Summary of 1 Corinthians 12:
Gifts given by the Spirit are different for everyone and to be used for the common good. All determined by God.
The body is made up of many parts but all forming one body. Just like mankind. We have many gifts but all of one Spirit. All parts depend on each other in order to properly function. We are all the body of Christ and have a part to play.
Summary of 1 Corinthians 13:
One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. Paul describes love as indispensable. It must be present in everything we do or it is all for nothing. Love is a verb. It shows action. It is patient, kind, protects, trusts, and perseveres. It does not envy, boast, is proud or rude, or a score-keeper.
Love never fails and is eternal. In Heaven, faith and hope fall away. But love remains.
Summary of 1 Corinthians 14:
Paul says prophecy is better than speaking in tongues because prophecy can be understood by others and helps other. He who speaks in tongues only helps himself. Speak clearly and try to excel in gifts that build up the church and not just yourself.
If you do speak in tongues, pray you may interpret it for the benefit of others.
Prophecy helps the unbeliever for if an unbeliever heard you speaking in tongues he would think you are nuts! But an unbeliever can understand prophecy and will be convinced he is a sinner and repent and turn to God.
Worship should be for the strengthening of the church. An interpreter must be present when speaking in tongues. Prophecy should be instructional and encouraging. Women should not speak in the realm of church authority. This is the word of God.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 23, Day 4: 1 Corinthians 12-14
14) To strengthen the church, to be built up, and equipped as a church family. To focus on God and the truth, not individuals. Spiritual gifts should not be a distraction.
15) So that people can learn and be encourged. Confusion is not from God.
16) Personal Question. My answer: No clue, to be honest. We all like to think we are doing good things in this world and helping others, but are you really? Encouraging others, supporting others, listening to others, offering advice when asked, and just being there are concrete ways to build others up.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 23, Day 4: 1 Corinthians 12-14
Love this part of the Bible. So beautiful and elegant. There are powerful words here, about spiritual gifts, when to use spiritual gifts and their purpose, and of course, how everything is meaningless without love. When we come together at a church, it’s to strengthen us, and it’s not about us.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 23, Day 4: 1 Corinthians 12-14
1 Corinthians 12:
The word “gifts” is added by the translators. Literally, Paul now addresses spirituals, after discussing all the areas of Corinthian carnality. But adding gifts is justified by the context.
Clarke defines spiritual gifts as “Gracious endowments, leading to miraculous results… these all came by the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit.”
Paul, in his letters, names three things he does not want Christians to be ignorant of:
- Don’t be ignorant of God’s plan for Israel (Romans 11:25).
- Don’t be ignorant of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1).
- Don’t be ignorant about the Second Coming of Jesus and the eternal state (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
Paul lists nine spiritual gifts in the following verses, and more in other places. There is only one Giver, who works through the diverse gifts.
The gifts are diverse, the ministries are different, and the activities are diverse. But it is all the same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God doing the work through the gifts, the ministries, and the activities.
Ministries probably has in mind the different “gifted offices” in the church, such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers, as Paul also described in Ephesians 4. Paul’s point is clear: though there are different offices, it is the same Lord granting the offices and directing the service.
The Greek word for activities is energemata, where we get our words energy, energetic, and energize from. It is a word of active, miraculous power. Activities is the same word as working in 1 Corinthians 12:10 (the working of miracles). Differences of activities means that God displays and pours out His miraculous power in different ways, but it is always the same God doing the work.
The gifts are the work of the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus, and Father God.
The Holy Spirit is always present in and among Christians. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, He may abide with you forever (John 14:16). However, at some times the Spirit’s presence is more apparent than at other times.
The purpose of the manifestation of the Spirit is to benefit the whole church family, not just a particular individual.
- This is the unique ability to speak forth the wisdom of God, especially in an important situation, as shown in Stephen (Acts 7) and Paul (Acts 23).
- The unique ability to declare knowledge that could only be revealed supernaturally, as shown in Jesus (Matthew 17:24-27) or Paul (Acts 27:10, 27:23-26).
- The gift of faith is the unique ability to trust God against all circumstances, as Peter did when he walked out of the boat onto the water (Matthew 14:22-33).
