24 January 2014

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (v. 7)


The church in Corinth was marked by disagreements and divisions. Chloe's people had reported to the apostle Paul that there were quarrels among them and he appeals to them not to be divided. He wants them to be in agreement and to be united in the same mind and the same purpose (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).

The first verse of today's passage suggests that Paul is responding to a question he has been asked by the Christians in Corinth: how are they to know which gifts are spiritual gifts from God? This was an important question in the early Church. Paul reminds them of their experience as pagans or Gentiles (non Jews) (verse 2) and then he relates the activity of the Holy Spirit to what people say of Jesus (verse 3).

The second section of the reading (verses 4-11) speaks of a number of spiritual gifts. Elsewhere, there are different lists so this one should not be considered either definitive or exhaustive. The list is given after the points made in verses 4-7: there are varieties of gifts, services, and activities but it is the same Spirit who gives the gifts, the same Lord who is served, and the same God who is at work; to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. Having given the list of gifts, Paul makes it clear that all the gifts are activated and allotted by the Spirit.

To Ponder

  • What manifestation of the Holy Spirit for the common good have you been given? Do other people recognise this? Perhaps some of them believe that you have been given a different manifestation of the Spirit: if so, how do you react?
  • How does the manifestation of the Spirit given to you contribute to the common good? Could it contribute in a different way in another context? If so, how?
  • In the resources provided by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland for the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, today's reading is 1 Corinthians 12 - 13. One of the statements included for today is, "Recognising and rejoicing in the gifts of different church traditions is a step towards Christian unity". Do you agree? If so, what gifts of different church traditions do you recognise and rejoice in?

Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Stubbens

Neil Stubbens is a Methodist presbyter who is currently the connexional ecumenical officer. Previously, he has served in the Barnsley, Southport, St Helens and Prescot, and Sankey Valley Circuits.