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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
1 Corinthians 12

 

 

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Verse 1

1 Corinthians 12:1. περὶ δε τῶν πνενματικῶν, Now concerning spiritual gifts) This is in the Neuter gender, ch. 1 Corinthians 14:1. Some may wonder, that there is no discussion in the other epistles also on the gifts, in which however other churches were not wanting, ch. 1 Corinthians 14:36; Galatians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:13. The abundance of gifts in the Greek churches was a powerful confutation of the learned but vain curiosity of the Greeks. The abuse of them afforded Paul an occasion of writing to the Corinthians; and here we may observe the mark of divine wisdom, inasmuch as every book of the Sacred Scripture, even of the New Testament, has discussed certain subjects peculiar to itself. The Corinthians abounded in spiritual gifts, and yet Paul had occasion to write to them, as well on other matters, as also on this topic, and that too without delay: comp. ch. 11 at the end. Now, there is set forth here; I. The unity of the body, verses 1–27. II. The variety of its members and functions, verses 27–30. III. The grand principle, on which the gifts may be rightly exercised, viz., by love, 1 Corinthians 12:31, and in the whole of the following chapter. 4. The comparison of the gifts with one another, ch. 14.— οὐ θἐλω ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, I would not have you ignorant) This expression is repeated in 1 Corinthians 12:3 in synonymous terms, as if after a parenthesis.— ἀγνοεῖν, to be ignorant) ch. 1 Corinthians 14:38.


Verse 2

1 Corinthians 12:2. οἴδατε, ye know) nearly related to the verb you remember, which is found in Ephesians 2:11.— οἴδατε, ὄτι, ὄτε ἔθνη ἦτε, πρὸς τὰ εἴδωλα τὰ ἄφωνα ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε ἀπαγόμενοι) The analysis of these words will be easy, if we only keep hold of this thread of connection, ὅτι ἤγεσθε, that you were led; so that ἤγεσθε is not to he regarded as a mere accessory proposition [Syncategorema; end.], but the predicate itself; comp. Ephesians 2:12; where Gentiles and Gentilism are likewise distinguished in the enunciation. For, instead of ὅτι or ὡς, there is said conjointly ὡς ὁτι, Germ. wie dass (as or how that), and ὅτι ὡς, that as: and that too with another word interposed, as in Xiphilimus, in his Epitome of Dion, λεχθὲν αὐτῷ, ὅτι ἄρα ὡς ἀλέξανδρος ἐλθὼν αὐτὸν διαδέξεται, it being told to him, that ( ὅτι) when ( ὡς) Alexander comes, he will succeed him: or even with a longer parenthesis, as in Xenophon, ἐνταῦθα γνόντες οἱ μαντινεῖς ὡς, εἰ μὴ ἀποκρούσονται αὐτοὺς, ὅτι., κ. τ. λ., here the soothsayers knowing, unless they shall repel them, how that, etc.: therefore that is doubled in Greek as אם ה in Hebrew, Genesis 17:17, supplying I say. Furthermore ἄν is joined with the verb ἤγεσθε, as we have also in Xenophon καιρὸς δὲ γράψαι ὡς ἄν ὀρθότατα ἐκατέρῳ χρῷτο, I take the opportunity of stating how he should most suitably treat either of these (the spirited or dull horse); where Devarius (who has suggested to us both of these quotations from Xenophon) shows that ἄν in the distribution of the construction is joined potentially to the verb χρῷτο. Therefore the principal meaning will remain, if ὠς ἄν be entirely put aside by itself (parenthetically) in the construction, as in 2 Corinthians 10:9 [ ἵνα μὴ δόξω ὡς ἄν ἐκφοβεῖν ὑμᾶς], where it signifies as if; and so it might be taken in this passage: nor even is ἄν easily construed with an indicative, such as ἤγεσθε is. Moreover in ἤγεσθε ἀπαγόμενοι, the passive is construed with the middle, the simple with the compound; you were led and led away, you gave yourselves up to any guidance whatever. The Scholium of Chrysostom amounts almost to this [is much the same as this]: though that Scholium has been censured by later writers without a cause; οἴδατε, ὅτε ἕλληνες ἦτε, πῶς ἀπήγεσθε, ἑλκόμενοι τότε, ye know, when ye were Greeks, how you were led, being at that time drawn away. Add Castellio. ἄφωνα dumb, a proper epithet; comp. 1 Corinthians 12:3, you when blind went to the dumb; you dumb [unable to speak as you ought, by the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 12:3], to the blind.


