1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

... this is not the way a man writes who is dealing spontaneously with the subject. It is just the style of a man who is answering questions that have been submitted to him; who having done with one, is proceeding to another. It is, therefore, probable that Paul's judgment had been asked on the matters discussed in the chapter. This supposition greatly aids the comprehension of it.

The Christadelphian, Mar 1872

Thus speaks Paul in 1 Cor. 12:1. By pneumatika he means spirit manifestations resulting from the working of God's power in those who confess the lordship of Jesus consequent upon their understanding and belief of the divine testimony concerning him.

These spirit-manifestations, given to the intelligent and obedient in Paul's day, in 1 Cor. 14:12, he terms πνευματα, or spirits. He did not wish the brethren in Corinth to be ignorant concerning spirits, which were not the ghosts of dead men, women and babes, as the heathen around us imagine in the blindness of their heart; not many separate and independent disembodied "immortal souls" of a "spirit world;" but a diverse operation and manifold manifestation of one and the same Deity by his own abstract and independent power.

The "spirits" were spirit-powers radiated from the divine presence into the saints, who were thereby enabled to do wonders, and signs, and powers, according to the will of the Deity.

Every wonder, every sign, every power, was a spirit, visible to all who beheld the extraordinary phenomena. They did not mutter, and rap, or move tables; nor did they give forth dubious and lying oracles through unclean and ignorant pretenders; they uttered divine wisdom and knowledge, which was in harmony with what the Deity had moved holy men of old to write in "the law and the prophets" thousands of years before.

They raised the dead, discerned spirits, spoke the languages of men intuitively, and interpreted them intelligibly. All these spirits worked that one and the selfsame spirit, dividing to every believer severally as he willed—1 Cor. 12:11.

There were some in Paul's day, as in ours, who pretended to speak by the spirit of the Deity, yet did not possess it. Because of this pretence, the Apostle John exhorted the brethren, saying:

"Beloved, believe not every spirit (or manifestation), but try the spirits whether they be of God"—1 John, 4:1.

This was addressed to those of the saints who possessed "the spirit" called "discerning of spirits," which was common to all the presbyteries, or elderships, of the flock. All the apostles had this gift, so that it was not possible to impose spurious, or counterfeit, spirits upon them. Being thus qualified they were competent to give their brethren a rule by which they might distinguish the true from the false.

There were some spirits in their day who taught false doctrines in the name of Christ. The same class of spirits exists now; only that, whereas they were in the minority in apostolic times, they are now almost universal, nearly to the entire suppression of the true. These "spirits" are styled by John "false prophets," because their teaching was false and subversive "of the truth as it is in Jesus."

Hence, every false teacher, or one who does not teach the truth, is one of these spirits, no matter what age or generation, name or denomination, he may belong to. Nor is it difficult to discern these spirits by the apostolic rule. All spirits are of the world, which are inspired of the world, and which the world gives heed to and glorifies. This is an infallible rule, and demonstrates that the clergy, ministers, parsons, or preachers (it matters not by what name the spirits are called), are all false prophets or spirits. This is the rule that defines who are not true spirits.

It convicts the Campbells, Scotts, Storrses, and all such "wandering stars," who have not indeed "forsaken the right way and gone astray," for they never were in the way—of being the inventors of

"pernicious ways, by reason of which the way of truth is evil spoken of."

The world, which is a chaos of names and denominations of various dimensions, hears them, because they teach "the depths of the Satan" which are palatable to the carnal mind, and in harmony with "the thinking of the flesh;" and all professors of the right way, who are not intelligent in the truth, and thoroughly imbued with its principles, sympathize with them, and are highly offended at the lawlessness of language and low style of talk, which convicts the world's idols of imposture, and exhibits them to the observers of men and things, stripped of their wool, and in the transparent nakedness of bald pretence.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1861

2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

This allusion to their antecedents prepares the way for the attitude he is about to take as their teacher, and also lays a basis for the argument he is about to advance.

The Christadelphian, Mar 1872

3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the holy spirit.

