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4. Now there are diversities of gifts The symmetry of the Church 730730 “La proportion et ordre bien compasse qui est en l’Eglise;” — “The proportion and well regulated order that is in the Church.” consists, so to speak, of a manifold unity, 731731 “Consiste en vne vnite faite de plusieurs parties assemblees;” — “Consists of a unity made up of many parts put together.” that is, when the variety of gifts is directed to the same object, as in music there are different sounds, but suited to each other with such an adaptation, as to produce concord. Hence it is befitting that there should be a distinction of gifts as well as of offices, and yet all harmonize in one. Paul, accordingly, in the 12th chapter of Romans, commends this variety, that no one may, by rashly intruding himself into another’s place, confound the distinction which the Lord has established. Hence he orders every one to be contented with his own gifts, and cultivate the particular department that has been assigned to him. 732732 “I1 vent donc qu’un chacun se contentant du don qu’il a receu, s’employe a le faire valoir, et s’acquitter de son deuoir;” — “He would, therefore, have every one, contenting himself with the gift that he has received, to employ himself in improving it, and carefully discharge his duty.” He prohibits them from going beyond their own limits by a foolish ambition. In fine, he exhorts that every one should consider how much has been given him, what measure has been allotted to him, and to what he has been called. Here, on the other hand, he orders every one to bring what he has to the common heap, and not keep back the gifts of God in the way of enjoying every one his own, apart from the others, 733733 “Pour en iouyr a part, sans en communiquer a ses freres;” — “So as to enjoy them apart, without imparting of them to his brethren.” but aim unitedly at the edification of all in common. In both passages, he brings forward the similitude of the human body, but, as may be observed, on different accounts. The sum of what he states amounts to this — that gifts are not distributed thus variously among believers, in order that they may be used apart, but that in the division there is a unity, inasmuch as one Spirit is the source of all those gifts, one God is the Lord of all administrations, and the author of all exercises of power. Now God, who is the beginning, ought also to be the end.
One Spirit This passage ought to be carefully observed in opposition to fanatics, 734734 “Vn tas d’esprits enragez;” — “A troop of furious spirits.” who think that the name Spirit means nothing essential, but merely the gifts or actions of divine power. Here, however, Paul plainly testifies, that there is one essential power of God, whence all his works proceed. The term Spirit, it is true, is sometimes transferred by metonymy to the gifts themselves. Hence we read of the Spirit of knowledge — of judgment — of fortitude — of modesty. 735735 “De discretion;” — “Of discretion.” Paul, however, here plainly testifies that judgment, and knowledge, and gentleness, and all other gifts, proceed from one source. For it is the office of the Holy Spirit to put forth and exercise the power of God by conferring these gifts upon men, and distributing them among them.
One Lord. The ancients made use of this testimony in opposition to the Arians, for the purpose of maintaining a Trinity of persons. For there is mention made here of the Spirit, secondly of the Lord, and lastly of God, and to these Three, one and the same operation is ascribed. Thus, by the name Lord, they understood Christ. But for my part, though I have no objection to its being understood in this way, I perceive, at the same time, that it is a weak argument for stopping the mouths of Arians; for there is a correspondence between the word administrations and the word Lord. The administrations, says Paul, are different, but there is only one God whom we must serve, whatever administration we discharge. This antithesis, then, shows what is the simple meaning, so that to confine it to Christ is rather forced.