Sunday, July 7, 2024

A Variety of Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-9)

"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (1 Cor. 12:7).

The various gifts given to the church by the Spirit are bestowed not for individual gratification but for the edification of the church. In making this list, Paul shows that not everyone possesses the same gifts, but they are given by the same Spirit for a common purpose. The list given here is not comprehensive, for there are others listed elsewhere (Rom. 12: 4–8), and Paul nowhere implies that these gifts are all necessarily evident in one local church. In other words, you cannot assume that unless you have all these gifts represented, you are not a true church. That is not Paul’s point. He is simply giving a list to show the diversity of the body and the unity in the Spirit.

Looking specifically at the gifts he does mention, we must be careful to understand their meaning in the context of Scripture. The word of wisdom very likely refers to that ability to reveal the Gospel, the whole system of revealed truth as the object of faith. This is how wisdom is used elsewhere in Paul’s writings, and it is mostly used in reference to the teaching of the apostles. In chapter 2, Paul says that “we,” the apostles, speak wisdom, the wisdom of God, the hidden wisdom that is revealed by His Spirit. Those who were called to be apostles were given the gift of wisdom. It is on their teaching that the foundation of the church is built (Eph. 2:20).

The word of knowledge, as it is distinguished from wisdom, probably means the gift which belonged to teachers. “The word of knowledge was the gift correctly to understand and properly to exhibit the truths revealed by the apostles and prophets,” Hodge wrote.

Next, Paul mentions the gift of faith. This, of course, cannot mean saving faith, which all Christians possess. It is assumed, given the lack of information to support other views, that we should take the simple meaning of the word and suppose that the gift means a higher measure of the ordinary grace of faith: the kind of faith that has enabled men to become confessors and martyrs throughout church history.

The gifts of healing and miracles are self-explanatory. These were gifts given to those God had chosen for the purposes of healing the sick and performing other miracles, which we find the apostles doing on a number of occasions throughout the New Testament.

Taking a look at each of the gifts we covered today, look up parallel passages in your concordance and find out more about these gifts (as they are spoken of in this context): wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles. How are each of these separate gifts used by God to edify the church. How has one or more of these gifts blessed you?