1 Corinthians 12:12-31 - One Body With Many Parts

1. Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians has a comprehensive discussion of spiritual gifts, however, spiritual gifts are mentioned in at least six other places, so clearly God wants each of us to know and use our special, spiritual gifts. (Exodus 31:3, Romans 12:6, 1 Cor 1:7, 1 Cor 14:1-2, Eph 4:11-12, 1 Tim 1:6-7, Heb 2:4)

A: Exodus 31:3 - and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts -

Romans 12:6 - We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a manís gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

1 Cor 1:7 - Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

1 Cor 14:1-2 - Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God.

Ephesians 4:11-12 - It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare Godís people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

1 Timothy 1:6-7 - For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Hebrews 2:4 - God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

2. In verse 13, the word ďbaptizedĒ does not refer to a traditional water baptism. What does the word mean here?

A: The second meaning of baptism is ďan act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, or initiated.Ē So the verse effectively says that the Holy Spirit acted on each of us and united us with Christ as part of his church. Paul emphasizes in this verse that in Christ there is no distinction by race, color, social position, but that God has given all of his people the Holy Spirit to dwell in them.

3. The first section (roughly Verses 14 to 20) and second section (Verses 21 to 26) are addressed to two different audiences. How would you describe each audience? (Knowing the two audiences will help you understand each section better.)

A: The first section is addressed to those people who feel their gifts are inferior and unimportant. Apparently the more spectacular gifts such as speaking in tongues had been glorified in the Corinthian church, making those who did not have them feel inferior.

The second section is addressed mainly to those who feel their gifts are superior and most important.

4. Have you ever felt like an unneeded or unimportant part of a group or team? What did you do about it? What would Paul have told you to do?

A: The temptation when you feel left out or unimportant is to sulk, or tune out, or even leave the group. Paul would recommend that you exercise your gifts or effectively use your position for the good of the whole. Iíve seen people leave a softball team because they werenít on the first squad even though they could have helped the team by coaching at first and third base or acting as a field umpire.

5. Conversely, if you are in a position of importance and feel needed, what should you do? (1 Peter 5:1-3, Hebrews 10:24-25)

A: As a Christian, youíre probably thinking be humble, help others, remember that you are just one part of the whole. This is definitely important and you most certainly have an obligation to be aware of those people who might feel unimportant or left out. You should encourage and walk along side them.

1 Peter 5:1-3 - And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudginglyónot for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Donít lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.

Hebrews 10:24-25 - And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Butóand this is a big butóyou must also do the job that you have been given and use the gift youíve been given. For two seasons, we had a softball coach at the Mission who didnít want anyone to feel left out so he put second and third string players into key positions such as pitcher, shortstop and first base. And he put poor batters early in the lineup. As a result, the Mission went from being a winning team to end the seasons he coached with records of 2-10, 0-12, and 1-11. Using Paulís body analogy, it was if the foot had been assigned the job of seeing, and the ear the job of running. This goes right back to spiritual gifts: first, youíve got to know your gift (or gifts) and second, youíve got to use it.

6. How could you illustrate the truth of Verse 26 from your own body? From your own church?

A: Hereís a double illustration. On our missions trip in Guatemala, we had work teams of five people, each with different construction skills. On the second day, my carpenter ate something that disagreed with him. It really only affected his stomach, but he said that he felt so bad all over that he couldnít go to work. He, in fact, missed two full days of work. The second effect was on our team. We had me (the leader and one who was measuring and cutting the concrete blocks), my wife Betsy (who was mixing and pouring concrete), Ken (who was helping build the concrete block walls), and Victor (one of the Guatemala men who was digging the holes for the wall uprights). But now we didnít have a carpenter, so I had to do some multi-tasking and we had to use a young, inexperienced guy from Guatemala for some of the grunt work. We were missing a vital part, we came up with a makeshift solution, but as a result our house construction fell behind schedule and wasnít quite finished by the time we had to leave. (I should mention that the two other crews also had problems and the third house was at least two days behind us at the end of the week.)

7. In some Bible versions, in Verse 28, Paul orders the gifts:
    first are apostles,
    second are prophets,
    third are teachers,
    then those who do miracles,
    those who have the gift of healing,
    those who can help others,
    those who have the gift of leadership (or administration),
    those who speak in unknown languages.

Two questions: 1) do you think this list (or the one in Verses 8-10) is meant to be exhaustive or all-inclusive? 2) Is there any significance in the ordering, i.e., first, second, etc.? If so, what?

A: As we saw from our discussion of spiritual gifts two weeks ago, the list is definitely not all-inclusive. There are many other spiritual gifts such as the gift of music, craftsmanship, building, giving, and many others. This list is just a starting point with some examples.

Second, as to the ordering, there is perhaps a hierarchy, just as we would be inclined to list the bodily sense of seeing above the sense of taste or smell, or the hand above the foot, but the real crux of the section is found in verses 20 and 25-26.

Verse 20: It takes many parts to make a single body.

Verses 25-26: God did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. 26 If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy.

8. What lesson do you take away (for YOU personally) from this section of scripture?

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