Now, how came Paul to have to make this apparently superfluous declaration? Obviously, because there were some among the Corinthians calling Jesus accursed, who professed to speak by the Spirit.

How could such a thing be?

This is only to be understood in view of the surroundings and extraction of the Corinthians. The Grecians have been termed the philosophers of the world. The Corinthians lived in one of the principal cities of the Greeks, and at one of the principal seats of philosophy. It was very natural, therefore, that philosophy should crop up in their midst as a perverter of the phenomena connected with the Spirit.

Indeed, in the case of another Greek ecclesia-that at Collosse, he expressly says

"Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit."

Now upon what principle of philosophy could any man take the attitude of a detraction of Jesus, and yet claim to be speaking by the Spirit? I could understand such a case to arise in this way. A worldly thinker, brought in by the preaching of Paul and the novelty of the gifts, remains submissive to apostolic principles for a while, but bringing his secular philosophy to bear, aided by intercourse with the philosophic alien, gradually comes to regard the gospel movement as but a peculiar form of universal truth.

Such a man would come to esteem highly the writers and thinkers and orators of Greece, and to contend that although there was doubtless good in the apostolic system, and a greater measure of good than in paganism, that yet as a whole it was narrow and unphilosophical; that Jesus, dying by crucifixion, was accursed by the very system which he said he came to fulfil; that it was unreasonable to suppose that God intended an accursed man to hold the position of supremacy taught by the apostles, especially to the exclusion of "the wise and good" men of philosophic fame.

The inspired teachers in the ecclesia would of course oppose such a doctrine; and declining to argue it philosophically, might assert the authority of the Spirit in them as sufficient to close the mouth of the objector. In answer to which the objector might say, "I also have the Spirit: I received it equally with you; in fact all men have the Spirit-the poets and philosophers of Athens, as well as the apostles, and therefore we have as much right to maintain our convictions as you."

If the man or men were clever and loquacious, their words would stagger the faith of some, and be difficult of confutation. Accordingly Paul was written to: "Can a man have the Spirit who calls Jesus accursed?" Paul's answer is "No!" and on the general question of all men being inspired, he says

"The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."-(3:11-12).

The Christadelphian, Mar 1872

Jesus Made a Curse

"The apostle Paul, in 1 Cor. 12:3, says that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; yet in Gal. 3:12, he says that Jesus was made a curse for us; will you please explain what he means by the one in Cor."—(C.F.)

Answer.—The explanation is to be found in the difference between the two words used by Paul in the two places referred to. They are not the same. In 1 Cor. 12:3, the word is αναθεμα, which means dedicated or devoted to evil: cut off for that destiny. In Gal. 3. the word is καταρα, which means a curse proceeding from any source without reference to final effects.

Certain classes of Jews and Gentiles held that Jesus, as a felon (which they supposed him to be from the mode of his execution) was an accursed man in the absolute sense; whose end on the cross showed that his miracles and excellent precepts were a delusion, and that he himself was a vile person, given over to everlasting infamy. Some known at Corinth, claiming to be inspired, held this doctrine; and Paul in the verse referred to at once disposes of their case, by saying that no one speaking by the Spirit could hold such a view.

But this is no interference with Paul's own doctrine (Gal 3:13), that in being hung on the cross, Jesus came, by the will of the Father, under the curse of the law, that he might redeem those who were under that curse by their disobedience. We speak by the Spirit in saying that, in this sense, Jesus was accursed; for it is the Spirit that has said:

"He that hangeth on a tree is accursed of God."

We join not the Corinthian blasphemers who said Jesus was dedicated or devoted to evil. In Paul's letters, notwithstanding occasional appearances to the contrary, there is no contradiction.

The Christadelphian, Feb 1874

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.


When a believer was baptized with spirit he did not necessarily possess all the gifts. There were diversities of gifts which were bestowed distributively. That is, one might speak foreign languages by inspiration, but he could not therefore work miracles: still another might be able to work miracles, but could not therefore speak other tongues than his own.

The grace was distributed according to the will of the Deity who worked or operated the all (all the gifts) in all who received them; while those saints to whom no gifts were distributed were benefited by the labours of those who possessed them. Thus,

"prophesying served for them who believed;" for "he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort;" and "he that prophesieth edifieth the ecclesia."

