Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 12

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-11

  1. Intro:
    1. A couple take aways from our study tonight:
      1. Make it personal(you & your the gifts?). You can’t put God in a box. Remember, Jesus is Lord (He has been given preeminence - Jn.16:14). Don’t throw baby out w/ the proverbial bathwater(just because some abuse gifts doesn’t make them bad).
    2. Are we at Calvary Charismatic?
    3. 4 main groups when it comes to the gifts:
      1. Cessationism -Gifts were only for the early church, not for today (Cease; opp Continuationism)
      2. Charismatics(w/a seatbelt) - We believe all the gifts are for today. But, we also believe they need to be governed.
      3. Charismaniacs - Believe all gifts are for today. But have a low view of the bible. (i.e.) when they prophecy it is often placed above the written Word.
      4. Pentecostals - Believe all gifts are for today. But often believe speaking in tongues is a “proof” you have the Holy Spirit.
    4. Define terms: In vs.4 we have the word gifts (χαρισµατον) plural of χαρισµα (gift).
      1. It means essentially “a free, graciously conferred gift.”
      2. A gift is by grace, which is the very core of the word gift… Grace = χαρισ; Gift = χαρισµα; Gifts = χαρισµατον
      3. Charismatic today refers to those who hold the gifts are for today, in which we most definitely do!
    5. We are not looking at: natural talents(given by God through parents) or learned skills(learned by us) but Gifts that God Gives (ie. Supernatural gifts)!
    6. Just because gifts are abused does it make them wrong?
      1. As we see in the letter to the Corinthians, Gifts can be used incorrectly, they can be abused. It doesn’t make them wrong, nor can we categorize them “not for today” because of that!
    7. 2 Extremes: Not for today! <--> Anything Goes!
      1. Chuck Smith said, “No H.S. & you dry up; too much H.S. & you blow up; Right Balance & you Grow up!”
      2. These should be Tools to build with, not Weapons to slay with, nor Toys to play with!
    8. Are they for today?
      1. Some say, they stopped at the end of the Apostolic Age! Yet Peter prophesied beyond the Apostolic age…matter of fact WAY beyond it.
        1. Acts 2:17 says, And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
  2. CHARISMATON/GIFTS! (12:1-11)
    1. (1) Don’t be a ignorant! Or, uninstructed, uninformed, or unlearned.
    2. (4-6) Diversities & Differences - God loves Variety!
      1. There are a Variety of Gifts, Ministries, & Activities!
        1. Different Gifts - vs.8-10.
        2. Different Ministries - Eph.4:11,12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
        3. Different Activities - workings in NIV. Results.
          1. Don’t try to pigeonhole God on how He works.
          2. Allow other Christians/Churches to manifest the gifts a little differently than you!
    3. (7,11) Each one - each one as He wills!
      1. Donald gee said, “The Holy Spirit for His own wise reason imparts to every person a special gift for the special service to which he is called.”
      2. Rom.12:7 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.
    4. How many gifts are there?
      1. Some say the Lists in the bible are not complete, but are only a sampling.
      2. Rom.12:6-8 list adds how these 7 gifts are to be used:
        1. …if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
    5. How come Jesus doesn’t talk about gifts?…He does!
      1. Read - Mark16:15-18
      2. Note in vs.17,18 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons (miracles); they will speak with new tongues (tongues); "they will take up serpents (miracles); and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them (miracles); they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (healing).
    6. [1] WORD OF WISDOM! (8a)
    7. Wisdom = “Knowledge rightly applied”.
    8. How it works & doesn’t work:
      1. The gift refers to “the word” of wisdom, implying a “spoken utterance” through a direct operation of the H.S. at a given moment.
      2. It is not an abiding deposit of supernatural wisdom.
        1. We do not become a reservoir of this kind of wisdom; instead the H.S. comes upon us in time of need w/it.
    9. 3 situations in which God may give the Word of Wisdom:
      1. In Answering Persecutors
        1. When Paul threw a theological-hand-grenade in the middle of the Pharisees/Scribes, standing before Ananias the High Priest. He said, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!
      2. In Defending the Faith
        1. Jesus w/the Sadducees, when they asked about the 7 bro’s who consecutively married the same lady...Who’s will she be in the res.?
          1. He told them you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. Mt.22:29,30
        2. Today this gift helps in defending the faith both in Apologetics & Polemics!
      3. In Problem Solving or Question Answering
        1. ​​​​​​​Jesus was asked by the Pharisees & Herodians, Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
          1. Render to Caesar what’s his & to God what’s His!
      4. This gift helps in answering questions on the spot!
      5. This gift is very useful in counseling also!
    10. [2] WORD OF KNOWLEDGE! (8b)
    11. The word of knowledge isn’t just good helpful knowledge about life, it’s specifically “Gods knowledge imparted unto us at a precise moment!”
