12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
One Body with Many Members
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Now about spiritual gifts…” Paul begins. He has laid out many tangible things and issues for the church to consider and turns things toward the spiritual aspect. His focus is the gifts of the Spirit.
By no means is this an exhaustive list as he writes elsewhere of others and their function. Throughout these writings, he makes clear there are many gifts the Spirit gives. People have different ones but all are for the building up of the church, Christ’s Body. At the heart of this portion though is for the Corinthian church the spiritual gifts had become symbols of spiritual power which caused all kinds of further rivalries and division as some thought or perceived they were more spiritual than others.
Paul debunks this line of thinking through this brilliant analogy of the human body working together as a solid community. Each has their purpose and function. The church is composed of many different types of people. We come from different backgrounds, have different histories that make us remarkably unique. Sometimes it’s easy for these things to divide us when in essence God uses all of these to build His Body, reach people in ways only our story will do.
The same is true with the gifts of the Spirit He has given to us. As with this illustration, Paul emphasizes the importance of every church member having a role that is significant. We look different, are treated differently, work differently all to accomplish different purposes. Such diversity works toward a common goal – being the hands and feet of Jesus to our world, in building up the church.
The question becomes, are we actively using the gifts God has given us to build up the Body? Are we focused on thriving in those gifts for the betterment of the Kingdom? God has gifted each of us by His Spirit to bring glory and honor to His name, build His Church and be the people He’s called us to be.
1 Corinthians 12 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person.1 Corinthians 12:4-6 HCSB
What does Paul mean by gifts, ministries, and activities?
Gifts – Paul lists many here in 1 Corinthians 12 and others throughout Scripture. The key is that they are diverse and given by God.
Ministries – Most likely this is referring to the different offices that are given to those in leadership such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. Once again, the emphasis is on the fact that these come from the same God who has given gifts.
Activities – (in Greek, the root word for energy, energetic, and energize) God pours out his power to work out His will in different ways to different people. These activities indicate that once again the power does not come from our work, but the Lord’s sovereign work through us.
Some in the church are given specific gifts. Others are given ministries of leadership. Still others are gifted with timely miraculous events or outpourings of the Spirit. It is human nature to try and figure out where we stand and then compare ourselves to others. This was not Paul’s advice. In fact, he plainly states that all of these gifts come from the same God. They are to be used together, with unity, for the building up of the body of Christ.
“Apparently, the tendency to divde among the Corinthian Christians had made them think separately or competitively about the gifts. Perhaps the “tongues speakers” thought themselves superior to the “prophesiers,” as if the gifts had come from two different gods! Paul emphasizes to them that one and the same Spirit works all these things, so they should reflect that same unity among themselves.”David Guzik
I see this same problem amongst churches in the same community. One church may be gifted in discipleship while another may be gifted in reaching the poor. Sometimes churches can think themselves better than the rest because of their God-ordained ministry or gifting. This causes an attitude of division and competition which does not please God and effectively stunts the holistic growth of the community. Paul’s advice was to see all giftings through the same Spirit and work together to glorify God!