THE BOOK OF ACTS
PAUL WRITES 1 CORINTHIANS - Part Three
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren I would not have
that you be ignorant," was Paul's opening words in this chapter
to the Corinthians. He goes on to make it clear that though there
are many different gifts, there is only ONE Spirit that gives
them. And the main purpose of all these gifts is that "every man
profit" (verse 7).
The list of gifts is given by Paul: words of wisdom; words
of knowledge; faith; healing; miracles; prophecy; discerning of
spirits, different languages; the interpretation of languages or
tongues. And he again gives emphasis to the fact that it is the
one Spirit of God that gives these gifts to whoever, according to
the will of God, not the will of any man (verses 1-11). These are
obviously gifts that are above the normal of what every Christian
has through the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.
Paul then goes into a somewhat lengthy dialogue in verses
12-31 to make sure that his readers understand that whatever
function, whatever work, whatever part of the body of Christ any
individual may be doing, all and every single person is
important, and all are part of the very body of Christ and
members of each other (verse 27). All are baptized by one Spirit
into the one body, it makes no difference who you are, Jew or
Gentile, rich or poor, many gifted or little gifted. The body of
Christ is made up of many members, yet it is ONE body. Paul uses
the physical body to bring out the truth of the matter on this
important fact of the "church" as many members, but making up the
ONE body of Christ. All parts of the physical body are important
to the body to function completely and effectively.
I have as one of my secular skilled trades, the skill of
being an Orthopedic Shoemaker, and Orthotic (the old term was
"arch support") Specialists. I have over the years had to help
people who had lost a few toes from one or both feet. Most of us
with full use of our feet do not realize how important our toes
are in walking correctly. They are crucial to our normal walk.
Our smooth and balanced walk is drastically impaired with just a
few missing toes. Of course our head and mind is obviously the
first people think of as crucial for our function, and yes it is,
but for complete body function in normal good health, we need ALL
parts of our body. Every section has its part to play, so every
part of the body is important. The body cannot function as
intended if it is only a head with a brain, or a head with only a
Well, Paul puts it all in plain words and all in proper
perspective (15-24). He says all this so there will be no vain
divisions in the Church of God (verse 25).
He also then points out it is the same with "spiritual
gifts." God gives the gifts, some function as apostles (ones sent
forth), some as prophets, some as teachers. These are yes, some
of the first and main functions of SOME who are given those
functions in the church, for through those functions the church
grows and is spiritually edified. Then Paul says, AFTER those
functions comes: miracles; healings; helps; governments or
administrations; different tongues or languages.
He then asks them if ALL are apostles, or prophets, or
teachers, or workers of miracles and so forth. The answer is
clearly a NO! Then he tells them it is fine to have gifts, to
really appreciate them, and to use them. BUT, another BIG "but"
there is one thing more important than ANY gift. And that is what
he goes on to explains in chapter thirteen.
We immediately can learn from verse one two things: (1)
there is tongues of mankind and of angels; (2) even if we can
speak them, but we do not have LOVE we are but a tinkling cymbal
- a pretty lowly esteemed instrument in a large band or orchestra
- hardly very important in the whole scheme of things.
But I do want you to remember there is a "tongue" of angels,
as we shall come back to that when we look at chapter 14 - the
famous "tongues" chapter.
This chapter thirteen has also become one of the famous
chapters of the entire New Testament. Please take some time and
read it all in different modern translations of the Bible. Paul
gives us some great truths as to what "love" in the Christian
context and life, is all about. There are many other passages in
the New Testament that also amplify "Christian love." If you
have not already done so, take the time one day, to use say
Strong's Concordance of the Bible, and look up every verse in the
New Testament where the words "love" is used. That study alone
will give you rich and glorious blessings in showing you what
true "Christian love" is all about.
There may be THREE great spiritual foundations for all
Christians: faith, hope, love; but as Paul finished this chapter
with, "the GREATEST of these is LOVE" (verses 1-13).
