corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
1 Corinthians 12



Other Authors

CHAPP. 12–14.] ON THE ABUSE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS: especially PROPHESYING, and SPEAKING WITH TONGUES. The second particular requiring correction in their assemblies, see ch. 1 Corinthians 11:18, note. Chrys. well says: τοῦτο ἅπαν τὸ χωρίον σφόδρα ἐστὶν ἀσαφές· τὴν δὲ ἀσάφειαν ἡ τῶν πραγμάτων ἄγνοιά τε καὶ ἔλλειψις ποιεῖ τῶν τότε μὲν συμβαινόντων, νῦν δὲ οὐ γινομένων. Hom. xxix. p. 257.


Verse 1

1.] δέ transitional. Some have thought that the Corinthians had referred this question to the Apostle’s decision: but from the οὐ θέλω ὑμ. ἀγνοεῖν, it rather looks as if, like the last, it had been an abuse which he had heard of, and of his own instance corrects.

τ. πνευματικῶν] Most likely neuter, as ch. 1 Corinthians 14:1, spiritual gifts: so Chrys., Theophyl., Œc(53), Beza, Calov., Est., al., De Wette, and Meyer:—not masc., as ch. 1 Corinthians 14:37; so Grot., Hammond, al., and Locke, who maintains that the subject of this section is not the things, but the persons, quoting ch. 1 Corinthians 14:5. But surely the things are the main subject, enounced here, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, and treated of through the rest of the chapter; the inspired persons being mentioned only incidentally to them. Others, as Storr, Billroth, Wieseler cited by Meyer, and De W., limit τὰ πν, to the speaking with tongues, which indeed is mainly treated of in the latter part of the section (see ch. 1 Corinthians 14:1): but here the gifts of the Spirit generally are the subject.

οὐ θέλω ὑμ. ἀγν.] Theodor.-mops(54) cited by Meyer: θέλω ὑμᾶς καὶ τῶν πνευματικῶν χαρισμάτων εἰδέναι τὴν τάξιν, ὥστε βούλομαί τι καὶ περὶ τούτων εἰπεῖν. See reff.

Verses 1-3

1–3.] The foundation of all spiritual utterance is the confession of Jesus as the Lord: and without the Spirit, no such confession can be made.

Verse 2

2.] Reason why they wanted instruction concerning spiritual gifts—because they once were heathen, and could not therefore have any experience in spiritual things. Thus Meyer, and so far rightly: but the stress of this reason lies in the words ἄφωνα and ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε, which he has not sufficiently noticed:—Ye know (that) when ye were Gentiles (the construction is an anacoluthon, beginning with οἴδατε ὅτι, and then as if οἴδατε ὅτι had been merely a formula for ‘ye know,’ passing into the construction so common, that of placing ὅτε after such verbs as μέμνημαι, οἶδα, ἀκούω, and the like, an ellipsis taking place of τοῦ χρόνου, as Lysias actually fills it up in one place, ἐκείνου τοῦ χρόνου μνησθέντας, ὅτε … in Poliuch. ( περὶ δημεύσεως κ. τ. λ.), p. 151, 34. Thus Il. ξ. 71, ᾔδεα μὲν γὰρ ὅτε πρόφρων δαναοῖσιν ἄμυνεν: Plato, Menon, p. 79, μέμνησαι ὅτʼ ἐγώ σοι ἄρτι ἀπεκρινάμην. See more examples in Kühner’s Gr. Gramm. ii. 480) led about ([or, carried away] ἀπαγ. not necessarily, ‘led wrong;’ and the context seems rather to favour the idea of being ‘led at will,’ blindly transported hither and thither,—and so De W., and Estius, “qualitercunque, temere, pro nutu ducentium, et huc illuc illos circumagentium, abductos fuisse”) to idols which were without utterance (‘the God in whom you now believe is a living and speaking God—speaking by his Spirit in every believer: how should you know any thing of such spiritual speech or gifts at all, who have been accustomed to dumb idols?’), just as ye happened to be led (scil., on each occasion: the force of ἄν being to indicate the indefiniteness, i.e. in this case, the repetition of the act: so Xen. Anab. i. 5. 2: οἱ μὲν ὄνοι, ἐπεί τις διώκοι (whenever any followed them) προδραμόντες ἂν εἱστήκεισαν,—and Eurip. Phœn. 401: ποτὲ μὲν ἐς ἦμαρ εἶχον, εἶτʼ οὐκ εἶχον ἄν. See other examples in Kühner, ii. 93, 94). These last words seem to me to imply the absence of all fixed principle in the oracles of Heathendom, such as he is about to announce as regulating and furnishing the criterion of the spiritual gifts of Christendom. This ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε might take a man to contradictory oracles, the whole system being an imposture—their idols being void of all power of utterance, and they being therefore imposed on by the fictions of men, or evil spirits, who led them. Chrys., Œc(55), Theophyl., make this refer to the difference between the heathen μάντις, who was possessed by an evil spirit, and therefore εἵλκετο ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος δεδεμένος, οὐδὲν εἰδὼς ὧν λέγει, and the Christian προφήτης,—which however is entirely unwarranted by the context.

