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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 12

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-31

C. The church in general, and the possessor of spiritual gifts in their right estimate and application

1 Corinthians 12-14

1. These gifts—their ground and aim and hence their unity in manifoldness, suitably to the organic character of the Church

1 Corinthians 12:0

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not nave you ignorant. Ye know 2that [when, ὅτε] 1 ye were Gentiles, [ye were] carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed [says, ‘Cursed is Jesus:’ ’Ανάθεμα ̓Ιησοῦς],2 and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, [say ‘Lord Jesus,’ Κυρίοσ Ιησοῦς] but by the Holy Ghost. 4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are differences of administrations, but [ministries and, διαχονιῶν χαὶ] the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of operations, but it is [om. but it is, ins. and] the same God3 which worketh all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal [for some profit, πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον]. 8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge 9by [according to, χατὰ] the same spirit; [But, δὲ] 4 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing [healings, ἰαμὰτων] by the same 5 [in the one ἐν 10τῷ ἑνὶ] Spirit; [But, δὲ] 6 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; [but, δὲ] to another the interpretation 7 of tongues: 11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12For as the body is one, and [yet] hath many members, and [but, δὲ] all the members of that one 8 [om. that one, ins. the] 8 body, 13being [although] many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by [in, ἐν] one Spirit are [also were, χαὶ-ἐβαπτὶσθημεν] we all baptized into 9 one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles [Greeks, ’Ελληνες] whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into 14[om. into] 9 one spirit. For the body [also, χαὶ] is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it there fore not of the body? [it is not therefore not of the body]. 16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? [it is not therefore not of the body]. 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hear ing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18But now hath God set 19the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And [But, ςὲ] 20if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they [indeed, μὲν] 10 21many members, yet [om. yet] but one body. And [But, δὲ11] the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more 23feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon [around περιτθεμεν] these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered [combined, συνεκέρασεν] the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 12 25That there should be no schism 13 in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for 26another. And whether 14 one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular [severally, ἐχ μέρους]. 15 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then 16 [after that, επείτα] gifts of healings, helps [helpings, ἀντιλήφεις] governments 29[governings, χυβερνήσεις] diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31But covet earnestly [be zealous for, ζηλο͂υτε] the best [superior, χρείττονα] 17 gifts: and yet [moreover, ἔτι] shew I unto you a more excellent way [way according to excellence, χαθ’ ὑπερβολὴν].


[“The ancient prophets had clearly predicted that the Messianic period should be attended by a remarkable effusion of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28). Our Lord, before His crucifixion, promised to send the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, to instruct and guide His Church (John 14:0.). And after His resurrection He said to His disciples, “These signs shall follow them that believe. In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18). And immediately before His ascension He said to the disciples, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5). Accordingly, on the day of Pentecost, these promises and prophecies were literally fulfilled. The peculiarity of the new dispensation consisted, in the first place, in the general diffusion of these gifts. They were not confined to any one class of the people, but extended to all classes—male and female, young and old; and secondly, in the wonderful diversity of these supernatural endowments. Under circumstances so extraordinary, it was unavoidable that many disorders should arise. Some men would claim to be the organs of the Spirit, who were deluded or impostors; some would be dissatisfied with the gifts which they had received, and envy those whom they regarded as more highly favored; others would be inflated, and make an ostentatious display of their extraordinary powers; and in the public assemblies it might be expected that the greatest confusion would arise from so many persons being desirous to exercise their gifts at the same time. To the correction of these evils, all of which had manifested themselves in the church of Corinth, the Apostle devotes this and the two following chapters.” Hodge].

1 Corinthians 12:1-3. His instructions in regard to spiritual gifts, especially in regard to such discourses as proceeded from the special influence of the Spirit, Paul introduces by a statement of the chief token by which any genuine spiritual utterance may be known, viz., ‘the acknowledgment of Jesus as Lord.’ Whether he had been particularly questioned on this point, as in the instances mentioned 1 Corinthians 7:1 and 1 Corinthians 8:1, [and which are by some supposed to be continued here; or whether this is the second of the points alluded to in 1 Corinthians 11:16, concerning which he had heard,] is uncertain. At any rate, what he is laboring for is the removal of abuses which had crept into the didactical and lyrical portions of Divine worship, occasioned by these extraordinary phenomena (comp. 14.). “The Corinthians having turned aside from a plain, practical Christianity, were employing the gifts of the Spirit without regard to church edification, putting the greatest value on their most striking features, and prizing most such as were best calculated to impress the senses. Hence Paul felt constrained to instruct them in the ‘true end and right use of these gifts, and to warn them against confounding a genuine inspiration with fanatical excitement.’ ” Neander. These abuses have, without good reason, been put in connection with the party divisions at Corinth, mentioned in chap. 1. Baur and Räbiger reckon those who prophesied among the followers of Paul, and those speaking with tongues among the followers of Peter; while Dähne regards the latter as Alexandrine fanatics of the Christ-party.—Now concerning spiritual things.—τῶν πνευματικῶν is to be construed as neuter, according to the analogy of 1 Corinthians 14:1; and is not to be interpreted solely of the gift of tongues [as Billr., de Wette, Stanley], concerning which he is not now speaking exclusively; but of spiritual things generally, i.e., of such effects as were wrought by the Holy Ghost, whether ordinary graces and virtues, or supernatural phenomena proceeding from Him and belonging within His sphere. What is said in 1 Corinthians 14:37 [to which Grot., Ham., Locke, allude], might seem to sustain the masculine construction here, making the word apply to inspired persons in general (πνεῦμα ἔχοντες), or those speaking with tongues (γλώσσαις λαλοῦντες), provided the Corinthians had been wont to designate them especially by this term. But the predominant reference is, on the whole, to the phenomenon itself (comp. 1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Corinthians 14:39); and to restrict it to one class of persons is demanded neither by the allusion to dumb idols in 1 Corinthians 12:2, nor by the drift of the whole paragraph, which aims to correct the excessive estimation of that gift.—brethren, I would not have you ignorant.—Comp. on 1 Corinthians 10:1. He here gives them to understand both the subject of his instructions, and also that they needed enlightenment respecting the nature, origin, worth and use of these operations of the Spirit. To this necessity he points in the following verse, where he reminds the Corinthian converts (who formed the main body of the Church) of their former heathen state—a state of inexperience in regard to the revelation of the living God and the Spirit’s influences, and of a blind passivity in religious things—a state which disqualified them for an accurate judgment respecting these new experiences, unless carefully instructed. Burger states the connection thus: ‘the power which once influenced you as heathen is now broken; another influence has now poured itself forth upon you, of which you are made aware by these gifts of the Spirit. And now, be it understood, that this Spirit has fixed and uniform purposes and signs, and does not scatter itself in a variety of discordant relations and services such as you were involved in amid the distractions of heathenism. The one abiding centre of all spiritual operations is Jesus.—Ye know that when.—In the best authorities the reading is or ὄτι ὄτε, that when. If we adopt this, we must either suppose an anacoluthon here, on the assumption that after writing ὄτε, when, Paul lost sight of the ὄτι, that, and proceeded directly with the following words in connection with ὄτε, when; so that the construction would be—ye know that when ye were Gentiles, carried away to dumb idols as ye were led—(ὡς ᾶν ἤγεσθε, where the ᾶν indicates what ordinarily happens; comp. Passow I., p. 156). Or, with Bengel, we may construe the ὡς ᾶν, as in 2 Corinthians 10:9, by tanquam, quasi, as it were, thus softening the strong expression ἤγεσθε,were led, which would then be taken in connection with ὄτι, that, as the predicate of the main clause; while ἀπαγόμενοι would come in as a side qualification, indicating that they suffered themselves to be thus led. In this case the sentence would read—‘that ye, when ye were Gentiles, were in a manner led away to dumb idols.’—[Alford supposes an ellipsis of τόν χρόνον, the time, while ὄτι virtually drops away as a part of the formula, οἴδατεὄτι, q. d., ‘ye remember the time when ye were’]. At all events, the word ἤγεσθε [which here expresses the main point to which he would call attention] indicates a power foreign to one’s own conscious self-determination, whether it be that of a blind enthusiasm, or of some impulse of nature not as yet overruled by what is truly Divine, or even of demoniac influence. The last agrees well with 1 Corinthians 8:5; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Ephesians 2:2, and can be assumed to co-exist with blind enthusiasm and natural impulse. To imagine any reference to the blinding influence of priestcraft would hardly do, since there was very little of this apparent in the religion of the Greeks. In the expression, ἀπαγόμενοι, being carried away, we are not to suppose any figurative allusion, either as to a criminal led to execution, or to a victim reluctantly dragged to the slaughter, thereby showing the worthlessness or the unluckiness of the sacrifice. It is not to this that the context points, but rather to the readiness with which they allowed themselves to be led aside from the right into the wrong way—a matter which needed not to be directly stated in the context, but which lies in the very nature of the case, as the Apostle regards it, and as he teaches those whom he instructed to regard it. So the term is used also in classic writers (comp. Passow I., p. 292). The idols to whose altars and temples they were led, whether to sacrifice, or to pray, or to consult, are termed ἄφωνα voiceless, dumb (comp. Habakkuk 2:18 f.; Psalms 115:5; Psalms 135:16) in contrast with the living God who reveals Himself by word, and through His Spirit imparts the gift of speaking in prophecy.—Whereforei.e., suitably to their necessities. In order that they may form a correct judgment in relation to the Spirit’s operations, especially in relation to utterances proceeding from this source, he gives them the chief token of speaking by the Holy Ghost; and first, negatively,—no man speaking by the Spirit of God saith, ‘cursed is Jesus,’i.e., speaking in the Spirit excludes all cursing of Jesus; hence, where this takes place, there can be no speaking in the Spirit; next positively,—no man is able to say ‘Lord Jesus,’ save in the Holy Spirit.—The confession of Jesus as Lord is to be attributed to the Holy Spirit as its source, since only in Him is such a thing possible (comp. 1 John 4:2 ff.). The distinction between the text here and that in John, according to Bengel, is that Paul furnishes a token of the true inspiration as against the heathen; but John, as against false prophets. The expression “in the Spirit,” ἐν πνεύματι (comp. Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36) indicates the conscious exercise of our faculties in the element of the Spirit—a thorough pervading of the soul by the Spirit in the act of speaking. “’Ανάθεμα ’Ιησοῦν, anathema Jesus, is an expression of the fanatical rejection of Christ, such as might occur in moments of devilish excitement in Jews or heathen.’ Ανάθεμα, in its original signification, is the same as ἀνάθημα, any thing devoted; but it is especially used in a bad sense, denoting that which is devoted to destruction by God, just like חרם in the O. T., and sacer among the Romans. In the synagogue it designated that which was doomed to utter excommunication; hence its meaning is accursed.” Neander. [“He says, not Christ, which term designates the office, and is in some measure the object of faith, but Jesus, the personal name designating the historical person whose life was matter of fact. The curse and the confession are in this way far deeper”]. The idea that in the latter clause it was Paul’s intention to avert contempt from those speaking with tongues, is a groundless assumption, since no trace of such contempt appears; and it belongs with the arbitrary supposition that he here had especially in mind the gift of tongues. In 3 Ed. Meyer says: “It is possible that amid the various forms and even distortions of spiritual discourse at Corinth, public opinion may have varied as to who could be properly regarded as the speaker of the Spirit, and who not. Over against all arbitrary, ambitious and exclusive judgments on this point the Apostle expresses himself the more forcibly the broader he makes the specific sphere of spiritual discourse to appear, and the more simply and definitely he lays down its specific characteristic.” The expression “anathema Jesus” may be taken either as a wish, ‘let him be anathema,’ or as a declaration: ‘he is anathema,’ thus referring to the fact that He suffered death upon the cross as one accursed (comp. Galatians 3:13). Then it would essentially agree with the term “blaspheme” in Acts 26:11. The contrast with this extreme of unbelief is given in the key-word of faith “Jesus is Lord,” wherein the Messiahship of Jesus is acknowledged, and that too as a dignity divine (comp. Romans 10:9). [“The confession includes the acknowledgment that He is truly God and truly man. What the Apostle says is, that no man can make this acknowledgment, but by the Holy Ghost. This of course does not mean that no one can utter these words unless under special Divine influence; but it means that no one can truly believe and openly confess that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, unless he is enlightened by the Spirit of God. This is precisely what our Lord Himself said when Peter confessed Him to be the Son of God. “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 16:17. Hodge].