      1. It is the ability to understand Gods truth in a definite situation.
      2. It is the ability to know facts about a situation or a spiritual principle that could not have been known by natural means.
    12. Biblical Examples:
      1. Jesus asks the disciples Who do you say I am (Mt.16:13-17).
        1. Answer given by Peter - You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
        2. But who revealed this to him? - Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
        3. Did Peter know this was happening? – Obviously not, Jesus had to tell him!
    13. Today’s Examples:
      1. Prayer - When the Lord empresses you to pray for someone because they are going through a difficult time…& you find out they were, right at that time!
      2. Personal Examples - The H.S. through me have exposed people in Adultery, Lying, & other sins. (i.e. things I had no knowledge)
      3. My favorite - Teaching on Sunday mornings: People invite guests, God speaks through me & nails their sin. They think their friends ratted on them to the pastor!
    14. [3] FAITH! (9a)
    15. Not saving faith, but a faith of a different kind.
      1. “The ability to discern God’s will, pursue it with extraordinary confidence, & then lay hold of God’s promises w/remarkable results.”
        1. They are people of prayer who simply take God at His word.
      2. It is when faith of a mustard seed is turned into the faith of an Avocado seed!
      3. Phillips Brooks writes, “it is undertaking something so great that you cannot accomplish it unaided!”
      4. Example: Elijah on Mnt. Carmel. In the most powerful evening prayer shows us the gift of faith by boldly calling down fire from heaven!
      5. Example: George Muller in 19th century England. By exercising the gift of faith he was able to raise money, time & time again, for the needs of the orphans w/o ever appealing to men!
      6. You will run into situations in life where you need to pray for the gift of Faith.
        1. “I often times come to God in prayer asking Him to fill my thimble; & I find out more often then not…I should have brought my bucket!”
    16. [4] HEALINGS! (9b)
    17. Note plural: Gifts & Healings. The plural relates to the different classes of sicknesses to be healed. (Godet, Linguistic Key to the Greek N.T.)
    18. What a great gift! It’s only natural to want this gift because of human sympathy & pity for those suffering.
      1. These are not healing’s involving medical knowledge or practices; but supernatural abilities to restore someone to health.
        1. Ex.15:26 For I am the LORD who heals you.
      2. The apostles denied that these healing gifts were from themselves.
        1. Acts 3:12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
    19. Does God seek to heal everyone?
      1. Paul said in 2 Tim.4:20, Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.
      2. When Jesus made the hospital call to the pool of Bethesda, He didn’t clear the place…but only healed one man & left! (Jn.5)
    20. [5] MIRACLES! (10a)
    21. Miracle (Dunamis) – operations of works of power. Other words used: signs, wonders, & powers.
    22. Miracle is used very loosely today.
      1. Miracles refer to acts of God against the laws of nature! (this is the more technical usage)
        1. Jesus turning the water into wine. Raising Lazarus from the dead.
          1. There can be no natural explanation for these events.
      2. A Miracle can be referring to God using a common thing, with a miraculous timing & or placement.
        1. Timing example: Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.
          1. God could have created a special fish for this purpose? Or, made a submarine? Or, simply worked His perfect timing of having one of His huge plankton eater whales to come along to swallow up Jonah by sucking in everything in its path? [Timing]
        2. Placement example: Peter finding fish w/coin in mouth.
          1. Whether God placed in right then, or the fish scooped it up when eating?
      3. O.T. Examples of Miracles: Samson strength was not from his natural ability, but from his supernatural strength that God gave him. But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. (Judges 16:20)
      4. N.T. Examples of Miracles: 5 people raised from the dead in NT. Philip did miracles. Paul wrought unusual miracles. Peter did signs & wonders.
      5. Some say miracles are not for today because they fit into 3 neat time periods in scripture (Moses; Elijah/Elisha; & Jesus)
        1. What about? Joshua & the Jericho walls? Gideon & his miraculous fleece? Samson’s strength tearing the lion/carrying gates/& pushin pillars? Daniel with the Kitty Kats? Jonah & the Big Guppy? The miracles coming soon in Revelation w/the 2 witnesses?
      6. We sure do not see them like we did in the book of Acts. [true that]
        1. I believe God can use certain gifts, more than other gifts, during specific time periods, because again “He chooses” the “best Gifts”!
    23. [6] PROPHECY! (10b)
    24. 1 Thes.5:20,21 Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.
