Wednesday 18 May 2022

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. (v. 4)

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 Wednesday 18 May 2022

Psalm 134


Having established that all who confess Jesus as Lord do so by the Spirit’s work (12:1-3), Paul explains that part of the Spirit’s role is to distribute gifts to the Church. The Spirit does not simply start off the life of faith, but continues to shape us as part of the Church, enabling each believer to participate in the Church for the good of the whole.

In the opening of the passage, it is significant that Father, Son and Spirit are all mentioned. It is the same Spirit who operates through the "varieties of gifts" (v. 4), the same Lord to whom the "varieties of services" are directed (v. 5), and the one God who "activates all of them in everyone" (v. 6). Paul shows here that the Church has its basis in the Trinity itself. God is at work when the Church gathers in worship!

It is crucial for Paul that the gifts that the Spirit gives are "for the common good" (v. 7). This means that arrogance or pride is excluded, and Christians are to use gifts appropriately to build up the Church. It also implies that it is possible to misuse spiritual gifts. We are not automatons whom the Spirit controls, but have a role in wisely discerning when and how to use the gifts the Spirit gives.

This text is one of four passages written by Paul where spiritual gifts are listed (the others are: 1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11). The fact that there are differences between each of these passages suggest that Paul is offering here an illustrative rather than exhaustive list. These are the kind of gifts the Spirit provides, but there may be others too. The interpretation of the gifts is difficult and is widely discussed, but all show the power and presence of God in the midst of the Christian community.

Paul ends this short section by echoing his earlier point; it is "one and the same Spirit" who activates these gifts, and it is the Spirit who distributes them within the body of the Church.


To Ponder:

  • Can you identify one or two ‘gifts’ that you have experienced in the life of the Church?
  • How might Paul’s discussion of spiritual gifts shape your church community?
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