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1 Corinthians 12

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Verses 1-99

12:1-14:40. SPIRITUAL GIFTS, ESPECIALLY PROPHESYING AND TONGUES

This is the third and longest section of the fourth main division of the Epistle; and, as at the beginning of this division (11:2), there is a possible reference to the letter of the Corinthians to the Apostle; but he would no doubt have treated of a number of the topics which are handled, even if they had not mentioned them.

In all three of the sections we are reminded that he is dealing with a young Church in which some of the faults of their former state of life are reappearing. This is specially the case with the Corinthian love of faction. There were rivalries, cliques, and splits, hardening sometimes into parties with party-leaders. About the veils, there was the rivalry between men and women. At the love feasts, there was the rivalry between rich and poor. And here we have evidence of rivalries as to the possession of spiritual gifts, and especially as to those which were most demonstrative, and therefore seemed to confer most distinction.

The difficulty of this section lies in our ignorance of the condition of things to which it refers. The phenomena which are described, or sometimes only alluded to, were to a large extent abnormal and transitory. They were not part of the regular development of the Christian Church. Even in Chrysostom’s time there was so much ignorance about them as to cause perplexity. He remarks that the whole of the passage is very obscure, because of our defective information respecting facts, which took place then, but take place no longer. Some members of the Corinthian Church, in the first glow of early enthusiasm, found themselves in possession of exceptional spiritual endowments. These appear to have been either wholly supernatural endowments or natural gifts raised to an extraordinarily high power. It seems to be clear that these endowments, although spiritual, did not of themselves make the possessors of them morally better. In some instances the reverse was the case; for the gifted person was puffed up and looked down on the ungifted. Moreover, the gifts which were most desired and valued were not those which were most useful, but those which made most show.

The chapter falls into two clearly marked parts: (1) The Variety, Unity, and true Purpose of Spiritual Gifts, 1-11; (2). Illustration from Man’s Body of the truth that, though the Gifts may be various, those who possess them are one organic Whole, 12-31. The first three verses are introductory, to supply a test which a Church consisting chiefly of converts from heathenism would be likely to require. Converts from Judaism might know from their own history and previous experience what manifestations of power were divinely inspired, and what not. But converts from idolatry would not be able to distinguish: incantations and spells were all alike to them. Then follows (4-11) the paragraph on the oneness of the origin of all gifts that are beneficial.

A sure test of the origin of any spiritual gift is, Does it promote the glory of Jesus Christ? What dishonours Him cannot be from above. The good gifts are very various in their manifestations, but they have only one Source—God’s Holy Spirit.

1 Now concerning spiritual manifestations, Brethren, I am anxious that you should be under no delusions. 2 You remember that, when you were heathens, you were led away, just as the impulse might take you, to the dumb idols that could tell you nothing. 3 Those experiences do not help you now; and therefore I would impress upon you, this as a sure test. No one who is speaking under the influence of God’s Spirit ever says, Jesus is anathema; and no one can say, Jesus is Lord, except under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are various distributions of gifts; but it is one and the same Spirit who bestows them. 5 And there are various distributions of ministrations; and it is to one and the same Lord that they are rendered. 6 And there are various distributions of effects; yet it is the same God who causes every one of them in every Christian that manifests them. 7 But to each Christian the manifestation of the Spirit is granted with a view to some beneficent end. 8 For to one man is granted through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom; to another, the utterance of knowledge according to the leading of the same Spirit; 9 to a third, potent faith by means of the same Spirit; and to another, manifold gifts of healings by means of the one Spirit 10 and to another, various miraculous effects; to another, inspired utterance; to another, powers of discriminating between inspirations; to yet another, different kinds of Tongues; and to another,the interpretation of Tongues. 11 But every one of these manifestations of power is caused by one and the same Spirit, who distributes them to each individual singly, exactly as He wills.

1. Περὶ δὲ τῶν πνευματικῶν. ‘Now concerning spiritual powers’ or ‘gifts.’ The περί as in 7:1 and 8:1, probably refers to topics mentioned by them; and the δέ, as in 11:2, marks the transition from one topic to another, and probably from one topic about which they had asked to another about which they had asked. With less probability some make the δέ antithetical, as distinguishing what he deals with at once from what he has decided to postpone; ‘But, while I postpone τὰ λοιπά I must not delay to instruct you about τὰ πνευηατικά’ Some again would make τῶν πνευματικῶν masculine, as in 2:15 and 14:37; but it is certainly neuter, as in 14:1. What follows treats of the spiritual gifts, rather than those who are endowed with them; but the difference is not very important. Spiritualia dona vocat, quia solius Spiritus Sancti opera sunt, industria humana nihil ad hoc conferente (Natalis Alexander): see Denton on the Ep. for 10th Sunday after Trinity.

οὐ θέλω ὑμᾶς�Romans 1:13, Romans 1:11:25; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13. The formula marks the introduction of an important subject which must not be overlooked, and is always softened by the addition of the affectionate�

2. οἴδατε ὅτι ὅτε …�Psalms 115:5; Habakkuk 2:18; Wisd. 13:17-19; Baruch 6:8), and can neither answer questions nor make known their own will coeci ad mutos ibatis, muti ad coecos (Beng.). The insertion of ‘as at any time ye might be led,’ added to�Matthew 26:57, Matthew 26:27:2, Matthew 26:31; etc.; Acts 12:19, Acts 24:7). The agent who led them on to the worship of idols is not mentioned; but we are probably to understand the evil one as at the back of custom or command, Satan, “the wily wire-puller of moral mischief” (Evans). Contrast πνεύματι ἄγεσθαι (Galatians 5:18; Romans 8:14), and with ὅτε ἔθνη ἦτε comp. ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι (Galatians 4:3). On the verse as a whole Calvin rightly remarks, Perturbata est contructio, sed tamen clarus est sensus.


We may safely adopt ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε rather than ὡς�

Some regard ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε as a resumption of the cluase introduced by ὅτι: ‘Ye know that, when ye were heathen,—how ye were led to those voiceless odols, being carried away.’ This makes the�Romans 11:30; Colossians 1:21, Colossians 1:3:8; Ephesians 2:11-13, Ephesians 5:8. But whichever readings or construction we adopt, the import of the verse is clear: it is because they once were idolaters that he is so anxious that they should be properly instructed about τὰ πνευματικά.

3. διὸ γνωρίζω ὑμῖν. ‘On which account I make known to you’ (15:1; Galatians 1:2). Excepting the Pastoral Epistles, διό is frequent in the Pauline Epp. Seeing that in their heathen state they could know nothing about spiritual gifts, nor how to discern whether a person was speaking by the Spirit or not, he must tell them by what kind of spiritual power God makes revelations to man.† No utterance inspired by Him can be against Christ. Every word for Christ is inspired by Him.