    25. Propheteia - “The speaking forth of the mind & counsel of God”.
      1. To receive & communicate a message from God. In the broadest sense: “all divinely inspired utterances”.
      2. Remember, It will always be in agreement to the Word of God!
      3. Prophecy is not only foretelling the future, but we find forth-telling was the norm in the N.T. & the early church. For edification, exhortation, & for comfort!
      4. It is also the declaration of that which can’t be known by natural means.
        1. Mt.26:68 saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ: who is he that struck thee?
      5. The few times Prophecy was given in the N.T. as foretelling a future event - No guidance was given, only the message!
        1. Agabus in Acts11:28 [a Famine is coming. It will be world wide]
        2. Agabus in Acts 21:11 [the fate of Paul if goes to Jer. Agabus binds Paul’s belt to his own hands/feet]
          1. Note - the purpose of True Prophecy is not to satisfy our curiosity about the future, but to stir up our hearts to do the will of God!
      6. Paul told the Corinth Church(14:1,39) to especially desire this gift!
        1. Note also not all the people w/the gift of prophecy held the office of prophet!
      7. Some consider today those like Chuck Smith & Dr. Walvoord as prophets in the forth-telling sense. [Seeing that a main part of their ministry is to get peoples focus on the imminent return of J.C.]
      8. Would God use you to speak for Him? Whom would you have speak for you? [Someone your close with, one-minded; & one that will represent you properly!]
    26. [7] DISCERNING OF SPIRITS! (10c)
    27. AA.“The gift reveals the true nature of the source of any behavior professed to be of God.”
      1. Example: Peter w/Simon Sorcerer Acts 8:21,22 Peter discerned the heart of Simon. [Outwardly he had deceived the rest vs.13]
      2. We have 2 worlds coexisting, the natural realm & supernatural realm.
        1. The bible tells us these worlds often collide!
        2. Good spirits (angels minister to us Heb.1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?)
        3. Bad spirits (try to deceive us 1 Tim.4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits & doctrines of demons)
      3. W/o discernment the church can get ripped off!
        1. Much of the church doesn’t discern very well. I believe because we don’t earnestly desire this gift!
    29. CC.Wow! What ugly things this topic has uncovered!
      1. Many have been pressured into receiving this gift!
      2. 2000 years later & I don’t know if the 21st century church has it down any better than the 1st Christian Church of Corinth?
      3. “Glossolalia is the spontaneous utterance of uncomprehended & seemingly random vocal sounds.” (New Int. Dict. of the Christian Church.)
      4. “Speaking in tongues is prayer or Praise spoken in syllables not understood by the speaker.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology.)
    30. What is The Gift of Interpretation?
      1. 1. Again like the rest of the gifts it will be supernatural, not natural interpretation.
    31. ​​​​​​​EE.Is this Topic Important?
      1. Is Prayer important?…That’s what it is! (see 1 Cor.14:14)
      2. “But, it’s abused!”…People have abused prayer claiming this & that, do we throw it out also?
      3. Tongues purpose is simply another form of communicating w/God! And that’s Important!
      4. Tongues add a rich dimension to your Prayer life!
      5. You don’t have to speak in tongues do you? No, but wouldn’t you want to if the H.S. deemed to give it to you?
    1. ​​​​​​​The gifts were encouraged in the early Church [i.e. 1st cent. Here at Corinth]
    2. Novatian in 257ad (he gave to the Western Church the 1st full-length treatment of the Trinity) said, “This is He who places the prophets in the church, instructs teachers, directs tongues, gives powers & healings, does wonderful works, offers discrimination of spirits, affords powers of government, suggests counsels, & orders & arranges whatever other gifts, there are of charismata; & thus makes the Lord’s church everywhere, & in all, perfected, & completed.”
    3. The gifts were awakened at the turn of the century(1900’s) in the Pentecostal movement.
    4. Re-awakened in the mid-1900’s in Charismatic Movement.
      1. Gayle Irwin said, “Sad what was an integral part of the early church is only a movement today!”
    5. Note: Acts 2 is different than anywhere else Tongues is used!
      1. “If the Tongues talked about by Paul was the same as in Acts 2 when would there ever be an Interpretation needed?”
    6. (12:31) Should we desire gifts & if so which one(s)?
      1. Best Gifts?…Would that be tongues? (no)
        1. Best gifts would be dependent upon the ministry that is needed at that time.
        2. Electrician analogy: What is my best tool to do electrical with? Depends what job is to be done! {screwdriver, Klines/side cutters, crimps, wire strippers, hammer}
    7. ​​​​​​​HOW DO I IDENTIFY MY GIFT(S)?