The famous "tongues" chapter of Paul's writings. It is not
the intent here to go into detail on this chapter. But certain
points are abundantly clear, and do stand out if we will
but note them. They are: (1) Tongues or languages are a gift of
the Spirit (2) there are tongues of angels as we saw in chapter
thirteen (3) prophecy or inspired teaching is of more benefit to
the congregation (4) unless one or someone can interpret tongues,
it does no edifying to the church (5) to edify the church is the
most important aspect to be zealous over (6) Paul spoke in
tongues more than any of them (7) better to speak in church five
understandable words than ten thousand no one can understand (8)
tongues are for a sign to them that are not believers than to
them that are believers (9) if everyone in church is speaking in
an unknown language and someone who is unlearned in the languages
or is an unbeliever comes in to the service, they will think all
the members of the church are mad. But if all speaking
inspiringly, and one comes in who believes not, they will be
convinced by all and report that God is indeed among you (10)
no more than three persons in church services are to speak in
tongues (11) there must be an interpreter, if not, they are to be
silent, and not speak in tongues (12) the spirit of people with
gifts are subject to the person with that gift (verses 1-33).
Number 12 above is very important, so many do not understand
or ignore this very clear point of Paul. A spiritual gift does
not control the person with it, the person with it CONTROLS the
gift. In Paul's mind there was no such thing as anyone saying,
"Well, I just could not help myself, the Spirit may me do it, the
Spirit made me speak."
Paul finishes this chapter by answering a question that they
had obviously asked about. As spiritual gifts could be given to
anyone, man or woman, then what about women speaking up in church
services ("when you come together" is the context, see verse 26)
and bringing sermons or sermonettes. Paul is very emphatic with
his answer. You can read it in verses 34-35. He is also emphatic
about who should teach the wife, if they had any questions about
what was said in services. The teacher was not to be the "elders"
or the "ministers" but their own HUSBANDS.
This means of course the husband better keep up on his
spiritual growth and maturity in Christian matters and Scriptural
It is not the object of this Bible Story to go into all the
debate about "women" speaking in church services. That I have
done elsewhere in other in-depth studies.
Was Paul just kinda giving his personal opinion on these
matters brought to his attention? NO! Not at all according to
Paul himself in verse 37, where he said, "If anyone thinks
themselves to be a prophet, or spiritual, let them acknowledge
that the things that I write unto you, are the COMMANDMENTS of
All things in a church service, "when you come together"
(verse 26) was to be done decently and in order (verses 40).
The famous "resurrection chapter" of Paul's writings. Some
of the main points of Paul are: (1) Jesus did die and He was
resurrected again and was seen by him and Peter and many others
(2) some were teaching that there was no resurrection of the dead
(3) if that was true then Jesus was not resurrected (4) and if
that is also true then preaching and believing in Christ is a
huge waste of time and our faith is empty and we are still in
our sins, and those in Christ who have died are perished forever
(5) Christ is risen from the dead and has become the first man
ever to be raised from death to glorified eternal life (6) those
who die in Christ will be resurrected at His coming (7) Jesus
will reign until death is finally destroyed (8) the Kingdom will
then be placed in the hands of the Father (8) all this means we
are to awake to righteousness and sin not (9) but some had not
this knowledge when they should have had it, and so Paul said it
was to their shame (verses 1-34).
Verse 29 has given some trouble to understand correctly, in
as much as physical people go through a water baptism for those
who have died and were not baptized in their life time.
Paul is not teaching we can somehow "get saved" through a
proxy baptism, those who have died without being baptised.
Baptism has to do with REPENTANCE (see again Acts 2:38). Baptism
is for the LIVING not for the dead. The dead are sleeping, they
are not alive, thinking and reasoning, and walking around
somewhere. Those who died as sinners, without Christ, without
repentance from sins, without baptism, are not in some "limbo"
state of intermediate space, just waiting to contact some
physical human person and tell them they have repented of sin and
have accepted Christ as their Savior, and so that physical person
can be baptized for them, in their place.
God does have a plan of salvation for those never called to
salvation in their physical life time, but it sure does not
include this strange kind of doctrine that some hold, of physical
people getting baptized for those who have died and are dead.
The context of Paul has been to do with the fact of the
resurrection, and that without the resurrection being true and
having taken place with Jesus, there is no HOPE, the Gospel is
useless to anyone if there is no sure hope of the resurrection,
and those who have already died are truly very lost and perished
forever. So Paul says to them in verse 29, what will become of,
what hope is there then for do those who were baptized
for the very sure hope of the resurrection, if the dead do not
rise in a resurrection. He says to them, why on earth did they
then get baptized for the realization of what that baptism was
meaning, rising from death to immortal life, one day, if there is
no resurrection from the dead, as some of you are teaching?
That is the meaning of verse 29 as within the entire context
of what Paul is saying to them. And it is within the entire
context of the whole Bible. Baptism has a figurative meaning for
the present and for ther future.