Verse 3

3.] The negative and positive criteria of inspiration by the Spirit of God: viz. the rejection, or confession, of Jesus as the Lord.

διό, ‘because ye have been hitherto in ignorance of the matter.’

ἐν πν. θεοῦ ἐν πν. ἁγ.] The Spirit of God, or the Holy Ghost, is the Power pervading the speaker, the Element in which he speaks. So Schöttgen, on Matthew 22:43, quotes from the Rabbis, ‘David saw, ברוח הקדש in the Holy Spirit.’

λαλῶν λέγει] On the difference of meaning between λαλῶ, ‘to discourse,’ ‘to speak,’ and λέγω, ‘to say,’ the former of the act of utterance absolutely, the latter having for its object that which is uttered, see note on John 8:25. In all the seeming exceptions to this, λαλῶ may be justified as keeping its own meaning of ‘to discourse:’ we may safely deny that it is ever ‘to say’ simply.

ἀνάθ. ἰης.] Jesus (not Christ, the Name of office, itself in some measure the object of faith,—but Jesus, the personal Name,—the historical Person whose life was matter of fact: the curse, and the confession, are in this way far deeper) is accursed (see ref. Rom. note). So κύρ. ἰης., Jesus is Lord (all that is implied in κύριος, being here also implied: and we must not forget that it is the LXX verbum solenne for the Heb. JEHOVAH). By these last words the influence of the Holy Spirit is widened by the Apostle from the supernatural gifts to which perhaps it had been improperly confined, to the faith and confession of every Christian.

It is remarkable that in 1 John 4:1-2, where a test to try the spirits is given, the human side of this confession is brought out,— ἰησοῦν χριστὸν ἐν σαρκὶ ἐληλυθότα,—John having to deal with those who denied the reality of the Incarnation. Or also, as Bengel: “Paulus præbet criterium veri contra gentes: Johannes, contra falsos prophetas.”

Verses 4-6

4–6.] But (as contrasted to this absolute unity, in ground and principle, of all spiritual influence) there are varieties (in reff. 2 Chron. and Ezra, used of the courses or divisions of the priests) of gifts ( χαρίσματα = eminent endowments of individuals, in and by which the Spirit indwelling in them manifested Himself,—the φανέρωσις τοῦ πνεύματος in each man:—and these either directly bestowed 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 and condition. See Neander, Pfl. u. Leit. pp. 232 ff.), but the same Spirit (as their Bestower,—see the sense filled up in 1 Corinthians 12:11):

Verse 5

5.] and there are varieties of ministries (appointed services in the church, in which as their channels of manifestation the χαρίσματα would work), and the same Lord (Christ, the Lord of the church, whose it is to appoint all ministrations in it. These διακονίαι must not be narrowed to the ecclesiastical orders, but kept commensurate in extent with the gifts which are to find scope by their means, see 1 Corinthians 12:7-10): and varieties of operations (effects of divine ἐνέργειαι: not to be limited to miraculous effects, but understood again commensurately with the gifts of whose working they are the results), and the same GOD. Who works all of them in all persons (all the χαρίσματα in all who are gifted). 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.

