he variety of use of spiritual gifts are shown. (1-11) In the
human body every member has its place and use. (12-26) This is
applied to the church of Christ. (27-30) And there is something
more excellent than spiritual gifts. (31)
Verses 1-11: Spiritual gifts were extraordinary powers bestowed in the
first ages, to convince unbelievers, and to spread the gospel.
Gifts and graces greatly differ. Both were freely given of God.
But where grace is given, it is for the salvation of those who
have it. Gifts are for the advantage and salvation of others;
and there may be great gifts where there is no grace. The
extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were chiefly exercised in
the public assemblies, where the Corinthians seem to have made
displays of them, wanting in the spirit of piety, and of
Christian love. While heathens, they had not been influenced by
the Spirit of Christ. No man can call Christ Lord, with
believing dependence upon him, unless that faith is wrought by
the Holy Ghost. No man could believe with his heart, or prove by
a miracle, that Jesus was Christ, unless by the Holy Ghost.
There are various gifts, and various offices to perform, but all
proceed from one God, one Lord, one Spirit; that is, from the
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the origin of all spiritual
blessings. No man has them merely for himself. The more he
profits others, the more will they turn to his own account. The
gifts mentioned appear to mean exact understanding, and uttering
the doctrines of the Christian religion; the knowledge of
mysteries, and skill to give advice and counsel. Also the gift
of healing the sick, the working of miracles, and to explain
Scripture by a peculiar gift of the Spirit, and ability to speak
and interpret languages. If we have any knowledge of the truth,
or any power to make it known, we must give all the glory of
God. The greater the gifts are, the more the possessor is
exposed to temptations, and the larger is the measure of grace
needed to keep him humble and spiritual; and he will meet with
more painful experiences and humbling dispensations. We have
little cause to glory in any gifts bestowed on us, or to despise
those who have them not.
Verses 12-26: Christ and his church form one body, as Head and members.
Christians become members of this body by baptism. The outward
rite is of Divine institution; it is a sign of the new birth,
and is called therefore the washing of regeneration, (Tit 3:5).
But it is by the Spirit, only by the renewing of the Holy Ghost,
that we are made members of Christ's body. And by communion with
Christ at the Lord's supper, we are strengthened, not by
drinking the wine, but by drinking into one Spirit. Each member
has its form, place, and use. The meanest makes a part of the
body. There must be a distinction of members in the body. So
Christ's members have different powers and different places. We
should do the duties of our own place, and not murmur, or
quarrel with others. All the members of the body are useful and
necessary to each other. Nor is there a member of the body of
Christ, but may and ought to be useful to fellow-members. As in
the natural body of man, the members should be closely united by
the strongest bonds of love; the good of the whole should be the
object of all. All Christians are dependent one upon another;
each is to expect and receive help from the rest. Let us then
have more of the spirit of union in our religion.
Verses 27-31: Contempt, hatred, envy, and strife, are very unnatural in
Christians. It is like the members of the same body being
without concern for one another, or quarrelling with each other.
The proud, contentious spirit that prevailed, as to spiritual
gifts, was thus condemned. The offices and gifts, or favours,
dispensed by the Holy Spirit, are noticed. Chief ministers;
persons enabled to interpret Scripture; those who laboured in
word and doctrine; those who had power to heal diseases; such as
helped the sick and weak; such as disposed of the money given in
charity by the church, and managed the affairs of the church;
and such as could speak divers languages. What holds the last
and lowest rank in this list, is the power to speak languages;
how vain, if a man does so merely to amuse or to exalt himself!
See the distribution of these gifts, not to every one alike,
ver. (29,30). This were to make the church all one, as if the
body were all ear, or all eye. The Spirit distributes to every
one as he will. We must be content though we are lower and less
than others. We must not despise others, if we have greater
gifts. How blessed the Christian church, if all the members did
their duty! Instead of coveting the highest stations, or the
most splendid gifts, let us leave the appointment of his
instruments to God, and those in whom he works by his
providence. Remember, those will not be approved hereafter who
seek the chief places, but those who are most faithful to the
trust placed in them, and most diligent in their Master's work.