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1 Corinthians Chapter 12

As opposed to the divisions within their company mentioned in the last chapter, Paul writes to them concerning spiritual gifts that are for the unity of the faith, to keep the body of Christ sanctified in eternal life as one body.

I showed that Paul's reward was extended to him for better increase of his ministry when he kept it as his treasure in heaven. (Rather than taking monetary reward for spreading the gospel.) An eternal gift extended down into his ministry by God in the form of new believers at the instant of Paul's ministering them to conversion - giving increase instead of a mere return of payment for the gospel - a "dispensation". Likewise I inferred that for this spiritual gift the Lord made His Holy Spirit to perform with might miracles amongst those to whom Paul preached.

Paul writes concerning spiritual gifts (v1) on the basis of their personal experiences of the Holy Spirit ministering to them their repentance. (v2) He asserts them that He works amongst them all if they have the true faith of the gospel (v3). There are diversities of gifts (v4) to enable them to extend grace to each other (v5) to bring the whole body into eternal life rather than on the basis of individual obedience. (v6) There is one Spirit, one body and one Lord.

The physical presence of the Holy Spirit and the appearance of gifts is therefore given on an individual basis. To keep the body of Christ in eternal life through unity in Christ (as His people) is to profit everyone. (v7) As Paul put it previously - so that those approved with the truth of the gospel should be seen to be approved for the purpose of keeping the whole body standing in the love of the truth. (And not in division of heresies).

For there is one Spirit ministering to all, and out of obedience there are many gifts so that we should mutually strengthen each other, through wisdom, knowledge (v8), faith, healing (v9) and tongues (v10). To everyone who is being trained to be obedient by the Spirit towards their repentance, there is only one God (v11) that works over one people. Between each other of us then, it is more perfect for God to supply the needs of His people (v12) across the whole to each other though the transfer of gifts as He wishes. This is done to preserve the kingdom of God. The truth in Christ then is one gospel - and the gifts to establish and continue that gospel are a sure extension down to us from Christ to interoperably join his people into eternal life. (v13).

For truly as there is one God there is merely one people who worship Him in truth and obedience. (v14) Disputations of divisions in the body of Christ (v14-16) are irrelevant to its members then that rest in the eternal life gifted from Christ because they have the ministering of the Holy Spirit to bring them into that life, and these spiritual gifts also. Likewise one gospel does not in any way divide the body of Christ into dispensations as separate. (v17). Instead there is one people made of many (v18) with their needs separately ministered to (v19) by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of each and the whole (v20) also by the will of God, so that eternal life continues to be given in the truth of the gospel to His elect and that they be obedient to the needs of each other. (v21)

Since those that are being trained in repentance and the truth of the gospel may seem feeble - but the Lord distributes gifts of the Holy Spirit so that the whole body be strong and trained (with the might of God) to be charitable toward each other that they be all the more confirmed in the truth of the gospel. (v22) Charitably - so those that require it more be given the more attention. (v23) For to respect their training in the knowledge of God is to train their conscience - causing them no offence in anything that they live to the Lord as if they be weak, and by providing for them carnally whilst they are better suited to minister the gospel, being a help if they be strong. (v24). In this way we see by context that the body works from the position of divine authority to disseminate the truth rather than socialist welfare. (v25)

For the purpose that if one lacks, all lack - one is rich all is rich. (v26) For whether up or down the chain (v27) of divine authority in the gospel, it is better for God to bless those with the true faith with spiritual gifts for richness, charitably towards the weak from the strong; and material support from the weak to the strong in kind. (v28) There is a diversity of divine authority - because each of us has a subset of Christ's knowledge of the will of His Father - not all have knowledge and strength in the Spirit as apostles etc; (v29,v30) But therefore earnestly desire the greater gifts of knowledge to show yourself better grounded in the truth. Your obedience then is rewarded with greater spiritual gifts. (v31)

There is a chain of divine authority... (a partial ordering) It should be minded then that those who are trusted with the greater gifts are they who recognise truth more willingly - to be corrected by weak or new believers if they are found to be correct is a very important certainty - there should be no respect of persons, because we are members of one body, all servants of Christ. There is no superiority in the chain, but the only superiority belongs to divine authority grounded in the truth.

Also, the chain of authority to minister to with charity or correct another goes one way.. this is not a form of socialism, but also not necessarily an economy of reciprocation - because else we should expect a reward of material compensation and not the increase due the Lord as we should His servants. Paul's incorruptible crown of chapter 9 is a startling example that this is not an economy.


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