1 Corinthians 12:4-7. He here enters upon the more definite exposition of his subject. After having presented a true test of a genuine utterance by the spirit, he points to the diversity of the spirit’s operations, which yet converge to one end, even as they all have but one actuating principle. The advance in his argument, or perhaps, also, the contrast between the diversity he is about to speak of with the one fundamental characteristic mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:3, is denoted by a δἐ.—But there are distributions.—By διαιρέσεις is meant either distributions (comp. διαιροῦν 1 Corinthians 12:11) which would make this clause imply that one gift was imparted to one person, and another to another; or distinctions, diversities (comp. Romans 12:6, χαρίσματα διάφορα). Both renderings amount to about the same thing. The former, however, which ought to be preferred on account of 1 Corinthians 12:11, involves the latter. [This expression is repeated three times in connection with three different classes of objects—χαρίσματα, διακονίαι, ενεργν́ματα severally rendered gifts, ministries, operations]. But what are we to understand by these terms? Much the same thing? as though the Christian virtues, of which he speaks afterwards, were contemplated from three different points of view; first, as gifts of divine grace, as elements of the new life which, with all its varied capacities, is mediated by the indwelling Spirit of God; secondly, as ministries,—means or instruments by which one member contributes to the good of another; or, as Meyer says, wherewith Christ is served—“that same Lord to whom service is thus rendered,”—contrary to the analogy of the other clauses; thirdly, as effects in which the gifts manifest their efficiency? Or thus, that the second and third classes are subordinated to the first—“services” and “operations” being the two characteristic forms in which the “gifts” are exercised, and in which these exhibit themselves, viz., as services in their relation to Christ, and as operations in relation to their effects, whether miraculous or not? (Meyer).—Or does the Apostle allude to various sorts of the Spirit’s operations, such are afterwards particularly specified in 1 Corinthians 12:8 ff.—so that by “gifts” we are to understand “the word of wisdom and of knowledge, prophecy, divers kinds of tongues,” and the capabilities belonging thereto, and intended for instruction; and by “services,” “the helps and governments,” &c., appertaining to the management and polity of the’ church (1 Corinthians 12:28); and by “operations,” the miraculous powers mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10, and the faith of 1 Corinthians 12:9, among which we find the gifts of healing reckoned, but which are expressly referred back to the first class of “gifts,” showing by this very circumstance the arbitrariness of the interpretation? Since the first of these methods of construction has also its difficulties, and “ministries” cannot be included under the head of “gifts,” another mode of interpretation and arrangement is required. The χαρίσματα, gifts are qualifications or capabilities peculiar to Christianity (comp. on 1 Corinthians 1:7)—[“Eminent endowments of individuals in and by which the Spirit dwelling in them manifested Himself:—and these either directly be stowed by the Holy Ghost Himself, as in the case of healing, miracles, tongues, and prophesying, or previously granted them by God in their unconverted state, and now inspired, hallowed, and potentiated for the work of building up the church, as in the case of teaching, exhortation, knowledge. Of all these gifts faith working by love was the necessary substratum or condition.” Alford].—” And here we must distinguish between such gifts as are repeated throughout all time, and such as involved the supernatural also in form according to the peculiarity of the first century. Hence we see the erroneousness of Living’s stand-point by whom the restoration of all the gifts collectively was desired for the regeneration of the church, just as they existed in the apostolic period. But we, at any rate, will recognize in those gifts the types of such as shall exist always in the Christian church, only, indeed, in another form.” Neander. The διακονίαι, ministries, are the manifold offices or functions in the church, (understood in their widest sense) in which these “gifts” were employed, and which indicate a division in the spheres of labor corresponding with these “gifts.” [“These must not be narrowed to the ecclesiastical orders, but kept commensurate in extent with the gifts which are to find scope by these means, see 1 Corinthians 12:7-10.” Alford]. Finally the ἐνεργήματα, operations are the various effects resulting from the exercise of the “gifts” in these particular “ministries.” [“These are not to be limited to miraculous effects, but understood commensurately with the gifts of whose working they are the results.” Alford]. Very instructive is the reference of the first of these classes—the gifts—to the Spirit as the principle which reforms the inward man, and qualifies and disposes our natural endowments for carrying forward the objects of God’s kingdom, awakening, developing, and sanctifying them for their several uses—but the same Spirit,—sc., ὁ διαιρῶν comp. 1 Corinthians 5:11, who distributes them as He will; and so also the reference of the various ministries or offices to Christ as the Head of the Church from whom its organization and regulation proceed (comp. Ephesians 4:11),—but the same Lord,—sc., ὁ διαιρῶν, who appoints and assigns individuals to them as He will; and not less that of the operations to the all-working God,—but the same God.—And He in consistency with the term “operations” (ἐνεργήματα) is represented as the one who worketh (ὁ ἐνεργῶν) all things in all.—This clause may be taken in its widest sense, as referring to God’s activity in the universe; or it may be interpreted more restrictedly, in relation to the gifts and ministries above specified; or, which might be more correct, in relation solely to the operations spoken of in this clause; since God is the efficient cause of all the effects which are produced by those who, by virtue of the gifts of the Spirit, work in the various offices of the church. What is here affirmed of God is not in conflict with that asserted in 1 Corinthians 12:24, where God is said to be the one who tempers the body together; since it is God who ordains and fixes all things, even what the Spirit inwardly works, and what Christ ordains in the church. Nor, in like manner does that which is said of Christ in Ephesians 4:7., that “grace is given to every one according to the measure of the gift of Christ,” derogate from what is here ascribed to the Spirit. Christ is the one who commissions the Spirit (John 15:26) and all the effects of the Spirit refer back to Him. [“Thus we have God the Father, the First Source and Operator of all spiritual influence in all; God the Son, the Ordainer in His Church, of all ministries by which this influence may be legitimately brought out for edification; God the Holy Ghost, dwelling and working in the Church, and effectuating in each man such measure of His gifts as He sees fit.” Alford. “Once are these Three known thus solemnly to have met, at the creating of the world. Once again, at the Baptism of Christ, the new creating it. And here now the third time, at the Baptism of the Church with the Holy Ghost. Where, as the manner is at all baptisms, each bestoweth a several gift or largess on the party baptized, that is, on the church; for whom and for whose good all this dividing and all this manifesting is. Nay, for whom and for whose good the world itself was created, Christ Himself baptized, and the Holy Ghost visibly sent down.” Wordsworth]. Having thus set forth the diversities and the one fixed ground of these gifts, he proceeds to point out the one chief end of the manifold operations of the Spirit.—But to each one,i.e. , who is endowed. This stands first by way of emphasis. With this, again, the idea of diversified allotments is again taken up, but only as related to the unity of purpose. That which is given to each one He calls—the manifestation of the Spirit,—by which the unity of the actuating principle is again specified. But it is doubtful whether the Spirit is to be regarded as manifesting Himself, or as being manifested. The latter accords with the use of the word in 2 Corinthians 4:2, the only place where φανέρωσις elsewhere occurs in the New Testament. That in this way too much would be conceded to human self-activity, is a groundless objection, which is already set aside by the use of the verb “is given,” with which also the other construction better suits. What is meant is, that each one manifests the Spirit dwelling and working in him through the exercise of gifts. [Wordsworth unites both ideas. “These spiritual gifts are the manifestations of the Spirit actively, because by these the Spirit manifesteth the will of God unto the church, these being the instruments and means of conveying the knowledge of salvation unto the people of God. And they are the manifestations of the Spirit passively too; because where any of these gifts, especially in any eminent sort, appeared in any person, it was a manifest evidence that the Spirit of God wrought in him. As we read in Acts 10:45-46, They of the circumcision were astonished when they saw that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. If it be demanded. But how did that appear? It followeth in the next verse, For they heard them speak with tongues, etc. The spiritual gift, then, is a manifestation of the Spirit, as every other sensible effect is a manifestation of its proper cause”].—for the common profit.—συμφέρον denotes: the good of the Church, its edification. [“This is the common object of all these gifts. They are not designed exclusively or mainly for the benefit, much less for the gratification of their recipients; but for the good of the Church. Just as the power of vision is not for the benefit of the eye, but for the man. When, therefore, the gifts of God, natural or supernatural, are perverted as means of self-exaltation or aggrandizement, it is a sin against their giver, as well as against those for whose benefit they were intended.”—Hodge]. πρός as in 1 Corinthians 7:35.