Verse 3

1 Corinthians 12:3. διὸ, wherefore) He infers this thesis, that spiritual things are with all Christians, and with [in the possession of] them alone, i.e. with those who glorify Jesus; and that by means of those spiritual things faith in Jesus is proved; for idols bestow nothing spiritual: when the superstition of the Gentiles was overthrown, there was not the same need of miraculous gifts. This is the alternative, he who glorifies Jesus, has the Spirit of God; he who does not glorify Him, has not the Spirit of God, 1 John 4:1-2. Paul furnishes a test of truth against the Gentiles; John, against the false prophets.— γνωρίζω ὑμῖν, I make known to you) Divine operations of that sort had been formerly unknown to the Corinthians. Before receiving these letters of Paul, their knowledge had been less distinct, as they had been rescued not long before from heathenism.— ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ, by the Spirit of God) Immediately after he says, by the Holy Ghost. Godhead and sanctity1(107) are synonymous especially when speaking of the Holy Trinity.— λαλῶν, speaking) This expression is of very wide application; for even those, who perform cures and possess miraculous powers, are accustomed to use words. The antithesis is to the dumb idols.— λέγει ἀνάθεμα, calls Him accursed) as the Gentiles did, but the Jews more so. There is a ταπείνωσις, or saying less than is intended. He does not call Him accursed, i.e. he in the highest degree pronounces Him blessed. Accursed and Lord are opposed. [It is a proof of long-suffering patience, which surpasses all comprehension, that Jesus Christ, the Lord, at the right hand of the Father does not refuse to tolerate, for so long a period of time, such a mass of blasphemy from unbelievers, and especially from the Jews, in their wretched state of blindness. That consideration ought to suppress in the Christian any indignation felt by him on account of any reproach whatever, however little deserved.—V. g.]— εἰπεῖν, to say) πνευματικῶς, in a spiritual manner.


Verse 4

1 Corinthians 12:4. διαιρέσεις, divisions) The LXX. use this term to express the Hebrew word מחלקת, concerning the orders of the priests. Comp. dividing, 1 Corinthians 12:11.— δὲ, but) an antithesis between the one fountain and the many streams.— χαρισμάτων, of gifts) Those endowments which in ver, 1 he had called spiritual things, now, after mentioning Jesus, he calls gifts.— πνεῦμα, Spirit) The Holy Spirit is spoken of in this verse; Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:5; God the Father in 1 Corinthians 12:6 : and calling them gifts, ministrations, operations, agrees respectively with these names. The Spirit is treated of at 1 Corinthians 12:7, etc.: the Lord at 1 Corinthians 12:12, etc.: God at 1 Corinthians 12:28, etc.—[Comp. Ephesians 4:4-6.]


Verse 5

1 Corinthians 12:5. διακονιῶν, of ministrations) 1 Corinthians 12:28.— δὲ αὐτὸς κύριος, but the same Lord) The Son of God whom the Holy Ghost glorifies by those ministers.


Verse 6

1 Corinthians 12:6. ἐνεργημάτων, of operations) 1 Corinthians 12:10.— δὲ αὐτός (108) ἐστι θεὸς, but it is the same God) by the working of His Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:11.— τὰ πάντα, all things) The working of God is seen somewhat more extensively than the offices of Christ, and the gifts of the Spirit.— ἐν πᾶσιν, in all) Masculine; comp. to every man, in the following verses.

