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  • ROBERTSON'S NT WORD STUDIES
    & BIBLE COMMENTARY - 1 CORINTHIANS 12

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    12:1 {Now concerning spiritual gifts} (peri de twn pneumatikwn). Clearly one of the items asked about in the letter to Paul (#7:1) and introduced precisely as the problem of meats offered to idols (#8:1). this question runs to the end of chapter 14. Plainly much trouble had arisen in Corinth in the exercise of these gifts.

    12:2 {Ye were led away} (apagomenoi). The copula ete is not expressed (common ellipsis) with the participle (periphrastic imperfect passive), but it has to be supplied to make sense. Some scholars would change hote (when) to pote (once) and so remove the difficulty. {Unto those dumb idols} (pros ta eidwla ta afwna). "Unto the idols the dumb." See #Ps 95:5-7 for the voicelessness (a-fwna, old adjective, without voice, fwne) of the idols. Pagans were led astray by demons (#1Co 10:19f.). {Howsoever ye might be led} (hws an egesqe). Rather, "as often as ye were led." For this use of hws an for the notion of repetition, regular _Koin‚_ idiom, see Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 974. Cf. hopou an in #Mr 6:56.

    12:3 {Wherefore I give you to understand} (dio gnwrizw humin). Causative idea (only in Aeschylus in old Greek) in papyri (also in sense of recognize) and N.T., from root gnw in ginwskw, to know. {Speaking in the Spirit of God} (en pneumati qeou lalwn). Either sphere or instrumentality. No great distinction here between lalew (utter sounds) and legw (to say). {Jesus is anaqema} (anaqema iesous). On distinction between anaqema (curse) and anaqema (offering #Lu 21:5) see discussion there. In LXX anaqema means a thing devoted to God without being redeemed, doomed to destruction (#Le 27:28f.; Jos 6:17; 7:12). See #1Co 16:22; Ga 1:8f.; Ro 9:3. this blasphemous language against Jesus was mainly by the Jews (#Ac 13:45; 18:6). It is even possible that Paul had once tried to make Christians say anaqema iesous (#Ac 26:11). {Jesus is Lord} (kurios iesous). The term kurios, as we have seen, is common in the LXX for God. The Romans used it freely for the emperor in the emperor worship. "Most important of all is the early establishment of a polemical parallelism between the cult of Christ and the cult of Caesar in the application of the term kurios, 'lord.' The new texts have here furnished quite astonishing revelations" (Deissmann, _Light from the Ancient East_, p. 349). Inscriptions, ostraca, papyri apply the term to Roman emperors, particularly to Nero when Paul wrote this very letter (_ib._, p. 353f.): "One with 'Nero kurios' quite in the manner of a formula (without article, like the 'kurios Jesus' in #1Co 12:3."The battle-cries of the spirits of error and of truth contending at Corinth" (Findlay). One is reminded of the demand made by Polycarp that he say kurios caesar and how each time he replied kurios iesous. He paid the penalty for his loyalty with his life. Lighthearted men today can say "Lord Jesus" in a flippant or even in an irreverent way, but no Jew or Gentile qen said it who did not mean it.

    12:4 {Diversities} (diaireseis). Old word for distinctions, differences, distributions, from diairew, to distribute, as diairoun (dividing, distributing) in verse #11. Only here in the N.T. {Of gifts} (carismatwn). Late word and chiefly in Paul (cf. #Ro 12:6) in N.T. (except #1Pe 4:19), but some examples in papyri. It means a favor (from carizomai) bestowed or received without any merit as in #Ro 1:11.

    12:5 {Of ministrations} (diakoniwn). this old word is from diakonos and has a general meaning of service as here (#Ro 11:13) and a special ministration like that of Martha (#Lu 10:40) and the collection (#1Co 16:15; 2Co 8:4).

    12:6 {Of workings} (energematwn). Late word, here only in N.T., the effect of a thing wrought (from energew, to operate, perform, energize). Paul uses also the late kindred word energeia (#Col 1:29; 2:12) for efficiency. {Who worketh all things in all} (ho energwn ta panta en pasin). Paul is not afraid to say that God is the Energy and the Energizer of the Universe. "I say that the magnet floats in space by the will of God" (Dr. W. R. Whitney, a world figure in science). this is his philosophic and scientific theory of the Cosmos. No one has shown Paul's philosophy and science to be wrong. Here he is speaking only of spiritual gifts and results as a whole, but he applies this principle to the universe (ta panta) in #Col 1:16 (of Christ) and in #Ro 11:36 (of God). Note the Trinity in these verses: the same Spirit (verse #4), the same Lord (Jesus) in verse #5, the same God (the Father) in verse #6.

