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Spiritual Gifts

12

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.


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1. Now concerning spiritual things. He goes on to correct another fault. As the Corinthians abused the gifts of God for ostentation and show, and love was little, if at all, regarded, he shows them for what purpose believers are adorned by God with spiritual gifts — for the edification of their brethren. This proposition, however, he divides into two parts; for, in the first place, he teaches, that God is the author of those gifts, and, secondly, having established this, he reasons as to their design. He proves from their own experience, that those things in which they gloried, are bestowed upon men through the exercise of God’s favor; for he reminds them how ignorant they were, and stupid, and destitute of all spiritual light, previously to God’s calling them. Hence it appears, that they had been furnished with them — not by nature, but through God’s unmerited benignity.

As to the words; when he says — I would not that ye should be ignorant, we must supply the expression — as to what is right, or as to what is your duty, or some similar expression; and by spiritual things he means spiritual gifts, as to which we shall have occasion to see afterwards. In what follows there is a twofold reading; for some manuscripts have simply ὅτι others add ὅτε. The former means because — assigning a reason: the latter means when; and this latter reading suits much better. But besides this diversity, the construction is in other respects confused; but still, the meaning is evident. Literally, it is this — Ye know, that when ye were Gentiles, after dumb idols, according as ye were led, following I have, however, faithfully given Paul’s meaning. By dumb idols he means — having neither feeling nor motion.

Let us learn from this passage how great is the blindness of the human mind: when it is without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as it stands in amazement at dumb idols, 726726     “I1 demeure la abbruti apres les idoles;” — “It remains there, in a brutish attachment to idols.” and cannot rise higher in searching after God; nay more, it is led by Satan as if it were a brute. 727727     This idea is brought out more fully by Bloomfield, who observes that ἀπάγεσθαι (to be carried away) is ”a strong, term, denoting being hurried away by a force which cannot be resisted; and here refers to the blind infatuation by which the heathens were led away into idolatry and vice, like brute beasts that have no understanding. This,” he adds, “is especially alluded to in ὡς ἄν ἤγεσθεas ye might be led, viz. by custom, example, or inclination, just as it might happen.” — Ed He makes use of the term Gentiles here, in the same sense as in Ephesians 2:12.

Ye were at one time Gentiles, says he, without God,
strangers to the hope of salvation, etc.

Perhaps, too, he reasons by way of contrast. What if 728728     “Que ce sera une vilenie a eux s’ils,” etc.; — “It will be a disgrace to them if they,” etc. they should now show themselves to be less submissive to God, after his having taken them under his care, to be governed by his word and Spirit, than they formerly discovered themselves to be forward and compliant, in following the suggestions of Satan!

3. Wherefore I give you to know. Having admonished them from their own experience, he sets before them a general doctrine, which he deduces from it; for what the Corinthians had experienced in themselves is common to all mankind — to wander on in error, 729729     “D’estre errans et abusez en diuerses sortes;” — “To be wandering and deluded in various ways.” previously to their being brought back, through the kindness of God, into the way of truth. Hence it is necessary that we should be directed by the Spirit of God, or we shall wander on for ever. From this, too, it follows, that all things that pertain to the true knowledge of God, are the gifts of the Holy Spirit,. He at the same time derives an argument from opposite causes to opposite effects. No one, speaking by the Spirit of God, can revile Christ; so, on the other hand, no one can speak well of Christ, but by the Spirit of Christ. To say that Jesus is accursed is utter blasphemy against him. To say that Jesus is the Lord, is to speak of him in honorable terms and with reverence, and to extol his majesty.

Here it is asked — “As the wicked sometimes speak of Christ in honorable and magnificent terms, is this an indication that they have the Spirit of God?” I answer — “They undoubtedly have, so far as that effect is concerned; but the gift of regeneration is one thing, and the gift of bare intelligence, with which Judas himself was endowed, when he preached the gospel, is quite another.” Hence, too, we perceive how great our weakness is, as we cannot so much as move our tongue for the celebration of God’s praise, unless it be governed by his Spirit. Of this the Scripture, also, frequently reminds us, and the saints everywhere acknowledge that unless the Lord open their mouths, they are not fit to be the heralds of his praise. Among others, Isaiah says — I am a man of unclean lips, etc. (Isaiah 6:5.)




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