1 Corinthians 12:8-11. He here proceeds to unfold in detail what is said in 1 Corinthians 12:7, appealing to facts as they existed in the Church. Hence the γἀρ, which is explanatory.—For to one indeed.—In ᾧ μέν=τῷ μέν the old demonstrative use of ὁς appears (comp. passow. II, p. 1545). In what follows the expressions denoting the various parties to whom the distribution has been made, occur interchangeably. We have ἐτέρωδέ and ἀλλω̣δὲ. Since the former indicates a stronger difference than the latter, there is a disposition to mark out the chief divisions according to these, so as to make three classes of gifts in the enumeration (see Meyer). [I. Gifts having reference to intellectual power: 1, the “word of wisdom;” 2, “the word of knowledge.” II. Gifts conditioned on an exalted faith: 1, faith itself; 2, practical workings of faith—viz.: a. healings; b. powers; 3, oral working of the same—viz.: prophecy; 4, critical working of the same—viz.: the discernment of Spirits. III. Gifts having reference to tongues: 1, speaking with tongues; 2, interpretation of tongues18]. But shall we assign prophecy and the discernment of spirits to that class of gifts which are conditioned on a heroic faith? This will hardly do. We will here state in advance our ideas of whether and how the classification can be made. First, we have two gifts evidently belonging together, or nearly related, viz.: “the word of wisdom” and “the word of knowledge.”—Λόγος thus rendered “word” means lit. discourse; according to the sense here, a capacity for discoursing; and the words in connection denote the subject matter of discourse. But there is a difficulty in distinguishing between wisdom and knowledge. Certainly we cannot admit the view which takes λόγος σοφίας, the discourse of wisdom, as=to σοφία λόγου, the wisdom of discourse, 1 Corinthians 1:17, and which interprets λόγος γνώσεως as meaning knowledge communicated in the simplest style. Rather, we might take the distinction between these two to be that of theoretical and practical knowledge. But then it would be doubtful by which term the one and the other was denoted. Paul’s usage declares for our taking γνώσις, knowledge, theoretically (in opposition to which the practical import is plainly to be assumed in 1 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 1:5 f.); but σοφία, wisdom, can by no means be understood in a practical sense; in support of which only Colossians 4:5 may possibly be adduced, and also the adjective “wise” (σόφος) in Romans 16:19; 1 Corinthians 3:10; Ephesians 5:15. According to Meyer, σοφία denotes the higher Christian wisdom in and for itself, which is not to cease, even at the coming of our Lord; while γνώσις (1 Corinthians 13:8), knowledge, denotes a speculative insight into truths, their philosophical exposition through the processes of the intellect. According to Osiander, “wisdom” is the apprehension of Divine truth in its totality—of the aims and purposes of God, of the plans and operations of salvation, of the entire scheme of redemption in its inward connection as a well organized Divine system; but “knowledge” is the clear apprehension of particular things Divinely imparted through an inward appropriation and experimental acquaintance (comp. John 6:69; John 17:3; Philippians 3:8)—the former being rather the objective, extensive, all-comprehensive form of knowledge, the latter the subjective, intensive, and special form. Adhering now essentially to both these interpretations, we take “wisdom” to denote the direct intuition into Divine mysteries, and “knowledge” as that kind of apprehension which is gained by reflection, and which therefore belongs only to the present dispensation. [So substantially Hodge and Alford. “According to Neander, ‘wisdom’ is the skill which is able to reduce the whole practical Christian life into its due order, in accordance with its foundation principles (see Plant. and Train., p. 444, 445); ‘knowledge,’ the theoretical insight into Divine things; and similarly Olsh. and Billroth. But Bengel, et al., take them conversely—‘knowledge’ for the practical, ‘wisdom’ for the theoretical. Both, as de Wette remarks, have their grounds in usage. ‘Wisdom’ is practical, Colossians 1:9, as is ‘knowledge’ in Romans 15:14, but they are theoretical respectively in 1 Corinthians 1:17 ff; 1 Corinthians 8:1. Estius explains ‘the discourse of wisdom,’ gratiam de iis quæ ad doctrinam religionis ac pietatis spectant disserendi ex causis supremis,—as 1 Corinthians 2:6 f.;—and ‘the word of knowledge,’ he says, ‘gratia est disserendi de rebus Christians religionis, ex iis quæ sunt humanæ scientiæ vel experientiæ.” Alford].—To another—ἐτερῷ δέ—faith.—Not that faith which receives salvation in Christ, i.e., justifying faith, but a strong confidence in the Divine omnipotence, or in the power of Christ, as able to make itself manifest in extraordinary deeds, or to afford and insure help of a supernatural kind; or, in other words, a confidence which shall enable a man to perform these deeds or to afford this help (comp. 1 Corinthians 13:2; Matthew 17:20; Matthew 21:21). Osiander says, “the fides miraculosa, which could display itself in fervent effectual prayer, also in extraordinary joyfulness and confidence amid dangers and sufferings, or in readiness to undergo the same. Bengel defines it as “a very earnest and most present apprehension of God, chiefly in His will as to the effects particularly conspicuous either in the kingdom of nature or of grace.” [Alford says, “a faith enabling a man to place himself beyond the region of mere moral certainty, in the actual realization of things believed, in a high and unusual manner.” Hodge: “A higher measure of the ordinary grace of faith. Such a faith as enabled men to become confessors and martyrs, and which is so fully illustrated in Hebrews 11:33-40. This is something as truly wonderful as the gift of miracles ”].—To another—ἄλλω δὲ—the gifts of healings,i.e. , for healing divers diseases, hence the plural ἰαμάτων, of healings. In one a capacity for healing one class of diseases, and in another for healing another class, by word and prayer, and the laying on of hands (comp. Mark 16:18; Acts 4:18, ἐν).—and to another—ἀλλω̣ δὲ—the workings of miracles.—ἐνεργήματα a passive noun, which, if construed strictly, would denote the things wrought by miraculous power; Hodge translates the clause, effects which are miraculous, and here the effect is put for the cause, viz., the ability to work miracles]. The miracles here are of a still different kind from those of healing, such as the expulsion of devils, raising the dead, and, according to Calvin and others, judicial inflictions also, as in Acts 5:5; Acts 5:9; according to Olshausen, operations as in Mark 16:18; Acts 28:5 [the safe handling of serpents and deadly things]. Meyer understands it of miraculous effects of all kinds (comp. Acts 4:30), and not simply healings. How a speculative rationalism interprets these charisms or gifts, may be seen from Dr. Baur’s Paulus, p. 559 f. “Faith,” he explains as a peculiarly strong trust in Providence; “gifts of healing” mean no more than the ability to pray with peculiar power and earnestness in behalf of the sick, with more or less assurance of their recovery, if they please God; and the “operations of miracles,” are the proofs of extraordinary strength of soul and vital power in respect to the deeper things of Christianity. The relation of these three charisms to the Spirit is expressed by three different prepositions: διά, through; κατά, according to; ἐν, in. The phrase—through the Spirit—then designates the Spirit as the power which mediates the Divine bestowments,—according to the same spirit—as the power which disposes and regulates them,—in the same spirit—as the power in which the charism is founded.—Distinct from these three Charisms are the two following,—and to another prophecy, and to another discerning of spirits,—the latter corresponding with the former. These cannot in any case be referred, as by Meyer, to a heroic faith; for the prophecy alluded to in Romans 12:6, “whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the analogy of faith,” is of a different sort. Prophecy here (comp. 1 Corinthians 11:3) means the announcement of things hidden by means of a Divine revelation or inspiration—in other words, the ability obtained by the illumination of the Spirit, or through the opening of the spiritual vision by Him, to unfold the onward progress of the kingdom of God,—especially its future developments, or even to open up the mysteries of the inner and outer life. The inspiration in this case is not a blind rhapsodic excitement, but one united with a clear self-consciousness and the free exercise of the faculties (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:32 f.); and the discourse is carried on in an exalted and earnest, yet perfectly intelligible strain. By the side of this enlightening (1 Corinthians 14:24), awakening, invigorating, inspiring operation of the Spirit, there stands a judicial and critical power, “discerning of Spirits,” i. e., an ability to distinguish true prophecy from the false, in the same or in different subjects,—to discern between the pure inspiration of the divine Spirit and the impure excitements either of the natural man or of demoniac agencies—an ability which includes in itself a susceptibility for prophecy and an ability to enter into prophetic ecstasy. The demand for such discrimination is indicated in 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1. “[It appears, especially from the epistles of the Apostle John that pretenders to inspiration were numerous in the apostolic age. He therefore exhorts his readers, “to try the Spirits, whether they be of God; for many false prophets are gone out into the world.” It was therefore of importance to have a class of men with the gift of discernment, who could determine whether a man was really inspired, or spoke only either from the impulse of his own mind or from the dictation of some evil Spirit.” Hodge]. The plural “spirits” is to be referred either to different agencies at work in prophecy, viz., the divine, the human, the demonic; or to the manifold operations of the Spirit and by metonymy, to those inspired by the Spirit. The correct interpretation is problematical. The enumeration concludes,—and to another, divers kinds of tongues and to another the interpretation of tongues.—By γένη, kinds, he indicates the diversity there was in the tongues—a diversity of race, family, species and modes. But what is meant by the word “tongues” (γλῶσσαι) is much disputed. I. The older exposition proceeds from the definition language, and appeals for support to the promise of Christ, Mark 16:17 “they shall speak with now tongues” and to the miracle of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2:0. It understands this gift to be an ability to speak in various unacquired foreign languages under the influence of the Spirit which for the moment dissolved all bounds of language, and transported the subjects of it into a state of ecstasy, thereby symbolizing the universality of the Gospel. This view later commentators have modified; some explaining the circumstance to be a speaking or worshipping in acquired languages, falsely regarded as a charism (Fritzsche); and others asserting that by the power of the Spirit these Christians had been qualified to speak in the original language—a language which contained the elements or rudiments of the various historical languages, and was the type of the broad general character of Christianity (Bilroth).—Others, who reject the older interpretation as not well sustained, partly because of the impossibility of the thing itself, or at least because it was wholly uncalled for by the circumstances of the Corinthians, and partly because irreconcilable with the various expressions and statements of our paragraph (comp. on chap. 14.), have abandoned the meaning language, on the assumption either that the phenomenon at Pentecost was different in kind from that here spoken of [that being evidently a speaking in foreign languages, intelligible to the hearers, while this needed interpretation], or that the account in Acts [being much later than our epistle] was a perverted tradition of the original facts. But these interpreters themselves start from different significations of the word in question. II. Some take it to mean glosses, i.e.., highly poetic words and forms that are obsolete or provincial, [(a sense in which the term is used by the Greek grammarians; see Arist. Rhet. iii. 2. § 14)] (Bleek); or, uncommon and striking expressions, differing from common usage and partly taken from foreign languages, employed to assist the utterance of the Spirit which was struggling for expression under the stress of overflowing feelings (Baur)—an interpretation which is certainly foreign to the New Testament, and which in particular passages is fraught with great difficulties. III. Others, hold fast to the other fundamental meaning of the term, viz., tongue as the organ of speech. In their view the gift implied the special use of this organ for expression, 1. either in its cruder form, as the babbling of inarticulate tones [where the tongue moved and not the lips] (Eichhorn and others); or 2. as an ecstatic speaking in low, scarcely audible, inarticulate words, tones, sounds, whereby the inspired Spirit gave vent to itself (Wieseler)—a view which is decisively opposed by 1 Corinthians 14:18; or 3. as an act of worship by means of ecstatic exclamations, and snatches of hymns of praise and other outbursts of prayer, where the tongue no longer served as an organ of conscious intelligence, but moved independently and involuntarily under the impulse of the Spirit (Dr. Schultz, de Wette, Meyer and others); or 4 as an inspired utterance in which the conscious intellect was held in abeyance and the spirit of the worshipper overpowered and ravished by the might of the Spirit, gushed forth in words and sentences involuntarily forced upon him, which were unintelligible to those of his hearers who were not possessed of the same inspiration. We shall revert to this point hereafter, [see chap. 14]. Since this speaking with tongues was unintelligible to the congregation, it was necessarily supplemented by another gift, viz., “the interpretation of tongues.” This was the ability to translate this unintelligible utterance into a language known to all, and so to explain its meaning—an ability which implied the power of bringing the understanding (υοῦς) to bear upon the meaning of the things wrought by the Spirit, and thus to consciously apprehend them. This charism belonged either to the person himself who spoke with tongues (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:13), or, as one passage intimates, to a distinct class.

Having thus enumerated the several gifts, he once more refers in 1 Corinthians 12:11 to the one original principle from which they proceeded, the oneness of which is brought out emphatically in the expression “the one and the same.”—All these things works one and the same Spirit.—What he asserted of God in 1 Corinthians 12:6, he here ascribes to the Spirit,—ἐνεργεῖ, he works, so that the Spirit here appears as a creative power—as the Spirit of God working divinely. As in this verb we have the import of the prepositions “in” and “through” (1 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Corinthians 12:8) again brought out, so that of the other preposition “according to,” 1 Corinthians 12:8, is again resumed in the participial clause,—distributing, etc.—The Spirit is here represented as a voluntary regulating power, in terms which show Him to be not a blind energy, but a self-conscious, intelligent agent.—As he wills—not arbitrarily, but, in perfect consistency with classic usage, according to a rational and discriminating self-determination which decides its action upon the grounds and purposes of a divine wisdom and love.—to each one severally,—in so far as He imparts to each one something special, so that each one has a charism of his own by which he is distinguished from others with their endowments. This is in accordance with that principle of individualization which pervades the whole economy of creation. The divine idea pours itself forth in a rich variety of forms which again combine to supplement each other in the exercise of that same divine love which ruled in their creation. This is what the apostle further sets forth in an instructive analogy, whereby it would seem he aimed to counteract alike the disparagement as well as the overestimate of particular gifts—shall we add also, the misapprehension of the divine principle therein? At any rate there is no argument here against referring the gifts to a variety of originating causes or principles (Mosheim).

1 Corinthians 12:12-13. He here proceeds to explain or confirm what is stated in 1 Corinthians 12:11. The unity of the in-working Spirit in the variety of His gifts to the Church corresponds to the unity of the Church itself in the variety of its members as typified in our physical organization.19 [This thought is again further developed in 1 Corinthians 12:14, so as to exhibit the organic character of the spiritual gifts, and their supplementary connection with each other. First, the organic unity of the church is likened to that of the body, showing that the unity is one which does not exclude diversity, and, on the other hand, diversity as not conflicting with unity.—For as the body is one, and yet.—By reason of the contrast between the one and the many the καί should be rendered, and yet,—has many members, and all members of the body.—The word “body” is here repeated by way of emphasis, in order to indicate in advance the unity of the members amid the plurality,—(although) being many—πολλὰ ὄντα—is to be translated concessively,—are one body.—Short and pregnant is the concluding clause,—so also is Christ,—not Christ in His distinctive personality, but as including the church in Himself as His living organism. As Augustine says, totus Christus caput et corpus est. “The whole Christ includes both head and body.” “What the state is in its own sphere as a moral person possessed of corporate rights, that the church is in its sphere; and the name of its collective personality is Christ.”. W. F. Besser. “In the view of the Apostle, Christ is the archetype of a new and glorified humanity as it is developed in the church. Hence the development of the Christian Church is nothing less than the progressive development of the image of Christ.” Neander. (Comp. Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 5:30). That here the plurality constitutes a unity is exhibited by a reference to the facts by which a church-life is constituted. The first and foremost of these is baptism (comp. Ephesians 4:5)—a transaction which involves also the dispensation of the Spirit. (Comp. John 1:33; John 3:5; Titus 3:5).—for also—The καί belongs either to the whole clause, or to the words immediately following, q. d., ‘the union is not simply by external bonds, but also through the Spirit.’ (Meyer).—in one Spirit have we all been baptized.—The Spirit is here represented as the element into which the baptized have been transferred, and in which as the result of their baptism they ever after live and move (Acts 2:38; Acts 19:5-6).—A further consequence of this is the formation of one body;—into one bodyi.e., ‘so as to become one body;’ or, ‘in order to become one body;’ thus stating the object for which the Spirit wrought in it. The latter is to be preferred as the simpler form.—whether Jews or Greeks, bond or free.—Here the strongest contrasts of national, religious, and social life are specially mentioned as illustrating the mighty unific power of the Spirit in abolishing them.—“The higher unity designated is an all comprehensive one. It does not destroy the distinctions of race and condition, but it assigns to them a suitable order, and overcomes them in their sharp and selfish antagonisms. Jews and Greeks are to remain Jews and Greeks, yet they are to subordinate their national peculiarities to a higher Christian unity.” Neander.—and we all were made to drink one Spirit.—[ε͂ν πνεῦ μα ἐποτίσθημεν, for the construction of the ace, with a passive verb, see Jelf. § 545, 8, or Winer, P. III. § 32, 3; for the omission of the εἰς into, see critical notes]. This statement is parallel to the former. Accordingly some think they discover here a reference to the mystery of the Holy Supper as associated with baptism, [and helping to blend believers into one body], (comp. 1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Corinthians 11:2). This reference is to be recognized in the reading εἰς ἕν πνε͂μα and ἕν πόμα. The objections to this are: 1, the praeterite ἐποτίσθημεν, were made to drink, [which denotes a past event],—and cannot be regarded as the aorist of custom, since it must be taken analogously with ἕβαπτίσθημεν were baptized; (so Billroth, Olsh. [Hodge]). 2, the contents of the clause itself; since nowhere else do we read of the Lord’s Supper, and still less of the drinking of the cup, as a means of partaking of one Spirit:—But if a union with Christ is effected in the Supper, and if the communion of His bodily life offered up for us cannot be separated from the communion of His divine life, then must there be in it also an imparting of the Spirit as in baptism; and, moreover, since the Spirit is exhibited to us under the figure of a flowing stream, e.g., ‘the outpouring of the Spirit,’ Acts 2:0; ‘the living water which Christ gives,’ John 7:37, ff. (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:14) it was natural that Paul should select this part of the supper, and not the eating of the bread as specially indicating our participation in the Spirit. If this explanation holds, we must then suppose the aorist ἐποτίσθημεν to have been used in conformity with the parallel ἐβαπτίσθημεν, and because he was speaking of the participation in the Spirit not as a continuous act, but as something which, together with baptism, had already served to found the collective life of the church. Both are completed facts, by means of which the union of the church has been constituted in the Spirit. And here we may also distinguish between the operation of the Spirit laying the foundation of the work in baptism, and the intimate appropriation of the Spirit through the supper (comp. Osiander). If we reject the idea of an allusion to the supper, then we either lose the parallelism with the verb “were baptized,” or we must surrender also the idea of any allusion to the rite of baptism even here, and explain it simply of the copious effusion of the Spirit.20 But, at any rate, it is strange that after he had spoken of the one Spirit as that on which our being baptized into one body is founded he should again so emphatically speak of participating in the same (as Meyer: “The reception of the one Spirit in baptism is once more emphatically expressed ”). “It is clear from this passage that Paul considers the unity of the church not as something formed from without, but as fashioned from within.” Neander.