Rec. Text reads ἐστι θεὸς with later Syr., Orig., and B, which puts ἐστι after ἐνεργῶν. But ACD( λ)Gfg Vulg. Iren. Hilar. omit ἐστι.—ED.


Verse 7

1 Corinthians 12:7. φανέρωσις, manifestation) various, by which the Spirit manifests Himself, as He is hidden in Himself,— πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον, with a view to that which is profitable) This is treated of at 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.


Verses 8-10

1 Corinthians 12:8-10. · ἑτέρῳ· ἑτέρῳ, to one, to another, to another) Three Genera: comp. ch. 1 Corinthians 13:8, and among these the expression, to another, denotes many species, each one under its own genus. So also 1 Corinthians 15:39-41. ἄλλος in turn is used for distinguishing the species; ἕτερος, the genera. By a change, ἄλλος is used to distinguish genera, ἕτερος, species: Hebrews 11:35. Prophecy is put here under the second genus, rather than under the first, because under the second such things are stated, as are more applicable to those, that are without, viz., to unbelievers, than to such as are stated under the first genus, viz., to believers.— διὰ, by) presently after follows κατὰ, according to; ἐν, in; which are severally used with great propriety. [The Engl. Vers, loses this nice distinction by translating the διὰ, κατὰ, and ἐν all alike ‘by’.]— λόγος, the word) Both wisdom and knowledge are set forth in the church by the word.— σοφίαςγνώσεως, of wisdom, of knowledge) Paul in various ways mentions knowledge, especially to the Corinthians, either by itself, 2 Corinthians 6:6, or with things closely connected with it; in word [utterance] and knowledge, 1 Corinthians 1:5; comp. 2 Corinthians 11:6; in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all diligence, 2 Corinthians 8:7; prophecy (concerning mysteries) and knowledge, tongues being added, 1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Corinthians 13:8; either by revelation or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine, ch. 1 Corinthians 14:6 : and here of wisdom and knowledge; Colossians 2:3; Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 3:19. He speaks as of things, which are of daily occurrence among the Corinthians; at present we are in doubt as to the meaning and distinction of the words themselves. This is certain, that when they are ascribed to God, they differ only in their objects: see Romans 11:33, note; when they are attributed to believers, wisdom penetrates the length, the breadth, the depth and height, more than knowledge. Knowledge is, so to speak, sight; wisdom is sight coupled with taste.(109) Knowledge relates to things that are to be done; wisdom, to things eternal; hence also wisdom is not said to pass away; ch. 1 Corinthians 13:8, and knowledge is of more frequent occurrence; so Paul does not so much predicate the former as the latter concerning the Corinthians, ch. 1 Corinthians 8:1, 1 Corinthians 2:6. Prophecy belongs to the prophets; wisdom to the wise; what is left, viz., knowledge, to the scribes, Matthew 23:34; Luke 11:52.— τὸ αὐτὸ) the same, by whom the word of wisdom is given.


Verse 9

1 Corinthians 12:9. πίστις, faith) The faith here spoken of is not that, which is common to all the saints, but it is a peculiar gift, and distinguished too from the four species, which immediately follow; and yet it is joined more with them, than with that first and third genus of gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:8, and 1 Corinthians 12:10 at the end. This faith then is a very earnest and vividly-present apprehension of God, chiefly in regard to His will, as to the effects, that are particularly conspicuous either in the kingdom of nature or of grace; therefore it is connected with the operation of the miraculous powers, ch. 1 Corinthians 13:2 (of which the principal, because the most useful to others, was the power of curing diseases), and with prophecy (to which the discerning of spirits was closely related, ch. 1 Corinthians 14:37); Romans 12:6. And from this description, which we have now given, it is evident, how common or saving faith, and miraculous faith, which is a peculiar gift, may either agree or differ, how the one may, or may not be, without the other, and either of them may, or may not be, without love. Men even without righteousness and love may have an intelligent perception of the omnipotent will of God in Christ, Matthew 7:22 : but none but holy men can apprehend the will of God reconciled to us in Christ: and in these things [as respects this apprehension] there is not one faith working miracles, another saving faith, but one and the same faith. In its first act it always has a miraculous power; for it is something entirely supernatural, Ephesians 1:19, although not always in such a degree, or on such a particular occasion, as that it should exert itself conspicuously; see Note on Chrys. de Sacerd., § 416.— χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων, gifts of healing) “Not only miraculous cures are meant, Acts 5:15; Acts 19:12; Acts 28:8, but also the gracious blessing on the cure of the sick, by natural remedies; as it cannot be denied, that some physicians are more fortunate than others, which should be attributed not merely to their skill, but especially to Divine grace;” E. Schmidius. This remark may also be applied to other gifts; for as the king of Judah substituted shields of brass for those of gold, which had been lost; so after the Church lost what were purely gifts, grace still lends its aid more secretly beneath the guise of human efforts and instrumentalities, and that too the more abundantly, in proportion as the more opportunity is given to it.