ἐν Πνεύματι θεοῦ. The ἐν may express either sphere or instrumentality: comp. Romans 9:1, Romans 9:14:17, Romans 9:15:16; Luke 3:16. Although it is perhaps more common to have the article where direct agency is meant (6:2), yet active influence rather than surrounding element seems to be implied here. See J. A. Robinson on Ephesians 5:18. The difference between λαλεῖν and λέγειν may be noted, the one of uttering sounds, the other of articulately saying something: comp. ch. 14. passim; Acts 2:4, Acts 2:6, Acts 2:7, Acts 2:11. The blasphemous Ἀνάθεμα Ἰησοῦς would be more likely to be uttered by a Jew than a Gentile; faciebant gentes, sed magis Judaei (Beng.). It is possible that it was uttered against Jesus by His bitter enemies even during His life on earth. It is not improbable that Saul himself used it in his persecuting days, and strove to make others do so (Acts 26:11). When the Gospel was preached in the synagogues the fanatical Jews would be likely to use these very words when Jesus was proclaimed as the Messiah (Acts 13:45, Acts 18:6). Unbelievers, whether Jews or Gentiles, were admitted to Christian gatherings (14:24), and therefore one of these might suddenly exclaim in the middle of public worship, Ἀνάθεμα Ἰησοῦς. To the inexperienced Corinthians a mad shout of this kind, reminding them of the shrieks of frenzied worshippers of Dionysus and the Corybantes, might seem to be inspired: see Findlay ad loc. St Paul assures them that this anti-Christian utterance is absolutely decisive: it cannot come from the Spirit.* for�Galatians 1:8, Galatians 1:9; Trench, Syn. § v.; Cremer, p. 547; Suicer 268. It is one of the 103 words which in N.T. are found only in Paul and Luke (Hawkins, Hor. Syn. p. 190). It is less likely that St Paul is thinking of cases of apostasy. Fifty years later, those who denied that they were Christians were required to blaspheme Christ: this was the crucial test. Qui negabant esse se Christianos aut fuisse, cum praeeunte me deos appellarent et imagini tuae ture ac vino supplicarent, praeterea male dicerent Christo, quorum nihil posse cogs dicuntur qui sent re vera Christiani, dimittendos esse putavi. (Pliny to Trajan, Ep. 10:96).

Κύριος Ἰησοῦς. This comprehensive utterance is as wide as Christendom: every loyal Christian is inspired. Those who have received special gifts, such as those which are mentioned below (4-11), must not regard those who have not received them as devoid of the Spirit. This is one of the ways in which the Spirit glorifies Jesus (John 16:14), by enabling many to confess Him as Lord. Comp. the similar double test, negative and positive, given in 1 John 4:2-4; but while St John has in view those who denied the humanity of Christ, St Paul has in view those who denied His Divinity. In Galatians 4:6 we have the parallel cry, ‘Abba, Father,’ as a mark of Christian adoption; and in Acts 8:16, Acts 19:5 we have the formula, baptized ‘into the name of the Lord Jesus.’*

4-6. These verses give the keynote of the passage. Having given the negative and positive criterion of genuine spiritual endowments as manifested in speech, the Apostle goes on to point out the essential oneness of these very varied gifts. In doing so he shows clearly, and perhaps of set purpose, that Trinitarian doctrine is the basis of his thought. We have the three Persons in inverse order, the Fount of Deity being reached last,—Πνεῦμα, Κύριος Θεός. We have the same order, and similar thought in Ephesians 4:4-6; one body, quickened by one Spirit, dependent upon one Lord, and having the origin of its being in one God and Father of all. And there, as here, the Trinitarian Unity is at once followed by a statement of the distribution of grace to each separate individual; ἑνὶ δὲ ἑκάστῷ ἡμῶν ἐδόθη ἡ χάρις. Still more clear is the benediction at the end of 2 Cor. (13:14); see notes in the Camb. Grk. Test. Comp. Clem. Rom. Cor. xlvi. 3; “one God and one Christ and one Spirit of grace”; and lviii. 2; “as God liveth, and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Spirit.” See also Sanday in Hastings, DB. 11. p. 213; Goudge, I Corinthians, pp. xxix ff. This language of St Paul, in which the Trinitarian point of view is not paraded, but comes out quite naturally and incidentally, gives confirmation to the authenticity of Matthew 28:19. This Epistle was written a dozen years or more before the First Gospel; but St Paul’s language is all the more intelligible if it was well known that our Lord had spoken as Matt. reports.

4. Διαιρέσεις δὲ χαρισμάτων εἰσίν. Although every one who knows the significance of ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and can heartily affirm it, is inspired, ‘yet there are distributions of special gifts’—divisiones gratiarum (Vulg.). Διαίρεσις occurs nowhere else in the N.T., and it may mean either ‘differences,’ ‘distinctions,’ or ‘distributions,’ ‘apportionings,’ ‘dealings out.’† The use of διαιροῦν in v. 11 seems to decide for the latter. In all three cases here the word refers to the gifts being distributed among different individuals rather than to the distinctions between the gifts themselves. Both meanings are true; but it is the dealing out of the gifts, rather than the variety of them, that is insisted upon here.* Χάρισμα is almost exclusively a N.T. word, and (excepting 1 Peter 4:10) is peculiar to Paul. It is found as a doubtful reading twice in Ecclus.; in 7:33 χάρις is probably right, and in 38:34 (30) χρῖσμα may be right. The word is frequent in 1 Cor. and Rom., and is found once each in 2 Cor. and 1 and 2 Tim. See especially Romans 12:3-8, which was perhaps written when the Apostle had this chapter in his mind. From neither passage can we gather that there were definite ministers, differing in function, and each endowed with special and appropriate χαρίσματα. The impression conveyed is that these gifts were widely diffused, and that perhaps there were not many Christians at Corinth who were not endowed with at least one of them. See P. W. Schmiedel, Ency. Bibl. iv. 4755 f.; Hort, The Chr. Eccles., pp. 153 f.; W. E. Chadwick, The Pastoral Teaching of St Paul, ch. iii.; J. Wilhelm in The Catholic Cyclopaedia, iii. Art. ‘Charismata’; Sanday and Headlam, Romans, pp. 358 f.; Cremer, p. 577; Suicer, 1500. The word is sometimes used in a wider sense of any gift of grace, e.g. continence (7:7), or faith (Romans 1:11).


τὸ δὲ αὐτὸ Πνεῦμα. The δέ marks the antithesis between the one Fount and the many streams. The Spirit which bestows all these special gifts is the same as that which enables Gentile or Jew to confess Christ; consequently the test given in v. 3 is available in each case. See Dale, Ephesians, pp. 133 ff.

5. διακονιῶν. Like χάρισμα, the word has both a general and a special meaning: (1) any Christian ministration or service (here; Romans 11:13; Ephesians 4:12), whether of an Apostle or of the humblest believer; (2) some special administration, as of alms, or attendance to bodily needs (16:15; 2 Corinthians 8:4). “Spiritual service of an official kind” is not included in the meaning, but may be implied in the context. See Hort, Christian Ecclesia, pp. 202 f.

καὶ ὁ αὐτὸς Κύριος. Here there is no antithesis (καί, not δέ) between the many and the one: the two facts are stated as parallel. On the one side are the apportionments of ministrations; on the other is He who ‘came not to be ministered to, but to minister’ (Mark 10:45), but who counts all service to others as service done to Himself (Matthew 25:40). ‘Ye serve the Lord Christ’ (Colossians 3:24): it is He who is glorified by the diverse distribution of ministries.

6. ἐνεργημάτων. These are the results or effects of the ἐνέργεια given by God (Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:29, Colossians 2:12), the outward manifestations of His power. Among these ἐνεργ. are certainly χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων. The word occurs again v. 10, but nowhere else in Biblical Greek: it is almost co-extensive with χαρίσματα, but it gives prominence to the idea of power rather than that of endowment. Cremer, pp. 262, 713; he quotes Polyb. iv. 8. 7, αἱ τῶν�


ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς Θεός. If this is the right reading, we again have a contrast between the oneness of the Operator and the multiplicity of the operations, as before in v. 4. The Operator (ὁ ἐνεργῶν) is always God: every one of the gifts in every person that manifests them (τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν) is bestowed and set in motion by Him. See J. A. Robinson, Eph. p. 241; Westcott, Eph. p. 155.

ὀ δὲ αὐτός is the reading of א A K L P, Latt. Syrr. Arm., and the δέ is supported by the ὁ αὐτὸς δέ of D E F G. But και ὀ αὐτός is found in B C some cursives, and Origen. If καὶ ὁ αὐτός may be due to assimilation to v. 5, ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς may be assimilation to v. 4. St Paul would be as likely to respect the καί as to go back to the δέ.

