1 CORINTHIANS 12
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
4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
BAPTISM OF HOLY 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:
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)
THAT THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD
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
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.
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.
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