1 Corinthians 12:31


Thursday, 1 January 2015

But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:31

Paul closes this chapter with a verse that looks back on what he has said and forward to what he will say. Chapter 12 has spoken of gifts of the Spirit, their distribution, their use, their interdependence on one another, and their state and position within the body. Here he shows that there is nothing wrong, and everything right, with earnestly desiring the best gifts. As we grow in Christ and mature in our theology, it is right to strive for better gifts in order to benefit the church as a whole.

However, there are points that should be considered as we strive for the greater gifts.

1) We were accepted by Christ and may have possessed a “lesser” gift when accepted by Him.
2) The gift we possessed and the gift(s) we strive for are still gifts. They are available to us from an external source. Even if we spend our time perfecting a gift (teaching for example), it is God who gave us the time and the desire to do so. In the end, the gift must be credited to God.
3) Our greater gift(s) still require the gifts and the presence of all the other members in the church. Paul explained this in detail in the preceding verses.
4) If we possess a greater gift, it may actually receive less honor from the body than one who possesses a lesser gift. Again, Paul explained this before.

For these and certainly a host of other reasons, it is inexcusable to argue over the gifts we have been given; to lord them over others for any reason; or to feel that what we have is not as valuable as what others possess. The body is a single unit of many members which should have one ultimate goal and aim.

Because of this, Paul will enter into chapter 13 with one of the greatest discourses on the subject of love ever penned. The entire chapter will be devoted to this subject and it will be based on the material he has presented in chapter 12 concerning gifts. To introduce this new thought, he simply states, “And yet I show you a more excellent way.” The “more excellent way” is love.

Life application: You have a gift, it is appropriate to your station in life and in Christ, and it can and does bring honor to the Lord as you use it to His glory.

Lord God, help me to remember the principle of love as I interact with my fellow believers. Let it not be a love which is merely a show for others to see, but change my heart so that it is a love which can be felt. Help me in this because You know my heart. You know the bitterness that arises in it at times. Take that away and soften my heart so that I am truly devoted to loving those around me. For sure, I know You will be pleased with this. And so I ask it to Your glory. Amen.


1 Corinthians 12:30


31 December 2014

Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 1 Corinthians 12:30

Here, Paul finishes his list of gifts that have been disbursed among the body. In this, he lists two of the gifts that were lumped together without an adverb separating them during his previous list. They are “healings” and “tongues.” He also leaves out “helps” and “administrations” which were in that same combined list and he adds in the gift of interpreting.

These three should all be considered lesser gifts because of how they were kept separate from the previously noted gifts. Further, Paul will particularly speak about tongues and their interpretation as he continues later in chapter 14. There we will see that even at the time of the early church the gift of tongues was not being handled in an appropriate manner by the Corinthians. Because of this, he will give explicit instructions concerning this gift; instructions which have been completely ignored by most charismatic churches since the beginning of the charismatic movement.

Likewise, the abuse of the gift of “healings” has reached such an absurd level that churches often seem more like a comedy show than a true church in any real sense. In the abuse of these two gifts, there has been a complete lack of holiness, order, and honor for the exalted name of Jesus. If someone truly possesses the gift of healing, they will use it in a manner which highlights the Lord, not the possessor of the supposed gift. And if someone has the ability to speak in another language, they are to follow the explicit instructions for tongues given in chapter 14. If these aren’t followed, then what is presented is not a gift, but rather an ostentatious show designed to call attention to oneself, not the Lord.

Life application: Paul’s words are doctrine for the church. They were given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore any conduct in a church which contradicts or ignores his instructions cannot be of God.

Lord, as the year ends I know that I need to look back on the year behind me and evaluate who I am and how I have conducted myself. Please help bring to mind the things that need correction and then give me the resolve to make the needed changes so that I continue to grow in You and bring honor to You in the year ahead. I pray that the coming year will be one where my walk with You will be close and sweet. And Lord, as always I pray for Your return. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.




1 Corinthians 12:29


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 1 Corinthians 12:29

Paul will close out this chapter with obvious questions concerning the structure and makeup of the body and then redirect those questions with a final thought before moving into chapter 13. These four questions follow directly in line with the appointments he noted in the previous verse which said, “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles.” In the Greek, each of these first four was an individual appointment which was followed by an adverb which demonstrated a sort of hierarchical structure.

The obvious answer to each question was, “No.” If all were apostles, then where would be the prophet, teacher, or worker of miracles? If all were prophets, then where would be the apostles for establishing church doctrine in accord with Christ’s commands? Where would be the teachers to train up disciples? And where would be those who validated the word through miracles?

The same is true with each appointment. All are necessary, but none is sufficient to handle all of the needs and issues within the church.

Life application: What is your appointment within the church? You certainly have one and you should be carrying it out to the very best of your ability. If it seems like a lesser appointment than what another possesses, remember that they cannot do without you. Be satisfied that the Lord has you exactly where He wants you for His good purposes.

Lord, I come to church each week and what do I do? I walk in and find a place in the pew. I give what I can, but it isn’t much. And I wonder then how many lives do I touch? Others seem to have so much more to give. Should I be jealous of the pastor here in this life that I live? I think not, because without someone in the pew, there would be no need for a pastor, this is true. And so I know I fill an important role in the plan. I thank You I have use and worth in doing what I can. Praise You for placing me where I am needed. Amen.



1 Corinthians 12:28


Monday, 29 December 2014

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28

After having described the properties of individual members, Paul now turns to the gifts possessed by those members. He gives similar lists elsewhere, but they may differ a bit and they may be in slightly different orders as well. However, for this list he notes that “God has appointed these in the church.” The intent of this wording is to show that certain individuals have been granted certain gifts for the sake of the body.

