1 Corinthians 12:1-31 Study Guide


1 Corinthians 12

Note: Before reading Chapter 12, I think it would be helpful to read and discuss “Chapter 12 in a Nutshell.” Terry did a good job of summarizing the chapter. Then read the chapter and move into the discussion.

Chapter 12 In a Nutshell

This week we stand on the threshold of the great chapter 13–what we have called “Lens 13” –where we can see clearly what Paul is trying to convey to these spiritual youngsters. Here’s a summary of Chapter 12 and how it is tied into their cultural setting and how it fits with the larger theme of mature truth and love in community.

  • verse 7: To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
  • verse 18: God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
  • verse 26: If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
  • verse 31: But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

The four verses above sum up chapter 12 like this:

  • Spiritual gifts are not just for the “super spiritual;” every Christian is gifted for service. Remember how they prized “wisdom” and certain gifts and formed their little factions? This undermines the kind of thinking that caused them to search for their own gurus, their own personal heroes, and instead they must “grow up and step up” for the glory of God and the good of others.
  • God decides how we are gifted, and the church needs all the various gifts to function as a healthy body. So, there is to be no jealousy over giftedness, no discontent over what God has given or not given. God’s calling and gifting in my life is for the common good; life is not about me.
  • We suffer together and we celebrate together. This is not competition–we are one body. The physical body suffers and celebrates as a single being. The church is the Body of Christ. It is always win/win or lose/lose; it is never going to be “I win and you lose.” We win or we lose.
  • To desire the greater gifts doesn’t mean we are to beg God to gift us in ways that are outside the way he has made us. This is actually a statement turning their perspective on its head. The “greater gifts” are the very things the Corinthians didn’t want. The “greater gifts” were not being the “oracle of Delphi,” but living with whatever gifts, opportunities and abilities God has given you with love and sacrifice. That is the most excellent way…that he expounds in chapter 13.

Discussion 1: Read Chapter 12

  • Why do some people have certain gifts of the Spirit, while other people have different gifts? Is this a good thing? What is the purpose of gifts of the Spirit?
  • Are you jealous of the gifts, opportunities, and/or impact of someone else? If so, why do you think that is?
  • What is the point of the “body” metaphor? Did Paul emphasize diversity or unity, or did he treat both equally? Can you defend your answer with explicit examples from the text?
  • It is true that every Christian is a necessary, beneficial member of the church. That means you have a vital role to play in the life of the church. How does that make you feel? Do you believe it? After listening to Terry’s sermon, how can you live your giftings out for the benefit of the body? How can you serve and encourage others to do so as well?
  • What can we do to die to feelings of pride or inferiority concerning our giftedness?

Paul’s point with all this is that the Corinthian church would “grow up.”

Believe…that what God gives me he gives so that I can bless others.

Value…what God values, which is love, not some kind of “showy, super spirituality”

Do…use your gifts and opportunities to bless others.

If you are a Christian, then God has given you a spiritual gift. It doesn’t matter if you can name it, it only matters that you are enjoying it and that others are being blessed by it.

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