Again Paul mentions the divisions that existed in the church at Corinth (11:18). Apparently they were making a mockery of the Lord’s Supper. And he reminds us that we have a solemn obligation to examine ourselves and prepare before we partake in said communion. We are not just acting something out, we are not just “being religious.” We are remembering Jesus’ death, proclaiming His life, and promising to live in His power and for His glory. We must come before Him pure and undefiled–that is we must have forgiven others and sought our own forgiveness where needed.
Yet another time (12:1) Paul does not want his readers to be unaware/ignorant. This time the subject is spiritual gifts, something which this church apparently felt they were very knowledgeable in but which Paul knew they needed instruction. Verses 3-6 say the same thing three ways, reminiscent of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Verse 7 deserves close consideration: we are given gifts by God for the good of the entire body of Christ, not just for ourselves, or even for any group within the Body (which is Christ).
Notice that no one person has all the gifts, nor is any without gifts although some may have more than one gift. Also, healing in the Greek is “gifts of healings.” Both words are plural, now you know. I would guess that this is a reminder that one doesn’t merely heal the flu and another chicken pox, etc. The gift is given to heal ALL diseases. I would also add that this list of gifts is not exhaustive. Just as two who have the gift of preaching may not preach the same, so too there are other gifts than just those listed. It seems Paul’s list here comes from those which were being disputed in the Corinthian church.
We Christians are all a part of the one body of Christ just as the three members of the Trinity are One God. What therefore God has joined, let not man separate! The body is composed of many members and they are all necessary. If you stub your little toe, does not the rest of the body suffer with it? If your stomach is upset does the rest of your body go out and party without it? God has made and gifted each of us just as He desires. Love yourself, otherwise you’re at conflict with God–and that is asinine.
To show a more excellent way (12:31b) Paul takes a detour to speak on love (chapter 13) before he returns to his correction on their misuse of the spiritual gifts–a misuse that seems to have been letting on that those with certain gifts were better than others. And he reminds in 12:29-30 that there is NO gift shared by all.
In chapter 13 Paul shows what love is as well as what it is not. This is good in a teacher. “Now abide faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.”
I believe that Paul’s preference of prophecy over tongues in 14:1 and following is due in part to the Corinthians elevation of the latter over all other gifts. This still happens in churches today. But Paul reminds that without interpretation tongues edifies ONLY the speaker. In corporate worship ALL are to be edified!
Verses 7-11 speak of the fact that unless a language is understood it’s speaker is just babbling (the word comes from Babel where the languages were mixed and people lost the ability to understand everyone else. It probably also mimicked the “babble” of a child who cannot yet speak). We are NOT to babble in worship, we are to effectively communicate God’s grace and truth. Be babies only in evil, be mature adults in thinking (14:20)! I believe that the word “sign” here (verses 22-25) is used in a negative sense. A sign here being that which shows ones sinfulness and points him to Christ.
It seems a bit strange to only write one page on all this when some years ago I wrote a bit over 300 pages on just chapters 12-14!
Proverbs: Not only should we not be debtors to any, we should not help others to go into debt by co-signing their loans. Honesty is reminded by speaking of not moving the boundaries which the ancients have set up. This would point to the evil of theft of land (or anything else) by other means as well–like politicians and their pens. Do NOT make financial wealth your goal in life. You should know by now that true wealth is the possession of those who are wise in the things of God.