1 Corinthians 12:14-26. The proposition that the unity of organization includes, rather than excludes, a plurality of membership, is next carried out in relation to the human body, and that too in a way to suggest practical instructions in respect to the organization of spiritual gifts in the church. The first lesson is a dissuasive against discontent on account of the smallness of the gift, and against a consequent disposition to withdraw from the church either in jealousy or in self-disparagement, as though persons so feebly endowed could do nothing towards integrating the body. The several members are here introduced as holding colloquy to this effect in a highly dramatic style. Something like this is to be found in the apology of Menenius Agrippa; Livy, II. § p. 32.—For the body is not one member, but many.—[“The word ‘member’ means a constituent part, having a function of its own. It is not merely a multiplicity of parts that is necessary to the body; nor a multiplicity of persons that is necessary to the church; but, in both cases, what is required is a multiplicity of members in the sense just stated. No one of these is complete in itself. Each represents something that is not so well represented in the others. Each has its own function to exorcise, and work to perform, which could not so well be accomplished without it. It is only when the hand undertakes to turn the foot out of the body that the foot is bound in self-defence, and for the good of the whole, to defend its rights.” Hodge].—If the foot shall say, Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. The final clause οὐ παρὰ τοῦτο οὐκ έ̓στιν ἐκτοῦ σώματος may be either taken as a question [Alford, Hodge]; in which case the double negative would be equivalent to a single one, [Winer § 59, 8 b.], and this would indeed be a more lively way of constructing the sentence; but whether grammatically allowable is doubtful. Or it may be taken as an affirmative clause, in which case, then, the οὐκέ̓στιν would form a distinct idea: ‘it is not on that account not of the body.’ [So Stanley, Lachm., Billr., Rück.].—παρὰ τοῦτο [instead of the more common διὰ τοῦτο] on this account, or more literally, ‘alongside of this.’ [Jelf. Greek Gr. , § 637, III. 3, d.]—If the ear shall say because I am not the eye, I am not of the body, it is not therefore not of the body.—As in comparison with the foot the hand is the nobler member, so is the eye in comparison with the ear. It is the hegemonical (ἡγεμόυικοι) or directing part of the body. The hand and foot denote the higher and lower gifts of service; the eye and the ear, the intellectual gifts. Particular explanations here are in any case questionable. [“The obvious duty here inculcated is that of contentment. It is just as unreasonable and absurd for the foot to complain that it is not the hand, as for one member of the church to complain that he is not another; that is, for a teacher to complain that he is not an apostle; or for a deaconess to complain that she is not a presbyter; or for one who had the gift of healing to complain that he had not the gift of tongues. This, as the Apostle shows, would destroy the very idea of the church.” Hodge]. That this undervaluation of the lesser gifts, and this excessive or exclusive estimate of the more notable gifts was altogether improper, is next shown from the fact that were the latter to exist alone, the body of Christ would lack some of its most essential functions.—If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? A gradation is here observed from the higher to the lower. In the terms “hearing” and “smelling” the organs are designated according to their functions; [or perhaps we might better say the functions are specified in order to set forth the importance of the organ through which they are performed. “The application of this idea to the church is plain. It also requires for its existence a diversity of gifts and offices. If all were apostles, where would be the Church?” or where the diaconate, or where the eldership?] In contrast with the condition of things arising from this, one-sided estimate of particular gifts he next exhibits the nature of a true organization as ordained by God.—But now,i.e., as the case actually stands,—God set—έ̓θετο, not ‘made,’ but set, i.e., gave them a position, and a destination in accordance with it. The divine purpose here presents a silent contrast to the proud and selfish views and wishes of men as being one of perfect love and wisdom.—the members each one of them,—the latter expression is added in order to cut off all thought of exception in any particular.—in the body, as it hath pleased him.—[i.e., it is not man’s fancy that here rules, but the will of Him whose wisdom and right are unquestionable. In rebelling therefore against our place and appointment we are virtually rebelling against the Creator and rightful Disposer of all things].—And if they were all one member, where were the body?—The exclusive maintenance of one organ virtually destroys the whole organism; [and this naturally reacts to the prejudice of the organ itself: for where is the use or even the dignity of the organ without the body to which it is attached?]—But now are they indeed many members, but one body.—This is the character of all proper organization—plurality in unity.—He next in 1 Corinthians 12:21 rebukes the pride of the more highly gifted, and refutes their vain conceit of the dispensableness of the lesser gifts to them.—and the eye cannot.—οὐ δύναται, not “may not,” but absolutely cannot, because the hand is really indispensable to the eye,—say to the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you,—[He here exhibits “the mutual dependence of the members of the Church. The most gifted are as much dependent on those less favored as the latter are on the former. Pride, therefore, is as much out of place in the Church as discontent.” Hodge]. In contrast with the negative he next sets forth the positive side of the fact.—Nay, much more, those members of the body, which seem to be weaker, are necessary:—The adverbial phrase “much more” does not belong to the adjective “necessary,” q. d., ‘much more necessary,’ as this would involve an unsuitable thought; but to the whole clause, and carries the logical sense of far rather. The specific class of members here alluded to it is neither possible nor necessary to decide upon. [“They are best left undefined, as the Apostle has left them.” Stanley]. He certainly cannot mean the eye or the head, because of what is said in 1 Corinthians 12:21; neither could he intend to term the hands and the feet as seemingly weaker than the eye or the head. Other suppositions, such as that the brain and vitals were here alluded to [Hodge], are wholly uncertain; [at least, they are not naturally suggested]. To translate ἀσθενέστερα by smaller, is unwarrantable. [Afford understands by the phrase in question, “those members which in each man’s case appear to be the inheritors of disease, or to have incurred weakness. By this very fact their necessity to Him is brought out much more than that of the others.” But whatever may have been the specific thing had in view by the Apostle, the lesson is plain. The very weakliest in the Church—whether it be in body, mind, or estate—have their use, and are not to be despised or overlooked. The sick, if they cannot work, can pray. The poor are needful to the eliciting of charity. And the children, however helpless, cannot be spared from the fold, for they are the hope of the future].—and those members which we think to be more dishonorable.—It would be natural here to think of the arms, feet, and ears which people are wont to adorn with all kinds of ornaments. [But is there not an emphasis laid on the expression ‘we think,’ and a force in the term ἀτιμότερα, which point to other parts of the body which sin only has associated with a sense of shame, and which we are therefore more careful to honor by concealment?]—on them we bestow the more abundant honor,i.e., by means of clothing or adornment. [“It is observed by Raphelius that τιμὴν περιτιθέναι signifies in general to give honor; but in this passage by a metonymy, to cover over with a garment that which, if seen, would have a disagreeable and unseemly appearance, and this is a kind of honor put upon them”]. The word περιτιθέναι often denotes dress (Matthew 27:28; Genesis 27:16 ff. [“by which passage τίμην may possibly have been suggested since it is here used by the LXX. for a covering of eyes.” Stanley]).—and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.—What are here meant cannot be doubted. [If the second explanation given above be the true one, we have here simply an expansion of the statement just preceding]. Our uncomely parts receive a more decorous regard than the other members, inasmuch as they are more carefully clothed as a matter of propriety. With all this he gives us to understand that the lesser gifts in the Church are not to be lightly esteemed and neglected; but should be treated with the greater consideration and care, because they are indispensable to the whole body, and the honor of the Church depends no less on the proper care of these than does the honor of the body upon the adorning of the less honorable, or the veiling of the uncomely members. [“It is an instinct of grace to honor most those members of the Church who least attract admiration.” Hodge]. By way of completeness he adds,—For our comely parts have no need:—i.e. , to have such care bestowed on them. [They are in fact in a measure neglected. The face goes uncovered, the hands and often the feet are left bare, because their exposure involves no disgrace].—But God hath tempered the body together,—There are two constructions here: 1. That of Lachmann and Meyer, who take this clause as directly antithetic to what precedes, and put only a comma after έ̓χει. In this case ἡμῶν would be dependent on οὐ χρείαν έ̓χει and stand in contrast with ὀθέος, so as to read: ‘our uncomely parts have no need of us; but God hath,’ etc. Such a construction, however, would not conform to the analogy of τὰ� [and it is rejected by Alford, Stanley, and Wordsworth.] Or 2, which is preferable, a period may be put after ἐχει, and the clause may be regarded as a more comprehensive statement of the relation of the members to each other in their higher destination and composition, in contrast with the view previously taken of them separately, and presenting the whole from a teleological stand-point. Ἀλλὰ, but, would then have a strongly adversative meaning.—[In his reference to the work of “God” he takes us back to the original creation of man, and points to the primitive constitution of things]. Συνεκέρασεν indicates such a mutual adjustment of the parts in the body as shall counterbalance differences, so that one part shall qualify another. So κεράννυμι is used to denote a tempering of parts by mixture; then, a pleasant harmonizing of contrasts bringing out from them an agreeable manifoldness and interchange, (compare Passow I. 2, p. 1707).—By way of more exact definition he adds,—having given more abundant honor to that which lacked.i.e., by making the uncomely parts essential to the well-being of the rest, and by diffusing a common life to all the members, so as to bring them into close sympathy one with another, and awaken in each an interest for all according to their several characters and conditions.—The object of this is next stated.—in order that there may be no schism in the body;—i.e., through the neglect of the inferior members on the part of the superior ones; or by the separation of the subordinate ones from the ruling members, because of their not receiving that consideration and care which is due to them as members of one body. There is an allusion here to the schisms in the Corinthian Church, whose influence was felt also in the matter of the gifts in so far as they served to undermine or weaken the common fellowship.—but that the members should care one for another.—The use of the plural μεριμνῶσιν after a neut. plural nominative, is owing to the fact of his having personified the members.—The same, τὸ αὐτό, i.e., in a harmony that is opposed to all schism by virtue of which each member has the same interest in charge, viz., the well being of all the rest. This thought is expressed still further by setting forth the mutual participation of all in the good or bad condition of the others severally, (comp. Romans 12:15).—And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it;—The verbs here fall away from their dependence on ί̓να, so as to indicate that the divine purpose before spoken of has already been realized. The conjunction “and” joins this lightly and yet closely to the final clauses, and to the main verb preceding, as a consequence resulting of itself, or establishing the truth of the case. The sympathy here spoken of implies not merely a common sense of the injury inflicted upon any one, but also an active effort to abate the pain and remove the cause. In this way the care, which one should take for the other, is properly carried out.—or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.—The honor here may be that which is conferred by apparel and ornament, and the like, as well as by the recognition of the beauty, strength, or utility thus obtained, on the part of the others (Meyer).—The ‘rejoicing’ is that satisfaction and sense of common well-being which arises by virtue of the organic connection between the members. But from this it does not follow that δοξάζεσθαι is=bene et feliciter haberi, “to be in prosperity and happiness” [Calvin]. Rather we might here suppose him to mean that fine development which ensues as the result of human care and divine providence (Osiander). On the whole, however, we had better abide by the common interpretation which well suits the personification employed, and the more so, because he is just passing over to the practical application. The Romish expositors with great impropriety deduce from the expression ‘rejoice with’ the doctrine of an overflow of merit from the saints upon the rest of the Church.—It is obvious from what has been said that Paul here meant to mortify the pride of the Corinthians who boasted of their more noted gifts, and did not take to heart the welfare or the suffering of the Church and its members.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28. He goes on to apply what has been said concerning the human body to his readers as a church of Christ, composed of individual members.—Now ye are the body of Christ—σῶμα χριστοῦ not a body of Christ, as though the churches were severally regarded as distinct bodies of Christ; rather each church is taken to represent the body of Christ, i.e., the whole of Christendom. Analogous to νάος θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 3:6 [see Winer, § XIX. 2 b.]. The figure of the church as Christ’s body frequently occurs, Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 4:4; Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 5:23; Ephesians 5:30; comp. Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24; Colossians 2:19; Colossians 3:15. Of this body Christ is the ruling and quickening Head.—and members in particular.—This he adds to distinguish the individuals from the whole church collectively; since they, in their several capacities only, could be regarded as members. The expression ἐκ μέρονς may be rendered either individually in particular, as elsewhere κατὰ μέρος and ἐπὶ μέρους; or, as a more exact qualification, proportionately, according to the share which each one has in the body of Christ, according to his place and function in the collective organism (Meyer and Osiander). The former rendering is obviously the more correct. To explain this clause of local churches as parts of the whole church, or of those more spiritually endowed, as if they exclusively were members of the church, is altogether untenable. This general application is now unfolded in detail. Passing from the simple division expressed by οὓς μὲν to a statement of orders in their several gradations; hence no οὓς δέ follows (as in Ephesians 4:11).—And some God set in the churchi.e., the church as a whole, because of the mention of Apostles who were preëminent over the whole body.—first apostles—being possessed of the fulness of all gifts. These occupy the highest rank (comp. on 1 Corinthians 1:1). They include not merely the original twelve, but Paul also, who, in consequence of the direct calling of Christ, occupied the same position towards the churches converted from heathenism, which the others did towards the churches converted from the Jews. But whether Barnabas and the like are to be included also, is less certain. [These have no successors, not even in the bishops, who are supposed to be their spiritual lineage. “They were the immediate messengers of Christ, rendered infallible as teachers and rulers by the gift of plenary inspiration.” Hodge]. Next follow those who are limited to particular gifts, and are only indirectly called—secondly prophets, thirdly teachers.—These are distinguished just as the gift of inspired utterance through a direct revelation (comp. on 1 Corinthians 12:9) affording deeper glances into the spirit world, is distinguished from the acquired ability for calmly unfolding Christian truth and furthering its comprehension. While, as a general rule, the prophets (as well as the evangelists, Ephesians 4:11) occupy a more extended sphere of labor, standing in this respect more nearly to the Apostles (comp. Acts 15:32), the teachers usually discharged their functions in particular churches (Ephesians 4:11). We find the two classes also associated in Acts 13:1; but here those are included under the term teachers, who were called to a more comprehensive range of duty. Out of the above mentioned gifts the teacher possessed preëminently “the word of knowledge.”—From the concrete he next passes over into the abstract, designating not persons, but offices (reversing Romans 12:6 ff.); not because there was a lack of concrete terms, but for the sake of change. Neander says, however: “because the gifts he proceeds to enumerate were not so definitely and continuously connected with certain persons,” [“but were granted promiscuously to all orders in the church.” Alford].—after that miracles,—sc. ̓ έ̓θετο in the sense of έ̓δωκεν, gave.—after that gifts of healings,—See on 1 Corinthians 12:9.—helps, governments,—The mention of these supplements and fills out the catalogue of 1 Corinthians 12:8 ff. The things themselves belong to the more practical departments of church life. The former (comp. 2Ma 8:19; Sir 11:12, and the verb Luke 1:54; Acts 20:35) denotes such assistance as is rendered by the diaconate for the relief of the poor and sick, etc.; and the second, the functions of church administration and polity as discharged by elders, bishops, pastors, rulers, presidents, or moderators. To refer the former to the higher department of government, because it stands first [as Stanley does, who says: “ἀντιλήψις, as used in the LXX., is not (like διακονὶα) help ministered by an inferior to a superior, but by a superior to an inferior (see Psalms 89:18; Eccles. 11:12; 51:7)”], comports neither with the meaning of the word, nor with the circumstances of the primitive church; besides, the order of rank was given up, when the employment of abstract terms began.—lastly divers kinds of tongues.—This is mentioned last, not for the purpose of assigning the overestimated gift to the lowest place; for, as just said, the order of rank is not strictly followed in the enumeration; but rather because of its singularity (Meyer), or because he has to deal with this especially in his subsequent exposition (Osiander).—He passes over the gifts of ‘interpretation of tongues’ and ‘discernment of spirits,’ but mentions them again in 1 Corinthians 12:30, where, however, ‘helps and governments’ are omitted. Were it desirable now to classify the gifts and offices specified in this chapter, we might arrange them thus: 1. The gifts of knowledge, of word and of doctrine, viz., “the word of wisdom,” “the word of knowledge,” “teachers,” “prophets,” and “the discerning of spirits;” 2. Gifts of power and deed, viz., “miracles” and “healings,” with their root, “faith;” 3. Gifts of practical life, viz., “helps” and “governments;” 4. Gifts of ecstatic inspiration and utterance, viz., “divers kinds of tongues” supplemented by “the interpretation of tongues.” We might perhaps put under the same head “prophecy” and “speaking with tongues,” together with the gifts belonging to these, viz., gifts of direct inspiration manifesting itself, partly with a clear self-consciousness, as in prophecy, supplemented with the power of discernment for its eclaircissement and the maintenance of its purity; and partly, in ecstasy with unintelligible utterance, i.e.., speaking with tongues, supplemented with interpretation for the purpose of church edification, and so for the attainment of the great end for which all gifts were given—the general profit. To reckon the Apostles among the first class (Meyer), is hardly fit, since, in accordance with their high comprehensive position in the church, they embraced all the gifts in their possession. It must be affirmed, however, that more or less uncertainty must always attend this matter of classification, since there must have been a combination of different gifts oftentimes in the same person, e. g., the word of wisdom and prophecy.21