7. The emphasis is on the first word and on the last. One and the same Divine Unity works throughout, as Spirit, Lord, and God: ‘but to each one is being given the manifestation of the Spirit with a view to profiting.’ purpose of all these various gifts, like their origin, is one and the same—the good of the congregation; they are bestowed to be exercised for the benefit of all: Ephesians 4:7-16. The AV. is unfortunate; ‘to every man’ is wrong and wrongly placed. In ἡ φανέρωσις (2 Corinthians 4:2 only) τοῦ Πυεύματος, the genitive is probably objective, ‘the operation which manifests the Spirit, rather than subjective, ‘the manifestation which the Spirit produces.’ There are many such doubtful genitives; Moul.-Win. p. 232.

πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον. ‘With a view to advantage,’ i.e. ‘the profit of all.’ We are probably to understand that it is common weal that is meant, not the advantage of the gifted individual. These charismata are not for self-glorification, nor merely for the spiritual benefit of the recipient, but for that of the whole Church. Here συμφέρον is certainly right; comp. Acts 20:20; Hebrews 12:10: in 7:35 and 10:33 σύφορον is to be preferred, but in 10:33 the Revisers have συμφέρον, as here.


The import of vv. 6 and 7 is, that the very various gifts, bestowed not for merit but of free bounty—gratiae gratis datae, are being distributed to each individual according to his capacity; and he must use the new powers, opportunities, and activities for the well-being of the whole. They are talents out of one and the same treasury of love, and must be used for the profit of the one body. What follows is the explanation of ἑκάστῳ δίδοται (8-11), and then we have an amplification of πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον (12 ff.).

8-11. The details of the continual giving are now stated. It is by no means certain that St Paul is consciously classifying the nine gifts which he mentions; still less is it certain that the ἑτέρῳ in vv. 9 and 10 marks the beginning of a new class. The change to ἑτέρῳ may be made merely to break the intolerable monotony of ἄλλῳ eight times in succession; and we might render the first ἑτέρῳ ‘to a third,’ and the second ‘to an eighth’. Comp. ἄλλῳ … ἄλλῳ … ἑτέρῳ … ἄλλῳ in Hom. Il. xiii. 730-2. Nevertheless, if we take each ἐτέρῳ as marking a new division, we get an intelligible result. Of the three classes thus made, the first is connected with the intellect, the second with faith, and the third with the Tongues. Note that the Tongues come last. For Origen’s comment, see JTS. x. 37, p. 31.

8. ᾧ μὲν … λόγος σοφίας, ἄλλῳ δὲ λόγος γνώσεως. In each case it is the λόγος which is divinely imparted, the power of communicating to others: the σοφία and the γνῶσις may come from above, or from human study or instruction. The λόγος σοφίας is discourse which expounds the mysteries of God’s counsels and makes known the means of salvation. It is a higher gift than λόγος γνώσεως, and hence is placed first, and is given by the instrumentality (διὰ τοῦ) of the Spirit, whereas the latter is given in accordance with (κατὰ τό) the Spirit. Commentators differ as to the exact differences between σοφία and γνῶσις; but ς. is the more comprehensive term. By it we know the true value of things through seeing what they really are; it is spiritual insight and comprehension (Ephesians 1:17; Eph_2 Esdras 14:22, 25). By γν. we have an intelligent grasp of the principles of the Gospel; by ς. a comprehensive survey of their relations to one another and to other things. Contrast the shallow σοφία λόγου, so valued at Corinth (1:17). In itself, γν. may be the result of instruction guided by reason, and it requires no special illumination; but the use of this knowledge, in accordance with the Spirit, for the edification of others, is a special gift. But our ignorance of the situation makes our distinctions between the two words precarious: to the Corinthians, among whom these two gifts were of common occurrence, the difference between ς. and γν. would be clear enough.

9. ἑτέρῳ πίστις. ‘To a third, faith.’ This cannot mean the first faith of a convert’s self-surrender to the truth, nor the saving faith which is permanently possessed by every sincere Christian, but the wonder-working faith (13:2; Matthew 17:20) which manifests itself in ἔργα rather than in λόγος; potent faith; ardentissima et praesentissima apprehensio Dei in ipsius potissimum voluntate (Beng.); πίστιν οὐ τὴν τῶν δογμάτων,�

χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων. ‘Gifts of healings,’ ‘gifts which result in healings’ : ἴαμα in this chap. only, in the N.T., and always in this phrase (vv. 28, 30), but frequent in the LXX. Cf. Acts 4:30. The plur. seems to imply that different persons each had a disease or group of diseases that they could cure: that any one could cure πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν (Theophyl.) is not stated. The means may have been supernatural, or an exceptionally successful use of natural powers, such as ‘suggestion’: see James 5:14.*

It is remarkable that although there are allusions to signs and woners in the Apostolic age (2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 3:5; Romans 15:19; Hebrews 2:4),there is no allusion to miracles wrought by Christ. It connot be said that in the age in which the Gospels were being framed there was a tendency to glorify Christ by attributing miracles to Him. See L. Ragg, The Book of Books, p. 221.

ἐνεργήματα δυνάμεων. This may be added to cover wonderful works which are not healings, such as the exorcizing of demons; and such chastisements as were inflicted on Elymas the sorcerer, or on Hymenaeus and Philetus may be included. Cf. Galatians 3:5; Hebrews 2:4.


10. προφητεία. Not necessarily predicting the future, but preaching the word with power (14:3, 24, 30): comp. Didache 11. This gift implies special insight into revealed truths and a great faculty for making them and their consequences known to others. It was about the two pairs of gifts mentioned in this verse that the Corinthians were specially excited. See Ency. Bibl. III. 3886, IV. 4760.

διακρίσεις πνευμάτων. ‘The gift of discerning in various cases (hence the plur.) whether extraordinary spiritual manifestations were from above or not’; they might be purely natural, though strange, or they might be diabolical. An intuitive discernment is implied, without the application of tests. Perhaps the expression chiefly refers to the prophetic gift, which might easily be claimed by vainglorious persons or by those who made a trade of religion. The Didache (xi. 8) says that “not every one that speaks in the spirit is a prophet, but only if he has the ways of the Lord. By their ways therefore the false prophet and the true shall be known”. The whole chapter should be read in this connexion: but the Didache gives certain external tests, about which St Paul says nothing either here or 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21. He implies that the discrimination between true and false manifestations of power is a purely spiritual act (2:15). Döllinger (First Age of the Church, p. 312) remarks; “How St Paul distinguished the gift of wisdom, which he claimed for himself also, from the gift of knowledge, must remain doubtful. The special gift of faith which he mentions can only have consisted in the energetic power and heroic confidence of unlimited trust in God. The gift of discerning spirits enabled its possessor to discriminate true prophets from false, and judge whether what was announced came from God or was an illusion. Such a gift was indispensable to the Church at a time when false prophets abounded, forced their way into congregations, and increased every year in numbers and audacity. There were false teachers, as St John intimates (1 John 4:1 f.), who preached their own doctrine as a revelation imparted to them from above”

γένη γλωσσῶν. St Paul places last the gifts on which the Corinthians specially prided themselves, and which they were most eager to possess, because they made most display. Their enthusiasm for the gift of Tongues was exaggerated. The undisciplined spirit which had turned even the name of Christ into a party-cry (1:12), and the Lord’s Supper into a drunken revel, turned spiritual gifts into food for selfish vanity, instead of means for the good of all. And here again they would not ‘wait for one another,’ but each was eager to take his turn first, and numbers were speaking all at once (14:27). The γένη indicates that the manifestations of this gift varied much; comp. γέη φωνῶν (14:10): but it seems to be clear that in all cases persons who possessed this gift spoke in ecstasy a language which was intelligible to themselves, but not to their hearers, unless some one was present who had the gift of interpretation. The soul was undergoing experiences which ordinary language could not express, but the Spirit which caused the experiences supplied also a language in which to express them. This ecstatic language was a blissful outlet of blissful emotions, but was of no service to any one but the speaker and those who had the gift of interpretation. The gift of interpreting these ecstatic utterances might be possessed by the person who uttered them (14:5, 13); but this seems to have been exceptional: comp. Acts 10:46, Acts 10:19:6; [Mark] 16:17. From 14:27, 28 it seems to be clear that this ecstatic utterance was not uncontrollable: it was very different from the frenzy of some heathen rites, in which the worshipper parted with both reason and power of will. And whatever may be the relation of this gift to the Tongues at Pentecost, the two are alike in being exceptional and transitory (see below on 14).


