1 Corinthians Chapter 12

January 26, 2012

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on 1 Corinthians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

1 Corinthians 12:1-31 (NIV)
1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

As we continue on in our study of Corinthians it should be pretty clear that as awesome as the early church was, there were a lot of issues to deal with. The qualities that are most important for the church were in full evidence, truth, love and transformed lives, but the church still had a lot of maturing to do. And it still does. We are still at work trying to maintain the dynamic balance of truth, love and transformed lives while we continue on the gradual process of maturity.

1 Corinthians 12-14 are going to tackle the issue of what real spirituality looks like in the body of Christ. Maybe paraphrasing the chapter from today will help shed some light on what is going on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, you can’t view spirituality from your pre-Christian perspective. God is at work in each one of through His Spirit. But what the Spirit is doing in each of is different. He is the one who gives us different spiritual gifts which are to be used to help others. How He chooses to work in each one of us is completely up to Him. You see, as we are together in Christ, we are His body. We are many different part united in One. Just like the parts of the human body, we each have our own function. Like a hand, or foot, or eye, or ear we are all necessary to help the body function properly. Each part is important, and as a part of His body, you are an important part. Sometimes, people want to try and figure out what the Most Important part is, or what the most important gift is, but that is not what is really important. What is really important when it comes to being truly spiritual, is love. Spiritual maturity is evidenced by love not by gifts.

Let’s talk about a few key verses together in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 12:7

Each one of us who is in Christ is gifted spiritually for the common good. The gifts are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. The gifts are given as the Holy Spirit determines. Each and every Christian has had the Holy Spirit work in and through them in a divine capacity to move into the lives of others.

1 Corinthians 12:10

The gift of prophecy is brought up often in 1 Corinthians 12-14. I just want to make a quick note on prophecy and the ministry of prophets in the OT and NT. The emphasis on prophecy is not about predicting the future, but on making clear what God has said. Prophecy should always be linked to scripture, either as a way of making the Word more easily understood, or as a message that has to be validated by the Word.

1 Corinthians 12:31

Paul finishes the chapter by saying that he will now talk about the most excellent way, which is love, and 1 Corinthians 13 will cover the topic of love wonderfully.

The Corinthians had made the mistake based on their pre-Christian views on what spirituality looked like. That people exhibiting the gift of tongues were somehow closer to God. Paul says that the way to measure a person’s closeness to God is how well they love.

True spirituality is completely unrelated to the gifts a person may have from the Spirit. Love is the indication of a person’s true spirituality.
Let me close by saying that Paul did not attack the gift of tongues, or reject it. What he does is give a detailed explanation of how the Spirit does work in our lives, and in our churches.

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