Therefore, in another place Paul saith, "despise not prophesying."

Baptismal grace seems to have been distributed into nine gifts.

1. The word of wisdom;

2. The word of knowledge;

3. Faith that removes mountains;

4. The gifts of healing;

5. The inworking of powers;

6. Prophesy, or the gift of prophesying.

7. Discerning of spirits;

8. Kinds of tongues;

9. The interpretation of tongues.

"All these worked that one and the self same spirit, distributing to every one severally as he would."

The body was one thing, the members or organs of the body, another. To the organs of the body these nine gifts were distributed for the benefit of all the atoms of the body. The number of the organs in each ecclesia would depend on the size and necessities of it. The organs of a congregation of saints constituted collectively "the presbytery," or "eldership." They might be relatively many or few.

By way of example, one congregation might have an eldership of nine, another of eighteen, and a third of twenty-seven. If the last, three saints might be endowed with the same gift; and three others with another; and so on. Or in another case, one saint might have a plurality of gifts, and thus fewer organs would suffice for a small ecclesia. Each of the thirteen apostles probably possessed all the gifts.

Baptism of spirit, then, developed the elderships of the ecclesias in the apostolic age; so that Paul could with great propriety address those who were constituents of them, and say,

"Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the ecclesia of the Deity which he purchased with his own blood."

The spirit made them elders through baptism of spirit, and distributed them into orders according to the following ranks:

1. Apostles;

2. Prophets;

3. Teachers;

4. Powers;

5. Healers;

6. Helps;

7. Governors;

8. Linguists;

9. Interpreters;

These were those who had the rule by divine authority, and to whom the private saints, οἴ ιδιωται, were exhorted to yield obedience, as to those who watched for their souls and would have to give an account.

These were they to whom Paul wrote in Gal. 4:1, saying,

"If any man be overtaken in a fault, ye who are the spirituals, οι πνευματικοι, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness."

These also, were they who taught the brethren in the word, and were by them to be supplied with all good things—

"Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things."

And concerning them he says in another place,

"we beseech you, brethren, to acknowledge them who labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake." "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labor in the word and teaching. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And the laborer is worthy of his reward."

They were not to be lightly accused, nor rebuked. No accusation was to be received against them but under two or three witnesses. They were not to be rebuked by their brethren, but entreated as fathers; but if they sinned, and the offence was proved, they were to be rebuked before all by the proper authority, and not by every one that chose to be impertinent.

Collectively, these orders were the light-stand of a congregation, through which the Holy Spirit shone into the surrounding darkness of Judaism and Gentilism. They are, therefore, apocalyptically symbolized by "a star," the angel or messenger star, whose mission was to illuminate by making known the manifold wisdom of the Deity.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Nov 1861

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

The law is found to operate even in the natural body which he afterwards makes use of as an illustration. Hearing is different from smelling; and tasting from seeing; and feeling different from both. Yet if you examine the nerve-substance employed in the generation of these different sensations, you find it is exactly the same in all cases.

Put it under a microscope, or test it with chemics, and you can discern no difference in the constitution of the nerve-fibre of the ear, eye, nose, tongue, or skin. And the vital energy developed from the blood by the secerning vessels, and supplied to these various functions, is exactly the same-

"different manifestations, but the same spirit"

Go wider still. Range the broad domain of nature, examine all phenomena, and you get at last to what is now termed scientifically the "co-relation forces;" that is, you come to see that the various powers denominated heat, light, strength, cohesion, gravitation, &c., are but the manifestation of a common primal simple indefinable force: "different manifestations but the same spirit". Why is the same force one thing in one relation and another in another? There is no more philosophical answer than the one given by Paul:

"All these worketh that one and the self-same spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." [v11]

The will of the Spirit-the appointment of the Creator-is the ultimate explanation of all things.

