Letters to the Corinthians: Spritual Things

Paul moves onto one of the other topics that the Corinthians had written to him about – spiritual things that they’ve seen some manifestation of but have no firm grasp on what they mean. Paul answers them in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and he continues from there …

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Looking at the Greek, the word ‘gifts’ seems to be an addition to help clarify the topic of conversation. Perhaps the question was something like: “How does the Spirit work in us?”

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

So much has been made about gifts that often the service and working mentioned in this verse is ignored. Paul wants the believers to understand that this is not a competition.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

One of the themes that Paul may be leading into is the idea of order in worship. Part of the disorder lies in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They seem to prefer speaking in tongues – they could be trying to see which among them is most spiritual based on how much or how loud they speak in tongues. Maybe some others are defending their gifts as being better than speaking in tongues. But Paul reminds them that the same Spirit is common to them all and it is the one who gives gifts as it chooses.

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