Verse 10

1 Corinthians 12:10. προφητεία, prophecy) See at Romans 12:6.— διακρίσεις πνευμάτων, discerning of spirits) so that he can show to others, what sort of a spirit each prophet possesses, ch. 1 Corinthians 14:29.— γένη γλωσσῶνἑρμηνεία, kinds of tongues—interpretation) 1 Corinthians 12:30; 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:26-27.


Verse 11

1 Corinthians 12:11. βούλεται, wills) the Spirit. So, as God willed, 1 Corinthians 12:18, He gives the several gifts, or some gifts, in various measures, to the several individuals.


Verse 12

1 Corinthians 12:12. οὓτω καὶ χριστὸς, so also Christ) The whole Christ is the head and body. The head is the only-begotten Son of God, and His body is the Church; Augustine. This is in harmony with Ps. 18:51. To His Anointed, to David and his seed: for so the accent requires it to be.


Verse 13

1 Corinthians 12:13. ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι, by one Spirit) The Holy Spirit is in baptism.— εἰς ἕν σῶμα, into one body) that we may be one body, truly animated by one Spirit.— εἴτε ἰουδαῖοι, εἴτε ἕλληνες, whether Jews or Greeks) who were bodies of men very different by nature.— εἴτε δοῦλοι εἴτε ἐλεύθεροι, whether bond or free) who were bodies of men very different by human institution.— πάντες ἕν πνεῦμα) we all have been made to drink one Spirit. [Omitting εἰς, we have the true reading,(110) Not. crit.], John 7:37, etc. Hence also the unity of the body is inferred. I do not think however, that there is any direct allusion here to the Lord’s Supper, Mark 10:38, note.


Verse 14

1 Corinthians 12:14. καὶ γὰρ, for even) This protasis concerning the body extends to 1 Corinthians 12:26 : and is so adjusted, that the apodosis, 1 Corinthians 12:27, is summarily added.


Verse 15

1 Corinthians 12:15. ἐὰν, if) The more ignoble members ought not to be vilified by themselves, 1 Corinthians 12:15-16, nor can they be neglected by the more noble, 1 Corinthians 12:21-22.— ποὺς, the foot) The foot is elegantly introduced speaking of the hand, the ear, speaking of the eye, the part speaking of the part that most resembles itself. For so among men, every one usually compares himself with those, to whom in gifts he bears the greatest resemblance, rather than with those, who are far superior, or far inferior. Thomas Aquinas says: “Men devoted to active life are distinguished by the members, that serve the purposes of motion; those who are devoted to a contemplative life are distinguished by the members that serve the purposes of the intellectual powers.” He is therefore of opinion, that the feet are kept in subjection; that the hands occupy a more dignified position; that the eyes are the teachers; that the ears are the learners.— οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐκ, I am not of) supply, therefore, from the following clause.