The Christadelphian, Mar 1872

We are justified in believing that there will be nothing mechanical in the operations of immortal life. The controlling presence of the spirit will not exclude individuality of thought and volition. Rather will there be that diversity in glorious unity. One spirit, acting in the diversity of individual gift and intelligence --in harmony, but not in monotony--will be no new experience. In the apostolic age, the same phenomenon was exemplified in a lower form (1 Cor. 12:4-11). 

What would be true of the apostles in their exaltation would be true of all saints, so that we may look forward to a life full of the interest that comes even now from the application of individual judgment to the decision of problems as they arise.

Law of Moses Ch 33

6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

We would, in conclusion, venture a remark on the subject of the Holy Spirit; but it is so vast, that we fear to place our foot on its threshold. In its comprehension it is infinite; yet, in its relation to man, it is one of the simplest in the records of light. It is difficult of apprehension, principally with the lovers of the wonderful, who are apt to remain unsatisfied with common blessings, and are always reaching after special gifts and powers.

There was "one Spirit" when God began to create the worlds. The influences of the spirit diffused themselves in mighty waves proceeding through the universe, to return again to the throne of the Eternal, laden with gladness and praise from millions of beings in many worlds, mingled with the lofty songs of the Seraphim, and the humble and fervent thanks of forgiven man.

All men are subject to, and enjoy, these influences of the Spirit. Nor can we shun them any more than we can flee from the influence of the sun, between which and the influence of the Spirit we think there is a beautiful parallel.

When man was created a being, who had to develop his character and happiness out of supplied materials, but chiefly from an humble imitation of his Creator's perfections, God at proper times diffused abroad other influences of his Spirit-influences illumined with light, warmed with love, vivified with power, and dark with vengeance; and men were found with affinities (to use a chemical phrase) for those new spiritual influences, and transmitted them to future generations.

Hence Moses legislated, David sang, Solomon moralized, Isaiah and all the prophets withdrew the veil from futurity, and revealed the glories of an eternal kingdom. Christ taught a divine morality, suffered, and bled. Apostles preached it to the world, and wielded the attribute of Deity to prove their ambassadorship, and to produce faith in them who heard; and we, in these last days, may enjoy the combined effects of those spiritual influences and efforts until we are transformed into the image of the Christ, and reign in the approaching kingdom.

With these we may well be satisfied and thankful, without craving the gifts of powers; or, if we greatly desire them, let us bring ourselves up to the standard of faith; and then, if the gifts are not imparted, it will be because our Father deems them unsuitable for this day and generation.

Bro James Beadman

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1857

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

The Gift of the Spirit

—The gift of the spirit, could we have it in these days, as was the case with the first-century believers, it would, no doubt, be both a comfort and a help, as it was in their case. But it would not do to assume the possession of the Spirit, in the absence of the "manifestation of the Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:7), by which alone its possession can be known.

Nearly every sect in Christendom claims to possess the Holy Spirit in their midst, just upon the principle of assuming things of which there is not a particle of evidence. For how is it possible there can be any evidence of such a thing as the existence of the Spirit, in a community of churches, of such chameleon-hued doctrine and practice as the Christian world.

There could be little doubt on the part of any honest seeker of the truth, where the true faith was to be found, if the Spirit co-operated in gift and visible guidance as it did in the first century. In the record of the Spirit's work, in the initial century of the Christian era, we have the mind of the Spirit before us in connection with pretty nearly a whole century's operations on behalf of the truth, both within and without the house of Christ.

It is not saying too much to say that these are an all-sufficient guide in respect of what constitutes a "Scriptural attitude" in our day. As a matter of fact, this has been found to be the case. The Spirit will be present again in all its immeasurable gifts and powers (Heb. 6:5; 2 Cor. 1:22), when Christ and his apostles and prophet-associates are upon the scene again (Luke 13:28, 29).

Meanwhile we have to be content with what guidance and help God may vouchsafe to his people in providential ways in answer to their increasing prayers that His directing hand may be with them in all they seek to do for His name.

The Christadelphian, Nov 1888

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Discerning of spirits

For instance " "Why say ye in your hearts?"

