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12. Spiritual Gifts

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2Ye know that when ye were Gentiles ye were led away unto those dumb idols, howsoever ye might led. 3Wherefore I make known unto you, that no man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema; and no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. 8For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: 9to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; 10and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discernings of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues: 11but all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will. 12For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. 13For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. 16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; it is not therefore not of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased him. 19And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20But now they are many members, but one body. 21And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22Nay, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary: 23and those parts of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness; 24whereas our comely parts have no need: but God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked; 25that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof. 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30have all gifts of healings? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31But desire earnestly the greater gifts. And moreover a most excellent way show I unto you.

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12. For as the body is one He now derives a similitude from the human body, which he makes use of also in Romans 12:4; but it is for a different purpose, as I have already stated above. In that passage, he exhorts every one to be satisfied with his own calling, and not to invade another’s territory; as ambition, curiosity, or some other disposition, induces many to take in hand more than is expedient. Here, however, he exhorts believers to cleave to each other in a mutual distribution of gifts, as they were not conferred upon them by God that every one should enjoy his own separately, but that one should help another. It is usual, however, for any society of men, or congregation, to be called a body, as one city constitutes a body, and so, in like manner, one senate, and one people. Monenius Agrippa, 747747     Menenius Agrippa, a Roman consul, on occasion of a rebellion breaking out among the common people against the nobles and senators, whom they represented as useless and cumbersome to the state, was successful in quelling the insurrection, by a happy use of the apologue referred to, founded on the intimate connection and mutual dependence of the different parts of the body. The reader will find this interesting incident related by Livy, Book 2. chapter 32. — Ed. too, in ancient times, when desirous to conciliate the Roman people, when at variance with the senate, made use of an apologue, not very unlike the doctrine of Paul here. 748748     “En remonstrant que les membres du corps ayans conspire contre le ventre, et se voulans separer d’auec luy s’en trouuerent mal les premiers;” — “By showing that the members of the body, having conspired against the belly, and wishing to separate from it, were the first to experience the bad effects of this.” Among Christians, however, the case is very different; for they do not constitute a mere political body, but are the spiritual and mystical body of Christ, as Paul himself afterwards adds. (1 Corinthians 12:27.) The meaning therefore is — “Though the members of the body are various, and have different functions, they are, nevertheless, linked together in such a manner that they coalesce in one. 749749     “Ils prenent nourriture et accroissement l’un auec l’autre;” — “They take nourishment and increase, one with another.” We, accordingly, who are members of Christ, although we are endowed with various gifts, ought, notwithstanding, to have an eye to that connection which we have in Christ.”

So also is Christ The name of Christ is used here instead of the Church, because the similitude was intended to apply not to God’s only-begotten Son, but to us. It is a passage that is full of choice consolation, inasmuch as he calls the Church Christ; for Christ 750750     “Ce bon Seigneur Iesus;” — “This good Lord Jesus.” confers upon us this honor — that he is willing to be esteemed and recognised, not in himself merely, but also in his members. Hence the same Apostle says elsewhere, (Ephesians 1:23,) that the Church is his completion, 751751     Calvin, along with some other interpreters, understands the term, πλήρωμα, (fullness,) in the passage referred to, in an active sense. Theophylact observes that the Church is the Πλήρωμαcompletion of Christ, as the body and limbs are of the head. The term may, however, be taken in a passive sense, as meaning a thing to be filled or completed. — Ed as though he would, if separated from his members, be incomplete. And certainly, as Augustine elegantly expresses himself in one part of his writings —

“Since we are in Christ a fruit-bearing vine, what are we out of him but dry twigs?” (John 15:4.)

In this, then, our consolation lies — that, as he and the Father are one, so we are one with him. Hence it is that his name is applied to us.

13. For we are all baptized by one Spirit. Here there is a proof brought forward from the effect of baptism. “We are,” says he, “engrafted by baptism into Christ’s body, so that we are by a mutual link bound together as members, and live one and the same life. Hence every one, that would remain in the Church of Christ, must necessarily cultivate this fellowship.” He speaks, however, of the baptism of believers, which is efficacious through the grace of the Spirit, for, in the case of many, baptism is merely in the letter — the symbol without the reality; but believers, along with the sacrament, receive the reality. Hence, with respect to God, this invariably holds good — that baptism is an engrafting into the body of Christ, for God in that ordinance does not represent anything but what he is prepared to accomplish, provided we are on our part capable of it. The Apostle, also, observes here a most admirable medium, in teaching that the nature of baptism is — to connect us with Christ’s body. Lest any one, however, should imagine, that this is effected by the outward symbol, he adds that it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Whether Jews or Greeks. He specifies these instances, to intimate, that no diversity of condition obstructs that holy unity which he recommends. This clause, too, is added suitably and appropriately, for envy might at that time arise from two sources — because the Jews were not willing that the Gentiles should be put upon a level with them; and, where one had some excellence above others, with the view of maintaining his superiority, lie withdrew himself to a distance from his brethren.

