In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Paul continues to answer the questions that the Corinthian church had asked (marriage, chapter 7, liberties chapters 8, 9 and 10, headship 1 Cor:11:2-16, the Lord’s Supper 1 Cor 11:17-34). This section goes from chapter 12 right through to the end of chapter 14.
Paul starts out by saying, ‘Now concerning spiritual gifts” and we can see easily his topic. It is important for us to recognise how people received spiritual gifts in order for us to understand his teachings this subject.
1. Baptism of the Holy Spirit
There are only 2 occasions that the Bible records people receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (see below). In these 2 occasions we read the people spoke in tongues. No other gifts were mentioned in conjunction with the Holy Spirit baptism and the recipients were very few.
Acts 2:1-4 This tells us how this happened and lists the 4 things that identify the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This only happened 2 times, the second is recorded in Acts 10:44-48 ,see also Acts 11:15-18.
2. Laying on of the Apostle’s hands.
Acts 8:14-19 There is no other way that anyone received the gifts of the Holy Spirit recorded in the pages of the Bible. Note especially what Simon saw. The Holy Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles hands. It is important to note that the spiritually gifted preacher, Philip, could not do this.
1 Cor 12:2-3 – They were led astray.
The Corinthians had to be very careful, they had been led astray before, and they could be led astray again. There were those who were against Christ but claimed to have the gifts. Any with true gifts could not speak against Him. Of course it is possible to claim Jesus as Lord and still be wrong, Matt 7:21, but Paul is talking about Spiritual gifts. Paul also states in Gal 1:8-9 the dangers of following those who are false.
1 Cor 12:4-11 Varieties of Gifts.
Paul states that while there are a variety of gifts they all come from the same source, the Holy Spirit. They were also given for the same purpose – same Spirit, same purpose.
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Cor 12:7 See also 1 Cor 14:3-4, 12, 26
Lists of gifts
· Distinguishing of spirits
· Interpretation of tongues
Paul goes back to the first problem he dealt with – unity 1 Cor 1:10f. He reminds them that they are the body of Christ, Col 1:18, and as such are dependent on one another.
“…there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1Cor. 12:25-26
Each Christian has a role to play in the body – “all are not apostles are they?”
The Corinthians we jealously regarding any gifts they had. Paul points out there is a greater gift. We will look at that next time.