He begins the list by stating “first apostles.” These are the “sent ones” who were commissioned directly by the Lord for the purpose of witnessing to His work. They have been granted the highest position within the church and their era lasted until the completion of the Bible. The apostolic period of the church ended with the death of the last apostle. However, the writings of the apostolic period actually ends with the word “Amen” penned by John at the end of the book of Revelation. There are no apostles now, despite some claiming the term.

Paul shows that after the apostles come “prophets.” The office of prophet holds two significations. The first is “foretelling.” This is an utterance from the Lord about something future. It is a proclamation of something previously unknown. Although there may have been people with this gift at the time of the letter to Corinth, there is no need for this type of office now because the Bible is recorded.

Therefore, people who claim this as a gift do so from a very tenuous position, claiming “extra-biblical” revelation. The second type of prophet is “forth-telling.” It is the interpretation and explanation of what has been recorded in the Bible. It is the job of faithful men of God who preach from the pulpit, or on the streets, or wherever else to the people. Where the word is proclaimed, the forth-telling of the word is being accomplished.

After prophets comes “teachers.” This is similar to the forth-telling prophet (preacher), but it may involve less formal oration. It is similar to any type of classroom study. Questions may be asked and answers may be provided. The teaching gift is instrumental in the discipleship of others.

Paul then says “after that miracles” are next. A miracle is above and beyond what would normally be expected from a person; exceeding general capabilities. It is an active display of the power of God for the building up of the church.

However, there are those who have unusual abilities and who will claim their “gift” is from the Spirit. People can do an astonishing array of unique things, but this doesn’t mean that their ability is a true spiritual gift. It can only be considered as such if its intent is to bring glory to God.

Next are “gifts of healings.” These would be truly miraculous healings which come by faith through prayer. There is no reason to not believe in this gift today, but there is every reason to question it as it is presented. Charlatans fill the halls of Christianity, claiming this gift when they don’t possess it. The best policy is to believe in “faith healing” but not in “faith healers.” There are those who truly have faith that their prayers will be answered, and God truly hears their prayers and responds through effectual healing of the sick.

From there, Paul notes “helps.” The Greek word is found only here in the New Testament. It is speaking of various types of aid, help, or assistance. Some may give money to help others; some may donate their particular skill (such as being an electrician) to help out; some may have an abundance of time to help with various needs. Whatever the help needed is, the need is met in this type of gift.

Next is “administrations.” Again, this Greek word is only found here in the New Testament. It is derived from the word “steer.” People with this gift have the ability to steer the church just as a shipmaster can steer the ship. They are able to make sound choices concerning what should be done, when it should be done, and what direction should be taken for the benefit of the overall body.

Lastly, Paul notes that “varieties of tongues” are available as gifts. Tongues are known languages, not made up gurgling. Some possess the ability to speak other languages which may be needed as visitors come or as missionaries are sent. It is considered the least of gifts because it is a gift which can be acquired by most through study or immersion. It is also an ability that many have that aren’t in the church. If all the members of the church speak the same language, there is no need for tongues to be spoken except perhaps to teach others the biblical languages or to teach others a language needed for mission work or the like.

It should be noted that there is often an overlap in the gifts individuals possess. Paul was an apostle, but he is also shown to have possessed other gifts listed here. An example is “healings.” At times Paul healed others as is recorded in the book of Acts. However, there are times when Paul couldn’t heal others. Therefore, it is obvious that this gift is something given by God for specific occasions and not for all times. In other words, “faith healers” are claiming an on-going gift where the Bible shows that it is not an on-going gift.

In the end, all gifts that are truly “gifts” are given by God for His purposes. Whatever our gift is, we should be thankful to the Lord for it and use it for His glory.

Life application: There is no true believer in Christ who doesn’t possess an ability which can be described as a “gift.” We can and should use our gift to the utmost of our ability for the purpose of bringing glory to God.

Heavenly Father, sometimes I feel like a rudderless ship, tossed about on a sea of difficulty and uncertainty. And yet, despite how I feel, I know that You really are there with me and that You have not abandoned me. If Your eye is on the little birds of the air, then I know for certain that Your attention is on me as well. And so, despite the storms which often come, I will keep my faith and trust in You. I know that all these temporary troubles will someday be behind me and I will be in Your presence forever. Thank You for this certain knowledge. Amen.



1 Corinthians 12:27


Sunday, 28 December 2014

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 1 Corinthians 12:27

After having discussed the natural body and how each part functions in connection with the other parts, Paul now equates the church with the body. What was true with the natural body is certainly true with the spiritual body; there is an overall body which is comprised of individual members.

As he says, “Now you are the body of Christ.” This isn’t meant that the church in Corinth comprises the whole body. Rather, as a church, they are “the body” just as the church in Ephesus is “the body,” and the Superior Word in (ever) sunny Sarasota, Florida is “the body.” The church-universal, which is comprised of the church-individual, is what forms the body. In each church, there are individual members which then comprise the “members individually.

And of course, above all of these individual members is Christ as the Head of the church. This is the way the organization works. For far too long, individual denominations have claimed that they are the body and anyone outside of their denomination is not a part of the “true” church. Nonsense! The church is comprised of faithful believers in Christ. Never let the individual parts dictate the truth about the whole. This is exactly what Paul has argued against for so many verses.

Life application: If you are in a church body that claims it is the only true church body, then you should probably find another place to worship. Christ Jesus is the unifying factor within the church, not man-made edicts and suppositions.

Gloriously splendid Lord Jesus, today I ask for a closer walk with You. Amen.