    12:7 {Manifestation} (fanerwsis). Late word, in papyri, in N.T. only here and #2Co 4:2, from fanerow, to make manifest (faneros). Each instance of the whole (verse #6) is repeatedly given (didotai, present passive indicative of didwmi). {To profit with} (pros to sumferon). See on #6:12; 10:23,33 for Paul's guiding principle in such matters.

    12:8 {To one} (hwi men). Demonstrative hos with men in dative case, to this one. The distribution or correlation is carried on by allwi de (verses #8,9,10), heterwi de (verses #9,10) for variety, nine manifestations of the Spirit's work in verses #8-10. {The Word of wisdom} (logos sofias). Old words. logos is reason, qen speech. Wisdom is intelligence, qen practical action in accord with it. Here it is speech full of God's wisdom (#2:7) under the impulse of the Spirit of God. this gift is placed first (revelation by the Spirit). {The word of knowledge} (logos gnwsews). this gift is insight (illumination) according to (kata) the same Spirit.

    12:9 {Faith} (pistis). Not faith of surrender, saving faith, but wonder-working faith like that in #13:2 (#Mt 17:20; 21:21). Note here en twi autwi pneumati (in the same Spirit) in contrast with dia and kata in verse #8. {Gifts of healings} (carismata iamatwn). iama, old word from iaomai, common in LXX, in N.T. only in this chapter. It means acts of healing as in #Ac 4:30 (cf. #Jas 5:14) and #Lu 7:21 (of Jesus). Note en here as just before.

    12:10 {Workings of miracles} (energemata dunamewn). Workings of powers. Cf. energwn dunameis in #Ga 3:5; Heb 2:4 where all three words are used (semeia, signs, terata, wonders, dunameis, powers). Some of the miracles were not healings as the blindness on Elymas the sorcerer. {Prophecy} (profeteia). Late word from profetes and profemi, to speak forth. Common in papyri. this gift Paul will praise most (chapter #1Co 14). Not always prediction, but a speaking forth of God's message under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. {Discernings of spirits} (diakriseis pneumatwn). diakrisis is old word from diakrinw (see #11:29) and in N.T. only here; #Ro 14:1; Heb 5:14. A most needed gift to tell whether the gifts were really of the Holy Spirit and supernatural (cf. so-called "gifts" today) or merely strange though natural or even diabolical (#1Ti 4:1; 1Jo 4:1f.). {Divers kinds of tongues} (gene glwsswn). No word for "divers" in the Greek. There has arisen a great deal of confusion concerning the gift of tongues as found in Corinth. They prided themselves chiefly on this gift which had become a source of confusion and disorder. There were varieties (kinds, genˆ) in this gift, but the gift was essentially an ecstatic utterance of highly wrought emotion that edified the speaker (#14:4) and was intelligible to God (#14:2,28). It was not always true that the speaker in tongues could make clear what he had said to those who did not know the tongue (#14:13): It was not mere gibberish or jargon like the modern "tongues," but in a real language that could be understood by one familiar with that tongue as was seen on the great Day of Pentecost when people who spoke different languages were present. In Corinth, where no such variety of people existed, it required an interpreter to explain the tongue to those who knew it not. Hence Paul placed this gift lowest of all. It created wonder, but did little real good. this is the error of the Irvingites and others who have tried to reproduce this early gift of the Holy Spirit which was clearly for a special emergency and which was not designed to help spread the gospel among men. See on ¯Ac 2:13-21; 10:44-46; 19:6. {The interpretation of tongues} (hermeneia glwsswn). Old word, here only and #14:26 in N.T., from hermeneuw from hermes (the god of speech). Cf. on diermeneuw in #Lu 24:27; Ac 9:36. In case there was no one present who understood the particular tongue it required a special gift of the Spirit to some one to interpret it if any one was to receive benefit from it.

    12:11 {Worketh} (energei). The same word that was used in verse #6 of God. {Severally} (idiai). Separately. {Even as he will} (kaqws bouletai). Hence there is no occasion for conceit, pride, or faction (#4:7).

    12:12 {So also is Christ} (houtws kai ho cristos). One would naturally expect Paul here to say houtws kai to swma tou cristou (so also is the body of Christ). He will later call Christ the Head of the Body the Church as in #Col 1:18,24; Eph 5:23,30. Aristotle had used swma of the state as the body politic. What Paul here means is Christ as the Head of the Church has a body composed of the members who have varied gifts and functions like the different members of the human body. They are all vitally connected with the Head of the body and with each other. this idea he now elaborates in a remarkable manner.