      1. Know what gifts are available!
      2. Be available to receive the gift! (you can’t give a gift to someone who won’t receive it)
      3. Pray for God’s gift He’s designed for you! (He has your name on it already)
      4. Step out in Faith! (eg. Be bold in the Word of Knowledge)
        1. Don’t wait around to feel gifted, earnestly desire the best gifts!
      1. 1 Cor.12:31 earnestly desire the best gifts.
      2. 1 Tim.4:14 do not neglect the gift that is in you,
      3. 2 Tim.1:6 stir up the gift of God which is in you…
    9. Swindoll gives great advice about gifts:
      1. “Your gift is a privilege; so accept it, but don’t flaunt it!”
      2. “Your gift is a responsibility; so use it, don’t abuse it!”

Verses 12-31

  1. Intro:
    1. Theme: E Pluribus Unum, “Out of many, one.”
    2. Unity - A visitor was being shown around a leper colony in India. At noon a gong sounded for the midday meal. People came from all parts of the compound to the dining hall. All at once peals of laughter filled the air. Two young men, one riding on the other’s back, were pretending to be a horse and a rider and were having loads of fun. As the visitor watched, he saw that the man who carried his friend was blind, and the man on his back was lame. The one who could not see used his feet; the one who could not walk used his eyes. Together they helped each other, and they found great joy in doing it. Imagine a church like that - each member using his or her strength to make up for another’s weakness!
    3. Man has always been amazed by the way the different body parts cooperate.
      1. Even Plato drew a famous picture in which he said that, the head was a citadel;…the neck, the Isthmus(is-mis) between the head & the body;…the heart, the fountain of the body;…the pores, the lanes of the body;…the veins, the canals of the body.
      2. So Paul draws this picture of the a body!
        1. Analogies allow a teacher to convey abstract concepts through concrete examples.
      3. A body consists of many parts but there is in it an essential unity!
    4. To fly an old fashioned Kite you need what? (a string, a kite, wind, & someone to fly it)
      1. If the wind calms, if the paper tears, if the sticks breaks, if the tail gets caught in a tree, or the flyer lets go of the string, then the kite will come down!
        1. Each has a part to play. Can you tell me which part of the Kite is more important?
    5. Let’s keep in mind that the main theme through this chapter is Unity in Gifting! (Read vs.4-6)
  2. 1 BODY, WITH DIRECTION! (12-14)
    1. (12) Plato had pointed out that we do not say, “My finger has a pain,” we say, “I have a pain.”
      1. There is an I, a personality, which gives unity to the many & varying parts of our bodies.
        1. What the “I” is to the body, Christ is to the church.
    2. Bottom line...We need each other!
      1. There should be no such thing as isolation in the church!
      2. How sad when one sees his/her ministry as the most important.
        1. Often times even neglecting or even criticizing others who have chosen to do other work.
        2. An eye may see a hurt child, but it could never reach out to comfort the child like a hand could.
    3. (13,14) Baptized into one body – The word baptized carries a double connotation of being “dipped into” & “being overwhelmed by”.
      1. Secular Greek sources spoke of a submerged ship being baptized.
        1. That ship was not merely initiated into water; it was thoroughly overwhelmed by water.
        2. The water was in the ship, as well as the ship being underneath the water.
          1. Paul’s saying that Christians are in the H.S. & that the H.S. is in the Christians.
  3. 1 BODY, WITH DIVERSITY! (15-19)
    1. ​​​​​​​(15-17) Often times we struggle with exactly the opposite thinking(not, I’m too important but)…“My ministry isn’t that important”, “I’m only a (hostess, usher, bass player, children's church helper, nursery worker, part of the moving ministry)”. [letter today]
      1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Are you Isolated or Insulated in the body of Christ?
      2. What part of the body are you functioning as…today? (not the past}
      3. Paul says, be an active part in your local congregation.
      4. A church body is healthy & efficient only when each part is functioning perfectly.
    2. (18) Just as He pleased - Rest in this brothers & sisters!
    1. ​​​​​​​God seeks for us to be, not independent, but Interdependent (or, Mutually dependent).
    2. Quick test:
      1. In this last month, did you share w/someone an area of need in your life?
      2. In this last month, did you express gratitude to another member of the body for what that person means to you?
      3. Would the sign “No Help Wanted” fit around your neck?
      4. If someone asked you, “How can I help you this week?” Would you be embarrassed or offended?
        1. Remember, when a part of your body declares independence from the other parts,…it starts to die!
    3. (21,22) Weaker members are necessary! - If I handed you my watch & asked you, “What do you see?” You’d say, “A black case, LED read out, 4 buttons.” - But if I opening the back, & repeated the question you’d say, “I see many small parts, tiny wheels, etc.” This watch would be useless, without every part…even the ones you can hardly see.
