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1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14

Spiritual Gifts

by Dr. Chuck Missler

The Spiritual Gifts are among the richest blessings for Believers, and yet also remain among the most divisive topics within the Christian community. 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 reveal more about the work of the Holy Spirit than do any other passages in the Word of God. Our challenge will be to blindfold our prejudices and carefully examine what the Word tells us.

The Holy Spirit is a person, repeatedly referred to as “He.” He is clearly a member of the Trinity and every major event in the Bible is specifically ascribed to each member of the Elohim as is highlighted in Table 1.

Works of Elohim

Father

Son

Holy Spirit

Atonement

Isa 53:6,10

Eph 5:2

Heb 9:14

Death of Christ

Psa 22:15; Rom 8:32; John 3:16

John 10:18; Gal 2:20

Heb 9:14

Resurrection of Christ

Acts 2:24; Rom 6:4

John 10:17,18;
John 2:19

1 Pet 3:18;
Rom 8:11

Creation of the Universe

Ps 102:25

Col 1:16; John 1:1-3

Gen 1:2; Job 26:13

Creation of Man

Gen 2:7

Col 1:16

Job 33:4

Incarnation

Heb 10:5

Phil 2:7

Luke 1:35

The Indwelling Presence

Eph 4:6

Col 1:27

1 Co 6:19

The Work of Sanctification

Jude 1:1

Heb 2:11

1 Cor 6:11

Believer’s Safekeeping

John 10:29

John 10:28; Rom 8:34

Eph 4:30

Resurrection of All Mankind

John 5:21

John 5:21

Rom 8:11

Inspiration of the Scriptures

2 Tim 3:16

1 Pet 1:10,11

2 Pet 1:21

Minister’s Authority

2 Cor 3:5-6

1 Tim 1:12

Acts 20:28

Table 1: Works of Elohim

Notice the Individual Distinctives of each member of the Trinity:

The Holy Spirit even enjoys special protection.[1] (Yet, He never speaks of Himself;[2] and He is always represented as an “unnamed servant.”[3])

The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit

But is there something more?

Indeed, He even gives us special “gifts.” I do not believe that any of the “lists” of gifts are intended to be complete, only representative. No one should boast of having received a greater gift. No servant is greater than his master.[13] Notice this list: Wisdom is first; tongues last. (!)

The Gift of Tongues in the NT

At Pentecost;[43] when the Lord Jesus was saying farewell to His disciples, He said, “these signs shall follow them that believe…they shall speak with new tongues.”[44] Following Peter’s address in the house of Cornelius, the Holy Spirit fell upon those assembled there and they spoke with tongues.[45] When Paul came to Ephesus he found a few believers who were unrecognizable as Christians. He asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit and they said they had never heard of it. They then received the Holy Spirit and we are told that they spoke with tongues.[46] Speaking in unknown tongues often accompanies the epi relationship.[47]

The Key Admonition:

“…dividing to every man severally as He will.”

1 Corinthians 12:11 KJV

No one received all the gifts and no one is without a gift. The Spirit neglects no one and all is the result of His divine prerogative. We each can have all of the “graces” but we cannot have all of the “gifts.”48

Are the Spiritual Gifts for today?

Throughout this passage, Paul speaks in the present passive indicative (“is being given”) to convey that God continues to give these special gifts to His people.

  1. The Holy Spirit is immutable: He changes not.
  2. Where does it say they are to terminate? In Jesus’ Upper Room confirmations, He makes no mention of their termination.
  3. Peter’s Declaration is definitive: “This is that which was spoken of by Joel”[48]—for the last days (which began at Pentecost) and this doesn’t end until the last days!!!

There are some that maintain that these gifts only continued until the “canon” was complete (leaning on 1 Corinthians 13:10, “when that which is perfect is come” or complete); however, no doctrine can be based on the “completion of the canon” due to the omission of the seven thunders in Revelation 10:4, as well as other considerations.

Paul gives us three directives:

  1. First, pursue love (in many ways this concludes in Chapter 13). The fruit of the Spirit, love,[49] is more important than gifts. (I believe we do better as “fruit inspectors” rather than “gift inspectors.”)
  2. Second, desire (“strive eagerly”) for the spiritual gifts; God’s sovereignty does not cancel man’s responsibility. It’s interesting that there appears to be a commitment on our part. We must ask.[50] (Paul uses the word “pursue” eight times in his letters.[51] The verb requires intensity and determination.)
  3. Third, especially that you prophesy. Prophecy is preferred, repeatedly.[52]

Desire the greater (higher) gifts. (Chapter 14 will relegate tongues to the last on the list; extolling prophesying—forthtelling the gospel.)

Yet Paul will show us “a more excellent way”: Chapter 13. Love is not a “spiritual gift” but rather a complete way of life.[53]

[A challenge: Substitute “Jesus” in the places where Agapè appears; it fits beautifully. Then substitute your own name: it will highlight a profound “shortfall…” Pray about it.]


  1. Matt 12:32; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10  ↩

  2. John 16:12  ↩

  3. Gen 24:2; Ruth 2:5,6  ↩

  4. Gen 1:2; Ps 104:30  ↩

  5. 1 Cor 2:10,11  ↩

  6. Rom 8:27  ↩

  7. 1 Cor 12:11  ↩

  8. (Only those who love can truly “grieve;”) Eph 4:30  ↩

  9. John 16:7–14  ↩

  10. John 14:16  ↩

  11. John 14:17  ↩

  12. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 10:44; 19:6  ↩

  13. John 13:15–16  ↩

  14. 1 Cor 1:17,20,25  ↩

  15. Luke 2:52  ↩

  16. Acts 6:10; 7  ↩

  17. Jas 1:5  ↩

  18. Acts 2 & 3  ↩

  19. Acts 3:14:2  ↩

  20. Acts 23:11  ↩

  21. Acts 27:23–26, 34 etc. Hebrews 11, et al.  ↩

  22. Jas 5:17–18  ↩

  23. Jas 5:14–15  ↩

  24. 2 Cor 12:9  ↩

  25. Phil 2:27  ↩

  26. 1 Tim 5:23  ↩

  27. 2 Tim 4:20  ↩

  28. Heb 4:16; Jas 5:16  ↩

  29. 2 Cor 12:12  ↩

  30. Acts 6:8; 8:7; 13:6–12; Heb 2:4  ↩

  31. Acts 11:28; 21:11  ↩

  32. Eph 4:11  ↩

  33. Acts 17:11  ↩

  34. 2 Cor 11:14  ↩

  35. Gen 2:16–17; 3:1, 4–5  ↩

  36. 1 Kgs 22:21–23; 2 Chr 18:20–22  ↩

  37. Matt 16:23  ↩

  38. Acts 13:10  ↩

  39. Acts 16:18  ↩

  40. 1 John 4:1–3  ↩

  41. 2 Thes 2:9–10; Mt 24:24; Rev 13:11–14  ↩

  42. Jude 4; 2 Pet 2:1–2; 1 Tim 4:1  ↩

  43. Acts 2  ↩

  44. Mark 16:17  ↩

  45. Acts 10:45–46  ↩

  46. Acts 19:6  ↩

  47. Acts 2, 10, 19  ↩

  48. Joel 2:28–32, quoted in Acts 2:15–18.  ↩

  49. Gal 5:22–23  ↩

  50. Luke 11:13; John 16:24  ↩

  51. Rom 9:30; 12:13; 14:19; Phil 3:12; 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22  ↩

  52. 1 Cor 14:5  ↩

  53. Gal 5:22–23  ↩

This article was originally published in the
January 2015 Personal Update NewsJournal.

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