The conjuctions in these two verses (9, 10) are somewhat uncertain. In v 9 there should probably be no δέ after ἑτέρῳ : א B D* E F G Latt. Arm,. omit. In v 10 there should perhaps be no δέ until the last clause, ἄλλῳ δὲ ἑρμ. γλ. But there is considerable authority for a δέ after the first and the second ἄλλῳ: yet B DE F G, Latt. omit.

In v 9, ἐν τῷ ἑνί (A B cursives, Latt.) is to be prefered to ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ which comes from the previous clause. The temptation to alter ἐνι to αὐτῷ would be great; and v. 11 confirms the ἑνί. In v. 10 διάκρισις (A B K L) is to be preferred to διάκρισς (א C D* F G P). The Plur. would be changed to the sing. to harmonize with προθητεία and ἑρμηνία Ἐρμηνία occurs again 14:26, and nowhere else in N.T.

11. πάντα δὲ ταῦτα. The πάντα is very emphatic, and the δέ marks the contrast of transition from the manifold gifts and powers to the one Source of them all. This Source is the Spirit of God; so that there is no contradiction between v. 6 and v. 10. What God works, the Spirit works. Nor is there any contradiction between v. 10 and v. 31. Our earnest desire for the best gifts is one of the things which fits us to receive them, and each man receives in proportion to this desire, a desire which may be cultivated. The Spirit knows the capacity of each; 3:8, 7:7, 15:23.

τὸ ἓν καὶ τὸ αὐτὸ Πνεῦμα. This is a combination of τῷ ἑνί Πν. with τῷ αὐτῷ Πν. in v. 9, and is so far a confirmation of the reading, τῷ ἑνί. This one and the same Spirit has already been defined as ‘God’s Spirit’ (v. 3), who is here said to do what God does (v. 6). But here there is something added; the Spirit ‘distinguishes and distributes severally to each, exactly as He willeth.’ Throughout the verse, but especially in the last words (καθὼς βούλεται), the personality of the Spirit is implied.* It is in the will that personality chiefly consists. The Apostle here teaches the Corinthians that they ought not to plume themselves upon the possession of one or more of these gifts. They may be evidence of capacity, but they are no proof of merit. It is the will of the Spirit that decides, a will which discriminates, but which cannot be compelled by anything which man can do: singulis dat singula, vel aliqua, varia mensura (Beng.). The Church consists of many persons very variously endowed, and the gifts bestowed upon individuals benefit the whole. Διαιρἐω in NT. is found only here and Luke 15:12.

The addition of ἰδίᾳ (sc, ὅδῷ) emphasizes the fact the spirit deals with men, not en masse but one by one, ‘to each according to his several ability’ (Matthew 25:15; Romans 12:6; Ephesians 4:2. In N.T, we commonly have κατʼ ἰδιαν in this sense: here only ἰδίᾳ, and 2 Mac. 4:34 only in LXX. But ἰδίᾳ is not rare in class. Grk.

12-31. We pass on to an illustration (taken from the human body) of the truth that, though the gifts of God’s Spirit may be many and various, yet those who are endowed with them constitute one organic whole. The illustration is a common one, and is used several times by the Apostle: Romans 12:4, Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:16, Ephesians 4:5:30; Colossians 2:19. See J. A. Robinson on Ephesians 4:16. The difference between the famous parable of Menenius Agrippa (Livy ii. 32) and this simile of St Paul is that the Apostle does not say anything about a centre of nourishment: it is not the feeding of the body, but its unity, and the dependence of the members on one another, that is the lesson to be instilled.*. In the brute creation, as Buckland taught his Oxford pupils, and among brutalized men, it is the stomach that rules the world. The ultimate aim of the violence and cunning of each animal is to feed itself, and often at the cost of the lives of other animals: this determines its activities. The ultimate aim of the Christian is the well-being of the whole body, of which the controlling power is Christ, who is at once the Head and the Body, for every Christian is a member of Him (6:15; Ephesians 5:30), and represents Him (Matthew 25:40, Matthew 25:45). Hence, inter Christianos longe alia est ratio (Calvin). The Church is neither a dead mass of similar particles, like a heap of sand, nor a living swarm of antagonistic individuals, like a cage of wild beasts: it has the unity of a living organism, in which no two parts are exactly alike, but all discharge different functions for the good of the whole. All men are not equal, and no individual can be independent of the rest: everywhere there is subordination and dependence. Some have special gifts, some have none; some have several gifts, some only one; some have higher gifts, some have lower: but every individual has some function to discharge, and all must work together for the common good. This is the all-important point—unity in loving service. The Church is an organic body, an organized society, of which all the parts are moved by a spirit of common interest and mutual affection. Weinel, St Paul, pp. 130-133.


In considering these various gifts, remember that there is in the Christian body, just as there is in the frame of the living man, a divinely ordained diversity of members, combined with a oneness in mutual help and in devotion to the whole: so that no member can be despised as useless, either by himself or by other members; for each has his proper function, and all are alike necessary. This unity involves mutual dependence, and therefore it excludes discontent and jealousy on the one hand, arrogance and contempt on the other.

12 Just as the human body is one whole and has many organs, while all the organs, although many, form only one body, so is it with the Christ, in whom all Christians are one. 13 For it was by means of one Spirit, and in order to form one body, that we all of us were baptized—Jews and Greeks, slaves and freemem, without distinction,—and were all made to drink deeply of that one Spirit. 14 For, I repeat, the human body consists, not of one organ, but of many. 15 Suppose the foot were to grumble and say, ‘As I am not as high up as the hand, I do not count as part of the body, not for all it can say does it cease to belong to the body. 16 And suppose the ear were to grumble and say, ‘As I am not as well placed as the eye, I do not count as part of the body,’ not for all it can say does it cease to belong to the body. 17 If the whole body were one monstrous eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the smelling be? 18 But, as a matter of fact, God gave every one of the organs its proper place in the body, exactly as He willed. 19 Now, if all made only one organ, where would the body be? 20 But, as it is, although there be many organs, there is only one body. 21 And the eye has no right to look down on the hand and say, ‘Thou art of no use to me’; nor the head to look down on the feet and say, ‘Ye are of no use to me.’ 22 On the contrary, it is much truer to say that those organs of the body which seem to be somewhat feeble are really as indispensable as any, 23 and the parts of the body which we regard as less honourable are just those which we clothe with more especial care, and in this way our uncomely parts have a special comeliness; 24 whereas our comely parts have all that they need, without special attention. Why, yes; God framed the body on principles of compensation, by giving additional dignity to whatever part showed any deficiency, 25 so as to prevent anything like disunion in the body, and to secure in all organs alike the same anxious care for one another’s welfare. 26 And, accordingly, if one of them is in pain, all the rest are in pain with it; and honour done to one is a joy to all. 27 Now you are a body—the Body of Christ, and individually you are His members. 28 And God gave each his proper place within the Church,—Apostles first, inspired preachers next, teachers third; besides these, He gave miraculous powers and gifts of healing, powers of succouring, powers of governing, ecstatic utterance. 29 Surely you do not all of you expect to be Apostles, or inspired preachers, or teachers: surely you do not all of you expect to have all these wonderful gifts, and even more than these! 31 What you ought to do is persistently to long for yet greater gifts. And accordingly I go on to show you a still more excellent way by which you may attain to them.