- Gift of healing — God’s healing power
- Gift of miracles — Literally dynameis, or “acts of power.” This describes when the Holy Spirit chooses to “override” the laws of nature (as a pilot might use manual controls), working in or through an available person.
- Prophecy — The telling-forth of God’s message in a particular situation, always in accord with His Word and His current work.
- Discerning of spirits — The ability to tell the difference between true and false doctrine, and between what is of the Holy Spirit and what isn’t (Acts 8:18-23 and 16:16-18).
- The gift of tongues is a personal language of prayer given by God, whereby the believer can communicate with God beyond the limits of knowledge and understanding (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).
- The gift of the interpretation of tongues: This gift allows the gift of tongues to be of benefit for those other than the speaker, as they are able to hear and agree with the tongue-speaker’s words to God.
Satan appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He deceives with a false, tempting message (Genesis 2:16-3:5). There can be lying spirits in the mouths of prophets (1 Kings 22:21-23 and 2 Chronicles 18:20-22). Satan can speak right after God speaks (Matthew 16:23). Sometimes people who seem to say the right things are really from the devil (Acts 13:6-12 and 16:16-18). It is important to test the word of anyone who claims to speak from God (1 John 4:1-3). Satan can work deceiving miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 and Revelation 13:11-14). The devil will try to infiltrate the church with false teachers (Jude 4 and 2 Peter 2:1-2).
Tongues have an important place in the devotional life of the believer, but a small place in the corporate life of the church (1 Corinthians 14:18-19), especially in “public” meetings (1 Corinthians 14:23).
When tongues are practiced in the corporate life of the church, it is to be carefully controlled, and never without an interpretation given by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:27-28).
The ability to pray in an unknown tongue is not a gift given to every believer (1 Corinthians 12:20).
Gifts are given by God for His will.
Paul uses the brilliant illustration of the human body to relate the working of the community of Christians. Even as every cell in a human body is linked by a common root (a common DNA code), yet the parts of our body (members) look different, are treated differently, work differently, and accomplish different purposes.
The body must have different parts and gifts, or it would not work together effectively as a body.
The Corinthian Christians should care for one another because they are all part of the same body.
Helps: This has in mind those who help, or assist, others in doing the work of the Lord.
Though the Holy Spirit gives the gifts, it is good and proper for us to desire them, and to ask for them, all in submission to the plan of God.
Paul will explain the more excellent way in 1 Corinthians 13, with a focus on love, not the gifts themselves.
1 Corinthians 13:
Gifts are meaningless without love.
In Paul’s day, many Jews believed angels had their own language, and by the Spirit, one could speak it.
Apparently, there are angelic languages men can speak by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Paul uses the ancient Greek word agape. The ancient Greeks had four different words we could translate love. It is important to understand the difference between the words, and why the apostle Paul chose the Greek word agape here.
Eros was one word for love. It described erotic love. It refers to sexual love.
Storge was the second word for love. It refers to family love, the kind of love there is between a parent and child, or between family members in general.
Philia is the third word for love. It speaks of a brotherly friendship and affection. It is the love of deep friendship and partnership. It might be described as the highest love of which man, without God’s help, is capable of.
Agape is the fourth word for love. It is a love that loves without changing. It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting repayment. It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing. It is love that loves even when it is rejected. Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given. It gives because it loves; it does not love in order to receive. According to Alan Redpath, we get our English word agony from agape. “It means the actual absorption of our being in one great passion.” (Redpath) Strictly speaking, agape can’t be defined as “God’s love,” because men are said to agape sin and the world (John 3:19 and 1 John 2:15). But it can be defined as a sacrificial, giving, absorbing kind of love. The word has little to do with emotion; it has much to do with self-denial for the sake of another.
We can read this chapter and think that Paul is saying that if we are unfriendly, then our lives mean nothing. But agape isn’t really friendliness; it is self-denial for the sake of another.
Many Christians believe the Christian life is all about sacrifice – sacrificing your money, your life, for the cause of Jesus Christ. Sacrifice is important, but without love, life is useless.