Verse 7

7.] To each individual, however (the emphasis on ἑκάστῳ, as shewing the character of what is to follow, viz. individual distinction of gifts.

δέ again contrasted with the ὁ αὐτός of the last verse; though the workings of One God, One Lord, One Spirit, they are bestowed variously on each man), is given the manifestation of the Spirit (not, as Meyer, al., the means of manifesting the Spirit which dwells in him (gen. obj.): but, as De W., the manifestation by which the Spirit acts (gen. subj.); it is a general term including χαρίσματα, διακονίαι, and ἐνεργήματα) with a view to profit (with the profit of the whole body as the aim: see reff.).

Verses 7-11

7–11.] These operations specified in their variety, but again asserted to be the work of one and the same Spirit.

Verse 8

8.] γάρ appeals to matter of fact, as the ground of the assertion in 1 Corinthians 12:7, both as to the δίδοται and as to the πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον.

ᾧ μὲν ἄλλῳ δέ, a loose construction, as in 1 Corinthians 12:28.

λόγος σοφίας λόγος γνώσεως] What is the distinction? According to Neander, σοφία is the skill, which is able to reduce the whole practical Christian life into its due order in accordance with its foundation principles (see Pfl. u. Leit. p. 247);— γνῶσις, the theoretical insight into divine things: and similarly Olsh. and Billroth. But Bengel, al., take them conversely, γνώσ. for the practical, σοφ. for the theoretical. Both, as De W. remarks, have their grounds in usage: σοφία is practical Colossians 1:9, as is γνῶσις, Romans 15:14, but they are theoretical respectively in ch. 1 Corinthians 1:17 ff. and 1 Corinthians 8:1. Estius explains λόγος σοφίας, ‘gratiam de iis quæ ad doctrinam religionis ac pietatis spectant disserendi ex causis supremis,’—as ch. 1 Corinthians 2:6 f.:—and λόγ. γνώσεως, he says, “gratia est disserendi de rebus Christianæ religionis, ex iis quæ sunt humanæ scientiæ vel experientiæ.” Meyer says, “ σοφία is the higher Christian wisdom (see on ch. 1 Corinthians 2:6) in and of itself;—so that discourse which expresses its truths, makes them clear, applies them, &c. is λόγος σοφίας. But this does not necessarily imply the speculative penetration of these truths,—the philosophical treatment of them by deeper and more scientific investigation, in other words, γνῶσις: and discourse which aims at this is λόγος γνώσεως.” This last view is most in accordance with the subsequently recognized meaning of γνῶσις and γνωστικός, and with the Apostle’s own use of σοφία in the passage referred to, ch. 1 Corinthians 2:6.

κατὰ τ. αὐ. πν.] according to the disposition (see 1 Corinthians 12:11) of the same Spirit.

Verses 8-10

8–10.] It has been disputed, whether or not any studied arrangement of the gifts of the Spirit is here found. The most recent and best advocates of the two views are Meyer and De Wette. Meyer gives the following arrangement: grounding it mainly on what he believes to be the intentional use of ἑτέρῳ δέ as distinguished from ἄλλῳ δέ, and pointing out a new category:—I. gifts having reference to intellectual power: (1) λόγος σοφίας. (2) λόγος γνώσεως. II. ( ἑτέρῳ δέ) gifts, whose condition is an exalted faith (glaubens-heroismus): (1) faith itself. (2) practical workings of the same, viz. (a) ἰάματα. (b) δυνάμεις. (3) oral working of the same, viz. προφητεία. (4) critical working of the same, the διάκρισις πνευμάτων. III. gifts having reference to the γλῶσσαι: (1) speaking with tongues: (2) interpretation of tongues.

