1 Corinthians 12

1Co 12:1-3     Recall that the Corinthians had written to Paul with questions about various topics that he had been addressing (see 1Co 7:1, 8:1).  What topic does he now begin to address?  Note: The questions the Corinthians had about spiritual gifts were the same ones churches today have: Because of its glitz some were exalting the gift of tongues, even arguing as many today that unless one spoke in tongues he had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see 1Co 12:13).  Others because they did not speak in tongues or possess some other “showy” gift were led to believe that they were second class Christians and therefore a lesser part of the church (see 1Co 12:18-19).  Still others were belittling those who spoke in tongues as being immature in their faith and accusing them of disrupting the proper order of worship, thinking it best to forbid speaking in tongues when they gathered for worship (see 1Co 14:26,39).  Paul’s response in 1Co 12-14 addresses all of these views.  What did it mean in the days of the Roman emperors to say “Jesus is Lord”?  See John 19:12,15.  What did it mean to say “Jesus is accursed”?  See Acts 26:11.  How do Paul’s words in 1Co 12:3 answer the notion that unless one speaks in tongues or exhibits some other miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit then there is no evidence that he is being led by the Spirit of God?  What is the evidence that one is being led by the Spirit of God?  See Gal 5:16,22-25.

1Co 12:4-6     How do these verses bear witness to the doctrine of the Trinity?  Since God is one, does that mean that He leads all in the same way or empowers all in the same way for service?  Note: “effects” in 1Co 12:6 means workings, or the effects of God’s working.

1Co 12:7-11   What is the manifestation of the Spirit that is given to each one?  See 1Co 12:8-10.  Why?  See 1Co 12:7.  What is the significance of Paul emphasizing that the various gifts are given by “the same Spirit”?  See 1Co 12:12-13.  Whose determination is it as to who has what gift?  See 1Co 12:11 and 18.  Does this mean that one may not aspire to a certain gifting?  See 1Co 12:31, 14:1,39.  Is this list of spiritual gifts exhaustive?  See Rom 12:4-8.  For what purpose are spiritual gifts given?  See 1Co 12:7, 1 Pet 4:10-11, Eph 4:11-13.

1Co 12:8          How would the gifts of wisdom and knowledge be useful for building up the body of Christ?  See 1Co 2:6-10, Eph 1:17-18, Col 2:3.

1Co 12:9          How is the gift of faith different from the faith one must have in order to be saved (Eph 2:8)?  see 1Co 13:2, Mat 17:19-20, 21:21.  Does the gift of healing refer to people like Luke “the beloved physician”, who effect healing by natural means?  See Luke 8:43-44, Acts 19:11-12, 28:8-10 (notice in this last passage that Luke, who was a physician was with Paul on Malta, but it was Paul who was healing the people!).

1Co 12:10        How was the effecting of miracles (literally “workings of power”) different from miraculous healings?  See Eph 1:19, 3:7,20, Phil 3:21, Col 1:29, and 2 Thess 2:9 (for Satan’s works of power).  What is prophecy?  See 1Co 14:3.  What is its importance among the spiritual gifts?  See 1Co 12:28, 14:1,5, Rom 12:6.  Why is the gift of distinguishing / discerning of spirits important to a body of believers?  See 14:29, 1 John 4:1, Rev 2:2, 2 Thess 2:9-10, 1 Tim 4:1-2.  Is it significant that in every listing of these gifts, the gift of tongues is listed last?  See also 1Co 12:28-30.  Why is that significant to the problem facing the Corinthian church, and to the same problem that often faces churches today?

1Co 12:12-21 What metaphor does Paul use in these verses to describe the Church?  See also 1Co 10:17, Rom 12:4-5, Eph 4:4,12-13,15-16.  How is this metaphor especially pertinent to the problems facing the Corinthian church?  In a physical body are there members which are never seen and yet the body couldn’t live without them?  What does the fact that all the members of a body are necessary for its proper functioning teach us about how we should view even the least esteemed member?  Does the fact that all the members of a body are necessary for its proper functioning mean that all are of equal importance?  See 1Co 12:28 & 31.  What does 1Co 12:13 teach us about the belief held by some that the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is an additional blessing or second act of grace subsequent to conversion that believers should seek after?  Note: the baptism “of” the Holy Spirit is an incorrect term never found in Scripture; the Greek preposition used means the baptism in/with/by the Holy Spirit, in the same way that one is baptized in/with/by water; see Mat 3:11.

1Co 12:22-27 Who might the weaker members of the body be that Paul refers to in these verses?  See 1Co 1:26, 8:7-9.  Who might those be that are deemed less honorable, but upon whom God has bestowed more abundant honor?  See 1Co 13:1.  Who might those more seemly members of the body be who have no need of more abundant honor?  See 1Co 12:28.  For what purpose does God distribute spiritual gifts in a manner that honors some more than others?  See 1Co 12:25.  What does 1Co 12:26 teach us about the great need for those seemly and honorable members of the body to look after the welfare of those less seemly or less honorable members?

1Co 12:28        Which giftings does God esteem as of most importance in the Church?  Why?  See Eph 4:11-13.  What is the gifting of an apostle?  Note: the word apostle means “one who is sent out”; see Gal 1:1.  Were the only apostles Paul and the 12 apostles sent out by the Lord?  See Acts 14:14, Rom 16:7, Gal 1:19, 1 Thess 1:1, 2:6, Heb 3:1.  Were there false apostles?  See 2 Cor 11:13, Rev 2:2.  What signs mark a true apostle?  See 2 Cor 12:12.  What was the gift of helps?  Note: “helps” refers to help in time of great need, often protection/deliverance.  See Luke 1:54, Acts 20:35.  See also Rom 16:2.  It is traditionally understood as the help provided by the deacons to the poor and sick.  What was the gift of administrations?  Note: “Administrations” refers to wise counsel or guidance in governing; see Prov 11:14, 24:6.  A cognate word is used for the pilot of a ship; see Ez 27:8,27-28, Acts 27:11, Rev 18:17.

1Co 12:29-31 What is the emphatic answer to each of Paul’s questions in 1Co 12:29-30?  How does this answer the notion held by some that the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues?  When studying an issue such as whether or not the baptism in the Spirit is always accompanied by speaking in tongues, which scriptures should bear the most weight in our understanding: those such as are found here in 1 Corinthians 12 that are didactic in nature and whose purpose is to give doctrinal instruction, or those such as are given in Acts (Acts 2:4, 10:46, 11:15, 19:6, and possibly Acts 8:17) that are historical in nature and whose purpose may be something other than to provide a normative example?  For example, was the fact that the Gentiles spoke in tongues when they received the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts 10:46 meant by Luke to communicate that it is normative for people to speak in tongues upon receiving the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, or was his purpose to communicate that it was by this means that the Jewish believers knew that God had accepted the Gentiles into the church without their first becoming Jews by submitting to the Mosaic law?  See Acts 10:47, 11:15-18, 15:7-8.  Likewise, was the fact that the disciples of John spoke in tongues upon receiving the Spirit as recorded in Acts 19:6 meant to communicate that it is normative for people to receive the baptism in the Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues subsequent to salvation, or was it rather to communicate something about the significant difference between believing in Jesus and believing in John whose ministry was to lead people to Jesus—that difference being the ministry of the Holy Spirit?  (Note: so influential was John’s ministry that there were followers of him well into the 20th century, and perhaps still today!)  Finally, is there any evidence in this chapter to indicate that the spiritual gifts Paul mentions were only for the first century Church but not for the Church throughout history?  What does this teach us about the notion held by some that spiritual gifts are not for the Church today?

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