Spiritual gifts

Diversity of spiritual gifts

Paul now touches upon spiritual gifts in both Chapters 12 & 14. He emphasizes that “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (12:4) And the gifts are granted to us for our profit (12:7) and distributed to us as the Spirit wills (12:11) and as God pleases (12:18). He gives examples of diversity of gifts such as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues. (12:8-10) He illustrates the diversity with our body members each performing its own function for the same body. Each member needs each other to function properly. The “more feeble” and “less honorable” members particularly need more of our concern and care. (12:22-23) They should never be despised. There should be no “schism” (division) among the members, meaning that we should care for each other and share each other’s joy and suffering. (12:25-26)

Paul then lists some gifts in order of usefulness to the church: “first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (12:28) He urges us to “covet earnestly the best gifts”. (12:31)

In Chapter 14, he uses two gifts (prophecy and tongue) as examples to exemplify the usefulness of some gifts over the others. The gift of prophesy edifies the church whereas the gift of tongue edifies oneself. (14:4) He exhorts us that we should not only desire spiritual gifts but “seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church”. (14:12) Tongues are spoken for those who reject faith, whereas prophesy is given for those who accept faith. (14:22) He concludes in 14:26 that be it a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, a revelation or an interpretation, “let all things be done unto edifying”.

Paul continues to talk about prophesy and tongue. Both can be conducted in church service but “in order”. He concludes that during worship service, “let all things be done decently and in order”. (14:40) He points out several things for their attention:

  1. Speaking tongues must have interpretation, otherwise “keep silence”. (14:28)
  2. Speaking prophesy in two or three must be done “one by one”. (14:29-31)
  3. Women should “keep silence”, not permitted to speak. For any question, they should ask their husbands at home. (14:34-35)

Love overrides all gifts

Paul concludes Chapter 13 with the statement that among the 3 basic elements of Christian faith—faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love. Why? Without love, any spiritual gift “profiteth me nothing”. (13:3) Any gift shall vanish but love endures forever. (13:8) He then lists some of the characteristics of love that we should all possess. (13:4-7)