1 Corinthians 12

* The variety of use of spiritual gifts are shown. (1-11) In the

human body every member has its place and use. (12-26) This is

applied to the church of Christ. (27-30) And there is something

more excellent than spiritual gifts. (31)

1-11 Spiritual gifts were extraordinary powers bestowed in the

first ages, to convince unbelievers, and to spread the gospel.

Gifts and graces greatly differ. Both were freely given of God.

But where grace is given, it is for the salvation of those who

have it. Gifts are for the advantage and salvation of others;

and there may be great gifts where there is no grace. The

extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were chiefly exercised in

the public assemblies, where the Corinthians seem to have made

displays of them, wanting in the spirit of piety, and of

Christian love. While heathens, they had not been influenced by

the Spirit of Christ. No man can call Christ Lord, with

believing dependence upon him, unless that faith is wrought by

the Holy Ghost. No man could believe with his heart, or prove by

a miracle, that Jesus was Christ, unless by the Holy Ghost.

There are various gifts, and various offices to perform, but all

proceed from one God, one Lord, one Spirit; that is, from the

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the origin of all spiritual

blessings. No man has them merely for himself. The more he

profits others, the more will they turn to his own account. The

gifts mentioned appear to mean exact understanding, and uttering

the doctrines of the Christian religion; the knowledge of

mysteries, and skill to give advice and counsel. Also the gift

of healing the sick, the working of miracles, and to explain

Scripture by a peculiar gift of the Spirit, and ability to speak

and interpret languages. If we have any knowledge of the truth,

or any power to make it known, we must give all the glory of

God. The greater the gifts are, the more the possessor is

exposed to temptations, and the larger is the measure of grace

needed to keep him humble and spiritual; and he will meet with

more painful experiences and humbling dispensations. We have

little cause to glory in any gifts bestowed on us, or to despise

those who have them not.
12-26 Christ and his church form one body, as Head and members.

Christians become members of this body by baptism. The outward

rite is of Divine institution; it is a sign of the new birth,

and is called therefore the washing of regeneration, #Tit 3:5|.

But it is by the Spirit, only by the renewing of the Holy Ghost,

that we are made members of Christ's body. And by communion with

Christ at the Lord's supper, we are strengthened, not by

drinking the wine, but by drinking into one Spirit. Each member

has its form, place, and use. The meanest makes a part of the

body. There must be a distinction of members in the body. So

Christ's members have different powers and different places. We

should do the duties of our own place, and not murmur, or

quarrel with others. All the members of the body are useful and

necessary to each other. Nor is there a member of the body of

Christ, but may and ought to be useful to fellow-members. As in

the natural body of man, the members should be closely united by

the strongest bonds of love; the good of the whole should be the

object of all. All Christians are dependent one upon another;

each is to expect and receive help from the rest. Let us then

have more of the spirit of union in our religion.
27-31 Contempt, hatred, envy, and strife, are very unnatural in

Christians. It is like the members of the same body being

without concern for one another, or quarrelling with each other.

The proud, contentious spirit that prevailed, as to spiritual

gifts, was thus condemned. The offices and gifts, or favours,

dispensed by the Holy Spirit, are noticed. Chief ministers;

persons enabled to interpret Scripture; those who laboured in

word and doctrine; those who had power to heal diseases; such as

helped the sick and weak; such as disposed of the money given in

charity by the church, and managed the affairs of the church;

and such as could speak divers languages. What holds the last

and lowest rank in this list, is the power to speak languages;

how vain, if a man does so merely to amuse or to exalt himself!

See the distribution of these gifts, not to every one alike,

ver. #29,30|. This were to make the church all one, as if the

body were all ear, or all eye. The Spirit distributes to every

one as he will. We must be content though we are lower and less

than others. We must not despise others, if we have greater

gifts. How blessed the Christian church, if all the members did

their duty! Instead of coveting the highest stations, or the

most splendid gifts, let us leave the appointment of his

instruments to God, and those in whom he works by his

providence. Remember, those will not be approved hereafter who

seek the chief places, but those who are most faithful to the

trust placed in them, and most diligent in their Master's work.

Copyright information for MHCC