We have all drunk in one Spirit. It is literally, “We have drunk into one Spirit,” but it would seem that, in order that the two words ἐν (in) and ἑν (one) might not immediately follow each other, Paul intentionally changed ἐν (in) into ἐις (into,) as he is accustomed frequently to do. Hence his meaning seems rather to be, that we are made to drink through the influence, as he had said before, of the Spirit of Christ, than that we have drunk into the same Spirit. It is uncertain, however, whether he speaks here of Baptism or of the Supper. I am rather inclined, however, to understand him as referring to the Supper, as he makes mention of drinking, for I have no doubt that he intended to make an allusion to the similitude of the sign. There is, however, no correspondence between drinking and baptism. Now, though the cup forms but the half of the Supper, there is no difficulty arising from that, for it is a common thing in Scripture to speak of the sacraments by synecdoche. 752752     A figure of speech, by which a part is put for the whole. See Quinctilian. (lnst. 8. 6, 19.) Thus he mentioned above in the tenth chapter (1 Corinthians 10:17) simply the bread, making no mention of the cup. The meaning, therefore, will be this — that participation in the cup has an eye to this — that we drink, all of us, of the same cup. For in that ordinance we drink of the life-giving blood of Christ, that we may have life in common with him — which we truly have, when he lives in us by his Spirit. He teaches, therefore, that believers, so soon as they are initiated by the baptism of Christ, are already imbued with a desire of cultivating mutual unity, 753753     “Si tost qu’ils sont amenez a Christ par le baptesme, desia leur est donne un goust de l’affection qu’ils doyuent auoir d’entretenir entr’eux unite et conionction naturelie;” — “So soon as they are brought to Christ by baptism, there is already given to them some taste of the disposition which they ought to have, to maintain among themselves a natural unity and connection.” and then afterwards, when they receive the sacred Supper, they are again conducted by degrees to the same unity, as they are all refreshed at the same time with the same drink.

15. This is a bringing out still farther (ἐπεξεργασία) of the preceding statement, or in other words, an exposition of it, with some amplification, with the view of placing in a clearer light, what he had previously stated in a few words. Now all this accords with the apologue of Menenius Agrippa. “Should a dissension break out in the body, so that the feet would refuse to discharge their office to the rest of the body, and the belly in like manner, and the eyes, and the hands, what would be the effect? Would not the result be — the destruction of the whole body?” At the same time Paul here insists more particularly on this one point — that each member ought to rest satisfied with its own place and station, and not envy the others, for he institutes a comparison between the more distinguished members, and those that have less dignity. For the eye has a more honorable place in the body than the hand, and the hand than the foot But if our hands were, from a feeling of envy, to refuse to discharge their office, would nature endure this? Would the hand be listened to, when wishing to be separated from the body?

To be not of the body, means here — to have no communication with the other members, but to live for itself, and to seek only its own advantage. “Would it then,” says Paul, “be allowable for the hand to refuse to do its office to the other members, on the ground of its bearing envy to the eyes?” These things are said of the natural body, but they must be applied to the members of the Church, lest ambition or misdirected emulation and envy should be the occasion of bad feeling among us, 754754     “Nous face restraindre et espargner les vns enuers les autres;” — “Make us restrict and spare ourselves — one towards another.” so as to lead one that occupies an inferior station to grudge to afford his services to those above him.

17. If the whole body were an eye He sets aside a foolish aiming at equality, by showing the impossibility of it. “If all the members,” says he, “desire the honor that belongs to the eye, the consequence will be, that the whole body will perish; for it is impossible that the body should remain safe and sound, if the members have not different functions, and a mutual correspondence between them. Hence equality interferes with the welfare of the body, because it produces a confusion that entails present ruin. What madness, then, would it be, should one member, instead of giving way to another, 755755     “De s’accommoder et soumettre a l’un des autres membres;” — To accommodate itself, and submit to one of the other members.” conspire for its own ruin and that of the body!”

18. But now God hath placed. Here we have another argument, taken from the appointment of God. “It has pleased God, that the body should consist of various members, and that the members should be endowed with various offices and gifts. That member, therefore, which will not rest satisfied with its own station, will wage war with God after the manner of the giants. 756756     “Comme les poetes ont dit anciennement des geans;” — “As the poets have told of the giants in ancient times.” The fabled war of the giants with the gods is referred to in Homer’s Odyssey, 7, 59, 206; 10, 120. — Ed. Let us, therefore, be subject to the arrangement which God has appointed, that we may not, to no purpose, resist his will.” 757757     “De peur de perdre temps, and nous gaster en resistant a la volonte;” — “Lest we should lose time, and do hurt to ourselves by resisting his will.”

19. If all were one member He means, that God has not acted at random, or without good reason, in assigning different gifts to the members of the body; but because it was necessary that it should be so, for the preservation of the body; for if this symmetry were taken away, there would be utter confusion and derangement. Hence we ought to submit ourselves the more carefully to the providence of God, which has so suitably arranged everything for our common advantage. One member is taken here to mean a mass, that is all of one shape, and not distinguished by any variety; for if God were to fashion our body into a mass of this kind, it would be a useless heap. 758758     “Un amas de chair inutile;” — “A heap of useless flesh.”

20. Many members one body He repeats this the oftener, because the stress of the whole question lies here — that the unity of the body is of such a nature as cannot be maintained but by a diversity of members; and that, while the members differ from each other in offices and functions, it is in such a way as to have a mutual connection with each other for the preservation of the one body. Hence no body can retain its standing without a diversified symmetry of the members, that we may know to consult public as well as private advantage, by discharging, every one, the duty of his own station.