12:1 Now 1 concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you a ignorant.
(1) Now he enters into the third part of this
treatise touching the right use of spiritual gifts, in which he gives the
Corinthians plainly to understand that they abused them. For they that
excelled bragged ambitiously of them, and so robbed God of the praise of his
gifts: and having no consideration of their brethren, abused them to a vain
display, and so robbed the church of the use of those gifts. On the other side
the inferior sort envied the better, and went about to make a departure, so
that all the body was as it were scatted and rent in pieces. So then, going
about to remedy these abuses he wills them first to consider diligently that
they have not these gifts of themselves, but from the free grace and
liberality of God, to whose glory they ought to bestow them all.
(a) Ignorant to what purpose these gifts are
given to you.
12:2 2 Ye
know that ye were b Gentiles, carried
away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
(2) He reproves the same by comparing their
former state with that in which they were at this time, being endued with
those excellent gifts.
(b) As touching God's service and the covenant,
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God
calleth Jesus c accursed: and [that] no
man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
(3) The conclusion: know you therefore that you
cannot so much as move your lips to honour Christ at all, except by the grace
of the Holy Spirit.
(c) Does curse him, or by any means whatever
diminish his glory.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the d
(4) In the second place, he lays another
foundation, that is, that these gifts are different, as the functions also are
different and their offices different, but that one self same Spirit, Lord,
and God is the giver of all these gifts, and that to one end, that is, for the
profit of all.
(d) The Spirit is plainly distinguished from the
12:6 And there are
diversities of e operations, but it is
the same God which worketh all in all.
(e) So Paul calls that inward power which comes
from the Holy Spirit, and makes men fit for wonderful things.
12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is f
given to every man to g profit withal.
(f) The Holy Spirit opens and shows himself
freely in the giving of these gifts.
(g) To the use and benefit of the church.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of h
wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
(5) He declares this manifold diversity, and
reckons up the principal gifts, beating that into their heads which he said
before, that is, that all these things proceeded from one and the very same
(h) Wisdom is a most excellent gift, and very
needed, not only for those who teach, but also for those that exhort and
comfort. And this thing is proper to the pastor's office, as the word of
knowledge agrees to the teachers.
12:10 To another the i
working of miracles; to another k
prophecy; to another l discerning of
spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of
(i) By "working" he means those great
workings of God's mighty power, which pass and excel among his miracles, as
the delivery of his people by the hand of Moses: that which he did by Elijah
against the priests of Baal, in sending down fire from heaven to consume his
sacrifice: and that which he did by Peter, in the matter of Ananias and
(k) Foretelling of things to come.
(l) By which false prophets are know from true,
in which Peter surpassed Philip in exposing Simon Magus; (Acts
12:11 But all these worketh that one and the
selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally 6
as he will.
(6) He adds moreover somewhat else, that is, that
although these gifts are unequal, yet they are most wisely divided, because
the will of the Spirit of God is the rule of this distribution.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one
body, being many, are one body: 8 so
also [is] m Christ.
(7) He sets forth his former saying by a
similitude taken from the body: this, he says, is manifestly seen in the body,
whose members are different, but yet so joined together, that they make but
one body. (8) The applying of the similitude. So
must we also think, he says, of the mystical body of Christ: for all we who
believe, whether we are Jews or Gentiles, are by one person by the same
baptism, joined together with our head, that by that means, there may be
framed one body compact of many members. And we have drunk one self same
spirit, that is to say, a spiritual feeling, perseverance and motion common to
us all out of one cup.
(m) Christ joined together with his Church.
12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized
into n one body, whether [we be] Jews or
Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to o
drink into one Spirit.
(n) To become one body with Christ.
(o) By one quickening drink of the Lord's
blood, we are made partakers of his Spirit alone.
For the body is not one member, but many.
(9) He amplifies that which followed of the
similitude, as if he should say, "The unity of the body is not prevented
by this diversity of members, and furthermore it could not be a body if it did
not consist of many members, and those being different."
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it
therefore not of the body?
(10) Now he builds his doctrine upon the
foundations which he has laid: and first of all he continues in his purposed
similitude, and afterward he goes to the matter plainly and simply. And first
of all he speaks unto those who would have separated themselves from those
whom they envied, because they had not such excellent gifts as they. Now this
is, he says, as if the foot should say it were not of the body, because it is
not the hand, or the ear, because it is not the eye. Therefore all parts ought
rather to defend the unity of the body, being coupled together to serve one
If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were]
hearing, where [were] the smelling?
(11) Again speaking to them, he shows them that
if that should come to pass which they desire, that is, that all should be
equal one to another, there would follow a destruction of the whole body,
indeed and of themselves. For it could not be a body unless it were made of
many members knit together, and different from one another. And that no man
might find fault with this division as unequal, he adds that God himself has
joined all these together. Therefore all must remain joined together, that the
body may remain in safety.
12 And the eye cannot say unto the hand,
I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
(12) Now on the other hand, he speaks to those
who were endued with more excellent gifts, exhorting them not to despise the
inferiors as unprofitable, and as though they served to no use. For God, he
says, has in such sort tempered this inequality, that the more excellent and
beautiful members can in no wise lack the more abject and such as we are
ashamed of, and that they should have more care to see to them and to cover
them: that by this means the necessity which is on both parts, might keep the
whole body in peace and harmony. And that even though if each part is
considered apart, they are of different degrees and conditions, yet because
they are joined together, they have a community both in prosperity and
12:22 Nay, much more those members of the
body, which seem to be p more feeble,
(p) Of the smallest and vilest offices, and
therefore mentioned last among the rest.
12:23 And those [members] of the body, which
we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant q
honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.
(q) We more carefully cover them.
12:25 That there
should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same r
care one for another.
(r) Should bestow their operations and offices to
the profit and preservation of the whole body.
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be
honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
(13) Now he applies this same doctrine to the
Corinthians without any allegory, warning them that as there are different
functions and different gifts, it is their duty not to offend one another,
either by envy or ambition. Instead, in being joined together in love and
charity with one another, every one of them should bestow to the profit of all
that which he has received, according as his ministry requires.
12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and
members in s particular.
(s) For all churches, wherever they are dispersed
through the whole world, are different members of one body.
12:28 And God hath set some in the church,
first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles,
then gifts of healings, t helps, u
governments, diversities of tongues.
(t) The offices of deacons.
(u) He sets forth the order of elders, who were
the maintainers of the church's discipline.
14 But covet earnestly the best gifts:
and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
(14) He teaches those who are ambitious and
envious, a certain holy ambition and envy. That is, if they give themselves to
the best gifts, and such as are most profitable to the church, and so if they
contend to excel one another in love, which far surpasses all other gifts.