12.πάντα δὲ τὰ μέλη ‘While all the members of the body, though they be many, are one body, so also is the Christ,’ in whose Nature they share, in whom they all form one body (v. 27), and whom they all serve (v. 5). From one point of view Christ is the Head, but that is not the thought here. Here He is the whole Body, as being that which unites the members and makes them an organic whole. We might have had οὕτως καὶ ἡ ἐκκλησία, for Christ or the Church is only one Body with many members. The superfluous τοῦ σώματος after τὰ μέλη emphasizes the idea of unity; and some texts make this still more emphatic by interpolating τοῦ ἑνός after τοῦ σώματος. The human body is a unique illustration of unity in diversity. Comp. Justin M. Try. 42. In Eph. and Col. σῶμα has become a common designation of the Church. The congregation, having to serve one and the same Lord, must be united.

13. καὶ γὰρ ἐν ἑνὶ Πνεύματι. The ‘one body’ suggests the ‘one Spirit,’ for it is in a body that spirit has a field for its operations. ‘For in one Spirit also we all were baptized so as to form one body.’ An additional reason (καὶ γάρ, 5:7, 11:9) for the oneness of the many. The Spirit is the element in (ἐν) which the baptism takes place, and the one body is the end to (εἰς) which the act is directed: ut simus unum corpus uno Spiritu animatum (Beng.); ἐπὶ τούτῷ ὤστε εἰς ἕν σῶμα τελεῖν (Theod.). St Paul insists here on the social aspect of Baptism, as in 10:17 on the social aspect of the Eucharist.

εἴτε Ἰουδαῖοι εἴτε Ἓλληνες, εἴτε δοῦλοι εἴτε ἐλεύθεροι. The insertion of this parenthetical explanation shows in the clearest way how diverse were to be the members and how close the oneness of the body. The racial difference between Jew and Greek was a fundamental distinction made by nature; the social difference between slave and freeman was a fundamental distinction made by custom and law: and yet both differences were to be done away, when those who were thus separated became members of Christ. In Galatians 3:28 this momentous truth is stated still more broadly, and with more detail in Colossians 3:11. In each case the wording is probably determined by the thought of those to whom the Apostle is writing. See Lightfoot on Colossians 3:11, and cf. 7:22; Romans 10:12; Ephesians 2:14, with J. A. Robinson’s note.


πάντες ἕν πνεῦμα ἐποτίσθημεν. ‘Were all watered, saturated, imbued, with one Spirit.’ The πάντες and the ἕν are placed together in emphatic antithesis. The Christ is the ἕν σῶμα, and this suggests ἕν Πνεῦμα, for in man σῶμα and πνεῦμα are correlatives. Comp. Ἀπολλὼς ἐπότισεν.

The verse is taken in three different ways. (1) The whole refers to Baptism under two different figures,—being immersed in the Spirit, and being made to drink the Spirit as a new elixir of life. But, as ποτίζειν is used of irrigating lands, there is perhaps not much change of metaphor. (2) The first part refers to Baptism, the second to the outpouring of spiritual gifts after Baptism. (3) The first refers to Baptism, the second to the Eucharist (Aug. Luth. Calv.). This is certainly wrong; the aorists refer to some definite occasion, and ‘drinking the Spirit’ is not used of the Eucharist. Both parts refer to Baptism. Compare the thought in Galatians 3:26 f., and see JTS., Jan. 1906, p. 198.




Before ἓν πν. ἐποτ., K L, Vulg. A V. insert εἰς, to agree with the first clause: א B C D* F P, Syrr. Aeth. Arm. RV. omit. For ἓν πν. ἐποτ., A has ἕν σῶμά ὲσμεν. For ἐποτίσθημεν, L and some cursives have ἐφωτίσθημεν, a verb which in ecclesiastical Greek is often used of baptism.

In the active ποτίζω has two accusatives, γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα, and therefore retains one acc. in the passive: comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Luke 12:47, Luke 16:19.


14. καὶ γὰρ τὸ ς. Additional confirmation; ‘For the body also is not one member, but many.’*

15. ‘If the foot should say, Because I am not hand, I am not of the body, it is not on’ account of this (discontented grumbling) not of the body.’ The παρὰ τοῦτο (‘all along of this,’ 4 Mac. 10:19) refers to the pettish argument of the foot, rather than to the fact of its not being a hand. In each case it is the inferior limb which grumbles, the hand being of more value than the foot, and the eye than the ear. And Chrysostom remarks that the foot contrasts itself with the hand rather than with the ear, because we do not envy those who are very much higher than ourselves so much as those who have got a little above us; οὐ τοῖς σφόδρα ὑπερέχουσιν,�John 4:22; and for the double negative, 2 Thessalonians 3:9. Bengel compares Theoph. Ant. (ad Autol. 3); οὐ παρὰ τὸ μὴ βλέπειν τοὺς τυφλοὺς ἤδη καὶ οὐκ ἔστι τὸ φῶς τοῦ ἡλίου φαῖνον: and Origen (con. Cels. vii. 63); οὐ διὰ τοῦτο οὐ μοιχεύουσιν. Some would take οὐ παρὰ τοῦτο in vv. 15, 16 interrogatively, as in the A V. But this would require μή.

17. εἰ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα. “If the whole body (Luke 11:34) were eye (Numbers 10:31), where were the hearing?’ Each member has a function which it alone can discharge, and no organ ought to think little of its own function, or covet that of another organ.* In class. Grk. ὄσφρησις is common, but it occurs nowhere else in the Bible.

18. νῦν δε ὁ Θεὸς ἔθετο. ‘But, as it is, God placed the members, each one of them, in the body, even as He willed.’ As we see from manifest facts, God made unity, but not uniformity; He did not level all down to monotonous similarity. The aorists refer to the act of creation, and there is no need to turn either into a perfect (‘hath set,’ AV., RV.). From the very first it was ordered so, as part of a plan; therefore ‘placed’ rather than ‘set.’ Every member cannot have the same function, and therefore there must be higher and lower gifts. But pride and discontent are quite out of place, for they are not only the outcome of selfishness, but also rebellion against God’s will. This has two points; it was not our fellow-men who placed us in an inferior position, but God; and He did it, not to please us or our fellows, but in accordance with His will, which must be right. Who is so disloyal as to gainsay what God willed to arrange? Romans 9:20. Compare καθὼς βούλεται (v. 11), but the change of verb and of tense should be noted: it is not mere repetition. Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 252) quotes ὡς ὁ Θεὸς ἤθελεν from a private letter of about 200 a.d.


19. ‘Now, if they all (τὰ πάντα) were one member, where were the body?’ This is the second absurdity: the first was ‘where were the other members?’ The very idea of body implies many members, and if all the members tried to have the honour of the highest member, the body would be lost. Quanta ergo insania erit, si membrum unum, potius quam alteri cedat, in suum et corporis interitum conspiret (Calv.). See Pope, Essay on Man, i. 259 f., “What if the foot,” etc.

20. ‘But, as it is (But now you see), there are many members, yet one body.’ Perhaps there was already a proverb—πολλὰ μέλη, ἕν σῶμα. St Paul reiterates this truth, for on it everything which he desires to inculcate turns. From the oneness of the whole the mutual dependence of the parts follows of necessity. See M. Aurelius, ii. 3; in the universe, part and whole must co-operate.

νῦν δέ is specially frequent in 1 Cor. (5:11, 7:14, 12:20, 14:6); but both here and elsewhere authorities are divided between νῦν and νυνί: in 13:13 and 15:20 νυνί is probably right. In v. 19, B F G omit the τά before πάντα, and in v. 20 the μέν after πόλλα is omitted by B D*, Arm. Goth. If we retain μέν, ‘yet one body’ or ‘but one body’ may be strengthened to ‘yet but one body’ (AV.), unum vero corpus (Beza).