And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? (Mk 2: 8)


The expression,‭ "‬hand of God,‭" ‬does not necessarily involve inspiration‭; ‬neither is Inspiration always the result of the Spirit operating on man.‭ ‬If it were so,‭ ‬we should not read of the Philistines having disease through the hand of God being upon them‭ (‬1‭ ‬Sam.‭ v. ‬6‭-‬9‭); ‬nor would it be recorded that the Israelites were helped by God in their physical conflicts.‭

As there are diversities of Spirit gifts,‭ ‬so are there diversities of Divine workings‭ (‬1‭ ‬Cor.‭ xii. ‬4‭-‬6‭)‬.‭ ‬Inspiration is a Spirit gift of a very high order-perhaps the highest.‭ ‬It means literally a breathing,‭ ‬and breathing being essential to speech,‭ ‬it fittingly represents the action of the vocal organs.‭

Those who are the subjects of it are,‭ ‬for the time being,‭ ‬the Deity's mouthpiece,‭ ‬as Aaron was the mouthpiece of the inspired Moses.‭ ‬Since the completion of the Apostolic writings,‭ ‬there is no evidence of anyone possessing this gift.‭ ‬But are we to conclude that no one has received Divine aid since then‭?

‭ ‬If so,‭ ‬how are we to account for some answers to the prayers of God's children‭? ‬Moreover,‭ ‬how have the weak ones chosen by God for His work been strengthened‭ (‬1‭ ‬Cor.‭ i. ‬27‭-‬29‭)? ‬And how have the angels fulfilled their functions as ministering spirits on behalf of the heirs of salvation‭ (‬Heb.‭ i‬:14‭)?

Probably,‭ ‬if the truth were known,‭ ‬others in the present generation have received Divine aid in their labours for the Deity.

The Christadelphian, Jan 1887. p18

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

No one should think highly of himself, because he has a gift that may distinguish him from the rest. He ought rather to think that as he did not make himself, it is no credit to him that he can do certain things which others cannot do. There is lack of reasonable ground for boasting or self-compliment. The feebly-gifted should also have it in mind that if they are part of the true body of Christ, they are as truly important as the greatest in that great body.

Between the well-gifted and the ill-gifted, there should be no schism. The one should be modest and kind, and the other, contented, cheerful, and kind. There should be no schism in the body.

The Christadelphian, Nov 1869

For the body is not one member, but many 

The beauty and usefulness and purpose of the human body is in its diversity. A severed foot or hand is a repulsive monstrosity. It is obviously dead and useless -- detached, broken off, lost, cast aside, rejected; yea, worse: decaying, corrupting, putrefying.

But a complete, living, healthy body, with all its parts functioning smoothly together, all perfectly coordinated in grace and symmetry and harmony of movement and purpose, all instantly subject to the one Head -- is of great attractiveness, and obvious power and usefulness.

No single member can be a body in itself, however accomplished, however skilled, however wise. No one of us can stand alone.

We may, by unavoidable force of circumstances, be confined to lonely isolation, like Paul shut up in prison, but we are still part of the Body; and we must, like Paul, think and live and move and breathe as part of the Body.

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

The beauty and usefulness of the body lies in its diversified unity -- the marvellous and harmonious specialisation of its infinite multitude of parts and functions -- the eye to see, the ear to hear, the foot to walk, the hand to do ...

Even in the simplest actions of the body, there is an exquisite coordination of many parts, perfected by long use and practice.

So it must be with the Body of Christ. All parts MUST, by use and association and self-submergence to the common purpose, develop a close coordination in the work of the Lord.

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

"If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?"

The beauty and usefulness of the body lies in its diversified unity -- the marvellous and harmonious specialisation of its infinite multitude of parts and functions -- the eye to see, the ear to hear, the foot to walk, the hand to do ...

Even in the simplest actions of the body, there is an exquisite coordination of many parts, perfected by long use and practice.

So it must be with the Body of Christ. All parts MUST, by use and association and self-submergence to the common purpose, develop a close coordination in the work of the Lord.

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

It is a comfort, and a responsibility, to know that it is God Who has put us where we are, and has made us what we are, according to His Own eternal will and purpose. It is a comfort to know we are part of a purpose; that we have in God's sight a useful function for the present, and a glorious prospect for the future.