1 Corinthians 12:29-31. He continues his application, pronouncing still further against all exclusive regard for particular gifts; since it was impossible for all to have one alone, but diversity or distribution were necessary.—Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all miracles?—It is debated whether the last (δυνάμεις) is in the nominative or objective governed by have (έ̓χουσιν) in the next clause, which, were this so, would occupy a remarkable place in the series of questions. If, however, it be nominative, it is the abstract term for the concrete—‘workers of miracles’ (comp. Acts 8:10; Colossians 1:16; Romans 8:38), just as we call men of great power, powers.—do all speak with tongues? do all prophesy? [“As in the body all is not eye, or all ear, so in the church all have not the same gifts and offices. These God distributes as He pleases; all are necessary and the recipients of them are mutually dependent. None must be discontented, none must boast.” Hodge]. Next follows an exhortation.—Buti.e., though all gifts have their value and are conferred by God, yet some are more valuable than others,—be zealous for—such can only be the meaning of the verb ζηλο ῦτε, as in 1Co 14:1; 1 Corinthians 14:39.—the better gifts,—or according to another reading (see critical notes)—the greater gifts.—By these he means those best suited to the attainment of the object of all gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7). This is a remarkable injunction when viewed in the light of 1 Corinthians 12:11, where the Spirit is said to “distribute unto each man severally as He will.” To reconcile the seeming inconsistency some interpret the ‘gifts’ here to mean moral Christian virtues, such as faith and love, which ought to be sought by all; but this is contrary to the use of the word in this epistle, and also to the context and the exposition which follows. Others interpret ζηλοῦτε as denoting zeal in improvement of the gifts bestowed, contrary to 1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Corinthians 14:39 (Joel 2:18; Zechariah 1:14; Zechariah 8:2; 2 Samuel 21:2, do not belong here). Others, again, translate this verb as in the indicative, q. d., ‘ye in your opinion are seeking;’ others, as a question continuous of that in ver.29, and regarding both as implying rebuke. But this does not suit; since in what follows nothing is set over against the thing rebuked; for the conjunction which follows is καὶ not δέ. Nor yet is there any need of such a construction. Neither can we construe the verb as implying merely a wish, desire or prayer; for this is contrary to the meaning of the word.—Paul is here speaking of the duty of cultivating in ourselves those powers and qualities which may be sanctified and exalted into charisms by the power of the Spirit, [“and we may notice that the greater gifts, those of prophecy and teaching, consisted in the inspired exercise of conscious faculties, in which culture and diligence would be useful accessories.” Alford]. This of course is far different from the effort which the Pantheists make to turn the exercises of their own spirits into a sort of divine revelation. What is inculcated is simply the preparation of the mind which fits it for the divine blessing, just as tillage prepares the soil for the genial influences of the sky. “Paul everywhere presupposes that the divine operation can never take place in man without a cooperating receptivity on his part.” Neander. That this endeavor should not be directed out of vanity to gifts less valuable because less subservient to the one great end of edification, but rather to those which are preëminent in this respect, does not conflict with that unenvying contentment which he had inculcated above; and it is in any case more in conformity with the meaning of the word ζηλοῦτε than if we said with Osiander, that it referred more to the exercise of the gifts already had, than to the seeking for them, whether we regard the exhortation as directed to the church as a whole which regulated the employment of the gifts, or to the individuals, endowed with them.—In this endeavor for the best gifts a vigorous spiritual life and a pious zeal for furthering the common welfare are apt to show themselves. This is indicated in what follows, when we are told that this zeal is displayed in the way of love which is the true guide of all these endeavors. As Neander says: “Paul shows us that the best way for discovering the better gifts is through love. In his estimation love is the standard by which the worth of the gifts is to be determined.”—And yet—besides exhorting you to be thus zealous—I show unto you a very excellent way.—καθ ὑπερβολβολὴν belongs to ὁδὸν, way, in the sense of ὐπερέχουσαν, superior, very excellent, as explained by Chrys. and Theoph., entirely in accordance with Greek usage. Bengel says: viam maxime vialem. If we connect it with the verb as in some versions, it yields no fitting sense, whether we translate it ‘abundantly,’ or ‘in a remarkable manner;’ it would be a rare compliment to his own mode of instruction;—nor yet can we take the phrase comparatively ‘more excellent,’ as exalting love above the charisms (Rückert [and the E. V.]), or as implying something superior to being zealous for the best gifts. For this the context affords no warrant. [“The idea is not that he intends to show them a way that is better than seeking gifts, but a way par excellence to obtain those gifts.” Hodge. So also Alford.]


1.Christianity superior to heathenism in the matter of truth and its tests. In heathenism there rules a dark and soul-darkening power by which its devotees are blindly impelled. There they have no revelation—no Spirit diffusing life and light, but only beguiling error and the treachery of priest-craft and soothsaying, of oracles and magic. There everything tends to keep down the people in a state of childish ignorance and benighted dependence. Precisely the opposite of this is seen in Christianity—the truth and radiance, the light and life of the Divine Spirit; hence also an elevation to maturity and independence; hence the free offer of tokens by which to test the truth. For a Christian is one who is said to know why and in whom he believes; who does not suffer himself to accept the fair show of higher powers without ascertaining the real character of what thus challenges his confidence and seeks to influence him—what it aims at, and whence and with what authority it comes. He is one furnished with a sure token of truth in the relation which anything sustains to Christ—that Being from whom all spiritual light and life descend. Whatever tends to disparage Christ, or His words, or His merits, or His exclusive availability for our religious well being—whatever tends to set aside His person as He was originally exhibited to us, and as He insists on being regarded both by His own declaration and that of His accredited heralds—whatever tends to the denial of His absolute worth for us, and of His unrivalled dignity in Himself, can never proceed from the Spirit of God. On the contrary, whatever tends directly to glorify Christ and to confirm His truth, and to maintain His saving power—whatever exalts Him as the all-sufficient Savior and the absolute trust-worthy Lord—whatever conducts to Him and ascribes to Him the honor in all things—this is of the Spirit. By such tokens are the operations of the Spirit of God ascertained; to these can we confidently hold fast and thus be furthered in knowledge and in all true piety.

[Herein we see the perfect concurrence between Christ and the Holy Ghost, and how they bear witness to each other. The Holy Ghost testifies of Christ, and the genuineness of His testimony is ascertained by its relation to what we already know of Christ in His Word].
2. Nature and grace essentially harmonious and analogous. If by nature we understand human life as withdrawn from the controlling power of the Divine Spirit, and hence as godless and sinful (as the word is sometimes used), then is there between this and grace the strongest antagonism. But they stand together in most perfect correspondence when we consider nature as creaturely life, disposed and ordered by the Creator’s will. This, so far as it is organized and develops itself in the power of that will, furnishes a fit substratum for all renewing and sanctifying influences that are to fashion it in harmony with the Divine idea. Of these influences the chief is that which we denominate grace, i.e., Divine love in its redeeming and healing power; and this in its relation to nature is a salutary and not a destructive or disturbing force. This truth is clearly manifested in the gifts of the Holy Ghost. In these we discover a spiritual organization which has its proper analogon in our physical organization. Here there is one whole—a totality consisting of various parts, mutually supplementing and serving each other, all harmoniously articulated by one common principle, and working for one and the same end—the preservation of our natural life. And so, too, is that spiritual organization one perfect whole, consisting of manifold powers which, with their functions and operations, have all the same vital principle, viz., the one Spirit, the one Lord, the one God; and they operate for the same end, viz., the increase of the body of Christ. For this reason they are joined together in mutual supplementation and subserviency, as are likewise those who exercise them—persons endowed with manifold capacities of soul and body. These, by virtue of that one Spirit actuating them from within, are all members of the church,—each one indeed constituting with his own specialty one self-included whole; yet by the energy of the Divine love, which is shed abroad through them all, each is united with the rest, so that each specialty with its own peculiar qualities quickened by the Spirit, serves and helps the others, forming together with them one higher complex life. This specialty consists in the peculiar activity or spontaneous movement of one particular kind of natural talents, while the rest remain in a passive or recipient state; so that in respect to the former there is a direct proffer of good, a furnishing of aid, while in respect to the latter there is a need of help, and a condition to partake of the good which the others have to bestow through their particular advantages. In this way a rich manifold spiritual life is produced. The advantage which each one possesses belongs in like manner to all the rest.

In this communion the apparently insignificant member is raised by a fellowship with the higher, since it partakes of the gifts which the higher enjoys, according to its own capacity; and it in turn comes to their aid, and is by them acknowledged and esteemed as indispensable. Thus a beautiful temperamentum—a balancing of parts—ensues which gives to the whole a harmonious character. The high looks not down scornfully upon the low; nor does the low look up enviously at the high, or fling itself away in self-contempt. But each rejoices in the society of members whom it can in some way assist with its own gift.

In this spiritual organization, however, that mutual concurrence which in the natural body goes on instinctively and unconsciously, is maintained with a clear, intelligent self-determination, and in the exercise of a conscious love, and through a sense of church union, that goes on unfolding itself in wishes and efforts for the common good, all having their common principle in that faith which recognizes and honors God’s gifts wherever seen, and seeks to improve them according to the Divine intent.
3. Spiritual giftstheir distinctive character. In these gifts our natural dispositions and talents are so possessed by the Spirit as to recover their original condition and use, as formed in accordance with the Divine image. This possession by the Spirit results, partly, in giving to any talent already cultivated only a new direction towards the highest end, viz., the kingdom of God, so that its capacities are exercised within this sphere; thus the matter on which it acts is changed, and its form also somewhat modified; and, partly, in arousing a slumbering talent to action, so that it appears as something new which the Spirit of Christ has for the first time summoned forth. In thus awakening and sanctifying our natural talents, the Spirit acts as a voluntary agent, according to His own free will, directed with reference to the necessities of the church or of the individual, so that no one deemed worthy of so gracious a gift, can pride himself by reason of it, and no one on whom a lesser gift has been bestowed, has occasion to complain of himself.

