World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.


Select a resource above

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.

6. One God that worketh. Where we use the word powers the Greek term is ἐνεργήματα, a term which contains an allusion to the verb worketh, as in Latin effectus (an effect) corresponds with the verb effectus (to effect.) Paul’s meaning is, that although believers may be endowed with different powers, they all take their rise from one and the same power on the part of God. Hence the expression employed here — worketh all things in all — does not refer to the general providence of God, but to the liberality that he exercises towards us, in bestowing upon every one some gift. The sum is this — that there is nothing in mankind that is good or praiseworthy but what comes from God alone. Hence it is out of place here to agitate the question — in what manner God acts in Satan and in reprobates.

7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man He now points out the purpose for which God has appointed his gifts, for he does not confer them upon us in vain, nor does he intend that they shall serve the purpose of ostentation. Hence we must inquire as to the purpose for which they are conferred. As to this Paul answers — (with a view to utility)πρὸς τὸ συμφερον; that is, that the Church may receive advantage thereby. The manifestation of the Spirit may be taken in a passive as well as in an active sense — in a passive sense, because wherever there is prophecy, or knowledge, or any other gift, the Spirit of God does there manifest himself — in an active sense, because the Spirit of God, when he enriches us with any gift, unlocks his treasures, for the purpose of manifesting to us those things that would otherwise have been concealed and shut up. The second interpretation suits better. The view taken by Chrysostom is rather harsh and forced — that this term is used, 736736     “Que ceci est appele Manifestation: — “That this is termed a Manifestation.” because unbelievers do not recognize God, except by visible miracles.

8. To one is given He now subjoins an enumeration, or, in other words, specifies particular kinds — not indeed all of them, but such as are sufficient for his present purpose. “Believers,” says he, “are endowed with different gifts, but let every one acknowledge, that he is indebted for whatever he has to the Spirit of God, for he pours forth his gifts as the sun scatters his rays in every direction. As to the difference between these gifts, knowledge (or understanding) and wisdom are taken in different senses in the Scriptures, but here I take them in the way of less and greater, as in Colossians 2:3, where they are also joined together, when Paul says, that in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge, therefore, in my opinion, means acquaintance with sacred thingsWisdom, on the other hand, means the perfection of it. Sometimes prudence is put, as it were, in the middle place between these two, and in that case it denotes skill 737737     “Le sqauoir et la dexterite;” — “Skill and dexterity.” As to this use of the term prudentia, (prudence,) see Cicero de Officiis, 1. 43. — Ed. in applying knowledge to some useful purpose. They are, it is true, very nearly allied; but still you observe a difference when they are put together. Let us then take knowledge as meaning ordinary information, and wisdom, as including revelations that are of a more secret and sublime order. 738738     One of the most satisfactory views of this subject is that of Dr. Henderson in his Lecture on “Divine Inspiration,” (pp. 193,196,) who understands by σοφία, (wisdom,) in this passage, “the sublime truths of the gospel, directly revealed to the Apostles, of which the λογος (word) was the supernatural ability rightly to communicate them to others;” and by λόγος γνώσεως (word of knowledge,) the faculty of “infallibly explaining truths and doctrines which had been previously divulged.” — Ed

The term faith is employed here to mean a special faith, as we shall afterwards see from the context. A special faith is of such a kind as does not apprehend Christ wholly, for redemption, righteousness, and sanctification, but only in so far as miracles are performed in his name. Judas had a faith of this kind, and he wrought miracles too by means of it. Chrysostom distinguishes it in a somewhat different manner, calling it the faith of miracles, not of doctrines. 739739     Chrysostom’s words are: Πίστιν οὐ παύτην λέγει τὴν τῶν δογμάτων ἀλλὰ τὴν τῶν σημείων. “By this faith he means not that of doctrines, but that of miraeles.” — It was called by the schoolmen fides miractelorum (faith of miracles.) — Ed This, however, does not differ much from the interpretation previously mentioned. By the gift of healings 740740     The plural is made use of, it is manifest, to intimate the number and variety of the diseases that were healed — the Apostles having been invested with power to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease. (Matthew 10:1.) — Ed. every one knows what is meant.