Verse 15-16

1 Corinthians 12:15-16. οὐ παρὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ σώματος) ΄ὴ in interrogation expects a negative answer, as 1 Corinthians 12:29, μὴ πάντες ἀπόστολοι; [are all apostles, surely not?] but οὐκ interrogative affirms, as ch. 1 Corinthians 14:23, οὐκ ἐροῦσιν; [will they not say?] Therefore the question, whereby some read [as Engl. Vers, etc.], οὐ παρὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ σώματος; is it not therefore of the body? perverts the sense [Beng. reads it without interrogation]. οὐ παρὰ τοῦτο οὐκ possesses a double, not a simple power of negation, as Acts 4:20, οὐ δυνάμεθα μὴ λαλεῖν, 2 Thessalonians 3:9, οὐχ ὅτι οὐκ ἔχομεν ἐξονσίαν [not that we have not power]. If the foot should say, because I am not the hand, l am not of the body: this saying of the foot is blandly contradicted: Thou art not therefore not of the body, thou dost not therefore cease to be of the body. The phraseology of Theophilus of Antioch is very like this: οὐ παρὰ τὸ μὴ βλέπειν τοὺς τυφλοὺς, ἤδη καὶ οὐκ ἔστι τὸ φῶς τοῦ ἡλίου φαῖνον, it does not follow, that, because the blind do not see, now therefore also the light of the sun does not appear, lib. ad Autol., c. 3; and in this passage παρὰ denotes on account of as Deuteronomy 23:4. Orige(111), c. Cels., p. 385, οὐ διὰ τοῦτο οὐ ΄οιχεύουσι, They do not for this cause cease to commit adultery. Chrysostom, οὐ γὰρ δήπου ἐν τοῖς δυσχερέσι κοινωνοῦντες, ἐν τοῖς χρηστοτέροις οὐ κοινωνήσετε, if you do not now partake of what is unpleasant, you will not partake of what is better, on 2 Corinthians 1:7.


Verse 16

1 Corinthians 12:16. τὸ οὖς, the ear) a part less noble.— ὀφθαλμὸς, the eye) a most noble and most commanding ( ἠγεμονικὴ) part of the body, comp. Numbers 10:31. Sight excels hearing, 1 Corinthians 12:17; 1 Corinthians 12:21.


Verse 17

1 Corinthians 12:17. εἰ ὅλον ἀκοὴ, if the whole were an ear) It is not said, and if, for the etc. is supplied at the end of the verse, or if the whole were smelling, where were the taste and the touch?


Verse 18

1 Corinthians 12:18. καθὼς ἠθέλησεν, as it hath pleased Him) We ought not to require other and deeper reasons for things, beyond the will of God: it is lawful to philosophize in subjection to that will; we may do so respecting the world in its best ideal, [in a state of optimism] as the apostle does here respecting the human body in its best ideal.


Verse 20

1 Corinthians 12:20. ἑν δὲ σῶμα, but one body) From this unity there follows the mutual dependency of the members.


Verse 21

1 Corinthians 12:21. χρείαν, need) To this refer the word necessary, 1 Corinthians 12:22.— κεφαλὴ, the head) the highest part.


Verse 22

1 Corinthians 12:22. ἀσθενέστερα, more feeble) the hand, compared with the eye.


Verse 23

1 Corinthians 12:23. ἀτιμότερα, [less noble] less honourable) as the feet. The comparative is used to soften the expression; positively dishonourable [ignoble] was too severe. But he so calls those parts which are covered with garments.— ἀσχήμονα, uncomely) which stand in need of clothing.— τιμὴνπεριτίθεμεν) So the LXX., Esther 1:20, περιθήσουσι τιμήν; likewise Proverbs 12:9.— ἔχει, have) from the attention which they receive from the other members.


Verse 24

1 Corinthians 12:24. οὐ χρείαν ἔχει have no need) Why then is it necessary to adorn smooth cheeks with patches?(112)συνεκέρασε) hath tempered together.— τιμήν, honour) comp. 1 Corinthians 12:23, at the beginning.


