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1Co 12:1-31. THE USE AND THE ABUSE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS, ESPECIALLY PROPHESYING AND TONGUES.
1. spiritual gifts--the signs of the Spirit's continued efficacious
presence in the Church, which is Christ's body, the complement of His
incarnation, as the body is the complement of the head. By the love
which pervades the whole, the gifts of the several members, forming
reciprocal complements to each other, tend to the one object of
perfecting the body of Christ. The ordinary and permanent gifts are
comprehended together with the extraordinary, without distinction
specified, as both alike flow from the divine indwelling Spirit of life.
The extraordinary gifts, so far from making professors more peculiarly
saints than in our day, did not always even prove that such
persons were in a safe state at all
They were needed at first in the Church: (1) as a pledge to Christians
themselves who had just passed over from Judaism or heathendom, that
God was in the Church; (2) for the propagation of Christianity in the
world; (3) for the edification of the Church. Now that we have the
whole written New Testament (which they had not) and
Christianity established as the result of the miracles, we need no
further miracle to attest the truth. So the pillar of cloud which
guided the Israelites was withdrawn when they were sufficiently assured
of the Divine Presence, the manifestation of God's glory being
thenceforward enclosed in the Most Holy Place [ARCHBISHOP WHATELY]. Paul sets forth
in order: (1). The unity of the body
(2). The variety of its members and functions
(3). The grand principle for the right exercise of the gifts, namely,
(4) The comparison of the gifts with one another
3. The negative and positive criteria of inspiration by the
Spirit--the rejection or confession of Jesus as Lord [ALFORD]
(1Jo 4:2; 5:1).
Paul gives a test of truth against the Gentiles; John, against the
4. diversities of gifts--that is, varieties of spiritual endowments
peculiar to the several members of the Church: compare "dividing to
every man severally"
5, 6. "Gifts"
"administrations" (the various functions and services
performed by those having the gifts, compare
and "operations" (the actual effects resulting from both the
former, through the universally operative power of the one Father who
is "above all, through all, and in us all"), form an ascending climax
7. But--Though all the gifts flow from the one God, Lord, and
Spirit, the "manifestation" by which the Spirit acts (as He is hidden in
Himself), varies in each individual.
8-10. Three classes of gifts are distinguished by a distinct
Greek word for "another" (a distinct class), marking the
three several genera: allo marks the species, hetero the
genera (compare Greek,
I. Gifts of intellect, namely, (1) wisdom; (2) knowledge. II. Gifts
dependent on a special faith, namely, that of miracles
(1) healings; (2) workings of miracles; (3) prophecy of future events;
(4) discerning of spirits, or the divinely given faculty of
distinguishing between those really inspired, and those who pretended
to inspiration. III. Gifts referring to the tongues: (1) diverse
kinds of tongues; (2) interpretation of tongues. The catalogue in
is not meant strictly to harmonize with the one here, though there are
some particulars in which they correspond. The three genera are
summarily referred to by single instances of each in
The first genus refers more to believers; the second, to unbelievers.
9. faith--not of doctrines, but of miracles: confidence in God, by
the impulse of His Spirit, that He would enable them to perform any
required miracle (compare
Its nature, or principle, is the same as that of saving faith, namely,
reliance on God; the producing cause, also, in the same,' namely, a
power altogether supernatural
(Eph 1:19, 20).
But the objects of faith differ respectively. Hence, we see, saving
faith does not save by its instrinsic merit, but by the merits of Him
who is the object of it.
10. working of miracles--As "healings" are miracles, those here
meant must refer to miracles of special and extraordinary
POWER (so the
Greek for "miracles" means); for example, healings might be effected
by human skill in course of time; but the raising of the dead, the
infliction of death by a word, the innocuous use of poisons, &c., are
miracles of special power. Compare
11. as he will-- (1Co 12:18; Heb 2:4).
12, 13. Unity, not unvarying uniformity, is the law of God in the
world of grace, as in that of nature. As the many members of the body
compose an organic whole and none can be dispensed with as needless, so
those variously gifted by the Spirit, compose a spiritual organic whole,
the body of Christ, into which all are baptized by the one Spirit.
13. by . . . Spirit . . . baptized--literally, "in"; in virtue of;
through. The designed effect of baptism, which is realized when not
frustrated by the unfaithfulness of man.
14. Translate, "For the body also." The analogy of the body, not consisting exclusively of one, but of many members, illustrates the mutual dependence of the various members in the one body, the Church. The well-known fable of the belly and the other members, spoken by Menenius Agrippa, to the seceding commons [LIVY, 2.32], was probably before Paul's mind, stored as it was with classical literature.