Introduction to 1 Corinthians Chapter 12
In this chapter the apostle discourses concerning spiritual gifts, showing the author, nature, use, and excellency of them; compares the church to an human body, and in a beautiful manner sets forth the symmetry and subserviency of the members of it to one another, being set in different places, and having different gifts; and enumerates the several offices and gifts in the church, and yet suggests there is something more excellent than them. He intimates, that spiritual gifts are valuable things, and should be taken notice of; nor would he have the saints ignorant of them, and therefore gives the following account, 1 Corinthians 12:1 and yet he would not have those that have them be proud of them, and lifted up with them; for which reason he puts them in mind of their former state in Heathenism, to make and keep them humble, 1 Corinthians 12:2 and points out such who have the Spirit of God, the author of all gifts and grace; not such who call Jesus accursed, but they that call him Lord, 1 Corinthians 12:3 which Holy Ghost, who is called Spirit, Lord, and God, is the author of the different gifts bestowed upon men, 1 Corinthians 12:4 the end of bestowing which gifts is the profit of others, 1 Corinthians 12:7 of which gifts there is an enumeration in nine particulars, 1 Corinthians 12:8 of each of which the Spirit of God is the worker and giver, according to his sovereign will and pleasure, 1 Corinthians 12:11 and which are all for the good of the whole community; which is illustrated by the simile of an human body, which as it consists of many members, and is but one, so Christ mystical, or the church, though it consists of divers persons, yet they are all one in Christ, and all their gifts are for the service of each other, 1 Corinthians 12:12 which unity is proved and confirmed by the saints being baptized by one Spirit into one body, the church, and by drinking of him, or partaking of the same grace, 1 Corinthians 12:13 and in order to show the usefulness and profit of every spiritual gift, even the meanest, to the churches of Christ, and that none might be despised, he enlarges upon the metaphor of the human body he had compared the church to, and by it illustrates the unity of the church, and the members of it, 1 Corinthians 12:14 and shows that the inferior members should not envy the superior ones, or be dejected because they have not the same gifts: and conclude from hence, that they are not, or deserve not, to be of the same body, 1 Corinthians 12:15 seeing it is convenient and absolutely necessary that there should be many members, and these set in different places, and have different gifts and usefulness; and particularly what should make them easy is, that God has placed them according to his will and pleasure, 1 Corinthians 12:17. And, on the other hand, he shows, that the more noble, and excellent, and useful members, ought not to despise the lower, meaner, and more ignoble ones, partly because of the usefulness and necessity of them, they cannot do without them, 1 Corinthians 12:21 and partly because of the honour put upon them, 1 Corinthians 12:23, and all this is so ordered, that there be no schism, but that there should be a mutual care of one member for another, and that they should sympathize with each other, 1 Corinthians 12:25. This simile the apostle more plainly and particularly accommodates and applies to the church, the body of Christ, and the members of it, and of one another, 1 Corinthians 12:27 and gives an enumeration of the several officers and offices in the church, set there by God himself; and there are no less than eight of them, some greater than others, most of them proper and peculiar to the primitive church, though some perpetual, and which still continue, 1 Corinthians 12:28 but in the times in which they were all of them in being and use, every member of the church was not possessed of them, only some, though all had more or less the advantage of them, 1 Corinthians 12:29. Wherefore, he concludes with an exhortation to the saints to covet the best of those gifts; and yet observes that there was something more excellent than them, and preferable to them, which he was about to show them, 1 Corinthians 12:31 and hereby he makes an easy transition to the next chapter, in which he recommends charity, and prefers it to gifts.