Most of the world's silly pleasures and indulgences are a running away from cold reality, because they cannot squarely face the inevitable tragedy of the hopeless darkness and futility of the future that confronts them all. Life without God is life without purpose -- an empty, crushing, meaningless tragedy of struggle and sorrow.

But all the members of the Body of Christ are appointed by God to a joyful, useful, satisfying work, and a glorious destiny of life and hope -- IF they "lose their life" -- submerge their separate individuality -- into the unity and service of the Body.

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29 

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

This is another deep lesson we must learn if we are to be a part of the Body of Christ. In the wisdom of God, it is ordained that we all need each other. We may, in our self-sufficient blindness, not realize the need; or in our fleshly pride, refuse to recognize it.

This is indeed sad. It was the condition of the Laodiceans, who had no conception of their true spiritual condition or needs.

We may not be able, in our natural ignorance, to at first realize this need of others, but it is wisdom to take God's word for it, until we grow spiritually into the capacity of realization. Only as living and integral parts of the Body can we be pleasing to Him.

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

In the natural body, some parts seem weak and feeble and delicate, some parts seem less attractive and honorable, some parts seem to have no useful function.

We all know how the doctors of the world, in the ignorance of evolutionary self-delusion, from time to time develop a morbid fad for cutting out some part of the body because they do not know its purpose. But God knows why each part is there, and what it is for.

Truly, there are times when parts of the body become diseased and corrupt, and have to be removed lest they infect and destroy the body. This is sad, and there is a sad spiritual parallel for this too, and the Body suffers, and is never really the same again.

In our natural body, we cherish and protect our weaker parts; we honour and clothe our uncomely parts. Paul said --

"In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."

And in this connection he reminds us --

"Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before unto judgment, and some men they follow after."

"Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand, and they that are otherwise cannot be hid."

All are sinners, and hidden sins of the spirit are worse before God than open sins of the flesh. Bad temper and impatience may be worse in God's sight than bad morals and impurity.

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

We are told by Christ that the first shall be last, and the last first. God does not see as man seeth, for God looks upon the heart. We are told --

"Where much is given, much is required"

-- and only God knows what is given, and what is therefrom expected. A striving, one-talent member may, unnoticed and unseen, be doing far more for the glory of God than the showy external accomplishments that come so easily and enjoyably to a five-talent member. The main arena of our labour and our testing is the battle within ourselves, the battle with the flesh.

And many who, in his Name, have prophesied, and cast out devils, and done many wonderful works, have never won, or even faced, the great inner struggle. And to them, in spite of their long catalogue of achievement, he will say:

"I never knew you."

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

See 11:18 schism within the ecclesia...

...human nature then was the same as human nature now. The gifts varied; some were more extraordinary than others, while some of the brethren had no gifts at all. This state of things afforded scope for evil in a carnal-minded community. A brother able to do more wonderful things than the rest, would be liable to feel himself of more consequence in the ecclesia than another brother, who, perhaps, did nothing at all.

A wise man largely gifted would see that what he possessed he had received, and was therefore no matter of boast or credit to him, and he would therefore play a modest part; but others in the ecclesia not so wise would think differently and exalt him, and so cause schism, because the exaltation of one would involve the depreciation of another not so highly gifted. This is the schism that Paul says is not to exist.

TC 11/1869

No schism

This is important. We are naturally drawn to some more than to others, usually for natural or fleshly reasons.

But even if it be for the purest of spiritual reasons, it is dangerous, and must be controlled. There must be the "same care" for ALL. The Body is One, and anything, official or unofficial, selfishly thoughtless or intensely well-meaning, that subdivides that Oneness is hurtful to the Body.

We naturally tend to polarize -- by natural affinity, by common interest, by age, etc. But this fleshly tendency must be rooted out. There must be the same care, the same interest, the same affinity, for all.

And we shall find, in the loving wisdom of God, as we so often marvellously find in submission to His provisions, that this gives a far richer and deeper communion than polarization into groups of common characteristics.

The young have much to learn from the old, and the old from the young. Unity in diversity is the beauty of the Body.