To this De Wette objects, (1) that ᾧ μέν, ἑτέρῳ δέ, ἑτέρῳ δέ, do not stand with any reference to one another, but ἑτέρῳ δέ is in each case opposed to the ἄλλῳ δέ which immediately precedes it, and followed by an ἄλλῳ δέ similarly opposed to it: therefore neither can the one betoken the genus, nor the other the species. (2) If any thing could be relied on as marking a division, it would be the repeated κατὰ τὸ αὐτὸ πν., ἐν τῷ αὐτ. πν., and the concluding πάντα δὲ ταῦτα, 1 Corinthians 12:11; but even thus we get no satisfactory partition, for in 1 Corinthians 12:10 dissimilar gifts are classed together. (3) We must not look for a classification, for the catalogue is incomplete, see 1 Corinthians 12:28. (4) The classification given is objectionable. Speaking with tongues is plainly more nearly allied to προφητεία than προφ. to gifts of healing: and the two, tongues and prophesying, are subsequently treated of together. Besides which, Kling (Stud. u. Krit. 1839, p. 482) rightly remarks, that both διάκρισις πν. and ἑρμηνεία γλ. have reference to the understanding.

I am inclined to think that De W.’s objections are valid, as applied to a rigorous arrangement like Meyer’s; but that at the same time there is a sort of arrangement, brought about not so much designedly, as by the falling together of similar terms,— λόγος σοφ., λόγος γν.,— γένη γλωσσῶν, ἑρμ. γλωσσῶν. Unquestionably, any arrangement must be at fault, which proceeding on psychological grounds, classes together the speaking with tongues and the interpretation of tongues: the working of miracles, and the discernment of spirits. I believe too that Meyer’s distinction between ἑτέρῳ δέ and ἄλλῳ δέ is imaginary: see Matthew 16:14; Hebrews 11:35-36.

Verse 9

9.] πίστις, as Chrys.: πίστιν οὐ ταύτην λέγων τὴν τῶν δογμάτων, ἀλλὰ τὴν τῶν σημείων, περὶ ἧς φησιν ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σιν. κ. τ. λ. (Matthew 17:20). καὶ οἱ ἀπόστολοι δὲ περὶ αὐτῆς ἠξίουν λέγοντες πρόσθες ἡμῖν πίστιν (Luke 17:5). αὕτη γὰρ μήτηρ τῶν σημείων ἐστίν. Hom. xxix. p. 263. This seems to be the meaning here; 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.

ἐν τ. αὐτ. πν.] in, i.e. by and through, as the effective cause and the medium.

χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων] gifts of (miraculous) healings; plur., to indicate the different kinds of diseases, requiring different sorts of healing.

ἐν, see above.

Verse 10

10. ἐνεργ. δυν.] operations of miraculous powers (in general).

προφητεία] speaking in the Spirit. Meyer gives an excellent definition of it: “discourse flowing from the revelation and impulse of the Holy Spirit, which, not being attached to any particular office in the church, but improvised,—disclosed the depths of the human heart and of the divine counsel, and thus was exceedingly effectual for the enlightening, exhortation, and consolation of believers, and the winning of unbelievers. The prophet differs from the speaker with tongues.… in that he speaks with the understanding, not ecstatically: from the διδάσκαλος, thus:— ὁ μέν προφητεύων πάντα ἀπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος φθέγγεται· ὁ δὲ διδάσκων ἐστὶν ὅπου καὶ ἐξ οἰκείας διαλέγεται, as Chrys. on 1 Corinthians 12:28.” (Hom. xxxii. p. 286.)

διακρίσεις πν.] discernings of spirits: i.e. the power of distinguishing between the operation of the Spirit of God and the evil spirit, or the unassisted human spirit: see 1 John 4:1, and compare προσέχοντες πνεύμασιν πλάνοις, 1 Timothy 4:1. The exercise of this power is alluded to ch. 1 Corinthians 14:29.

γένη γλωσσῶν] kinds of tongues, i.e. the power of uttering, in ecstasy, as the mouthpiece of the Spirit, prayer and praise in languages unknown to the utterer,—or even in a spiritual language unknown to man. See this subject dealt with in the note on Acts 2:4, and ch. 1 Corinthians 14:2 ff.

