Friday

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 Friday 20 May 2016

Psalm: Psalm 100


Background

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul focuses on the work of the Spirit as agift-bearer to the Christian community. It is likely that Paul'semphasis on the various charismata, or spiritual gifts, is aneffort to dispel the idea that the Spirit is known only throughspeaking in tongues (the term 'glossolalia'). Scholars generallyagree that the Corinthians likely practiced ecstatic utterances intheir worship. Perhaps this practice was carried over from worshiptradition in the pagan temples.

Today's passage begins with Paul clarifying that the Spirit ofGod would not lead someone to utter a curse against Christ. On thecontrary, it is only through the work of the Spirit that a personcan make a statement of absolute loyalty - that 'Jesus is Lord'. Itwas a proclamation that separated Christians from those whorejected the lordship of Christ, whether because of their absolutemonotheism or because of the political implications of callinganyone but Caesar 'Lord'.

In verses 4-6 Paul uses a trinitarian formula to connect thework of gifts, service, and activity. The diversity of thecommunity and of different abilities has its foundation in thetriune God. Each member of the community receives somemanifestation of the Spirit, some gift to use for the common good.The list Paul provides is not meant to be exhaustive, but directsthe Corinthians attention away from concentrating too much on justone or two gifts.

Just as each part of the body is important to the properfunctioning of the whole, these differing spiritual gifts findtheir proper expression in relationship with one another. They allshare the same source in the Spirit that unites, enlivens, andsustains the whole Body of Christ.


To Ponder

  • What are your spiritual gifts? How are you contributing to thecommon good through development of those gifts?
  • How might Christian communities encourage people to identifyand develop their gifts?
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