The various endowments, however, stand related to the manifold forms and powers of our natural life. In one person an intuitive knowledge is awakened and fashioned into an ability to apprehend profoundly and comprehensively the plans and purposes of God’s providence. In another, a capacity for investigation and scientific statement is awakened and directed towards the highest problems of human thought. In another, the shaping power of imagination—an ability to speak in a vivid and glowing style, is employed and sanctified to set forth the mysteries of the kingdom of God and its future developments, or the hidden experiences of the inward life. In another, the critical, analytic power is so enlightened that it is enabled to separate between the true and the false in religious things, discerning between genuine spiritual influences, and spurious excitements. In another, the energies of the will are roused, so that by taking hold believingly on the Divine omnipotence as proffered in the promises, it can, through prayers and strong consolations, work out superhuman results, heal diseases, relieve infirmities, and create or remove whatever needs to be established or put away for the glory of God and the interests of His kingdom. To these we may add a talent for all sorts of charitable service in rendering timely and suitable aid to the poor, the sick, and the distressed. And finally, a talent for governing within a greater or lesser sphere with all circumspection, and power, and energy, and patience, according to the requirements of times and persons. In all this there exists a wealth of spiritual operations and a copiousness of moral tasks, through the performance of which the highest ethical work of art is brought to its completion. There is here a Divine operation running through every thing and determining our natural life in its manifold capacities, which, however, as the operation of a personal God in beings destined to a personal life, is one which develops a free individual action, and is glorified by it.
[4. One peculiarity of the Gospel, as contrasted with the law, is, that church offices presuppose spiritual endowments; the office falling not, as of old, to the next casual successor, but to those qualified for it; and the qualifications springing directly from Christ, present by His Spirit in the midst of His people. The warrant for exercising the office is, in the first instance, and before it is any thing else, the possession of the gifts of the Spirit, who, in this matter, refuses to be tied to any external prescription, and divideth to every man severally as He will. See Litton, Church of Christ, p. 372 ff.].

[5. Gifts and offices not commensurate either in number or kind. The gifts were numerous, bestowed in accordance with the necessities of particular times and circumstances. Some were transient and some permanent, but the offices, with the exception of that of the Apostles, are permanent; and what they are is to be ascertained from other portions of Scripture. Hence it must be supposed that several gifts were conferred upon the same individual, and that they were exercised often by private persons, without any official authority, but under the simple warrant of possessing the gift].

[6. The gifts with which the early believers were endowed were all earnests of the promised Redemption,—pledges presented to the church at its very start, of the final victory which it will achieve over the whole realm of nature, when its true idea as the kingdom of God shall be fully realized, and all things shall be made subject to it in Christ. They were at the same time designed to be signs unto the world of the presence of a Divine power in the church, demanding of it faith and homage; and must ever be had in the church according to the exigencies of her position—some permanent, some transient. See Edward Irving’s Discourse on The Church with its endowment of Holiness and Power. Collected writings, Vol. V. p. 450 ff.].

[7. The doctrine of the Trinity. In this chapter, especially in 1 Corinthians 12:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:6; 1Co 12:12-13; 1 Corinthians 12:27-28, we have the three factors of the Christian Godhead plainly brought to view: I. in their diversity, under separate names and functions; II. in their personality as acting with conscious intelligence; III. in their unity, as testifying of each other, performing parts of the same great work, and all carrying the attributes of divinity, yet in such a way that there are not three Gods, but one God. Thus we have God the Father, the first Source and Operator of all spiritual influences, and in relation to Him these influences are called “operations;” God the Son, the Lord of the Church, and the Ordainer of all the ministries therein by which these influences are brought into exercise; and in relation to Him they are termed “ministrations;” God the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father through the Son, dwelling in and animating and sanctifying and binding together the whole church into one body—one living organism, and imparting to each member such measure of power and grace as pleases Him; and so in relation to Him these influences are termed “gifts.” Thus we have the Trinity in unity shown to underlie the whole work of Redemption in its original plan and continued execution].

Obs.:—The subject of speaking with tongues is reserved for further inquiry, and has not therefore been taken under consideration in these comments.



1 Corinthians 12:1. Gifts of miracles, and gifts for sanctification are to be distinguished; with the former not only apostles, but also many believers have been endowed for the sake of winning unbelievers; but the latter are necessary for all, in order to faith, love, and the worthy exercise of all Christian virtues.

1 Corinthians 12:2. Well is it for him who knows what he has been, what he is, and what he shall be.—To think of our origin, and our former state, incites to humility, and keeps us from becoming elated with the gifts we have received (1 Corinthians 4:7; Genesis 32:10).


1 Corinthians 12:3. He who honors and confesses Christ, and shuns no danger for His sake, gives strong evidence of his sincerity. Nevertheless we must distinguish between saying and doing, boasting and performing. Many have only the show and speech of Christians; it is all nothing, their aim and action betray them. Rub the coin, and you will see the copper.

1 Corinthians 12:4. If there is one Spirit, why enviest thou? It is a shame for those who work on the same building to take it ill, because one builds above and another below. Let each one pass for what he is worth. Be thou nothing in thine own eyes, but faithful in thy work, according to the extent of thine ability. O, that the members might once agree! What an amount of good would then ensue! But no, the devil sunders all through envy, and avarice, and ambition.

1 Corinthians 12:5. Divine grace is the true cornucopia out of which we can obtain all blessings, yea, a superabundance of gifts, and powers, and goods.

1 Corinthians 12:7. All gifts and aptitudes are conferred for the benefit of the church. He who perverts them to his own honor and use, perpetrates a sort of church-robbery, and is deserving of punishment (Ephesians 4:15).

1 Corinthians 12:8. The glory of the Lord shines forth out of the gifts wherewith He has endowed one in preference to another. Hast thou great gifts, boast not; through small gifts God can accomplish great things. Hast thou small gifts, be not impatient and envious; God knows how much oil suits thy little cruse. The faith of miracles helps nothing towards salvation. Art thou blest with a sanctifying faith, thank God for this glorious gift (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

1 Corinthians 12:10. Watchful men, who have understanding to prove all things, are to be highly regarded as a gift of God; and they must withstand the introduction of false prophets into the church of God for true ones.

1 Corinthians 12:11. He who is not content with his gift, finds fault with the all-wise God, and vexes himself about it in vain.

1 Corinthians 12:12. As the head is united with the body, so is Christ united with his faithful ones (Colossians 1:18).

1 Corinthians 12:13. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper should remind us of our brotherly union. Through the former we become Christ’s members; through the latter we are ever more closely united with His body; and the longer it is observed, the more do we partake of the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 12:14. Let the number of thy bodily members awaken in thee much holy astonishment, much gratitude, and much care not to offend thy Creator with any one of them.

1 Corinthians 12:15-20. As in the human body each member has a special function for the good of the whole, so has every Christian a special gift from the Holy Spirit for the use and edification of Christendom. As one member has a larger and higher capacity than another, so also among Christians, one has more and richer gifts than another.

1 Corinthians 12:21. Those who have a keen insight into divine things (eyes) cannot dispense with those who hold practical offices (hands); the rulers (the head) cannot dispense with those who above all others bear the burdens of the church (feet).—The number, variety, and needs of the members and servants of the church, are in their inter-dependence necessary to it.—The highest of all needs the lowest of all, and so vice versa (Philippians 2:25).

1 Corinthians 12:22 f. Those members in the spiritual body which are the weakest, and from which the church derives the least honor, should for this reason be maintained with the greatest care and patience.

1 Corinthians 12:24. God has wisely ordained that each one should abide in his own order; but men disturb the order, and dishonor the members which might and ought to be held in the highest honor, and adhere to others with a foolish pride, even when they have but little need of them (1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Isaiah 3:18 f).

1 Corinthians 12:25. The humblest Christian has as much in Christ, and is as truly a member of His body as the most distinguished. For this reason also there ought to be no divisions among Christian believers, but rather a loving union (Ephesians 4:3; Ephesians 4:15).

1 Corinthians 12:26. This is the true communion of the spiritual body of Christ, when we feel and experience its weal and its ill, the one to our joy, and the other to our sorrow (Romans 12:15 f).

1 Corinthians 12:27. Believers are all members of Christ, have one Head, and stand together in the unity of the faith and of the Spirit, so that they serve themselves of each other, and take part in each other’s joys and sufferings. But each one is a distinct member who has his own peculiar gifts and qualifications, and with these he should serve the others.

1 Corinthians 12:28. The office of teacher is the most universal, and the most lasting, and embraces in itself, in part, professorships of the the higher and lower schools, wherein the teachers themselves are trained, and, partly, the office of pastor in the churches. Their position ought even at this day to give evidence of its divine character, in the true spiritual qualification and fidelity they exhibit, and in their simple obedience to the divine call, not running unless sent.

1 Corinthians 12:29 ff. Because no one has everything, but each has need of another, it becomes all to use their own gifts for the service of others in humility, self-discipline, order, and love.

1 Corinthians 12:31. A church-minister, indeed every Christian, may well bestir himself to excel others in gifts, provided he only use such gifts well and piously for the good of the church.

Spener:—This “excellent way” is a simple, true-hearted love, which in the eyes of many lofty spirits is a contemptible thing; yet it leads to the highest gifts, winding up a height so gradually that it takes a man at last to the loftiest summits without the slightest danger; while, on the contrary, those who are resolved on mounting straight up the rocks, fall headlong for the most part, or at last, cease from climbing, and find themselves obliged to choose the more gradual path.

Berlenb. Bibel:

1 Corinthians 12:1. Such spiritual gifts afterwards became altogether unknown; yet this same God is still Lord over all, and just as gladly distributes His spiritual gifts, provided only faithful recipients can be found, who would use them in love and fidelity, and put them to interest for the general good. Man readily pounces on that which strikes the eye, and hence is very apt to leave out of account those gifts which belong to the very essence of Christianity.

1 Corinthians 12:2. What is leading you now? Whither are ye bound? Take care lest under the name of Christianity you be betrayed into devious paths.—Man precipitates himself into idolatry, and even makes an idol out of himself.

1 Corinthians 12:3. If the Spirit of the crucified Saviour does not speak out of thee, then is all thy speech a disgrace to Him. The true knowledge of Jesus Christ in Spirit is the chief gift which will serve you as a proper sign. Other gifts without this even the devil may use for his own kingdom; but the Holy Spirit does not lead to the achievement of great things of which a man can boast, but to the humility of Jesus, who walked in the midst of sufferings. An infinite blessing is it, if the soul first recognizes Jesus as its Lord through the Holy Spirit; for as it is the Spirit Himself in us that confesses Christ to be a Lord, so does He fill us with faith, and love to Him. This is the blessed commencement of salvation.—1 Corinthians 12:4-6. God gives Himself to the church in manifold ways; but Satan seeks to pervert everything which God does.—If God confers extraordinary gifts, take them and learn to use them in subordination,—just as the Apostles did who abode in the Spirit of God, walked in His presence, meant well with the people, and so were in condition to oppose all abuses.—The various officers of the church should conspire to one result, for it is the same Lord on whom they all depend.—There may be never so many matters in hand, and never so many instrumentalities, yet all issue from the same God from whom the Spirit proceeds, and by whom the Son is begotten. The power of the Spirit works by the command of God in the name of Christ.—The more we allow our working to yield to His working, the greater will be our successes. It is idle to suppose that we can mark the presence of the Spirit in a little religious knowledge and in a few efforts though good in themselves; there must be in us a new spiritual life to give assurance of this. We must yield entirely to the influence of the Spirit, if we would have our work found perfect toward God.—Our growth is conditioned on holding fast to God by His Spirit. Those who have received Him, already understand this mystery, and see how it is that the Spirit always asks and receives in believers.

1 Corinthians 12:7. Let us, first of all, take care that we be found pure and well qualified before God, so that He may trust us with what is right. Above all things, let us remain humble and in the exercise of the best gifts; for it is not the gifts which make us blessed, but faith which works by love. Therefore let every one see that he is made properly a partaker of Christ himself, the highest gift. The incidental gifts will then come to us as supplemental. That which God finds ready in the soul, He can purify and elevate and make useful for His service. He works what and how He wills with our own peculiar endowments, so as to evoke our praise in view of His own wonderful doings.—Something good lies with every one by which he may serve God and his neighbor, and also earn to himself a good degree in the future. But it requires industry and constant self-watchfulness to be able to observe and trace out the object to which the dear God calls and draws us, and discover what His motive, His gift is, which works in us.

1 Corinthians 12:8. As wisdom is the gift of insight that enables us to look profoundly into things: knowledge on the contrary goes to the right appropriation of all the various divine doctrines, disciplines and testimonies.—As in God there is a depth of riches, both of wisdom and of knowledge, so there will also flow such power into the sucklings of his wisdom as to make them luminous within.

1 Corinthians 12:9. That saving faith, which seeks for mercy and purification through the blood of Jesus in the Holy Spirit, we all must have. But with this we can enter courageously upon everything, since the power of the Spirit waxes so strong in the soul through the new birth, that it is able to do all things in Christ, yea, even bind and constrain God Himself in faith, that He may show the wonders of his Omnipotence, Holiness, Wisdom, Goodness, in any particular matter, and in all circumstances in which His honor is involved. To this it may be added that by means of earnest prayer, many “a spirit of infirmity” may be driven out in faith.

1 Corinthians 12:10. In as much as there is such a diversity of spirits and powers, and the evil one gets up so many strange shows, and practises such trickery both before and in men, especially where something good exists, or is just coming to light, it is very needful to have the gift of testing and distinguishing between them. And this gift is imparted to many friends of God. Yet it becomes every Christian also to pray for something at least of this gift, in order to guard himself from treacherous men, who even transform themselves into angels of light.—By the gift of tongues the Spirit snatches again from Satan’s hand the plurality of tongues. Indeed, it is favor enough to be able to express the mind of the Spirit, and the divine mysteries, ways and purposes according to their proper grounds.