21. Hitherto he has been regarding the inferior organs, who grumbled because they were not superior. Now he takes the superior, who looked down on the inferior. All, of course, with reference to evils at Corinth. ‘But the eye cannot say to the hand’—cannot, without stultifying itself: it is manifestly untrue. What would become of the desire of the eyes if there were no hand to grasp it? There is no such thing as independence either in an organism or in society. All parts are not equal, and no one part can isolate itself. From the first there is dependence and subordination.

The article before ὀφθαλμός is certainly genuine (א A B C D E F G L P), and the δε before ὁ όφθαλμός is probably genuine (א B D E K L, Latt.). Arm. omits both.

22. ‘Nay, on the contrary �2 Timothy 1:8; Acts 17:22. St Paul does not specify the ‘somewhat feeble’ members, and we need not do so.

23. καὶ ἃ δοκοῦμεν�Matthew 27:28), or the crown of thorns (Mark 15:17), or a fence (Matthew 21:33; Mark 12:1), etc.; but in the LXX we have this same metaphor; καὶ οὕτως πᾶσαι αἱ γυναῖκες περιθήσουσιν τιμὴν τοῖς�Esther 1:20): τιμὴν ἑαυτῷ περιτιθείς (Proverbs 12:9).


The division of the verses is unfortunate, and the punctuation of the A V. is wrong, while that of the RV. might be improved. Put a comma at the end of v. 23, and a full stop at the end of the first clause of v. 24. ‘And so our uncomely parts have a comeliness more exceeding, whereas our comely parts have no need.’ This is the result of giving more abundant honour to the less honourable; acting on that principle, we give most honour to the least honourable. The ‘more exceeding comeliness’ refers to the abundance of clothing, which, even when other parts are unclothed, τὰ�

24.�Daniel 2:43; Dan_2 Mac. 15:39; Hebrews 4:2), but it is common in class. Grk. Comp. the speech of Alcibiades (Thuc. vi. xviii. 6); νομίσατε νεότητα μὲν καὶ γῆρας ἄνευ�


We should read τῷ ὑστερουμένῳ (א A B C) rather than τῷ ὑστεροῦντι (D E F G K L). The former expresses the member’s sense of inferiority.

25. ἵνα μὴ ᾖ σχίσμα ἐ͂ν τ. ς. ‘That there should be no disunion in the body, but that (on the contrary) the members should have the same care one for another’: τὸ αὐτό is emphatic, and μεριμνῶσιν is plural because the argument requires that the members be thought of as many and separate: 1 Timothy 5:25; Revelation 5:14; Luke 24:11. The verb implies anxious care, thoughtful trouble.

26. καί. ‘And so (as a consequence of the perfect blending), whether one member suffereth, all the members rejoice with it.’ Not only are the members united to one another and careful for one another, but what is felt by one is felt by all. See St Paul’s own sympathy, 2 Corinthians 11:28, 2 Corinthians 11:29. Plato (Repub. v. 462) points out that when one’s finger is hurt, one does not say, “My finger is in pain,” but “I have a pain in my finger”; and Chrysostom (ad loc.) graphically describes how the various organs are affected when a thorn runs into the foot, and also when the head is crowned. ‘Is glorified’ may mean either by adornment, or by healthy action, or by special cultivation. In συγχαίρει the personification of the organs is complete: congaudent (Vulg.), congratulantur (Beza). But Beza, by substituting simul dolent for compatiuntur (Vulg.), makes συμπάσχελ imply as much personification as συγχαίρει. The Christian principle is the law of sympathy. The interests of all individuals, of all classes, and of all nations are really identical, although we are seldom able to take a view sufficiently extended to see that this is so: but we must try to believe it. The benefit of one is the benefit of every one; and a wrong done to one is a wrong done to every one. Salva esse societas, nisi amore et custodia partium, non potest (Seneca).* The verb in N.T. is found only in Paul and Luke.


God, in the nature of its being, founds

Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds:

But as He framed a whole the whole to bless,

On mutual wants built mutual happiness.

Thus God and nature linked the general frame,

And bade self-love and social be the same.

Pope, Essay on Man, iii. 109, 217.

27. ὑμεῖς δί ἐστε σῶμα χριστοῦ. ‘Now ye are Body of Christ’: no article. ‘Body of Christ’ is the quality of the whole which each of them individually helps to constitute. Comp. ὁ Θεὸς φῶς ἐστι (1 John 1:5), ὁ Θεὸς�1 John 4:8), πνεῦμα ὁ Θεὸς (John 4:24), Θεός ἦν ὁ λόγος (John 1:1); 1 Corinthians 3:9, 1 Corinthians 3:16. It does not mean, “Ye are the Body of Christ,’ although that translation is admissible, and indicates the truth that each Christian community is the Universal Church in miniature; nor, ‘Ye are Christ’s Body,’ which makes ‘Christ’s’ emphatic, whereas the emphasis is on σῶμα as the antithesis of μέλη. Least of all does it mean, ‘Ye are a Body of Christ,’ as if St Paul were insisting that the Corinthians were only a Church and not the Church, a meaning which is quite remote from the passage. Nowwhere in the Pauline Epistles is there the idea that the one Ecclesia is made of many Ecclesiae. “The members which make up the One Ecclesia are not communities but individual men. The One Ecclesia includes all members of partial Ecclesiae; but its relations to them all are direct, not mediate. … There is no indication that St Paul regarded the conditions of membership in the universal ecclesia as differing from the conditions of membership in the partial local Ecclesiae” (Hort, The Chr. Eccl. pp. 168-9). He means here that the nature of the whole of which the Corinthians are parts is that it is Body of Christ, not any other kind of whole. Consequently, whatever gift each one of them receives is not to be hidden away, or selfishly enjoyed, or exhibited for show, but to be used for the good of the whole community. The δέ marks a return to what was laid down in v. 12.

μέλη ἐκ μέρους. membra de membro (Vulg.); membra ex parte (Calv.); membra particulatim (Beza). The meaning is uncertain, but probably, ‘members each in his assigned part,’ ‘apportioned members of it.’ Chrysostom and Bengel explain that the Corinthians were not the whole Church, but ‘members of a part’ of the Universalis Ecclesia. This seems to Calvin to be sensus coactior, and he prefers the other interpretation. Still less satisfactory is the explanation ‘partial members of it,’ i.e. imperfect members, which does not suit the context at all. Cf. Ephesians 4:16.


The Vulgate, with d e f Arm., supports D* in reading μέλη ἐκ μέλους. Origen and Eusebius commonly have μέρους, but once each has μέλους: Theodoret the same. Chrysostom always μέρους.

28. Καὶ οὕς μὲν ἔθετο ἑ Θεὸς ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ. The correspondence with v. 18 is manifest, and it must be marked in translation. ‘And some God placed in the Church,’ or ‘in His Church’ (1:2, 10:32, 11:16, 22, 15:9). Just as God in the original constitution of the body placed differently endowed members in it, so in the original constitution of the Church He placed (Acts 20:28) differently endowed members in it. The mid. implies that He placed them for His own purpose, καθὼς ἠθέλησεν. The Church is the Church Universal, not the Corinthian Church; and this is perhaps the first Epistle in which we find this use: comp. 10:32, 11:22, 15:9; Hort, p. 117. The sentence should have run, οὓς μὲν�

πρῶτον�Galatians 1:19; comp. 9:5), apparently Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), and probably others (15:5, 7). There could not have been false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13) unless the number of Apostles had been indefinite. From this passage, and from Ephesians 4:11 (comp. 2:20), we learn that Apostles were the first order in the Church; also that St Peter is not an order by himself. Apparently it was essential that an Apostle should have seen the Lord, and especially the risen Lord (9:1, 2; Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8, Acts 1:21-23): he must be a ‘witness of His resurrection.’This was true of Matthias, James, and Paul; and may easily have been true of Barnabas, Andronicus, and Junias; but not of Apollos or Timothy. The Apostles were analogous to the Prophets of the O.T., being sent to the new Israel, as the Prophets to the old. They had administrative functions, but no local jurisdiction: they belonged to the whole Church. Nevertheless various ties made local Churches to be more under the control of one Apostle than of others. See Lightfoot, Galatikáns, pp. 92 f. The ‘evangelists’ and ‘pastors’ of Ephesians 4:11 are perhaps included here under ‘prophets and teachers.’ But evangelists are not ad rem here, because the subject is the spiritual life of members of the Church, and their relations to one another in the Church, rather than their external activity among the heathen. The enumeration here is more concrete than that in vv. 8-10, but less concrete than in Ephesians 4:11. The first three are explicitly in order of eminence; but the ἔπειτα with the next two probably means no more than that these come after the first three. The gifts that follow the first three are not connected with particular persons, but are distributed ‘at will’ for the profit of the whole congregation; and it is remarkable that δυνάμεις and χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων are placed after διδασκάλους. See Dobschütz, Probleme, p. 105.


