1 Corinthians 12-16
(Many Spiritual Gifts - One Body)
December 2nd

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

- 1 Corinthians 12:4 (KJV)

Summary of Chapters

The final group of chapters in 1 Corinthians addresses the topic of spiritual gifts, Christian love, and resurrection. In chapter 12, Paul explains that each of us has been blessed with specific gifts. He brings to light the important consideration that we are all are interdependent in the same way that the parts of the human body are interdependent.

Chapter 13 is the well known Love Chapter that is often used at weddings and was read by Tony Blair at Princess Diana's funeral. This chapter is a continuation of the topic of spiritual gifts with a focus on this one important gift:

    If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    -1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (NIV)

In chapter 14 Paul returns to a discussion of other spiritual gifts and addresses two specific gifts: Prophesy and speaking in tongues. He explains throughout the chapter that prophesying is more valuable because other people can hear and understand it – therefore it can help to draw in new believers.

In this chapter Paul also notes that women should be silent in church, but this type of statement is difficult to reconcile against the words and actions of Jesus and our modern practices. Perhaps we can consider this statement as one that is only applicable to a specific time and place.

Paul dedicates chapter 15 to explain the concepts related to resurrection, presumably because of questions or comments from the Corinthians. Paul explains that the Resurrection of Jesus is central to the Gospel that he preaches and describes the difference between our physical bodies and our spiritual bodies.

    The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.

    1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (MSG)

Paul closes the letter with the words of chapter 16. He discusses a collection of money to be sent to Jerusalem (perhaps for those suffering from famine), and makes several requests related to other workers. He ends by praying for grace to be received by people and offers his love in Christ Jesus.

Reflection and Application

The discussion on spiritual gifts is similar to the one presented by Paul in Romans chapter 12, but in this case he elaborates a bit further. Both are worth reading and re-reading. This is a good time to ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. Have we discovered what our spiritual gifts are?
  2. Howe satisfied are we with the gifts we have received?
  3. How are we using these gifts to serve the kingdom?

If the answer to #1 is no, then this is a good time to consider trying one of the types of services that appeal to us – regardless of the intrinsic value that we think this particular service adds to the world. Typically when we consider a service that fits our gifts we feel a burning desire to do it and find ourselves energized when we do it.

If the answer to #2 is “not at all,” then this is a good moment to reflect on why we are dissatisfied. Are we sure that we have accurately identified our gifts? Or are we disappointed because there is another one that seems more popular or appealing? For my part, I would love to have the gift of singing in tune and leading the bass section of a choir, but I have received good indications that this is not my calling and find great satisfaction in other areas.

If the answer to #1 and #2 is yes, then how satisfied are we with our answer for #3? Do we feel as if we are doing too much, too little, or just right? These are good self-audits to ask ourselves from time to time and consult with close confidents as needed.

In chapter 14, we encountered one of those difficult passages in the Bible when Paul appears to diminish the role of women in the church. Paul's declaration does not seem to jive with what we have read regarding the important role that woman have played in spreading the Gospel. Consider for a moment which gender was the first to spread the news about the Resurrection of Jesus and the key roles played by various women in Acts. Paul explains that the Resurrection is central to the Gospel message, so if woman were the first to receive and share that message, then they must be central to the work of spreading the news.

Speaking of the Resurrection, if we have questions from our friends or others about this topic, then we can turn to chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, which we read today, for a tutorial. The version in the Message may be best suited for sharing and explaining to our modern friends.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What are the types of activities that you enjoy most?
    2. How satisfied are you with the skills and talents that you have?
    3. How can you best use some of those talents to serve God?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we thank you for you for your love. Help us to love others the way you love us.

    Prayer Concern
    Those seeking to know their gifts

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Overview of 2 Corinthians and study of 2 Corinthians 1-4 (Shine On!)

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