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

In the natural body this is obviously true. Pain or disease anywhere affects the entire being, and the comfort and activity of every part.

It is not quite so obvious in the spiritual Body, but it is even more true, whether the suffering be misfortune or misconduct. This is the beauty and glory of ecclesial unity.

Sorrow and suffering are not purposeless. Our present lot is not meant to be for mere enjoyment, but a brief period of intense training, development, and preparation for eternal, endless joy --

"Our LIGHT affliction. . ."

-- says Paul, the lifelong sufferer --

"... worketh an exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

Individual tribulation worketh patience, and shared tribulation does more -- it worketh deeper fellowship and unity --

"God comforteth us in all our tribulation. . ."

-- he says at the beginning of 2nd Corinthians --

". . . that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

All the members rejoice with it

Truly, salvation is in one sense an individual thing. We each at last stand or fall individually before the Judge.

But in another very real and perhaps much deeper sense, it is not an individual thing, for no one who seeks to save himself will save himself. Only those who have clearly seen themselves -- and made themselves -- harmonious, sympathetic, interwoven, joy-and-sorrow sharing parts of the Body of Christ, will be accepted as parts of that Body.

The flesh looks out for number one, even in matters of salvation, and our unconscious contamination with Western civilization's exaggerated cult of the independence of the individual, deepens this tendency within us.

But the only way to salvation is through complete submission and submersion of self into the Body of Christ -- ignoring, forgetting, neglecting, repudiating self in the service of the whole.

It is no accident or coincidence or meaningless rhetoric that we find both Moses and Paul expressing the wish, if possible, of being blotted out from God's purpose for the salvation of their blind and erring kinsmen after the flesh, and we need not be reminded of Christ himself in this connection --

"Wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities."

Without this characteristic, they would not have been suitable for God's purpose.

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

The meaning of "Ecclesia" has different degrees of extension. In its narrowest sense, it is the local group with which, and within which, we -- in God's wise provision and providence -- are working out our salvation.

In a wider, but still present, sense it is the Body of Christ in its current, living constitution -- those with whom we are contemporary throughout the world.

In its fullest, most universal sense, the Ecclesia comprises all the Redeemed of all generations -- the multitude of glory that no man can number.

From week to week we work and associate within the framework of our own local ecclesia (to some extent extending to neighboring ecclesias), but we must always be vividly conscious of the larger aspect of the Ecclesia of Christ diffused through both past history and present geography.

Paul is our example. He could sincerely and literally write to all throughout the ecclesial world (Eph. 1:16) --

"I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers."

"Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers" (Rom. 1:9).

A Fraternal Gathering is to strengthen by personal contact the ecclesial bonds of unity and sympathy and fellowship and understanding.

Paul prayed fervently to be able to see the ecclesia at Rome, that, as he says --

"I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith of both you and me."

In God's wisdom for our good, the Ecclesia is the unit, not the individual. No man liveth to himself: that is selfishness, stagnation, sterility. The Body is ONE, and hath many members.

The heart of our gradual education from ugly natural ignorance to the living beauty of the Truth is to learn to think and to act unselfishly as part of the Body, and not selfishly as a separate individual, even as regards our own salvation.

The flesh is for itself. Even its goodnesses to others are for its own satisfaction. It is impossible to escape this vicious circle of self-centeredness except by breaking completely out of the flesh into the mind of the Spirit, by constant prayer and study of the Word, and the help of God.

We must die completely to ourselves, and be born anew into the Body of Christ.

Bro Growcott - The same care one for another

28 And God hath set some in the ecclesia, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

The ministration of the Spirit was established in a hierarchy provisionally appointed. The members of the hierarchy were not all of the same rank. Though all brethren in Christ, some of them held more elevated and important positions than others.

... Thus, the ministry of the word was first, the confirmation of the word next, temporal affairs after that, and tongues, so much coveted, last in honour and degree.