The next question Paul sets about to answer for them is
"What form, what body, does the resurrected one rise with when
resurrected to immortal life?" We can learn from Paul that: (1)
it is not the body you died with that rises in the resurrection
(2) there are different forms of "glory" even as we look at
things in this life (3) there is that of the sun, that of the
moon, that of the stars (4) we shall rise with incorruption, with
glory, with power (5) in the resurrection our body is spiritual,
made of immortal spirit (6) even Jesus in His resurrection was a
"life-giving Spirit" (7) those in the resurrection are like those
from heaven (8) flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God
- the physical body corrupts, goes back to dust - such cannot
inherit in-corruption (9) so we shall all be changed in a split
second, like the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet sounds
(10) then we mortals shall put on immortality, and we that
corrupt and turn to dust shall put on incorruption and death is
swallowed up in victory (11) sin has a sting - it is death, but
in Christ we can have victory over death (12) there is a
resurrection from death to immortal glorified spirit bodied
eternal life, and so Paul ended that wonderful chapter with:
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be you steadfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know
that your labor is NOT in vain in the Lord."
The first four verses of this chapter have been used by some
to try and establish the first day of the week as the New
Testament Sabbath day. As a young man of 19 coming to learn from
my "Baptist church" landlord in Canada, that Sunday was not the
7th day of the week, I was soon to find in some Evangelical
literature the use of this section of Paul, to uphold Sunday as
the Holy Sabbath day that was said Paul and the Corinthians (and
so the whole New Testament Church of God) were observing. This,
according to some was a "church offering collection during a
church service on the New Testament holy day of Sunday."
I found this a rather strange idea at best and very bad
theology at worst. The section does not contain the phrase
"Lord's day" - it does not use the words "holy day." It says
nothing about "church service" or "when you come together" or
"the whole church be come together into one place" as Paul used
in chapter 14.
It is on the first day of the week, that Paul requests this
collection be done. But "let every one of you lay by him in
store" clearly indicates a personal "laying by" in a storage
place of each individual, not some "collection plate" being
passed around during a church service.
The gathering was to be done before Paul arrived, and then
it was going to take "them" who were approved, to bring their
gift to Jerusalem. This hardly seems like a "money" collected on
a plate passed around in the one Corinthian Church of God
If it was so, then Paul himself or just one other person would
have been able to have delivered it to the church at Jerusalem;
it would not have taken "them" or a number of persons to carry a
"money" offering to Jerusalem.
But if it was concerning physical produce (food and clothing
and the like) for each to lay in their store, ready for when Paul
arrived, and to then send by "them approved" to Jerusalem, doing
that on a work day, the first of the week, would be quite a
natural thing to do.
Paul intended to come to them for the winter, but would for
the present stay at Ephesus until Pentecost, for a door of
preaching the Gospel had been opened to him (verses 5-9). This
strongly indicates Paul was still observing the feast day of
Paul would send Timothy to them, and he pleaded and
requested that they would receive him with peace, and love. Paul
wanted Apollos to go to them, but his will at that time was not
to go, yet he would come when it was convenient for him (verse
He was glad that Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus had
come to him from them, and had refreshed his spirit of mind and
Stephanas and his household are especially mentioned as the
"firstfruits" of the Gospel in Achaia. They had "addicted"
themselves to the service of the saints. The word "addicted"
gives us a very clear idea of the attitude and mind-set of this
household in wanting to serve the saints of God. We need add no
more. Paul was so thankful and so appreciative of their service
in the Lord that he called them, as the Greek can be rendered,
"co-workers" and he told the Corinthians to have such respect for
them that they would look up to them in submissive honor, and to
all the others that co-worked and labored with Paul (verses
Paul finishes this letter and epistle with his parting
salutation of verses 19-24. Aquila and Prescilla honored then
much in the Lord, as did all they of the "church that is in their
house." Indeed it was not always in a physical building like the
synagogue of the Jews where the brethren met for worship
services, by this time of about 54-56 A.D.
Christians were often meeting in "house churches."
Paul once more, in closing, gives a serious note, that those
among them, who really did not love the Lord Jesus Christ, who
were play acting as Christians, were living a lie as saying they
loved Christ, "let them be" said Paul, "cursed" as the Greek
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with
you all in Christ Jesus. Amen" (verses 19-24).
So ends the epistle of 1 Corinthians
TO BE CONTINUED