Verse 25

1 Corinthians 12:25. ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων μεριμνῶσι, care for one another) This is explained in the following verse. The plural μεριμνῶσι, more expressly denotes the care of all the members, than if it were said in the Attic dialect, μεριμνᾷ.(113)


Verse 26

1 Corinthians 12:26. συγχαίρει) rejoice with it. Both this expression and suffer with not only denote the affection, but also the effect.


Verse 27

1 Corinthians 12:27. ἐχ μέρους, in part [in particular]) He adds this, because the Corinthians were not the sole constituents of the body of Christ and His members, ch. 1 Corinthians 14:36. Even Rome should hold it enough, if she be a part [in particular].


Verse 28

1 Corinthians 12:28. ἐν, in) So, ἐν, in [the body], 1 Corinthians 12:18, occurs with the same verb set.— πρῶτον, first) The apostles, not Peter apart from them, are in the first degree; the others follow them, according to the nature of their office, their time, their dignity, their usefulness.— προφήτας, prophets) Acts 13:1.— τρίτον διδασκάλους, thirdly, teachers) Teachers hold a high place, and are preferred to those very persons, who work miracles. Under prophets and teachers are included also evangelists and pastors; comp. Ephesians 4:11.— ἔπειτα, then) The other classes are not distinguished by members [fourthly, etc., as first, secondarily].— δυνάμεις, powers) The abstract for the concrete, and also in the following terms.— ἀντιλήψεις, κυβερνήσεις, helps, governments [ κυβέρνησις properly is the piloting of a ship]) They hold governments, who take the lead [the helm] in managing the church. Helps, are those who, though they are not governors, yet exercise a certain power and influence, by which the others are supported; comp. 1 Corinthians 13:3. These two offices are not again taken up at 1 Corinthians 12:30. Princes, as soon as they adopted the Christian faith, claimed for themselves the office of helps and governments; but at the beginning those who stood first in authority, prudence, and resources in the church, defended and governed it. Government is occupied with external things; therefore the Spirit reckons it as occupying an inferior place.— ἑρμηνείας γλωσσῶν, interpretations of tongues) The expression does not seem to be a gloss spuriously introduced from 1 Corinthians 12:10,(114) for ἑρμηνεία γλωσσῶν is there in the singular number, and it is repeated in 1 Corinthians 12:30. The want of the connecting particle [the asyndeton] is equivalent to the closing formula, etc., or et cetera.

All the oldest MSS. and Versions read γένη γλωσσῶν only. Hilary 967 alone has “genera linguarum vel loquendi vel interpretandi.”—ED.


Verse 29

1 Corinthians 12:29. ΄ὴ πάντες, are all? [surely not]) i.e., not very many are.— δυνάμεις, powers) viz., are all? For if Paul referred the have all? of 1 Corinthians 12:30, to it, he would have expressed it here.


Verse 31

1 Corinthians 12:31. ζηλοῦτε, emulously desire) The Spirit gives as He wills, 1 Corinthians 12:11 : but yet believers may freely follow out, and engage in, one thing in preference to another, ch. 1 Corinthians 14:26. God’s operations are pleasant, not compulsory.— τὰ κρείττονα, the better gifts) according as each gift is more favourable to love. Theology is comparative: ch. 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:19.— ἔτι) [and yet, Engl. Vers.] nay even: so ἔτι τε καὶ, yea even also, Luke 14:26. I not only exhort, but also show the method, and the way or plan [the true mode of viewing the subject].— καθʼ ὑπερβολὴν) This expression attaches to the noun substantive the force of a superlative (Romans 7:13), as if he were to say, the way most way-like [viam maximè vialem].— ὁδὸν, a way) He does not add the article, keeping the Corinthians somewhat in suspense, while he explains the way: דרך, the way of love.— δείκνυμι, I show) The present. Paul is now waxing warm, and is carried on to love. When he has made this ‘showing’ of the way, he returns to the gifts, as the word emulously desire [ ζηλοῦτε] repeated indicates, here and at ch. 1 Corinthians 14:1.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-corinthians-12.html. 1897.

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Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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