1 Corinthians 12:11. The chariot of God has several wheels; but it is one Spirit which drives the wheels and works all in all.—The Spirit leaves none empty save those whom it finds incapable and closed against His influences. In this matter He deals “as He will;” but He wills no otherwise than as He finds good and needful for each one.—If we would enjoy the true source and compendious summary of all divine gifts and powers, we ought continually to beseech God for His holy love, which is the inexhaustible treasure of all good. He who seeks this, hits the thing most surely, and continues guarded against the temptations which accompany all the higher gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:12. The members together with the Head form one Christ (Galatians 3:28). Christ stands for all. On this account His personality is preserved and the singular number maintained.

1 Corinthians 12:13. The two sacraments, i.e., the objects themselves which they represent, should so unite Christians that they will never suffer themselves to be separated from one another in regard to particular powers.—1 Corinthians 12:14-27. Do not be envious because thou canst not be as active as others. The question does not turn upon the magnitude of the work done, or upon thy sharp-sightedness or keenness of wit, but upon the state of thy heart and the quality of thy faith. Attend to thy business and be satisfied with thy lot. God will reward according to His will.—Since the church is a Lazaretto, we have most to do with the weakest. Nevertheless no man there exists in vain. The more humble and lowly a man is, the more does he deserve our esteem. Many a man whom the world despises, does greater works in secret than some great saints who parade themselves before the eyes of men. The wretched should be looked after. Those members which are the most needy, should be most cared for.—Members of one body should hold together in joy and sorrow. Insensibility is the mark of a putrefied or dead member. A true heart is not satisfied at having things go well with itself alone; hence it is wont to intrude unsolicited upon the wretchedness and sorrows of others. Those who maintain the appellation “Christ’s body and members” in truth, are of one heart and mind with the Head, follow Him wherever He goes and do what He wills.

1 Corinthians 12:28 ff. All must have the will to be helpers; but, in actual practice, some are better equipped for help than others.

1 Corinthians 12:31. All proper gifts come to us through the cross, or must be preserved by means of it.—Knowledge is not the best gift. God is love, and this is the first and most distinguished among the gifts of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22).

Rieger:—1 Corinthians 12:1-3. The spirit of the world has sometimes observed that it can never crowd Christ, and His kingdom, and the truth of His gospel entirely from the earth; for this reason it endeavors to introduce its spirit and work into Christianity. Hence the necessity, at all times, for proving false spirits and separating from them. The world of to-day has become so impatient and incredulous in respect to any great advantage arising from spiritual knowledge, gifts, operations, and experiences, that it is disposed to deride and bring into contempt everything which cannot be included under the law of nature and reason. The labor of proving much, and the danger of being betrayed strip it of everything. But on this very account does it plunge into the greatest self-deception. O Lord Jesus! whether I live or die, my communion with Thee is my boasting and my hope. This have I learned from Thy Holy Spirit, and in this truth do I ever desire to be led onward.—1 Corinthians 12:4-11. From the one fountain of the Spirit, opened through Jesus, ought we to learn to draw manifold streams, preserving the unity in the variety of the distribution. By means of gifts, offices, and powers, the Spirit commits Himself to the church for the common endowment of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ, and these things stand related to each other, and help towards the attainment of a common end. This mutual coöperation of powers, offices, and gifts, it is the more necessary to observe, the more secretly grace works, and imparts its blessings through the employment of our natural powers. Grace and its gifts certainly improve and elevate nature, but do not altogether change or absorb it. People of great natural powers often remain without grace, and hence without the gifts of the Spirit. With others the natural powers are comparatively small; but grace, and the gifts of the Spirit abundantly compensate for the defects. By wisdom we learn to recognize and experience the truth in its broader scope, and in its emancipating power. Knowledge occupies itself more with the truth in faith and act, and with instruction unto salvation, and draws more from the word of God than from all the works of God, and the wisdom manifest therein. As it regards the gifts of the Spirit, nothing can be merited, nothing affected, nothing forced. The Spirit gives and works as He will.—1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Men of the world love to overshadow the gifts of others by their own. Christians love to serve each other with the gifts which God has given them. The manifold necessities of our condition require a diversity of gifts. For the poor and the suffering, there is needed pity, and the ability to sympathize; for the sick, the old and weak, hands to give, and feet to carry; for the young, the ignorant, the erring, teachers who are furnished with eyes, and who are furnished with tongues, to speak at the right time; for those who are still afar off, but whom God will nevertheless call, those who are ready to proclaim the gospel; for those who are desirous of wisdom, help is furnished by still other gifts.—No one should undervalue himself, and still less should any one contemn another’s practice; all the members should care for each other, should rejoice and suffer in common. Away with that self-loving, self-pleasing creature, who thinks to make himself independent of his brethren! Away with all exultation in another’s fall, with whispering and slandering, with everything which leads to provocation, and jealousy, and separation, and confusion.—We strive after the best and most useful gifts when we approach the dear God with humility, faith, and prayer, beseeching Him that He will never suffer either His church, or ourselves to be wanting in good spiritual gifts, or in obedience, or in aptness to devote self to the common good; and when, to this end, we put out of the way everything which tends to produce contempt, and envy, and offence. There is more utility in the most perfect love than in all the highest gifts without it. Ah, Lord Jesus, show Thy living power in me, so that I may be found a steadfast, friendly, and useful member in Thy body!

Heubner:—1 Corinthians 12:1-11. The unity of all spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:1. Spiritual gifts may further much, and also do much damage. There is need of warning to prevent our being misled by gifted ones.

1 Corinthians 12:2. The living God only speaks and reveals Himself by His Spirit. He who does not know the true God and Christ is, nevertheless, betrayed, bewitched, or blinded by some idol. Satan leads men blindfold; they are compelled to go, with eyes bound, whithersoever sin leads them.

1 Corinthians 12:3. He who is truly inspired, can never doubt the truthfulness, the Word, or the divine mission of Jesus; he must entirely agree with the Word of Jesus. Where the church is in general repute, there men do not openly curse and anathematize it; but the secret hostility in the depths of the heart remains the same. Where Jesus is evil-spoken of, there a good spirit is wanting. The more sympathy exists with Christ, and the more harmony with the gospel, the more there is of the Spirit of God. In order to believe on Jesus with the whole soul, there is needed a heart enlightened and purified by the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 12:4. In the various spiritual gifts vouchsafed by Divine grace, or pervaded by the Holy Spirit, and destined for the service of the church, God glorifies Himself just as wonderfully as in the manifold works of nature.

1 Corinthians 12:5. In the call to any office there is this holiest and most constraining thought, the Lord chooses thee for His servant. This alone makes the office great; not external honor, and glory, and influence. A faithful school-master has just as high an office as the highest spiritual bishop.

1 Corinthians 12:6. In the office everything is wrought by means of the gifts. Of these God is the primal source. Thou canst not stir a finger except God wills.

1 Corinthians 12:8. Even the gift for inquiry and speculation must proceed from the Holy Spirit, otherwise it leads away from the truth.

1 Corinthians 12:9. It is not every believing Christian that has faith’s courage. Melancthon believed as much as Luther did in the atonement through Christ, but Luther’s heroic spirit he had not.

Besser:—1 Corinthians 12:4-6. As the sevenfoldness of the Spirit of God (Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:6; Zechariah 4:10) does not break up its unity, but is only an image of the manifold fulness which lies included in that unity, and which works itself out in a series of revealing acts, so the distinction or division in the gifts of grace does not destroy the unity of their origin and end; rather the personal unity of the Giver as well as the united membership of those endowed with the gifts, are thereby made known, so that the various gifts are parts of one whole, the one pointing to the other, and each completing each. The triune control of the three Divine persons runs through the church in the matter of its edification (although sanctification is in particular the work of the Holy Spirit); the Spirit kindles the fire of the gifts of edification, the Son orders the rays of the offices for edification, and the Father creates the warmth of the powers for edification. Inseparable in being, the triune God rules His church; what a crime then is it to produce schism therein.

1 Corinthians 12:7. Woe to the selfish and the carnal (1 Corinthians 3:3), who employ for schismatic ends that which was given them to subserve the general good of the whole body! And woe to that idle servant who buries his talent!

1 Corinthians 12:12. Christendom is not a collection of individual Christian persons who walk beside each other, each one for himself in his own way; neither is it a union of Christian friends, who have arbitrarily or voluntarily associated themselves after that they had separately become possessed of Christianity. But they are in a spiritual way, what the body is in a natural way;—one whole consisting of many parts that exist for each other, and subsist through each other.

[Scott:—1 Corinthians 12:15-25. “Our kind Creator hath effectually provided that there should be no schism in our natural body, but He has for wise reasons seen good to make trial of the members of the mystical body of Christ in this respect and through the remainder of error and sin in real Christians, through the intrusion of hypocrites and the artifices of the enemy; many disgraceful and lamentable divisions still prevail, which we should pray against, and endeavor to heal to the utmost of our power and with persevering earnestness”].

1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Pericope for the seventh Sunday after Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the highest of all God’s gifts: 1. In Himself, because the fountain of all true life; a. for without Him, man is far from God, a slave of the evil spirit (1 Corinthians 12:2); b. through Him, man first learns to believe in Christ and to worship Him (1 Corinthians 12:3). 2. Through His particular operations; a. He is the cause that everything serves for one end, viz., the glory of God and the salvation of men (1 Corinthians 12:4-7); b. He awakens the gifts and powers residing in each individual, and sanctifies them (1 Corinthians 12:11). The manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men: 1. In general, by regeneration and renewal; a. turning from sin and idolatry; b. turning to Christ. 2. In particular, by imparting various powers for the use of the Christian church; a. He arouses spiritual activity; b. He designates each one to his office; c. He makes each one an instrument of God; d. renders him. a blessing to the congregation.—1 Corinthians 12:12-31. The perfect unity of Christians is grounded in Christ, and is preserved through Him. The church is a spiritual body: 1. One whole like the body; 2. Pervaded by the Spirit of its Head, as the body is by one living power; 3. Diversity of powers and functions, as of members; 4. All serving one as all members work toward one object; 5. Mutual imparting of the powers of life,—edification, (health),—contamination, (disease); the more sound blood in the rest, the more ready healing of the sick; 6. Combination, even for particular objects, societies, brotherhoods, which may not, however, sever themselves from each other, but must remain united in one whole,—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the means of union, their efficient principle, the Spirit.—Neither lowliness nor exaltedness of station releases from obligation to the church. Every legitimate and necessary calling forms a member of the same; a sorry notion is it to think of withdrawing oneself under certain pretexts from taking part in laboring for its welfare.—All love is service, living for others. This pre-supposes manifoldness; without manifoldness there is no society, the very essence of which is the union of the manifold for one end. What each one should be and do, that God has ordained; to each one has He appointed his position and calling and activity and worth. No one prescribes to Him aught. Let each one only learn what God wills of him. He who is dissatisfied with this arrangement, quarrels with God. The glory of each one consists in being that for which God has called, endowed, and created him.—Without a variety of members, the body would be one formless lump.—No member should think that he stands in no need of another.—The mutual influence of the members is grounded upon the most intimate sympathy. The life of a Christian church should be a constant spiritual intercourse, a circulation of spiritual blood. The more intimate this mutual participation is, the more perfect the life and soundness of the whole. Should stagnation occur, the whole suffers. Each person can be only one thing, and should therefore not desire to have another office.—The office, not even though it be the highest, gives no claim to salvation. Only the absolute gift, that of love, of the pure heart ensures this. The most excellent way is not that which leads to eternal preferment, but that which gives the highest value to the heart.

[Harless, Serm.:—1 Corinthians 12:1-11. The blessings accruing from the communion in Christ. I. It delivers us from the dumb idols which we serve. II. This it accomplishes through the unity of the Spirit—which, III. teaches us to serve in the manifoldness of our gifts, offices and powers—4., the one Lord Jesus Christ.


1 Corinthians 12:4. The Christian Pentecost, or the solemn effusion of the Holy Ghost in the several miraculous gifts conferred upon the Apostles and first Christians. I. What those gifts were. II. What is imported and to be understood by their diversity. 1. It includes variety. 2. It excludes contrariety. III. What are the consequences of this emanation of so many and different gifts from one and the same Spirit. 1. We infer the deity of the Holy Ghost. 2. We infer the duty of humility in some, and contentment in others.

3. We have here a touchstone for the trial of spirits.

Robertson:—The dispensation of the Spirit. I. Spiritual gifts conferred on individuals. 1. Natural—i.e., those capacities originally found in human nature elevated and enlarged by the gift of the Spirit. II. Supernatural—e. g., gift of tongues and of prophecy. Obs. 1. The highest of these not accompanied with spiritual faultlessness. 2. Those higher in one sense were lower in another. 2. The spiritual unity of the church—“the same spirit.” 1. All real unity is manifold. 2. All living unity is spiritual, not formal—not sameness, but complexity. 3. None but a spiritual unity can preserve the rights both of the individual and the church. 4. The sanctity of the individual character respected.


1 Corinthians 12:11. Ministerial endowments the work of the Holy Spirit. I. Our Lord hath promised to be present with His church unto the end of the world. II. He is thus present principally and fundamentally by His Spirit. III. This presence of the Spirit is promised and given by an everlasting covenant. IV. Hence the ministry of the Gospel is “the ministry of the Spirit.” V. The general end why the Spirit is thus promised. VI. Particular proof of the proposition that the Holy Ghost thus promised, sent, and given, doth furnish ministers with spiritual abilities in the discharge of their work. VII. Spiritual gifts as bestowed unto this end are necessary for it. VIII. That there is a communication of spiritual gifts in gospel ordinances supported by experience. Prac. Obs. 1. The ministry of the gospel most difficult ministration, and great as difficult. 2. A glorious work. 3. The only effectual ministry.