At the beginning, we see love is described by action words, not by lofty concepts. Paul is not writing about how love feels, he is writing about how it can be seen in action. True love is always demonstrated by action.
Eight things love is not: not envious, not proud, not arrogant, not rude, not cliquish, not touchy, not suspicious, not happy with evil.
Moses was kept from the Promised Land because he became provoked at the people of Israel (Numbers 20:2-11).
Four more things love is: strong, believing, hopeful, and enduring. Spurgeon calls these four virtues love’s four sweet companions.
We could replace the word love with the name Jesus and the description would make perfect sense. We can easily say, Jesus suffers long and is kind; Jesus does not envy… and make it through the whole chapter.
Virtually all commentators agree that which is perfect is fulfilled when we are in the eternal presence of the Perfect One, when we are with the Lord forever, either through the return of Christ or graduation to the eternal.
i. The ancient Greek word for perfect is telos. Considering the way the New Testament uses telos in other passages, it certainly seems to speak about the coming of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:8, 15:24, James 5:11, Revelation 20:5, 20:7, 21:6, and 22:13).
Paul uses this term to describe complete, unhindered fellowship with God. 1 John 3:2 tells us when we get to heaven, we shall see Him as He is. There will be no more barriers to our relationship with God.
What makes heaven really heaven is the unhindered, unrestricted, presence of our Lord, and to know just as I also am known will be the greatest experience of our eternal existence.
It should all come back to faith, hope, and love. If it doesn’t, we need to receive God’s sense of priorities, and put our focus where it belongs.
Love is greatest because it will continue, even grow, in the eternal state. When we are in heaven, faith and hope will have fulfilled their purpose.
Love is also the greatest because it is an attribute of God (1 John 4:8), and faith and hope are not part of God’s character and personality
If you lose love, you lose everything.
1 Corinthians 14:
We must pursue love.
Gift of Tongues
With the gift of tongues, the speaker addresses God, not men. If we misunderstand this, we misunderstand Acts 2 and think the disciples preached to the crowd in tongues on the day of Pentecost. Instead, they spoke to God and the multi-national crowd overheard their praise to God.
In contrast to the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy is directed to men. It is God speaking supernaturally (often “naturally supernaturally”) through people to people. Edification is “building up.” Exhortation is encouragement. Comfort has the idea of not only consoling, but also strengthening.
Paul recognized the gift of tongues was valuable for himself, because in 1 Corinthians 14:18 he wrote I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all. But it was not valuable for him to speak to others with the gift of tongues.
Speaking in tongues at a meeting of the church benefits no one else; it is simply putting sounds into the air, not words and ideas into the minds and hearts of others.
Language itself is a gift from God. We can communicate with language because we are made in the image of God.
The goal must be mutual benefit at church meetings. If there must be tongues, there must be interpretation, so there can be edification.
Speaking in tongues communicates with God on a spiritual level, passing by our understanding.
In the Isaiah 28 passage, tongues were a sign of judgment upon the Israelites.
Paul sees the gathering of the church as a time when people come to participate and to give to one another, not merely to passively receive.
The goal of coming together as a church is not to be entertained, nor even to be “pleased” with a “blessing.” We gather for edification, for the spiritual building up we need to live lives that glorify Jesus Christ outside the walls of the church. As Paul said in Ephesians 4:12, the goal is the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Our Christian lives are lived on the outside, and we come to be strengthened, built up, and equipped when we come together as a church family.
Tongues in a church meeting are to be carefully regulated. If you must speak in tongues at your church meetings, do not do much of it.
Paul believes prophecy should be regulated. The gifts of the Spirit are never to be made the focus of congregational life. Worship and the Word are the focus, and the gifts flow under God’s direction around the focus of worship and the Word.
In the ancient world, just as in some modern cultures, women and men sat in different groups at church. Among the Christians in Corinth, there seems to have been the problem of women chattering or disrupting the meetings with questions.
When you come together as a church, it is far better to be a blessing to someone else; therefore, prophecy is much more useful than tongues.
God is a God of order and peace, and He wants order when the church comes together. When the gifts of the Spirit are given an unscriptural focus, it discredits the true work of the Holy Spirit, and often leads people to deny the gifts because they see unbiblical excess.