    12:13 {Were we all baptized into one body} (hemeis pantes eis hen swma ebaptisqemen). First aorist passive indicative of baptizw and so a reference to a definite past event with each of them of different races, nations, classes, when each of them put on the outward badge of service to Christ, the symbol of the inward changes already wrought in them by the Holy Spirit (#Ga 3:27; Ro 6:2ff.). {And were all made to drink of one Spirit} (kai pantes hen pneuma epotisqemen). First aorist passive indicative of potizw, old verb, to give to drink. The accusative hen pneuma is retained in the passive as often with verbs that in the active take two accusatives. The reference is to a definite act in the past, probably to the inward experience of the Holy Spirit symbolized by the act of baptism.

    12:14 {Is not one member} (ouk estin hen melos). The point sounds like a truism, but it is the key to the whole problem of church life both local and general. Vincent refers to the fable of the body and the members by Menenius Agrippa (Livy, II, 32), but it was an old parable. Socrates pointed out how absurd it would be if feet and hands should work against one another when God made them to cooperate (Xen., _Mem_. II. iii. 18). Seneca alludes to it as does Marcus Aurelius and Marcus Antoninus.

    12:15 {If the foot shall say} (ean eipei ho pous). Condition of third class (ean and second aorist subjunctive eipei). In case the foot say. {I am not of the body} (ouk eimi ek tou swmatos). I am independent of the body, not dependent on the body. {It is not therefore not of the body} (ou para touto ouk estin ek tou swmatos). Thinking or saying so does not change the fact. para touto here means "alongside of this " (cf. IV Macc. 10:19) and so "because of," a rare use (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 616). The two negatives (ou--ouk) do not here destroy one another. Each retains its full force.

    12:16 Points explained precisely as in verse #15.

    12:17 {If the whole body were an eye} (ei holon to swma ofqalmos). The eye is the most wonderful organ and supremely useful (#Nu 10:31), the very light of the body (#Lu 11:34). And yet how grotesque it would be if there were nothing else but a great round rolling eye! A big "I" surely! {The smelling} (he osfresis). Old word from osfrainomai, to smell. Here alone in N.T.

    12:18 {But now} (nun de). But as things are, in contrast to that absurdity. {Hath God set} (ho qeos eqeto). Second aorist middle indicative. God did it and of himself. {Even as it pleased him} (kaqws eqelesen). Why challenge God's will? Cf. #Ro 9:20.

    12:19 {One member} (hen melos). Paul applies the logic of verse #17 to any member of the body. The application to members of the church is obvious. It is particularly pertinent in the case of a "church boss."

    12:20 {Many members, but one body} (polla mele, hen de swma). The argument in a nutshell, in one epigram.

    12:21 {Cannot say} (ou dunatai eipein). And be truthful. The superior organs need the inferior ones (the eye, the hand, the head, the feet).

    12:22 {Nay, much rather} (alla pollwi mallon). Adversative sense of alla, on the contrary. So far from the more dignified members like the eye and the head being independent of the subordinate ones like the hands and feet, they are "much more" (_argumentum a fortiori_, "by much more" pollwi mallon, instrumental case) in need of therm. {Those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary} (ta dokounta mele tou swmatos asqenestera huparcein anagkaia estin). Things are not always what they seem. The vital organs (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys) are not visible, but life cannot exist without them.

    12:23 {We bestow} (peritiqemen). Literally, We place around as if a garland (#Mr 15:17) or a garment (#Mt 27:28). {More abundant comeliness} (euscemosunen perissoteran). One need only mention the mother's womb and the mother's breast to see the force of Paul's argument here. The word, common in old Greek, from euscemwn (eu, well, scema, figure), here only in N.T. One may think of the coal-miner who digs under the earth for the coal to keep us warm in winter. So ascemwn (deformed, uncomely), old word, here only in N.T., but see #7:36 for ascemonew.

    12:24 {Tempered the body together} (sunekerasen to swma). First aorist active indicative of sunkerannumi, to mix together, old word, but in N.T. only here and #Heb 4:2. Plato used this very word of the way God compounded (sunekerasato) the various elements of the body in creating soul and body. Paul rejects the idea of the later Gnostics that matter is evil and the physical organs degrading. He gives a noble picture of the body with its wonderful organs planned to be the temple of God's Spirit (#6:19) in opposition to the Epicurean sensualists in Corinth. {To that part which lacked} (twi husteroumenwi). It is a true instinct that gives superior honor to the unseen organs of life.

