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1: Now concerning spiritual gifts - The abundance of these
in the churches of Greece strongly refuted the idle learning of
the Greek philosophers. But the Corinthians did not use them
wisely, which occasioned St. Paul's writing concerning them.
- The unity of the body, (1Co 12:1-27):
- The variety of members and offices, (1Co 12:27-30):
- The way of exercising gifts rightly, namely, by love,(1Co 12:31,13:1). throughout: and adds,
- A comparison of several gifts with each other, in the(1Co 14:1). fourteenth chapter.
2: Ye were heathens - Therefore, whatever gifts ye have
received, it is from the free grace of God. Carried away - By
a blind credulity. After dumb idols - The blind to the dumb;
idols of wood and stone, unable to speak themselves, and much
more to open your mouths, as God has done. As ye were led - By
the subtlety of your priests.
3: Therefore - Since the heathen idols cannot speak
themselves, much less give spiritual gifts to others, these
must necessarily be among Christians only. As no one speaking
by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed - That is, as none
who does this, (which all the Jews and heathens did,) speaketh
by the Spirit of God - Is actuated by that Spirit, so as to
speak with tongues, heal diseases, or cast out devils. So no
one can say, Jesus is the Lord - None can receive him as such;
for, in the scripture language, to say, or to believe, implies
an experimental assurance. But by the Holy Ghost - The sum is,
None have the Holy Spirit but Christians: all Christians have
4: There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit
- Divers streams, but all from one fountain. This verse speaks
of the Holy Ghost, the next of Christ, the sixth of God the
Father. The apostle treats of the Spirit, (1Co 12:7), &c.;
of Christ, (1Co 12:12), &c.; of God, (1Co 12:28), &c.
5: Administrations - Offices. But the same Lord appoints
6: Operations - Effects produced. This word is of a
larger extent than either of the former. But it is the same
God who worketh all these effects in all the persons concerned.
7: The manifestation - The gift whereby the Spirit
manifests itself. Is given to each - For the profit of the
8: The word of wisdom - A power of understanding and
explaining the manifold wisdom of God in the grand scheme of
gospel salvation. The word of knowledge - Perhaps an
extraordinary ability to understand and explain the Old
Testament types and prophecies.
9: Faith may here mean an extraordinary trust in God
under the most difficult or dangerous circumstances. The
gift of healing need not be wholly confined to the healing
diseases with a word or a touch. It may exert itself also,
though in a lower degree, where natural remedies are applied;
and it may often be this, not superior skill, which makes some
physicians more successful than others. And thus it may be
with regard to other gifts likewise. As, after the golden
shields were lost, the king of Judah put brazen in their
place, so, after the pure gifts were lost, the power of God
exerts itself in a more covert manner, under human studies and
helps; and that the more plentifully, according as there is
the more room given for it.
10: The working of other miracles. Prophecy - Foretelling
things to come. The discerning - Whether men be of an upright
spirit or no; whether they have natural or supernatural gifts
for offices in the church; and whether they who profess to
speak by inspiration speak from a divine, a natural, or a
11: As he willeth - The Greek word does not so much imply
arbitrary pleasure, as a determination founded on wise counsel.
12: So is Christ - That is, the body of Christ, the church.
13: For by that one Spirit, which we received in baptism,
we are all united in one body. Whether Jews or gentiles - Who
are at the greatest distance from each other by nature.
Whether slaves or freemen - Who are at the greatest distance by
law and custom. We have all drank of one Spirit - In that cup,
received by faith, we all imbibed one Spirit, who first
inspired, and still preserves, the life of God in our souls.
15: The foot is elegantly introduced as speaking of the
hand; the ear, of the eye; each, of a part that has some
resemblance to it. So among men each is apt to compare
himself with those whose gifts some way resemble his own,
rather than with those who are at a distance, either above
or beneath him. Is it therefore not of the body - Is the
inference good? Perhaps the foot may represent private
Christians; the hand, officers in the church; the eye,
teachers; the ear, hearers.
16: The ear - A less noble part. The eye - The most noble.
18: As it hath pleased him - With the most exquisite
wisdom and goodness.
20: But one body - And it is a necessary consequence of
this unity, that the several members need one another.
21: Nor the head - The highest part of all. To the
foot - The very lowest.
22: The members which appear to be weaker - Being of a
more delicate and tender structure; perhaps the brains and
bowels, or the veins, arteries, and other minute channels in
23: We surround with more abundant honour - By so
carefully covering them. More abundant comeliness - By the
help of dress.
24: Giving more abundant honour to that which lacked - As
being cared for and served by the noblest parts.
27: Now ye - Corinthians. Are the body and members of
Christ - part of them, I mean, not the whole body.
28: First apostles - Who plant the gospel in the heathen
nations. Secondly prophets - Who either foretel things to come,
or speak by extra - ordinary inspiration, for the edification
of the church. Thirdly teachers - Who precede even those that
work miracles. Under prophets and teachers are comprised
evangelists and pastors, (Eph 4:11).
Helps, governments - It does not appear that these mean distinct
offices: rather, any persons might be called helps, from a
peculiar dexterity in helping the distressed; and governments,
from a peculiar talent for governing or presiding in assemblies.
31: Ye covet earnestly the best gifts - And they are worth
your pursuit, though but few of you can attain them. But there
is a far more excellent gift than all these; and one which all
may, yea, must attain or perish.