ἑρμηνεία γλωσσῶν] the power of giving a meaning to what was thus ecstatically spoken. This was not always resident in the speaker himself: see ch. 1 Corinthians 14:13.

Verse 11

11.] The Spirit is the universal worker in men of all these powers, and that according to His own pleasure: see above on 1 Corinthians 12:4-6.

ἰδίᾳ, ‘seorsim,’ respectively, or ‘severally,’ as E. V. This unity of the source of all spiritual gifts, in the midst of their variety, he presses as against those who valued some and undervalued others, or who depreciated them all.

Verse 12

12.] The organic unity of the various members in one body, is predicated also of CHRIST, i.e. the Church as united in Him, see ch. 1 Corinthians 6:15. The γάρ confirms the preceding ἓν κ. τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα, by an analogy. By the repetition,— τὸ σῶμα, … τοῦ σώματος …, σῶμα, the unity of the members as an organic whole is more strongly set forth.

Verses 12-30

12–30.] As the many members of the body compose an organic whole, and all belong to the body, none being needless, none to be despised; so also those who are variously gifted by the Spirit compose a spiritual organic whole, the mystical body of Christ. First, however, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, this likeness of the mystical Christ to a body is enounced, and justified by the facts of our Baptism.

Verse 13

13.] This shewn from our being baptized into one body, and receiving one Spirit. For in (see on 1 Corinthians 12:9) one Spirit also (the emphasis on ἑνὶ πν., to which words καί belongs) we all were baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or freemen; and we all were made to drink of one Spirit (or, ‘all watered by one Spirit,’ viz. the water of baptism, here taken as identical with the Spirit whose influence accompanied it). So (understanding the whole verse of baptism) Chrys., Theophyl., Œc(56), Rückert, Meyer, De Wette. Luther, Beza, Calv., Estius, Grot., al., refer the latter half to the Lord’s Supper: and this is mentioned by Chrys. and Theophyl.:—Bilhoth and Olsh. to the abiding influence of the Spirit in strengthening and refreshing. But the aor. ἐποτίσθημεν, referring to a fact gone by, is fatal to both these latter interpretations: besides that it would be harsh to understand even εἰς ἓν πν. ἐποτίσθ. (see var. readd.) and impossible to understand ἓν πν. ἐποτ., of the cup in the Lord’s Supper.

Verse 14

14.] Analogy, by which this multiplicity in unity is justified: it is even so in the natural body,—which, though one, consists of many members. The object of the continuation of the simile seems to be, to convince them that their various gifts had been bestowed by God on them as members of the Christian body, and that they must not, because they did not happen to possess the gifts of another, consider themselves excluded from the body,—in which the weaker as well as the stronger, the less comely as well as the more comely members were necessary.

The student will remember the fable spoken by Menenius Agrippa to the mutinous plebs in Livy ii. 32. The passage is also illustrated by Seneca de Ira, ii. 31, ‘Quid si nocere velint manus pedibus, manibus oculi? Ut omnia inter se membra consentiunt, quia singula servari totius interest: ita homines singulis parcent, quia ad cœlum geniti sumus: salva autem esse societas nisi amore et custodia partium non potest:’—and by Marc(57) Antonin. ii. 1, where in his morning meditations on the duty of repressing anger through the day, he says, γεγόναμεν γὰρ πρὸς συνεργίαν, ὡς πόδες, ὡς χεῖρες, ὡς βλέφαρα, ὡς οἱ στοῖχοι τῶν ἄνω καὶ τῶν κάτω ὀδόντων· τὸ οὖν ἀντιπράσσειν ἀλλήλοις, παρὰ φύσιν. See also id. vii. 13: Clem(58) ad Cor. c. xxxvii. p. 284: and other examples in Wetstein.

Verse 15

15.] The ὅτι is rightly rendered in E. V. because.