As to the workings of powers, or, as some render it, the operations of influences, there is more occasion for doubt. I am inclined, however, to think, that what is meant is the influence which is exercised against devils, and also against hypocrites. When, therefore, Christ and his Apostles by authority restrained devils, or put them to flight, that was ἐνέργημα, (powerful working,) and, in like manner, when Paul smote the sorcerer with blindness, (Acts 13:11,) and when Peter struck Ananias and Sapphira dead upon the spot with a single word. The gifts of healing and of miracles, therefore, serve to manifest the goodness of God, but this last, his severity for the destruction of Satan. 741741     There does not appear to be sufficient ground for understanding the miracles here referred to as necessarily deeds of terror, while the connection in which the expression occurs seems to intimate, that the miracles here meant were more than ordinarily stupendous manifestations of Divine power, such as would powerfully constrain the beholder to exclaim, This is the finger of God! Thus, “the resuscitation of the dead, the innocuous handlng of serpents, or drinking of empoisoned liquor, the dispossession of demons, and the infliction of blindness,” as in the case of Elymas, the sorcerer, and of death itself, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira,. were mighty deeds — to which “no mere created power could possibly pretend, under any circumstances, or by the application of any means whatever.” See Henderson on Inspiration, pp. 203-206. — Ed.

By prophecy, I understand the singular and choice endowment of unfolding the secret will of God, so that a Prophet is a messenger, as it were, between God and man. 742742     “Apportant la volonte de Dieu aux hommes;” — “Communicating the will of God to men.” My reason for taking this view will be explained more fully afterwards.

The discerning of spirits, was a clearness of perception in forming a judgment as to those who professed to be something. (Acts 5:36.) I speak not of that natural wisdom, by which we are regulated in judging. It was a special illumination, with which some were endowed by the gift of God. The use of it was this: that they might not be imposed upon by masks, of mere pretences, 743743     “Par la montre et belle apparence que les gens ont aucuneffois;” — “By the show and fair appearance which persons sometimes have.” but might by that spiritual judgment distinguish, as by a particular mark, the true ministers of Christ from the false.

There was a difference between the knowledge of tongues, and the interpretation of them, for those who were endowed with the former were, in many cases, not acquainted with the language of the nation with which they had to deal. The interpreters 744744     “Et en tel cas ceux que auoyent le don d’interpretation des langues;” — “And in such a case, those who had the gift of interpreting languages.” rendered foreign tongues into the native language. These endowments they did not at that time acquire by labor or study, but were put in possession of them by a wonderful revelation of the Spirit. 745745     The following classification of the, gifts, (χαρίσματα) here enumerated by the Apostle, is suggested by Dr. Henderson, as tending to show the “beautiful symmetry” of the passage: —
   I. ̔Ω μὲν — λόγος σοφίας  —  (I. To one, the word of wisdom)
2. ἄλλῳ δὲ λογος γνώσες  —  (2. to another, the word of knowledge.)
II. ̔ΕΤΕΡΩ δὲ πίστις —  (II. To another, faith,)
1. ἄλλῳ δὲ χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων —  (1. to another, gifts of healing,)
2. ἄλλῳ δὲ ἐνεργήματα δυμάμεων  —  (2. to another, working of miracles,)
3. ἄλλῳ δὲ προφητεια  —  (3. to another, prophecy,)
4. ἄλλῳ δὲ διαχρίσεις πνευμάτων  —  (4. to another, discerning of spirits.)
III. ̔ΕΤΕΡΩ δὲ γένη γλωσσῶν —  (III. To another, divers kinds of tongues,)
2. ἄλλῳ δὲ ἑρμηνεία γλωσσῶν  —  (2. to another, interpretation of tongues.)

   Thus the first class includes “the word of wisdom,” and “the word of knowledge. Under the head of faith, that is, the faith of miracles, four kinds of gifts are enumerated — “gifts of healing,” — “working of miracles,” — “prophecy,” and “discerning of spirits;” while the third class includes “divers kinds of tongues,” and “the interpretation of tongues.” See Henderson on Inspiration. — Ed.

11. One and the same spirit distributing. Hence it follows that those act amiss who, having no concern as to participation, break asunder that holy harmony, that is fitly adjusted in all its parts, only when under the guidance of the same Spirit, all conspire toward one and the same object. He again calls the Corinthians to unity, by reminding them that all have derived from one fountain whatever they possess, while he instructs them, at the same time, that no one has so much as to have enough within himself, so as not to require help from others. For this is what he means by these words — distributing to every one severally as he willeth The Spirit of God, therefore, distributes them among us, in order that we may make all contribute to the common advantage. To no one does he give all, lest any one, satisfied with his particular portion, should separate himself from others, and live solely for himself. The same idea is intended in the adverb severally, as it is of great importance to understand accurately that diversity by which God unites us mutually to one another. 746746     “Par laquelle Dieu nou conioint et oblige mutuellement les uns aux autres;” — “By which God connects and binds us mutually to one another.” Now, when will is ascribed to the Spirit, and that, too, in connection with power, we may conclude from this, that the Spirit is truly and properly God.




Advertisements