προφήτας. See on v. 10 and 14:3, 24, 25. They were inspired to utter the deep things of God, for the conviction of sin, for edification, and for comfort; sometimes also for predicting the future, as in the case of Agabus.

διδασκάλους. Men whose natural powers and acquired knowledge were augmented by a special gift. It is evident from ‘Are all teachers?’ (v. 29) that there was a class of teachers to which only some Christians belonged, and the questions which follow show that ‘teachers,’ like ‘workers of miracles,’ were distinguished by the possession of some gift.* In Ephesians 4:11 we are not sure whether ‘pastors and teachers’ means one class or two, but at any rate it is probable that whereas ‘Apostles,’ ‘prophets,’ and ‘evangelists’ instructed both the converted and the unconverted, ‘pastors and teachers’ ministered to settled congregations. In Acts 13:1 we are equally in doubt whether ‘prophets and teachers’ means one class or two. St Luke may mean that of the five people mentioned some were prophets and some were teachers, or he may mean that all were both. ‘Teacher’ might be applied to Apostles, prophets, and evangelists, as well as to the special class of teachers. In 1 Timothy 2:7 St Paul calls himself a ‘preacher’ (κῆρυξ), an ‘Apostle,’ and a ‘teacher.’ In the Didache the ‘teacher’ seems to be itinerant like the ‘prophet’ (13:2). When the ministry became more settled the ‘bishops’ and ‘elders’ seem to have become the official teachers; but perhaps not all elders taught (1 Timothy 5:17). In the Shepherd of Hermas the teachers are still distinct from the bishops; “The stones that are squared and white, and that fit together in their joints, these are the Apostles and bishops and teachers and deacons” (Vis. iii. 5). See Hastings, DB. iv. p. 691; Ency. Bibl. iv. 4917.

ἔπειτα δυνάμεις, ἔπειτα χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων. Change from the concrete to the abstract, perhaps for the sake of variety; in Romans 12:7 the converse change is made. We must not count ἔπειτα, ἔπειτα as equivalent to ‘fourthly, fifthly’: the classification according to rank ends with ‘teachers,’ but γένη γλωσσῶν are purposely placed last. ‘Gifts of healing’ are a special kind of ‘miraculous powers’: see on v. 9, where the less comprehensive gift is placed first, while here we descend from the general to the particular. It would be a lesson to the Corinthians to hear these brilliant gifts expressly declared to be inferior to teaching; the ἔπειτα clearly means that.

ἀντιλήμψεις. This and the next gift form a pair, referring to general management of an external character. This term occurs nowhere else in the N.T., but it comes from�Luke 1:54; Acts 20:35; 1 Timothy 6:2; comp. Romans 8:26), which means to take firm hold of some one, in order to help. These ‘helpings’ therefore probably refer to the succouring of those in need, whether poor, sick, widows, orphans, strangers, travellers, or what not; the work of the diaconate, both male and female. We have those who need�Song of Solomon 7:9, 16: title.

κυβερνήσεις. ‘Governings’ or ‘administrations.’ This probably refers to those who superintended the externals of organization, οἱ προιστόμενοι (Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12), or οἱ ἡγούμενοι (Hebrews 13:7, Hebrews 13:17, Hebrews 13:24; Acts 15:22; Clem. Rom. Cor. I). See Hort, The Chr. Eccl. p. 126. The word is derived from the idea of piloting a ship (Acts 27:11; Revelation 18:17), and hence easily acquires the sense of directing with skill and wisdom: οἷς μὴ ὑπάρχει κυβίρνησις, πίπτουσιν ὡς φύλλα, ubi non est gubernator, populus corruet (Proverbs 11:14). The term, which is found nowhere else in N.T., may be equivalent to ἐπίσκοποι and πρεσβύτεροι. We must, however, remember that we are here dealing with gifts rather than with the offices which grew out of the gifts.


These two classes,�

30. The compound verb διερμηνεύω here has led to the reading διερμηνεία (or- ια) in v. 10 (Ap.Ad)*. The compound (14:5, 13, 27; Luke 24:27; Acts 9:36) is more common in the N.T. than the more classical ἐρμηνεύω (John 1:43, John 1:9:7; Hebrews 7:2). As language weakens, the tendency to strengthen by means of compounds increases. With the general sense of the two verses compare Hom. Il. xiii. 729; Ἀλλʼ οὔ πως ἅμα πάντα δυνήσεαι αὐτὸς ἑλέσθαι, and the familiar non omnia possumus omnes.

31. ζηλοῦτε δὲ τὰ χαρίσματα τὰ μείζονα. ‘Continue to desire earnestly (pres. imperat.) the greater gifts.’ The Corinthians coveted the greater gifts, but they had formed a wrong estimate as to which were the greater. The Hymn of Love, which follows, is to guide them to a better decision: not those which make most show, but those which do most good, are the better. As members of one and the same body they must exhibit self-sacrificing love, and they must use their gifts for the benefit of the whole body. This is the lesson of ch. 14. We cannot all of us have all the best gifts; but (δέ) by prayer and habitual preparation we can strive to obtain them: and a continual desire is in itself a preparation. Μένετε ἐπιθυμοῦντες χαρισμάτων, as Chrysostom says. For ζηλοῦτε comp. 14:1, 39; and ἐζήλωσα τὸ�Acts 7:9, Acts 17:5). See Hort and also Mayor on James 4:2. It is perhaps with a double entendre that it is used here, as an indirect rebuke to the jealousy with which some of them regarded the gifts bestowed on others. Chrysostom (Hom. 31:4) has some strong remarks on jealousy, as the chief cause of dissension, and as even more deadly in its effects than avarice. Hucusque revocavit illos a schismate ad concordiam et unionem, ut nullus glorietur de charismate superiori, nullusque doleat de inferiori. Hinc eos in charitatem innuit, astendens sine ea nihil caetera valere (Herveius). Sicut publica via excelsior est reliquis viis ac semitis, ita et charitas via est directa, per quam ad coelestem metropolim tenditur (Primasius).


καὶ ἔτι καθʼ ὑπερβολὴν ὁδὸν ὑμῖν δείκνυμι. There is no contrast with what precedes (‘And yet,’ AV.): on the contrary, καί means ‘And in accordance with this charge to desire what is best,’ while ἔτι belongs to what follows; ‘And a still more excellent way show I to you,’ καθʼ ὑπερβολήν being equivalent to a comparative, excellentiorem viam (Vulg.). If ἔτι be taken with καί, it means ‘moreover,’ et porro (Beza); ‘And besides, I show you a supremely excellent way.’ What is this way κατʼ ἐξοχήν? Is it the way by which the greater gifts are to be reached? Or is it the way by which something better than these gifts may be reached? The latter seems to be right. ‘Yearn for the best gifts; that is good, as far as it goes. But the gifts do not make you better Christians; and I am going to point out the way to something better, which will show you the best gifts, and how to use them.’* 14:1 confirms this view.