But this hierarchy was not intended to be permanent. It was to continue only until perfection should come.-1 Cor. 13:10; Eph. 4:13.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Dec 1856

There are necessarily those in the ecclesias who take a more prominent part than others, and there always will be; the work cannot do itself. Where there are none to take it up, the work goes to the wall, and the truth languishes. Therefore, it behoves presiding brethren-and I mention them because they are seen more conspicuously in connection with Christ's business - to be particularly exemplary and free from blemish and reproach in all things.

They ought to be zealous and punctual in their attendance at the meetings; moreover, they ought to be men of example at home. If a man will not bear examination at home, he is not worth anything abroad, whatever he may appear to be in a public capacity. There must be the gold underneath - not on the surface only; they must be men of integrity and scrupulous honour in everything.

It is for them to uphold what is honourable, and to reprobate and avoid everything that is dishonourable. They must not look to the world for their lessons: the world is a liar in this matter. There are many things the world calls white that are black; and the things that are thoroughly white in the sight of God, they oftentimes call black and foolish.

They must be guided by Christ's sentiments in this matter - prominent servants of Christ. For this purpose they must be students of the word. They ought to set an example to all the rest in this as well as other matters; they ought to read continually themselves, and be filled richly with the word of Christ, and not follow a course whose example it would be dangerous to imitate.

Not that a greater responsibility rests upon them than the rest: it behoves every man and woman, who has put on the name of Christ, to depart from iniquity and follow after righteousness; for it is certain that all others will be excluded from the kingdom of God.

Responsibility attaches to all alike - public or private; but it applies with peculiar force to all who stand before the world to promote the cause of holiness. The cause of Christ is the cause of honour, of love, of integrity, of justice, of goodness and all excellence. It is the cause of everything that is morally beautiful, and pure-minded, and noble and lofty; and to these things we have to rise. We must attain them, or be left in the valley of death.

Seasons 1.56.

30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

God hath set some in the ecclesia

Clearly, in Corinth, there was unhealthy competition about spiritual gifts. This was falling right back into the selfishness and pride of the flesh, on a higher, more hypocritical, more responsible level.

The gifts were not for present gratification and glorification, but for the selfless service of the Body. From the apparently most exalted to the apparently most menial, all were for the same purpose and all were equally needed.

"The Body is One, and hath many members."

When the disciples, at the last supper, bickered over who should be the greatest, Christ washed their feet. It was a menial task. It took no ability. Anyone could do it. Yet it was a manifestation of the highest degree of spirituality and divine perception.

It was a lesson for all time -- not so much of humility (which is simply but the inevitable by-product of wisdom) as of perception, discernment, understanding, unity, and love.

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29

31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

In the ministration of the Spirit by a hierarchy, the "faith and knowledge" were distributed in the preaching, teaching and exhortation among apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers; but when perfection of manhood,

"the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ"

was obtained, this distribution ceased.

Bible unity of doctrine is now all-sufficient for making men wise to salvation, purifying their hearts, and reducing them to obedience. Read what Paul says upon this point, in 2 Tim. 3:15-17. The spirit dwells in a man, by this doctrine, believed and obeyed. Where the doctrine is not, the Spirit is not; but where the testimony concerning Christ dwells richly in a man, in all wisdom, and he teaches it faithfully, the spirit ministers by him, and says, "come."

In these times, we have no faith in any inspiration that comes in any other way than by the truth believed. It is all delusion talking about having the Spirit, and being at the same time ignorant of the truth. The Spirit does not dwell in dark and dirty places.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Dec 1856

A more excellent way

"By One Spirit are we all baptized into One Body, whether Jew, Gentile, bond or free: and have all been made to drink into One Spirit"

This was the great turning-point in our life; our passing from death to life -- from the selfish, ignorant slavery of the flesh to the selfless freedom of the Spirit. John says --

"We know we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren" (1 Jn. 3:14).

He is saying the same thing as Paul is here: we have made the transition from fleshly individuality to spiritual community. We have ceased to be ourselves to seek our own desires, to consider our own interests -- and we have become absorbed wholly and wholeheartedly into the glory and fellowship and unity and joyful, satisfying service of the Body of Christ --

"We KNOW we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren."

Bro Growcott - BYT 1.29