    12:25 {That there should be no schism} (hina me ei scisma). Purpose of God in his plan for the body. Trouble in one organ affects the whole body. A headache may be due to trouble elsewhere and usually is. {Have the same care} (to auto merimn"sin). The very verb merimnaw used by Jesus of our anxiety (#Mt 6:27,31). Paul here personifies the parts of the body as if each one is anxious for the others. The modern knowledge of the billions of cells in the body co-working for the whole confirms Paul's argument.

    12:26 {Suffer with it} (sunpascei). Medical term in this sense in Hippocrates and Galen. In N.T only here and #Ro 8:17 (of our suffering with Christ). One of Solon's Laws allowed retaliation by any one for another's injuries. Plato (_Republic_, V, 462) says the body politic "feels the hurt" as the whole body feels a hurt finger. {Rejoice with it} (suncairei). this is fortunately true also. One may tingle with joy all over the body thanks to the wonderful nervous system and to the relation between mind and matter. See #13:6 for joy of love with truth.

    12:27 {Severally} (ek merous). See #Ro 11:25 apo merous (in part). Each has his own place and function in the body of Christ.

    12:28 {God hath set some} (hous men eqeto ho qeos). See verse #18 for eqeto ho qeos. Note middle voice (for his own use). Paul begins as if he means to say hous men apostolous, hous de profetas (some apostles, some prophets), but he changes the construction and has no hous de, but instead prwton, deuteron, epeita (first, second, qen, etc.). {In the church} (en tei ekklesiai). The general sense of ekklesia as in #Mt 16:18 and later in #Col 1:18,24; Eph 5:23,32; Heb 12:23. See list also in #Eph 4:11. See on ¯Mt 10:2 for apostolous, the official title given the twelve by Jesus, and claimed by Paul though not one of the twelve. {Prophets} (profetas). For-speakers for God and Christ. See the list of prophets and teachers in #Ac 13:1 with Barnabas first and Saul last. Prophets are needed today if men will let God's Spirit use them, men moved to utter the deep things of God. {Teachers} (didaskalous). Old word from didaskw, to teach. Used to the Baptist (#Lu 3:12), to Jesus (#Joh 3:10; 13:13), and of Paul by himself along with apostolos (#1Ti 2:7). It is a calamity when the preacher is no longer a teacher, but only an exhorter. See #Eph 4:11. {qen miracles} (epeita dunameis). Here a change is made from the concrete to the abstract. See the reverse in #Ro 12:7. See these words (dunameis, iametwn, glwsswn) in verses #9,10 with glwsswn, last again. But these two new terms (helps, governments). {Helps} (antilemyeis). Old word, from antilambanomai, to lay hold of. In LXX, common in papyri, here only in N.T. Probably refers to the work of the deacons, help rendered to the poor and the sick. {Governments} (kuberneseis). Old word from kubernaw (cf. kubernetes in #Ac 27:11) like Latin _gubernare_, our govern. So a governing. Probably Paul has in mind bishops (episcopoi) or elders (presbuteroi), the outstanding leaders (hoi proistamenoi in #1Th 5:12; Ro 12:8; hoi hegoumenoi in #Ac 15:22; Heb 13:7,17,24). Curiously enough, these two offices (pastors and deacons) which are not named specifically are the two that survive today. See #Php 1:1 for both officers.

    12:29 {Are all} (me pantes). The me expects a negative answer with each group.

    12:30 {Do all interpret?} (me pantes diermeneuousin?). He adds this query to the list in #28, but it is in #10.

    12:31 {The greater gifts} (ta carismata ta meizona). Paul unhesitatingly ranks some spiritual gifts above others. zelow here has good sense, not that of envy as in #Ac 7:9; 1Co 13:4. {And a still more excellent way} (kai eti kaq' huperbolen hodon). In order to gain the greater gifts. "I show you a way _par excellence_," beyond all comparison (superlative idea in this adjunct, not comparative), like kaq' huperbolen eis huperbolen (#2Co 4:17). huperbole is old word from huperballw, to throw beyond, to surpass, to excel (#2Co 3:10; Eph 1:19). "I show you a supremely excellent way." Chapter #1Co 13 is this way, the way of love already laid down in #8:1 concerning the question of meats offered to idols (cf. #1Jo 4:7). Poor division of chapters here. this verse belongs with chapter #1Co 13.

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