οὐ παρὰ τ. κ. τ. λ.] These words [may be taken, here and in the next verse, “it is not therefore not of the body.” But they] are best taken as a question, appealing to the sense of the reader: they thus have more of the vigour of the Apostle’s style.

παρά, see reff.

ἐκ τ. σ., belonging to the body as an aggregate; so εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα,— ἧσαν ἐκ τῶν φαρισαίων. The double negation strengthens,—see Winer, edn. 6, § 55. 9 b (he takes the two, in this case, as destroying one another (?), see ib. a).

Verse 17

17.] The necessity of the members to one another, and to the body. Understand ἧν in each clause, which is indeed expressed in 1 Corinthians 12:19.

Verse 18

18.] νῦν δέ, but as the case really stands: see Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 25.

τὰ μέλη, generally,— ἓν ἕκαστον αὐτῶν, severally.

καθὼς ἠθέλ. answers to καθὼς βούλεται, 1 Corinthians 12:11.

Verse 19

19.] The same ‘reductio ad absurdum’ which has been made in the concrete twice in 1 Corinthians 12:17, is now made in the abstract: if the whole were one member, where would be the body (which by its very idea μέλη ἔχει πολλά: see 1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:14)?

Verse 20

20.] Brings out the fact in contrast to 1 Corinthians 12:19, as 1 Corinthians 12:18 in contrast to 1 Corinthians 12:17.

Verses 21-26

21–26.] And the spiritual gifts are also necessary to one another. This is spoken in reproof of the highly endowed, who imagined they could do without those less gifted than themselves, as the preceding to those of small endowment, who were discontented with their gifts.

Verse 22-23

22, 23.] Nay, the relation between the members is so entirely different from this, that the very disparagement, conventionally, of any member, is the reason why more care should be taken of it. I understand by the τὰ δοκοῦντα μέλη τοῦ σώματος ἀσθενέστερα ὑπάρχειν, those members which in each man’s case appear to be 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.

Verse 23

23.] So also in the case of the parts ἃ δοκοῦμεν ἀτιμότερα εἶναι—on which usage has set the stamp of dishonour. Perhaps he alludes (as distinguished from τὰ ἀσχήμ. below) to those limbs which we conceal from sight in accordance with custom, but in the exposure of which there would be no absolute indecency. So Chrys., καλῶς εἶπε τὰ δοκοῦντα, καὶ ἃ δοκοῦμεν (but I should draw a distinction between the two, in accordance with the above explanation of ἀσθενέστ., and render τὰ δοκοῦντα, which appear to be [of themselves], and ἃ δοκοῦμεν, which we think [conventionally]: notice also ὑπάρχειν and εἶναι, on which see Acts 16:20, note) δεικνὺς ὅτι οὐ τῆς φύσεως τῶν πραγμάτων, ἀλλὰ τῆς τῶν πολλῶν ὑπονοίας ἡ ψῆφος. Hom. xxxi. p. 278.

τιμ. περισς. περιτίθ.] viz. by clothing (garments of honour, as the Targ. of Onkelos on Genesis 3:21): honouring them more than the face, the noblest part, which we do not clothe.

καὶ τὰ ἀσχ.] Here there is no ἃ δοκοῦμεν, and no ambiguity. Chrys. (ibid.) says: … ἀλλʼ ὅμως πλείονος ἀπολαύει τιμῆς· καὶ οἱ σφόδρα πένητες, κἂν τὸ λοιπὸν γυμνὸν ἔχωσι σῶμα, οὐκ ἂν ἀνάσχοιντο ἐκεῖνα τὰ μέλη δεῖξαι γυμνά.

Verse 24

24.] The comely parts are in some measure neglected, not needing to be covered or adorned: but (opposed to χρείαν ἔχει) God (at the creation) tempered the body together (compounded it of members on a principle of mutual compensation),—to the deficient part giving more abundant honour,

Verse 25

25.] that there be no disunion (see 1 Corinthians 12:21) in the body, but that the members may have the same care (viz. that for mutual well-being) for one another. The verb is plur., on account of the personification of the individual members (Meyer).

