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Bible Commentaries

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

1 Corinthians 12

Verse 2

Ye were led ; by Satan and those under his influence. These words seem to contain the reason why the Corinthians should receive instruction respecting spiritual gifts. They have just come out of the darkness and ignorance of idolatry.

Verse 3

I give you to understand ; he begins by stating a general rule whereby to test the genuineness of all alleged spiritual gifts. They all unite in putting supreme honor upon Christ. Compare 1 John 4:1-3 .

Calleth Jesus accursed ; as an imposter.

Can say that Jesus is the Lord ; that is, say it in sincerity, with a true apprehension of the meaning of such a confession; in other words, acknowledge and receive him as the Messiah. Compare Matthew 11:25-27 ; Matthew 16:16-17 .

Verse 4

Diversities of gifts , but the same Spirit ; throughout the whole of this chapter the apostle labors to show, first, the unity of these gifts, as all having the same Spirit for their author, and all conspiring for the same common end, the glory of God in the edification of the church; secondly, their variety, as having different outward forms, and designed to accomplish different specific objects.

Verse 5

Differences of administrations ; or offices, which God has established, verses 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 .

Verse 6

Diversities of operations ; such as produce in different cases different effects.

Verse 7

The manifestation of the Spirit ; in the gifts which he bestowed.

To profit withal ; for the benefit of men. All Christian gifts and graces come from the Holy Spirit. He bestows different measures of grace and means of influence upon different individuals, but always for the wisest reasons.

Verses 8-10

Diversities of gifts and offices, spoken of in verses 1 Corinthians 12:4-5 .

The word of wisdom-the word of knowledge ; the exact distinction between those two gifts has been a matter of doubt. Probably "wisdom" refers rather to the practical, and "knowledge" to the doctrinal in Christianity. According to this view "the word of wisdom" would be peculiar skill in explaining to men the way of life, exhibiting the motives to induce them to walk in it, and guiding their conduct in difficult situations: "the word of knowledge," on the other hand, would be that which comes from a deep insight into the doctrines of the gospel, including an understanding of the prophecies, types, and spiritual meaning of the Scriptures, and their true application and fulfilment.

Faith ; in a special sense. We are probably to understand an extraordinary measure of confidence in God, such as raises its possessor above the fear of man, and inspires him with the firm hope of success in the midst of dangers, difficulties, and hinderances.

Gifts of healing ; power to cure diseases.

The working of miracles ; in a general sense, miracles not confined to the healing of diseases.

Prophecy ; the inspired utterance of God’s will in respect to the way of salvation, including also, as an occasional part of it, the foretelling of future events. See note to verse 1 Corinthians 12:28 .

Discerning of spirits ; whether men who professed to exercise spiritual gifts, were guided by the Holy Ghost or by a false spirit. Compare 1 John 4:1 .

Divers kinds of tongues ; power to speak various languages.

Interpretation of tongues ; power to translate, or tell the meaning of one language in the words of another.

Verse 11

Dividing to every man ; bestowing different gifts and in different measures upon different persons, as the Holy Spirit sees best. In bestowing miraculous powers upon the apostles and first teachers of Christianity, in calling them to their office, assigning them their fields of labor, fitting them for their work, and giving them success, the Holy Ghost has shown himself to be God; and with the Father and the Son, entitled to divine honors.

Verse 12

So also is Christ ; the head of his spiritual body the church. All its members, like the different members of the human body, are united to one head, and should be, by mutual sympathy and affection, united to one another.

Verse 13

By one Spirit ; the Holy Ghost.

To drink into one Spirit ; or, to drink of one Spirit. By his operation on our hearts, we become united in spirit to Christ the head and to one another as members of his spiritual body the church.

Verse 18

As God assigns to Christians their talents and opportunities, their condition and measure of influence, as will best promote his glory and the good of his kingdom, there is not more reason for strife among them as to which shall be the greatest, than among the members of the human body. The perfection and highest usefulness of each consists not in his possessing the talents, exerting the influence, or doing the duties of another, but in rightly discharging his own.

Verses 22-26

Are necessary ; the strongest and most prominent members of the body are not in all cases the most essential to human life, but often those which are more feeble and concealed. Those parts which need it, we cover and adorn; and we never think of neglecting, much less of despising any part because it is feeble, or needs special care. God has so ordered, that if one member, even the most feeble or uncomely, suffer, all suffer with it; and if one rejoice, or is in health and vigor, all experience the benefit.

Verse 25

No schism ; no division or contest with one another. They have one common interest, and the welfare of each is for the good of all. So it should be with the different members of the church of Christ.

Verse 27

Ye are the body of Christ ; ye, the whole body of believers, constitute the one spiritual body of Christ.

Members in particular ; each individual is a member of Christ’s body, having his particular office assigned to him by the one common Head. As all have a common interest, and are parts of one great whole, all should have a common sympathy; and by fidelity to Christ in the discharge of appropriate duties, labor for the general good.

Verses 28-30

These were different offices which God established in the churches at first; referred to in verse 1 Corinthians 12:5 .

Apostles ; men who had seen Christ after his resurrection, and were commissioned by him to testify to this fact, to reveal his will, work miracles in attestation of his truth, preach the gospel, gather churches, and do what was needful for the establishment of Christianity.

Prophets ; those who had the gift of prophecy. The apostle here assigns them a rank next to the apostles, and elsewhere he puts prophecy first among spiritual gifts. Chap 1 Corinthians 14:1 , etc. Like the prophets of the Old Testament, they spoke under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:17 : like them, they unfolded to men the counsels of God, especially as contained in the way of salvation through Christ, Acts 13:1-2 ; Acts 15:32 ; and like them they also at times foretold future events, Acts 11:28 ; Acts 21:11 .

Teachers ; of the gospel. The term probably includes those who had "the word of wisdom" and "the word of knowledge," verse 1 Corinthians 12:8 .

Helps ; persons appointed to assist in visiting the sick, instructing the ignorant, and relieving the needy.

Governments ; persons who directed the external order of the church.

Verse 31

Covet ; earnestly desire. They had coveted what was most esteemed by men; but Paul would have them desire what was most esteemed by God, and without which, whatever else they might have, they would be destitute and wretched. What this was he proceeded to show.

A more excellent way ; a way preeminently excellent; namely, the way of love, which he proceeds in the next chapter to point out.

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Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.