1 Corinthians 12:28
And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
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1 Corinthians 12:28-31. And God hath set in the church first apostles — Who planted the gospel in the heathen nations, being honoured with an office of the highest distinction, and furnished with endowments peculiar to themselves; secondly, prophets — Who either foretold things to come, or spake by extraordinary inspiration for the edification of the church; thirdly, teachers — Of an inferior class. Under prophets and teachers, are comprised evangelists and pastors. After that, miracles — Persons endowed on some particular occasions with miraculous powers; then gifts of healing — Diseases, by anointing the sick with oil, and praying for their recovery: the expression denotes the persons who possessed these gifts. Helps — Or helpers, who, speaking by inspiration to the edification of the church, were fitted to assist the superior officers, and to help the faith and joy of others. Governments — Or governors, the thing performed, as in the former clause, being put for the persons who performed it. The word κυβερνησεις, is properly the steering of a ship with skill by a pilot; and seems to be put here metaphorically for persons directing or managing affairs with judgment. It does not appear, however, that these two last expressions were intended by the apostle to signify distinct offices. Rather any persons might be called helps or helpers, from a particular dexterity in helping the distressed; and governors or governments, from a peculiar talent for governing or presiding in assemblies. Are all the members or ministers of the church apostles, &c. — Seeing God has not given all sorts of gifts to one, but some to one, and others to another, that each one might stand in need of the others; therefore let none despise another, but all join together in employing their gifts for the common good of the church. But covet earnestly the best gifts — For they are well worth your desire and pursuit, though but few of you can attain them; and yet I show you a more excellent way — I point out unto you a more excellent gift than any or all of them, and one which all may, yea, must attain, or perish. 12:27-31 Contempt, hatred, envy, and strife, are very unnatural in Christians. It is like the members of the same body being without concern for one another, or quarrelling with each other. The proud, contentious spirit that prevailed, as to spiritual gifts, was thus condemned. The offices and gifts, or favours, dispensed by the Holy Spirit, are noticed. Chief ministers; persons enabled to interpret Scripture; those who laboured in word and doctrine; those who had power to heal diseases; such as helped the sick and weak; such as disposed of the money given in charity by the church, and managed the affairs of the church; and such as could speak divers languages. What holds the last and lowest rank in this list, is the power to speak languages; how vain, if a man does so merely to amuse or to exalt himself! See the distribution of these gifts, not to every one alike, ver. 29,30. This were to make the church all one, as if the body were all ear, or all eye. The Spirit distributes to every one as he will. We must be content though we are lower and less than others. We must not despise others, if we have greater gifts. How blessed the Christian church, if all the members did their duty! Instead of coveting the highest stations, or the most splendid gifts, let us leave the appointment of his instruments to God, and those in whom he works by his providence. Remember, those will not be approved hereafter who seek the chief places, but those who are most faithful to the trust placed in them, and most diligent in their Master's work.And God hath set - That is, has appointed, constituted, ordained. He has established these various orders or ranks in the church. The apostle, having illustrated the main idea that God had conferred various endowments on the members of the church, proceeds here to specify particularly what he meant, and to refer more directly to the various ranks which existed in the church.

Some in the church - The word "some," in this place ὅυς hous, seems to mean rather whom, "and whom God hath placed in the church," or, they whom God hath constituted in the church in the manner above mentioned are, first, apostles, etc.

First, apostles - In the first rank or order; or as superior in honor and in office. He has given them the highest authority in the church; he has more signally endowed them and qualified them than he has others.

Secondarily, prophets - As second in regard to endowments and importance. For the meaning of the word "prophets," see the note on Romans 12:6.

Thirdly, teachers - As occupying the third station in point of importance and valuable endowments. On the meaning of this word, and the nature of this office, see the note on Romans 12:7.

After that, miracles - Power. (δυνάμεις dunameis). Those who had the power of working miracles; referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:10.

Then gifts of healing - The power of healing those who were sick; see note on 1 Corinthians 12:9; compare James 5:14-15.

Helps - (ἀντιλήμψεις antilēmpseis). This word occurs no where else in the New Testament. It is derived from ἀντιλαμβάνω antilambanō, and denotes properly, "aid, assistance, help;" and then those who render aid, assistance, or help; helpers. Who they were is not known. They might have been those to whom was entrusted the care of the poor, and the sick, and strangers, widows, and orphans, etc.; that is, those who performed the office of deacons. Or they may have been those who attended on the apostles to aid them in their work, such as Paul refers to in Romans 16:3. "Greet Priscilla, and Aquilla, my "helpers" in Christ Jesus;" and in 1 Corinthians 12:9," Salute Urbane our helper in Christ;" see note on Romans 16:3. It is not possible, perhaps, to determine the precise meaning of the word, or the nature of the office which they discharged; but the word means, in general, those who in any way aided or rendered assistance in the church, and may refer to the temporal affairs of the church, to the care of the poor, the distribution of charity and alms, or to the instruction of the ignorant, or to aid rendered directly to the apostles. There is no evidence that it refers to a distinct and "permanent" office in the church; but may refer to aid rendered by any class in any way. Probably many persons were profitably and usefully employed in various ways as aids in promoting the temporal or spiritual welfare of the church.