Verse 26

26.] καί, and accordingly, in matter of fact: we see that God’s temperament of the body has not failed of its purpose, for the members sympathize most intimately with one another.

πάσχει συνπάσχει] καὶ γὰρ τῇ πτέρνῃ πολλάκις προσπαγείσης ἀκάνθης, ὅλον τὸ σῶμα αἰσθάνεται καὶ μεριμνᾷ· καὶ νῶτος κάμπτεται, καὶ γαστὴρ καὶ μηροὶ συστέλλονται, καὶ χεῖρες καθάπερ δορυφόροι κ. ὑπηρέται προσιόντες ἀνέλκουσι τὸ παγέν, καὶ κεφαλὴ ἐπικύπτει, καὶ ὀφθαλμοὶ μετὰ πολλῆς ὁρῶσι τῆς φροντίδος. Chrys. p. 282.

δοξάζεται συγχαίρει] Chrys. again with equal beauty instances, στεφανοῦται ἡ κεφαλή, καὶ ἅπας ὁ ἄνθρωπος δοξάζεται· λέγει τὸ στόμα, καὶ γελῶσιν ὀφθαλμοὶ καὶ εὐφραίνονται (ibid.). But perhaps the analogy requires that we should rather understand δοε. of those things which physically refresh or benefit the member, e.g. anointing or nourishment.

Verse 27

27.] Application of all that has been said of the physical body, to the Corinthians as the mystical body of Christ: and to individuals among them, as members in particular, i.e. each according to his allotted part in the body. Each church is said to be the body of Christ, as each is said to be the temple of God (see ch. 1 Corinthians 3:16, note): not that there are many bodies or many temples; but that each church is an image of the whole aggregate,—a microcosm, having the same characteristics. Chrys. would understand ἐκ μέρουςὅτι ἡ ἐκκλησία ἡ παρʼ ὑμῖν μέρος ἐστὶ τῆς πανταχοῦ κειμένης ἐκκλησίας, καὶ τοῦ σώματος τοῦ διὰ πασῶν συνισταμένον τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν (Hom. xxxii. p. 285): but this, though true, does not appear to have been here before the Apostle,—only the whole Corinthian church as the body of Christ, and its individual components as members, each in his appointed place.

Verse 28

28.] The divine disposition of the members in the spiritual body.

οὓς μέν was apparently intended to be followed by οὓς (or ἄλλους) δέ, but meanwhile another arrangement, πρῶτον, δεύτ., τρίτ., occurs to the Apostle, and οὓς μέν is left uncorrected, standing alone. See Ephesians 4:11, where τοὺς μέν is followed by τοὺς δέ, regularly.

ἐν τῇ ἐκκλ.] in the (universal) church, a sense more frequently found in the Epistle to the Ephesians, than in any other part of St. Paul’s writings.

πρ. ἀποστόλους] Not merely the Twelve are thus designated, but they and others who bore the same name and had equal power, e.g. Paul himself, and Barnabas, and James the Lord’s brother: see also note on Romans 16:7.

προφ.] See above, on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

διδασκάλους] See reff.: those who had the gift of expounding and unfolding doctrine and applying it to practice,—the λόγος σοφίας and the λόγος γνώσεως.

δυνάμεις] He here passes to the abstract nouns from the concrete,—perhaps because no definite class of persons was endowed with each of the following, but they were promiscuously granted to all orders in the church: more probably, however, without any assignable reason; as in Romans 12:6-8, he passes from the abstract to the concrete.

ἀντιλήμψεις] i.e. ἀντέχεσθαι τῶν ἀσθενῶν and the like, as Chrys. forming one department of the διακονίαι of 1 Corinthians 12:5; as do also κυβερνήσεις, a higher department, that of the presbyters or bishops—the direction of the various churches.