1 Corinthians 12:12. The true Catholic and Catholic Church described, Doct. The universal church being the body of Christ, is but one, and all true Christians are members of which it doth consist. 1. Diversity of membership as to, 1. Age, or standing in Christ. 2. Strength. 3. Gifts. 4. Mental complexion. 5. Spiritual health. 6. Usefulness. 7. Office. 8. Employment. 9. Title to be loved and honored. 10. Glory. II. The unity of the membership. 1. All have one God the Father. 2. And one Head and Saviour Jesus Christ. 3. One Holy Ghost dwelling in, illuminating and sanctifying them. 4. One principal, ultimate end. 5. One gospel. 6. One kind of faith. 7. One new holy nature. 8. The same objects of affection, and the same affections. 9. One rule or law. 10. One and the same covenant. 11. The same instrumental founders of his faith under Christ. 12. Membership in the body. 13. Habitual love to every other member. 14. Special love to the whole body of the Church. 15. Special love towards the nobler sort of members. 10. An inward inclination to hold communion with fellow-members, so far as they are discerned to be members indeed. 17. An inward inclination for the means of grace. 18. The same holy employment. 19. An inward enmity to what is destructive to itself or to the body. a. to sin in general; b. to all known sin in particular; c. specially to divisions, distractions, and diminutions of the church. 20. The same crown of glory, the same blessed God, the same celestial Jerusalem, the same services of joy and praise. Application: 1. To those who deny the very being of the Catholic Church. 2. To those who are perplexed to know which is the church. 3. To the several sects that would appropriate the church to themselves only. 4. To the papists that ask for a proof of the continued visibility of our church, and where it was before Luther.


1 Corinthians 12:21. The least of service to the greatest].


1 Corinthians 12:2; 1 Corinthians 12:2.—The Rec. has ὅτι ἔθνη &c. But the omission both of ὃτε and of ὅτι [K.] may be explained by the attempt which was made to remove the anacoluthon in the original. [Griesbach, Lachmann (who however brackets ὃτε) Scholz, Tischendorf and Alford edit ὅτι, ὅτε before ἓθνη with A. B. C. D. E. L. Sinait. about 50 cursives, the Vulg. Syr. (later), Sahid. Aeth. (both), Arm. Slav, and very many Greek and Latin Fathers. The Rec. (Elz.), which gives ὅτι alone after ὄιδατε and before ἔθνη, is sustained by F. G., a number of cursives, the Syr. (Pesch.) Copt. Arab. (Erp.), Oecum. Ambrst. In addition to K. ὅτι (alone) has in its favor two copies of the Slav. Theodt. (comm.) Damasc. Oecum. (comm.) and Augustine C. P. W.] The authorities in support of ὅτι ὅτε are decisive.

1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 12:3.—The Rec. has κυρίον ’Ιηοουν, and also ἀνάθημα ’Ιησοῦν. The best MSS. have these nouns in the nominative. [Lachmann, Tisch. and Alford favor the nominative form, not only because the external authorities (A. B. C. Sinait. 4 cursives, and a number of versions and Fathers) are on their side, but because the accusative form seems an evident attempt to avoid the oratio directa. A few MSS. including the Vulgate have ’Ιησ. in the Genitive, and Κυρ. ’Ιησ. in the accusative.—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:6.—Tischendorf, after B. L. et. al. has καὶ ὁ αὐτὸς θεὸς ὁ, but the Rec. has ὁ δὲ αὐτός ἐστι θεός. But not only is there a disparity between the two phrases ὁ αὐτὸς δε͂ and ὁ δὲ αὐτός, but the most decisive authorities are against ἐστι, [The author would imply that it is hardly possible that καὶ ὁ αὐτὸς should have been an alteration from ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς, so as to conform to the previous phrases, especially when the first of those phrases (τὸ δὲ αὐτὸ) remained unchanged; and that ἐστι, being manifestly spurious, throws additional doubt over the whole reading. Without the εστι however, ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς has the support of A. K. L. Sinait., the Ital. Vulg. Syr. (both), Sahid. and several of the Greek Fathers.—C. P. W.]

[4][1 Corinthians 12:9.—The first δὲ is omitted by B. D. E. F. G. Sinait. the Ital. Vulg. Syr. (Pesch.) Clem. Orig. Ens. and the Lat. Fathers, but it is inserted by A. C. D. (2d and 3d hand) K. L. Sinait. (3d hand) many cursives, the Copt. Sahid. Syr. (later) Arab. (Par.) Slav. and nearly all the Greek Fathers.—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Corinthians 12:9.—The Rec. has αὐτῷ instead of ἑνὶ following A. B. [5 cursives, the Vulg. Didym. and a considerable number of the Latin Fathers.] But the αὐτῷ was substituted so as to conform to the preceding clauses, [It has however for it D. E. F. G. K. Sinait. the Syr., (both), Copt. Clem. Chrys. Theodt.—C. P. W.]

[6][1 Corinthians 12:10.—In each cage in which δὲ occurs in 1 Corinthians 12:10, some good MSS. are found to omit it, but the weight of authority is decidedly in its favor.—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:10.—Lachmann has διερμηνεία, but it is not sufficiently sustained. [Alford thinks it a mistake occasioned by the preceding δὲ. The substantive ἑρμηνεία occurs once again in this epistle (1 Corinthians 14:26), but the verb usually takes the form of διερμηνεύω (1 Corinthians 12:30; 1Co 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:13; 1 Corinthians 14:27-28). Hence perhaps the change. A. D. (1st hand, which also has confusedly διερμηνεία γένη γλωσσῶν) have διερμενια; B. 109 omit ἄλλῳ δὲ ἐρμ. γλωσσῶν; and C. D. (3rd hand) E. F. G. K. L. Sin. and the Greek fathers have ἑρμηνεία—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:12.—Rec. has το͂υ ἑνὸς after σώματος, but against the most decisive authorities.

1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:13.—Rec. has εἰς ἓν πνεῦμα, but εἰς is not sufficiently sustained. It was evidently occasioned by the first member of the sentence. The reading πόμα ἐποτίσθημεν originated in an attempt to make the meaning more evident, [Meyer says: According as the sense of the words was made to refer to the Lord’s Supper or not, sprung up the reading πόμα (with or without εἰς) instead of πνεῦμα, and ἐφωτίσθημεν (spoken according to the usage of the Greeks of baptism) instead of ἐποτίσθημεν. The reading ἕν πνεῦμα ἐποτίσ. is sustained by B. C. D. F. Sinait. some copies of the Vulgate, by the Syr. (Pesch.) Copt. Goth. Aeth. and most of the Greek writers. Instead of ἐποτίσ. A. has simply ἐσμεν.—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 12:20; 1 Corinthians 12:20.—A. C. D. (2d and 3d hand) E. F. G. K. L. Sinait. have μὲν, and it is adopted by Tischendorf and Alford; but it is omitted by B. D. (1st hand), two cursives, the Gothic and Augustine.—C. P. W.]

[11][1 Corinthians 12:21Tischendorf and Alford insert δὲ, following B. D. K. L. Sinait. the Syr. (Philox.) Goth and most of the Fathers.—C. P.W.]

1 Corinthians 12:24; 1 Corinthians 12:24.—Lachmann has ὑστερουμένῳ with A. B. C. [Sinait. 17, 57, 67, Melet (in Epiph.) Damasc] Nearly all the remaining MSS. have ὑστεροῦντι. [B. has τι περισσοτέρον δοὺς instead of περ. δ. τιμήν.—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 12:25; 1 Corinthians 12:25.—D. F. G. L. Sinait. and a number of versions and Fathers have σχίσματα, but the preponderance of authority is in favor of σχίσμα.—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 12:26; 1 Corinthians 12:26.—Lachmann has εἴ τι, but his authorities are not sufficient. [The first ἔν is omitted by A. and Orig., and the second by A. B. Sinait. The evidence for them is abundant.—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 12:27; 1 Corinthians 12:27.—Some MSS. have μέλους; Meyer. It was an error of some transcriber or from not understanding ἐκ μέρους.

1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 12:28.—Rec. has ἐ͂ιτα. The weight of authority is in favor of ἔπειτα. [Alford thinks the Rec. a correction to a more usual form, and the entire omission of the word which some respectable MSS. show, an attempt to throw all into one catalogue.—C. P. W.]

1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 12:31.—Tischendorf, and others edit μείζονα with A. B. C. [Sinait., eleven cursives, the ancient Syr. (Pesch.) and perhaps the later Syr. Aeth. and some Greek Fathers]; but the Rec. has κρείττονα which Meyer prefers. Very probably a change was made because κρείττονα seemed unpleasant, and on account of 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Corinthians 14:5. [Bloomfield, Lachmann, and Alford however agree with Tischendorf that the weight of evidence is in favor of μείζονσ.—C. P. W.]

[18] [The following classification following the distinction implied in ἑτερῷ and ἄλλῳ is suggested by Dr. Henderson as tending to show the “beautiful symmetry” of the passage:

I. To one, the word of wisdom.
2. to another, the word of knowledge.
II. To another, faith.
1. to another, gifts of healing.
2. to another, working of miracles.
3. to another, prophecy.
4. to another, discerning of spirits.
III. To another, divers kinds of tongues.
2. to another, interpretation of tongues.
Thus the first class includes “the word of wisdom” and “the word of knowledge.” Under the head of faith—that is, the faith of miracles—four kinds of gifts are enumerated: “gifts of healing,” “working of miracles,” “prophecy,” and “discerning of spirits;” while the third class includes “divers kinds of tongues,” and “the interpretation of tongues.” See Henderson on Inspiration, pp. 185–187].

[19] The proper definition of an organism is, a whole consisting of parts which exist and work each for all and all for each; in other words which are reciprocally related as means and end. But such a constitution can only be effected by the creative power of some vital principle working from within in accordance with its own specific law or norm. This it is which assimilates the material of which the organism is composed into one substance, preserves its identity amid all changes of form, and its unity through all diversity, and establishes and maintains the reciprocal action of the parts combining them in a sympathetic relation, and making them tributary both to the well-being of each other severally, and of the whole. In this respect an organism is essentially differenced from mechanism, which is somethingfashioned and put together by a power operating from without.

Now, since it is of the nature of all life to organize, there exists a striking analogy between all true organizations; and one serves well to illustrate another. The figure, therefore, Which runs throughout this chapter, rests on an essential analogy. The life of nature as operating in that most perfect of organisms, the human form very properly typifies the working of the Spirit of life in constituting the body of Christ, which is His Church. As might be expected, however, the latter organization, in proportion as it is higher, is more complex and far richer in its combinations and results. It is not for this reason any the less a real body, and all that may be asserted of the former holds literally good of the latter. The main difference lies in the nature of the vital principle which assimilates, shapes, and joins together the Church of God. The Spirit of life here is a Spirit of love, yea, is love itself, and the law which regulates its operations is the divine Word. He who lives in the Spirit loves;—The two words are no less identical in their root, than are the things which they describe. And love is from its very nature organic. It binds persons together in one vital communion; and being an intelligent principle, it hinds them together according to their distinctive qualities and gifts for the same holy end. Thus does it constitute the body of Christ,—one complex and glorious whole, countlessly diversified in its membership, yet fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, and growing up into Him in all things which is the Head, even Christ].

[20]So Hodge, who argues strenuously against supposing any allusion in this passage to either of the sacraments. And it must be confessed that the thought of such an allusion does not readily occur to the mind of a common reader. Scripture abounds in such figures as are here used without any possible reference either to the rite of baptism, or, of the Lord’s supper (comp., Matthew 3:2; John 1:33 : John 7:37). Yet the fact must be noted that the great body of ancient and early modern commentators, e. g., Luther, Beza, Calvin, Henry,’ Scott, interpret as Kling does, and all later ones of Sacramentarian proclivities like Wordsworth. Alford maintains an allusion to baptism only, in both the expressions in accordance with Chrys. Theoph. Bengol, Rückert, de Wette, Meyer, and others; while Barnes denies this, or maintains only the allusion to the supper in the second. The case hardly admits of being decided by argument, and will continue to be determined in accordance with the feelings and original preferences of different individuals. See Schleusner’s Lex. II., p. 671].

[21]Schaff proposes “a psychological classification, on the basis of the three primary faculties of the soul—they all being capable and in need of sanctification, and the Holy Ghost in fact leaving none of them untouched, but turning them all to the edification of the church. With this corresponds also the classification according to the different branches of the church life, in which the activity of one or the other of these faculties thus supernaturally elevated predominated. This would give us three classes of charisms: (1) those which relate especially to feeling and worship; (2) those which relate to knowledge and theology; (3) those which relate to will and church government. To the gifts of feeling belong speaking with tongues, interpretation of tongues, and inspired prophetic discourse; to the theoretical class, or gifts of intellect, belong the charisms of wisdom and of knowledge, of teaching and of discerning spirits; to the practical class, or gifts of will, the charisms of ministration, of government and of miracles. Faith lies back of all, as the motive power, taking up the whole man and bringing all his faculties into contact with the Divine Spirit, and under His influence and control”].

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-corinthians-12.html. 1857-84.
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