      1. Maybe a reminder to your little children when they get the “small part in the play”.
      2. Often those that are weakest & less honorable are really the most necessary. (eg. an eyelid; a tear duct, the tiny anvil bone in your inner ear)
    4. (21) Cannot say...I have no need of you - Some who posses spectacular gifts may look down on others & think of them as unimportant.
      1. A certain sea captain and his chief engineer argued as to which of them was the more important to the ship. Failing to agree, they resorted to the unique plan of swapping places. The Chief ascended to the bridge and the Captain went into the engine room. After a couple of hours the Captain suddenly appeared on the deck covered with oil and soot. “Chief!” he yelled, wildly waving aloft a monkey wrench. “You’ll have to come down here; I can’t make ‘er go!” “Of course you can’t,” replied the Chief. “She’s aground!”
    5. (23) Less honorable - Some parts of our body we are glad that they are less honorable, & thus hidden.
      1. Like the Uvula. You don’t walk up to some one & say, “hey, nice Uvula”! No, we’re glad it is behind a set of teeth & a set of lips!
    6. Unpresentable parts – private parts.
      1. Does everyone see how you have unpresentable parts? And that these parts should have greater modestly?
        1. He doesn’t say display them; Nor place them on exhibition; but to cover them modestly!
        2. Think of this common sense & practical verse with your every apparel decision…young ladies; & older ladies who dress like young ladies; & dudes with big bellies & short shirts
  5. 1 BODY, WITH DEPENDANCE! (25-27)
    1. ​​​​​​​(26) All the members suffer w/it – Ever have a tooth ache? What hurt…everything hurts!
    2. (27) You are the body – Christ is no longer in this world in the body.
      1. Therefore, when He wants something done, He looks for a man, a woman, or a child, to fulfill His work.
      2. We are His hands to do His work, feet to run upon His errands, a voice to speak for Him!
        1. He has no hands but our hands to do His work today;
          He has no feet but our feet to lead men in His way;
          He has no voice but our voice to tell men how He died;
          He has no help but our help to lead them to His side. (Barclay)
    3. During WWII, a church in Strasbourg was destroyed. After the bombing, the members of this particular church went to see what was left and found that the entire roof had fallen in, leaving a heap of rubble and broken glass. Much to their surprise, however, a statue of Christ with outstretched hands that had been carved centuries before by a great artist was still standing erect. It was virtually unharmed except that both hands had been sheered off by a falling beam. The people hurried to a sculptor in town and asked if he could replace the hands of the statue. He was willing, and he even offered to do it for nothing. The church officials met to consider the sculptor's proposition - and decided not to accept his offer. Why? Because they felt that the statue without hands would be the greatest illustration possible that God's work is done through His people.
    1. ​​​​​​​(28) There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. (12:5)
      1. At the head of the list Paul places 1st, Apostles.
        1. And rightfully so, as their job description was, as it says in Acts 1:22 that they accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.
        2. Jesus never wrote a word on paper that we know of; instead he wrote His message upon men, & these men were the apostles.
      2. Teachers – these were the men who were tasked with building up the converts won by the preaching of the evangelists & the apostles.
      3. Helps – Maybe you don’t have the gift of teaching or speaking. Do you have the gift of helping out the poor, the widows, the orphans, or the strangers?
      4. Administrators – The Greek is interesting, it literally refers to “the work of a pilot who steers the ship through the rocks & sand bars to harbor.”
        1. Often the preacher is in the “limelight” but he could never do his work unless in the background there were those who shouldered the routine day to day administration.
      5. Again note, Tongues is at the end of the list (see 12:10)
        1. So many place tongues at the top of the list of gifts, even pointing to it for a barometer of spirituality!
    2. The best gifts? – are
    3. A more excellent way? – Stay tune next week for the only thing that can bind the church into a perfect unity…Love! (i.e. Ch.13)
    4. End story - In a certain mountain village in Europe several centuries ago, a nobleman wondered what legacy he should leave to his townspeople. At last he decided to build them a church. No one saw the complete plans for the church until it was finished. When the people gathered, they marveled at its beauty and completeness. Then someone asked, "But where are the lamps? How will it be lighted?" The nobleman pointed to some brackets in the walls. Then he gave to each family a lamp which they were to bring with them each time they came to worship. "Each time you are here the area where you are seated will be lighted," the nobleman said. "Each time you are not here, that area will be dark. This is to remind you that whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God's house will be dark."
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.