1Corinthians Chapter Twelve


In the first few verses of this chapter Paul correctly addresses the problem of the gift of speaking in tongues and gives the rationale for their obsession with this gift. In verse two he reminds them about the pagan culture that ‘led’ them. This was the famous Oracle of Delphi which had a female priesthood cult which for hundreds of years had ‘prophesied’ the future for generals and nobles and all who could afford it. The way it operated was that a question would be asked of the priests and priestesses about some aspect of the future and an unintelligible response was given which had to be interpreted. This fortune telling was the ‘tongues and interpretation’ model that so impressed the Corinthians who subsequently abused the true gift of tongues and interpretation by over using it, and by more people wanting to exercise it in church than was appropriate. There was obvious confusion amongst the Corinthians about whether what was being said in church in an unknown tongue was from God or not, and whether it could even have been cursing Christ, which was no doubt what the pagans were doing five miles away from the city center at Delphi, irked by the fact that their power and influence, not to mention trade, would have been dwindling with the new Christian tongue speaking competition. Paul reassures them and urges them to trust God that ‘no man speaking by the Spirit could call Christ accursed’ (vs.3).

Paul then outlines the breakup of the nine supernatural manifestation gifts of the spirit as belonging to people of different ’types’ to one another. He writes that those who have the gifts of the utterance of wisdom and of knowledge are of similar (allos) types to one another, but of different (heteros) types to those who operate in faith, healing, miracles, prophesy and discernment of spirits. There is another type of people who operate in tongues (which includes dreams and visions, as a form of mystical communication), and the interpretation of tongues, which also includes dreams and visions etc.

All this serves as the basis for Paul to show them that God has used the pre-ordained disbursement of the gifts to each person according as to how he has created us as people with different ‘types’ of temperament and personality. These differences come with sincere heartfelt feelings and perceptions of the importance of differing needs and burdens that the gifts of the Spirit attend to. In this way God has in a master minded approach, made us all dependent upon one another, being ‘forced’ into a functional unity. Paul writes that this has been done so that ‘there be no schism in the body’ (vs. 25).

He finishes by admonishing them that despite all this, they have gone about ‘coveting the best gifts’. But his elegant answer for this is that he is about to show them ‘a more excellent way’ of achieving unity, and this more excellent way is of course, love, which becomes the subject of the next chapter.

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1. I want you to be fully informed when it comes to spiritual and supernatural things.

2. You know that you were part of a pagan culture, mislead by voiceless idols that directed your lives.

3. So I want you to clearly understand that no person who is speaking in the Spirit could be cursing Jesus. And no one can even say that Jesus is Lord unless the Holy Spirit has given them revelation of that truth

4. There is  variety of spiritual gifts but they are all from the same Holy Spirit

5. There is a variety of different ministries but they are all under the same Lord

6. There is a variety of different roles of empowerment but it is the same God that empowers everybody in all things.

7. But the expression of the Holy Spirit is given to every person for the benefit of all.

8. To one person the Holy Spirit gives the gift of expressing God’s wisdom and to another similarly motivated kind of person he gives the ability to lay out knowledge from God.

9. To another person of a different kind of motivation The Spirit give the gift of supernatural faith, and to another similar type of person the gifts of supernatural healing.

10. To another of a similar kind is given the working of miracles, while to another of the same type also is given the gift of prophecy. To another of the same kind is given the gift of the discerning of different spirits. To another of a different kind again is given the gift of expressing mystical communication from God, and to another of the same kind as that is given the gift of interpreting mystical communications from God.

11. But all of these gifts release the one and the same divine energy of God’s Spirit, and the gifts are apportioned to each person as God has predetermined.

12. Just as our body is an individual unit yet has many parts to it, and all the parts of our body, even though there are many of them, still make up the one individual body, so it is with Christ.

13 It is by the one Holy Spirit hat we are all immersed into one body whether we are Jews or belong to any other race or ethnic background, whether we are slaves or free. We have all been given the one spirit to drink of

14. Because the body does not consist of one part only, but it consists of many parts.

14. What if the foot said to itself ‘because I am not a hand I don’t belong to the body – does that mean it does not belong to the body?

16. And the same with the ear, if it said to itself ‘I am not an eye, so I don’t belong to the body’ - does that mean it does not belong to the body?

17. If the whole body was an eye, how could the body hear? And if the whole body was an ear, then how could the body smell anything?

18. God has placed every particular part in the right place in the body just as he felt he wanted to.

19. So then if we were all the same part of the body there would be no body at all.

20. But now you can se that even though there are many parts to the one body, we are nevertheless one complete body.

21. The eye cannot say to the hand ‘I don’t need you’.  And the head can’t say to the feet ‘I don’t need you’.

22. In fact it becomes clear that the parts of the body which seem small and less prominent are absolutely necessary.

23. And those parts of the body which we think to be less important we have find we have to give even more importance to, and the plain and ordinary parts of our body become all the more extraordinary and attractive.

24. For the attractive and prominent parts of our body never lack being on display or being given attention, but God has put the body together so that those parts which would normally be not noticed are given just as much attention and appreciation.

25. This is so that there will be no division within the body, but that rather all the different pats of the body will have the same care and appreciation of the other.

26. And if one part is suffering all the other parts suffer with it, and if one part is blessed and honored all the other parts share in the enjoyment.

27. The point of all this is that you are all special and important parts of the whole body of Christ

28. God has also placed some in the

Church. First there are apostles, then

come prophets, thirdly there are teachers

and after that workers of miracles, then

those with gifts of healings, then those

with supportive gifts, then those with

administrative management, the those who

express all kinds of mystical

communication from God.

29. So can everyone be an apostle? Or a

Prophet? Or a teacher? Or a miracle worker?

30. Does everyone have the gifts of healing? Or express different kinds of mystical communication from God? Or interpret those mystical communications?

30. But you are all coveting the most prominent gifts. But I am now going to show you the most excellent way (of achieving unity in the body).

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