γένη γλωσσῶν] εἶδες ποῦ τέθεικε τουτὶ τὸ χάρισμα, καὶ πῶς πανταχοῦ τὴν ἐσχάτην αὐτῷ νέμει τάξιν; Chrys. p. 287. There certainly seems to be intention in placing this last in rank: but I am persuaded that we must not, with Meyer, seek for a classified arrangement: here, as above, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, it seems rather suggestive than logical: the χαρ. ἰαμ. naturally suggesting the ἀντιλήμψεις,—and those again, the assistances to carry out the work of the church, as naturally bringing in the κυβερνήσεις, the government and guidance of it.

Verse 29

29. δυνάμεις] not, as Meyer, al., accusative, governed by ἔχουσιν—which involves a departure from the parallelism, besides the harshness of construction:—but nominative, in apposition with πάντες. The Apostle has above placed the concrete, ἀπόστολοι, προφῆται, διδάσκαλοι, in apposition with δυνάμεις and χαρίσμ. ἰαμ., and now proceeds with the same arrangement till he comes to χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων, which being too palpably unpredicable of persons, gives rise to the change of construction,— μὴ πάντες χαρ. ἔχουσιν ἰαμάτων; In the last two questions, he departs from the order of the last verse, and takes in again one particular from the former catalogue, 1 Corinthians 12:10.

Meyer compares Hom. Il. ν. 726–734. See Stanley’s note and excursus.

Verse 29-30

29, 30.] The application of the questions already asked 1 Corinthians 12:17-19.

Verse 31

31.] But (he has been shewing that all gifts have their value: and that all are set in the church by God: some however are more valuable than others) do ye aim at the greater gifts ( μείζ. is explained ch. 1 Corinthians 14:5). This exhortation is not inconsistent with 1 Corinthians 12:11; but, as we look for the divine blessing on tillage and careful culture, so we may look for the aid of the Spirit on carefully cultivated powers of the understanding and speech;—and we may notice that the greater gifts, those of προφητεία and διδασκαλία, consisted in the inspired exercise of the conscious faculties, in which culture and diligence would be useful accessories. “Spiritus dat, ut vult (1 Corinthians 12:11): sed fideles tamen libere aliud præ alio possunt sequi et exercere, c. xiv. 26.” Bengel. Compare also xiv. 39. There is thus no need to explain away ζηλοῦτε, as Grot. (“agite cum Deo precibus ut accipiatis”) and others: or to depart from the known usage of χαρίσματα, and explain it to mean faith, hope, and love, as Morus, or the fruits of love, as Billroth.

καὶ ἔτι] And moreover: besides exhorting you to emulate the greatest gifts.

καθʼ ὑπ. ὁδ.] An eminently excellent way, viz. of emulating the greatest gifts:—so Theophyl.: καὶ μετὰ τούτων ( τοῦτο γὰρ δηλοῖ τὸ καὶ ἔτι), ἐὰν ὅλως ζηλωταὶ ὑπάρχητε χαρισμάτων, δείξω ὑμῖν μίαν ὁδὸν καθʼ ὑπερβολήν, τουτέστιν, ὑπερέχουσαν, ἥτις φέρει ἐπὶ πάντα τὰ χαρίσματα· τὴν ἀγάπην δὲ λέγει.

καθʼ ὑπερβ.] must not be joined with the verb,—‘est adhuc via quam vobis diligentissime demonstro’ (Pagnini’s version, and some mentioned by Estius): see reff. and cf. ἡ μάλιστα ἀναγνώρισις, Arist. Poet. ii. 6,— μάλα στρατηγόν, Xen. Hell. vi. 2. 39,— εὖ πρᾶξις, Æsch. Agam. 262,— σφόδρα γυναικῶν, Plato, Legg. i. p. 639 c, and other examples in Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 338.

The explanation of Estius and Billroth, that the way which he is about to shew them is ‘multo excellentiorem iis donis de quibus hactenus egit’ (Est.), is clearly wrong: the opening verses of ch. 13 shewing, that he does not draw a comparison between love and gifts, but only shews that it is the only WAY, in which gifts can be made effectual in the highest sense. See also on ch. 1 Corinthians 14:1.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, March 21st, 2019
the Second Week of Lent
There are 31 days til Easter!
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology