Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Bible teaching about
spiritual gifts

QUESTION: 

I would like to have some light about 1Corinthians 12:8-15 regarding spiritual gifts. 

Pierre

ANSWER:

Pierre: 

Thanks for your question. Much can be said about the section to which you refer. I am not sure what your exact question is; consequently, I will give the major ideas of the passage. 

1. The passage is about spiritual gifts. These “gifts” are abilities or talents given to believers to carry out the work of God. Every Christian has at least one special ability given to them by the Holy Spirit for the common good of believers and the glory of Christ. Christians develop these abilities through training, practice, and experience.  

For example, in your own experience I bet you have had some teachers at school that could teach very well. On the other hand, you have seen some people that just did not display any ability or knack to teach anything. The first person had the gift of teaching, and the second did not. 

2. The second section (verses 8-11) lists a number of those special abilities. Not all spiritual gifts are listed in this section, but Paul gives enough to illustrate his point. In the Christian world there are differing opinions as to whether or not such abilities as performing miracles, speaking in tongues, and prophecy are still used today.  

The Pentecostal and Charismatic groups say these more dramatic abilities are still used by the Holy Spirit in people today. Other Evangelicals believe that we still have most of the gifts today, but that the more spectacular gifts were used to establish and certify the early church, and then were dropped. 

This chapter gives a list of the gifts, and Romans chapter 12 is another list. Peter summarizes the use of these gifts, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterance of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” ( 1 Peter 4: 10, 11). 

Paul also speaks of the gift of celibacy, or not having the desire for sexual relations as do other people. This ability enabled him to pursue his ministry as a single man without having the responsibility and distractions of caring for a family and being tempted in the area of sex (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:7; 32-34). 

3. In verses 12-15 he speaks of teamwork within the body of Christ. When he talks about the body of Christ, Paul means the church as a whole. Each of us have abilities that other people don’t have. Every Christian needs to employ their gift (ability) in cooperation with other people in a team endeavor. The team, then, moves smoothly toward specific goals and purpose (cf. Philippians 1:27; 2:2). When everyone is working hard at doing what they are good at, then success comes to the church. 

4. Paul also stresses that there is not a ranking among the gifts. That is, one gift is not more important than the others. The Corinthians were having a problem in this respect. Some were boasting that they were to be looked at as more important than other people, because they had a more important gift.  

Paul told them that they, as any team, needed everyone working together. If one person is a slacker and not carrying their load, then the whole team effort will stall. We all need to step up and do our part in the cause of Christ. The crucial thing is that all are working together in harmony with the abilities God has given them. 

5. There is another theological concept brought out in this section: the baptism into the body of Christ. Paul said, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).  

There are two dimensions to the church: the universal church and the local church. The universal church refers to all Christians from the beginning of Christianity (Acts 2:1ff.) until the rapture at the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The local church refers to the physical denominations and local churches at any given time located here on earth. It does not mean the church building, but the local grouping of believers. 

The Church is both a dynamic, living “organism,” as well as a structural “organization” both here and in heaven. Its life comes from the Holy Spirit.  

This baptism, then, that Paul refers to is not water baptism, but spiritual baptism. That means that all born again Christians are spiritually united (or merged) as one, and that universal unity is referred to as the “Body of Christ” (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13; Ephesians 1:22, 23).  

Pierre, I hopes this answers your question. If you want to pursue it further, then drop me another email. 

All the best, and God bless, 

Dr. Newman 

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