There is considerable evidence (D E F G K L, Vulg. Arm.) for κρείττονα or κρείσσονα, and Chrys. expressly prefers the reading; but μείζονα (א A B C, Am. Aeth., Orig.) is probably right.

In the N.T. ὑπερβολή is confined to this group of the Pauline Epp. (1 and 2 Cor. Gal. Rom.) and generally in this phrase, καθʼ ὑπερβολήν. Comp. Romans 7:13.


Klostermann adopts the reading of D*; καὶ εἴ τι καθʼ ὑπερβολήν, ὅδον ὑμῖν δείκνυμι, ‘And if (ye desire earnestly) something superlatively good, I show you a way.’ But the earliest versions confirm the other MSS. in reading ἔτι.

The Spiritual Gifts

In this chapter we have had three enumerations of these gifts (vv. 8-10, 28, 29-30); and in Romans (12:6-8) and Ephesians (4:11) we have other lists. It will be useful to compare the five statements.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10 1 Corinthians 12:12:28 1 Corinthians 12:12:29, 1 Corinthians 12:30


1. λόγος σοφίας 1.�

Romans 12:6-8. Ephesians 4:11.


2. προφητεία 1.�

It will be observed that in four of the lists there are at least two gifts which are not-mentioned in the other lists: in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, πίστις and διάκρισις πνευμάτων; in 12:28,�Romans 12:6-8, διακονία, παράκλησις, μεταδιδόναι, and προΐ́στασθαι: and in Ephesians 4:11, εὐαγγελισταί and ποιμένες, if ποιμένες is a separate class from ο͂ιδάσκαλοι. We must not assume that in all cases the difference of name means a difference of gift or of function. We may tentatively identify διακονία with�


Novatian (De Trinitate XXIX.) paraphrases this passage thus; Hic est enim qui prophetas in ecclesia constituit, magistros erudit, linguos dirigit, virtutes et sanitates facit, opera mirabilia gerit, discretiones spirituum porrigit, gubernationes contribuit, consilia suggerit, quaeque alia sunt charismatune dona componit et digerit; et ideo ecclesiam domini undique et in omnibus perfectam et consummatam facit; where (as in 9. and 12.) Novatian evidently uses sanitales in the sense of ‘cures’.

On our scanty knowledge of the organization of the Apostolic Churches see Gwatkin, Early Church History, i. pp. 64-72.

ADDITIONAL NOTE ON 12:3

If the theory is correct that the Christ party were docetisls, who used the name of Christ in opposition, not merely to the names of Paul, Apollos, and Kephas, but also to the name of Jesus, then the cry ‘Jesus be anathema’ might express their contempt for ‘knowing Christ after the flesh.’ They would have nothing to do with any external or material reality, and in this spirit perhaps denied that there could be any resurrection of the body, either in the case of Christ or of any one else. See B. W. Bacon, Introd. to N.T. p. 92. There may have been docetisls at Corinth, whether they belonged to the Christ party or not.








* This is one of the places inw hich the old ilerative force of ἄν seems to servive in the N.T. Comp. Acts 2:45, Acts 4:35. J. H. Moulton, P. 167.


* “Much of the immorality which St Paul so graphically describes was associated with religious worship. So that the Apostle assigns as the cause of the universal condition of moral corruption in the world the universal prevalence not so much of no religion as of false religion” (Du, Bose, The Gospel according to St Paul, P. 63). On the idea of Christian ceasing to belong to the ἔθνη see Harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity, 1. pp. 60, 89.

אԠא (Fourth century.) The Sinaitic MS., now at St Petersburg, the only MS. containing the whole N.T.

A A (Fifth century.) The Codex Alexandrinus; now at the British Museum.

B B (Fourth century.) The Vatican MS.

C C (Fifth century). The Codex Ephraem, a Palimpsest; now at Paris. Lacks 7:18 ἐν�

* Our Lord uses a similar argument (Mark 9:39; Luke 9:50). It is quite possible that, at baptism, the convert made some short confession of faith such as Κύριος Ἰησοῦς. He confessed the Name, when he was baptized in the Name


† It is frequent in LXX, especially in Chronicles, of the ‘courses of priests, Levites, and troops.

* Comp. Maharbal’s words to Hannibal; Non omnia nimirum eidem dii dedere (Livy, xxii. 51).

K K (Ninth century). Codex S. Synod. xcviii. Lacks 1:1-6:13 ταύτην καί: 8:7 τινὲς δὲ—8:11�

G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). Lacks 1 Corinthians 3:8-16, 1 Corinthians 6:7-14 (F).


*

Harnack holds that St Luke was ”a physician endowed with peculiar ‘spiritual’ gifts of healing, and this fact profoundly affects his conception of Christianity” (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 133). Again, “whose own we account shows him to have been a physician endowed with miraculous gifts of healings” (P. 143; comp. P. 146).

It is remarkable that although there are allusions to signs and wonders in the Apostolic age (2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 3:5; Romans 15:19; Hebrews 2:4), there is no allusion to miracles wronught by Christ. It cannot be said that in the age in which the Gospels werer being framed there was a tendency to glorify christ by attributing miracles to Him. See L. Ragg, The Book of Books P. 221.

* St Paul commonly uses ἐνεργεῖν with a personal subject (v. 6; Galatians 2:8, Galatians 2:3:5; Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 1:2:2, as here; Philippians 2:13), but ἐνεργεῖσθαι with an impersonal subject (Romans 7:5; 2 Corinthians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 1:4:12; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7). See J. A. Robinson, Ephesians, p. 246. See also Basil, De Spir. xvi. 37, xxvi. 61, and Ep. xxxviii. 4.


* The Emperor Marcus Aurelius frequently insists on this; Γεγόναμεν γὰρ πρὸς συνεργίαν, ὡς πόδες, ὡς χεῖρες ὡς βλέθαρα, ὡς οἱ στοῖχοι τῶν ἄνω καὶ τῶν κάτω ὀδόντων· τὸ οὖν�

* “It is impossible to determine exactly how eople were recognized as teachers. One clue, however, seems visible in James 3:1. From this it follows that to become a teacher was a matter of personal choice-based, of course, upon the individual’s consciousness of possessing a charisma’ (Harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity, I. p. 336; p. 243. ed. 1902). The whole chapter (1st of the 3rd Book) should be read. It shows that the order ‘Apostles, prophets, and teachers’ is very early. “St Paul is thinking without doubt of some arrangement in the Church which held good among Jewish Christian communities founded apart from his co-operation, no less than among the communities of Greece and Asia Minor.”

* The shortness of the list of charismata in Ephesians 4:11 as compared with the list here is perhaps an indication that the regular exercise of extraordinary gifts in public worship was already dying out. Hastings, DB. III. p. 141.


† Wetstein quotes Quintilian, viii. 5; Neque oculos esse toto corpore velim, ne caetera membra suum officium perdant. Cic. De Off. i. 35; Principio corporis nostri magnam natura ipsa videtur habuisse rationem, quae formam nostram, reliquamque figuram, in qua esset species honesta, eam posuit in promptu; quae partes autem corporis ad naturae necessitatem datae adspectumessent deformen habiturae atque turpem, eas contexit atque abdidit. De Off,. iii. 5; Si unumquodgue membrum sensum hunc haberet, ut posse putaret se valere, si proximi membri valetudinem ad se traduxisset, debilitari el interire totum corpus necesse est. Primasius turns v. 17 thus; Si toti docentes, ubi auditores? Si toti auditores, quis sciret discernere bonum vet malum?

* Comp. the use of ἡ ὸδός, ‘the Way’ par excellence, for Christianity (Acts 9:2, Acts 9:19:9, Acts 9:23, Acts 9:22:4, Acts 9:24:14, Acts 9:22). Bengel has via maxime vialis. it has the true characteristic of a way in perfection.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1896-1924.
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