1 Corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 12:3

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

(a) No one can say. Here is a test to tell whether someone is acquainted with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If they curse Jesus, they are not. If they call him Lord, they are. It’s a simple test, but one which brings comfort to those who are anxious about their salvation.

In his other letter to the Corinthians, Paul exhorts us to “examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). How do we do that? And how do we know if we are truly saved? One way to settle this issue is to ask yourself this question: Is Jesus Lord? If your answer is yes, rejoice, for you could not have said that without the Spirit’s aid.

(b) Jesus is Lord whether you believe it or not, but recognizing Jesus as Lord and calling on his name is how we know we are saved (Rom. 10:13).

(c) Except by the Holy Spirit. No one has ever recognized Jesus without the aid of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that opens our eyes to the lordship of Jesus, and it is the Spirit who is our pledge or guarantee of what is to come (2 Cor. 1:22).

Further reading: “How do I know I am saved?

(b) Except by the Holy Spirit. Paul is about to unpack the various gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:8

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;

(a) Word of wisdom. A word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit refers to spiritual insight or understanding in the context of a particular decision or judgment. It’s the Holy Spirit’s “read” on a certain situation.

A word of wisdom, which is specific, can be contrasted with a spirit of wisdom (see entry for Eph. 1:17).

(b) Wisdom is the ability to make good decisions and sound judgments. Wisdom is only as good as the knowledge on which it is based which is why we can distinguish between earthly and heavenly wisdom (Jas. 3:15–17). Wisdom that comes from above refers to the insight and direction that comes from the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).

(c) Word of knowledge. A word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit refers to revelation knowledge, often in the context of teaching (see 1 Cor. 14:6). It is knowing something that the natural mind could not have figured out on its own. An example would be Ananias learning from the Holy Spirit that a man named Saul from Tarsus could be found praying in a house on Straight Street (Acts 9:11–12). Another example would be Peter learning from the Holy Spirit that three men were looking for him (Acts 10:19–20). A more general example is Paul’s understanding of the gospel of grace (Gal 1:11–12).

1 Corinthians 12:13

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

(a) Baptized. Every believer has been baptized or placed into Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27). See entry for Baptism.

(b) The body; see entry for 1 Cor. 12:27.

1 Corinthians 12:14

For the body is not one member, but many.

The body; see entry for 1 Cor. 12:27.

1 Corinthians 12:25

so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

(a) No division means that within the church there is to be no clergy/laity distinction and no distinction based on gender or race (Gal. 3:28). Each part should have equal concern for one other. Just as there is no division in a body, there should be no division in the church. “Each member belongs to all the others” (Rom. 12:5).

(b) The body; see entry for 1 Cor. 12:27.

1 Corinthians 12:27

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

You are Christ’s body. The body of Christ is the Church, of which Christ is the head (Eph. 5:23). “We who are many are one body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5).

Spiritual union is such an alien concept to the natural mind that the Bible provides many pictures to help us grasp it (e.g., a vine and its branches, the temple of the living God, the Lamb and the bride). But the metaphor which appears most often in the New Testament is that of the body of Christ of which every believer is a member (Rom. 12:4, 5, 1 Cor. 6:15, 10:17, 12:12-20, 22-25, 27, Eph. 3:6, 4:4, 4:15-16, 5:23, 30, Col 1:18, 2:19, 3:15).

See also the entry for Union.

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