Christ crucified for the remission of our sins, and thus everyone putting their faith in Him for their eternal salvation (1 Cor. 1:18-25, vs. 22).

Vs. 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." 

The Apostle Paul now mentions five Spirit gifts: miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. 

First up is the gift of miracles (literally "power"). Miracles here refers to those Supernatural acts which come through the Holy Spirit's Power. From casting out demons, (and thus exercising God's Authority and Power over Satan and all his domain) to raising the dead (thus exercising God's Power over death, which itself is a sign of God's salvation having come to redeem mankind from sin and death), to exercising God's Power over all the natural elements and "laws" of physics as Jesus did in calming the sea, walking on water, and rising from the dead on the third day etc. And so this sign gift gives an irrefutable testimony to Jesus' Person as Messiah, of His having come, but also of His having risen from the dead, as the Lord's Apostles also later demonstrated in His Name, as Jesus said they would (Acts 1:8), doing various kinds of miracles, casting out demons, curing diseases, and even raising the dead back to life, for Jesus Christ alone has God's Power/Authority over all seen and unseen forces (Acts 2:22; 10:38). Therefore after Christ's Resurrection from the dead, the Holy Spirit equipped and empowered believers whom He gifted to do so, to manifest Christ's miraculous power as a witness for Christ (Acts 5:12-16; 14:3; 15:12; 19:11; Heb. 2:4). Now their being enabled to do so has two key elements. First is it appears the Apostles were the ones primarily equipped to do so (Acts 2:43; 5:12-16; 14:3; 15:12; 2 Cor 2:12 etc.), though others in the early church like Stephen and Philip were also empowered by the Spirit to do so (Acts 6:8; 8:5-8). Which was in accord with the Apostles prayer that they would receive Spirit power to be Christ's witnesses through such gifting (Acts 4:23-31, vs. 30), just as Jesus already promised them that they would receive (Acts 1:8). As well though they themselves could do miracles by the Spirit's empowering them, they themselves could not bestow their gift (or any other Spirit gift) upon anyone else. For that alone is up to the Spirit of God to decide (1 Cor 12:11; Heb 2:4). And so their exercising the gift of miracles by the Spirit of God was so that Christ's Name would be magnified in the world and ultimately believed on (Acts 8:6-8; Rom 15:19 etc.). Now if a supernatural act (i.e. a miracle) does not point people to Christ and thus bring people into saving knowledge of God through it, then it is not from God. For Satan has his own agents in this world, whom he also enables to manifest supernatural power, yet his power is limited in it's scope and range; it does not enter into the realm of the Kingdom of God. And so it cannot bring anyone to Spiritual union with Christ and thus everlasting life. Therefore it does not redeem nor transform anyone, nor can it turn anyone away from lawlessness to righteousness (2 Thess. 2:9-12), and thus from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:28). And so Spirit discernment is a valuable gift to have around when this gift is exercised, or reported to have been exercised, because not all that supernaturally occurs is of God (Deut. 13:1-18; Matt. 24:24; 2 Cor 11:12-15; 1 John 4:1). 

Prophecy: The gift of prophecy is one of the most important gifts in the Body of Christ being mentioned only second after that of apostle (see 1 Cor 12:28). In Old Testament times God spoke His Word through His prophets and thus revealed His Word and Will to the people through them (Rom 1:2). However in these last days God has spoken to us all directly through His Son Jesus who is the Prophet to come (Deut. 18:15, 18-19; Heb. 1:1). Therefore at the heart of the Spirit given gift of prophecy is the testimony of Christ, for this is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10). And so the believer who is equipped with the gift of prophecy, though God through them may reveal future events happening (see Acts 11:27-30 and consider Deut. 18:21-22), that is not their primary purpose in the church. Their primary purpose is to make sure Christ through Gospel remains front and center, and God's people remain loyal to Christ by Keeping His Word. And thus the gift of prophecy is very closely related to the gift of teaching, as these two gifts often have overlapping ministries with each other (consider Acts 13:1). Now a by-product of this solemn duty is exhorting and encouraging and strengthening all believers in their faith to do so, as both Judas and Silas did after the Apostles settled the matter of believers and our relationship to the law once and for all (See Acts 15, vs. 32-33). Thus the gift of prophecy is always about declaring the Divine Will as revealed in the Divine Word. The gift of prophecy then is primarily about declaring the written Word of God and exhorting God's peoples' obedience to it. And so like the O.T. prophets, those gifted with the gift of prophecy, though having a very strong loyalty towards God's people, will stand outside of God's people when they have departed from God's Word (consider Jeremiah 15:19-21). And that is what the person with the gift of prophecy brings to the church, an unwavering loyalty to the Word of God, even when God's people have strayed from it. Thus their ministry in the church is often focused towards the leadership of it, seeking them, exhorting them, encouraging them, praying for them to remain loyal to it, or if needed calling the leadership individually, or the congregation collectively back to faithfulness and obedience to the Lord through it. For it is the Word of God alone which sanctifies us all, just as Jesus prayed for us all to be sanctified by it (John 17:17). Thus the person with the gift of prophecy is not interested in the latest "spiritual" trends or "new" moral standards that now even embrace homosexuality, for that abomination will be ruin of all those who are doing so (Prov 5:21-23). Rather the person with the gift of prophecy wants to see all of God's people excel at whatever endeavours He places in their hearts to do and pursue, which can only happen as we keep His Word, and thus remain faithful and loyal to His Son (consider 2 Chr. 16:7-10, vs. 9).

Discerning of spirits: This is the Spirit given ability to detect what is of the Holy Spirit and what is not. Especially regarding the words and the works of false prophets and false teachers who profess much but posses little. Now every believer is to "test the spirits" (see 1 John 4:1-3), however not every believer has the Spirit discernment to detect what spiritual activities are of God and what are not, and this is why the gift of discernment is so critical. Which maybe why this gift is listed before the last two mentioned, different kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues.

Different kinds of tongues: In it's primary sense this is the Spirit given ability to speak in a foreign language that one has never learned. In a secondary sense it involved speaking in tongues of angels (see 1 Cor 13:1, 14:1-40). It's manifestation was primarily for and towards the Jews as a sign to them in fulfilment of prophecy (see Isaiah 28:11-12; Acts 2). It's later manifestation in the church was to governed by self control and always interpreted (see 1 Cor 14:1-40). It's manifestation then, like the other sign gifts, usually precipitated preaching the Gospel, as the Apostle Peter did in Acts 2-3 where the tongues languages spoken immediately after Pentecost by the Apostles entailed their speaking in known languages to the Jews from around the Roman empire who had gathered in Jerusalem for the yearly feast. And so it was that the Jews there hearing the Apostles speaking the praises of God in the various languages and dialects from the regions that they came from were greatly moved and began to question what these things meant (see Acts 2:6-12) which then precipitated the Apostle Peter speaking the Gospel to them in a language known to them all (likely either in Hebrew or Greek). Tongues is a controversial gift since there are both counterfeit and false manifestations of it.

Interpretation of tongues:  This is the Spirit given ability to interpret the different kinds of tongues languages that the Spirit has supernaturally given. These two gifts then when given by the Spirit of God are never to operate independent of each other. 

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. (1982). (Ac 4:33). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Additional Resources Consulted 
Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 953). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1791–1792). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship

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