27 March 2020

1 Corinthians 12:27-31

Now you are body of Christ and individually members of it. (v. 27)

Psalm: Psalm 25:1-7


At several points in his letters, Paul gives us a list of spiritual gifts and of roles within the church. They are not identical and so are probably meant to illustrate the point about diversity and interdependence, rather than being an exhaustive account. We can’t easily extract from this passage, or any other in the New Testament for that matter, a precise blueprint for Christian ministry and church structures.

It seems that Paul is writing to a situation where some gifts (speaking in tongues, for example) are more highly prized than others and where persons who have them are accorded, or seek, a higher status because of that. Paul is insistent that, on the contrary, no one gift is more important than any other. Each is as necessary as the other and all are dependent on each other.

Paul is addressing an almost universal human failing. It is all too easy to use distinctions of any kind to create a hierarchy of importance, to build up grounds for saying we are more important than others.


To Ponder:

  • What variety of roles and gifts do you see at work in the churches you know?
  • How far do you recognise the different roles and gifts that Paul talks about in this passage?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Richard Clutterbuck

Richard Clutterbuck is a minister of the Methodist Church in Britain. Between 2004 and 2017 he served the Irish Methodist Church as principal of Edgehill Theological College in Belfast. Previously his ministry has been divided between pastoral appointments in North London and theological education in the South Pacific (Tonga), Britain and Ireland.

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