Governments - (κυβερνήσεις kubernēseis). This word is derived from κυβεριάω kuberiaō, "to govern;" and is usually applied to the government or "steering" of a ship. The word occurs no where else in the New Testament, though the word κυβερνήτης kubernētēs ("governor") occurs in Acts 27:11, rendered "master," and in Revelation 18:17, rendered "shipmaster." It is not easy to determine what particular office or function is here intended. Doddridge, in accordance with Amyraut, supposes that distinct offices may not be here referred to, but that the same persons may be denoted in these expressions as being distinguished in various ways; that is, that the same persons were called helpers in reference to their skill in aiding those who were in distress, and governments in regard to their talent for doing business, and their ability in presiding in councils for deliberation, and in directing the affairs of the church.

There is no reason to think that the terms here used referred to permanent and established ranks and orders in the ministry and in the church; or in permanent offices which were to continue to all times as an essential part of its organization. It is certain that the "order" of "apostles" has ceased, and also the "order" of "miracles," and the order of "healings," and of "diversity of tongues." And it is certain that in the use of these terms of office, the apostle does not affirm that they would be permanent, and essential to the very existence of the church; and from the passage before us, therefore, it cannot be argued that there was to be an order of men in the church who were to be called "helps," or "governments." The truth probably was, that the circumstances of the primitive churches required the aid of many persons in various capacities which might not be needful or proper in other times and circumstances.

Whether, therefore, this is to be regarded as a permanent arrangement that there should be "governments" in the church, or an order of men entrusted with the sole office of governing, is to be learned not from this passage, but from other parts of the New Testament. Lightfoot contends that the word which is used here and translated "governments" does not refer to the power of ruling, but to a person endued with a deep and comprehensive mind, one who is wise and prudent; and in this view Mesheim, Macknight, and Horsley coincide. Calvin refers it to the elders to whom the exercise of discipline was entrusted. Grotius understands it of the pastors Ephesians 4:1, or of the elders who presided over particular churches; Romans 12:8. Locke supposes that they were the same as those who had the power of discerning spirits. The simple idea, however, is that of ruling, or exercising government; but whether this refers to a permanent office, or to the fact that some were specially qualified by their wisdom and prudence, and in virtue of this usually regulated or directed the affairs of the church by giving counsel, etc., or whether they were "selected" and appointed for this purpose for a time; or whether it refers to the same persons who might also have exercised other functions, and this in addition, cannot be determined from the passage before us. All that is clear is, that there were those who administered government in the church. But the passage does not determine the form, or manner; nor does it prove - whatever may be true - that such an office was to be permanent in the church.

(There can be little doubt that the κυβερνησεις kubernēseis, or governments, refer to offices of rule and authority in the church. Two things, therefore, are plain from this text:

1. That in the primitive church there were rulers distinct from the people or church members, to whom these were bound to yield obedience.

2. That these rulers were appointed of God. "God set them in the church." As to the question of "permanence," on which our author thinks this passage affirms nothing: a distinction must be made between these offices which were obviously of an extraordinary kind, and which therefore must cease; and those of an ordinary kind, which are essential to the edification of the church in all ages. "The universal commission which the apostles received from their Master to make disciples of all nations, could not be permanent as to the extent of it, because it was their practice to ordain elders in every city, and because the course of human affairs required, that after Christianity was established, the teachers of it should officiate in particular places. The infallible guidance of the Spirit was not promised in the same measure to succeeding teachers. But being, in their case, vouched by the power of working miracles, it directed the Christians of their day, to submit implicitly to their injunctions and directions; and it warrants the Christian world, in all ages, to receive with entire confidence, that system of faith and morality which they were authorised to deliver in the name of Christ. But as all protestants hold that this system was completed when the canon of scripture was closed - it is admitted by them, that a great part of the apostolical powers ceased with those to whom Jesus first committed them.


28. set … in the church—as He has "set the members … in the body" (1Co 12:18).

first apostles—above even the prophets. Not merely the Twelve, but others are so called, for example, Barnabas, &c. (Ro 16:7).

teachers—who taught, for the most part, truths already revealed; whereas the prophets made new revelations and spoke all their prophesyings under the Spirit's influence. As the teachers had the "word of knowledge," so the prophets "the word of wisdom" (1Co 12:8). Under "teachers" are included "evangelists and pastors."

miracles—literally, "powers" (1Co 12:10): ranked below "teachers," as the function of teaching is more edifying, though less dazzling than working miracles.

helps, governments—lower and higher departments of "ministrations" (1Co 12:5); as instances of the former, deacons whose office it was to help in the relief of the poor, and in baptizing and preaching, subordinate to higher ministers (Ac 6:1-10; 8:5-17); also, others who helped with their time and means, in the Lord's cause (compare 1Co 13:13; Nu 11:17). The Americans similarly use "helps" for "helpers." And, as instances of the latter, presbyters, or bishops, whose office it was to govern the Church (1Ti 5:17; Heb 13:17, 24). These officers, though now ordinary and permanent, were originally specially endowed with the Spirit for their office, whence they are here classified with other functions of an inspired character. Government (literally, "guiding the helm" of affairs), as being occupied with external things, notwithstanding the outward status it gives, is ranked by the Spirit with the lower functions. Compare "He that giveth" (answering to "helps")—"he that ruleth" (answering to "governments") (Ro 12:8). Translate, literally, "Helpings, governings" [Alford].

diversities of tongues—(1Co 12:10). "Divers kinds of tongues."

The apostle, Ephesians 4:11, seemeth to make a different enumeration; there he saith: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. He mentioneth here only three of those there mentioned, viz. apostles, prophets, teachers. He reckoneth up there evangelists, whom be doth not here mention. He here first mentioneth apostles, by whom he meaneth those servants of God who were sent out by Christ to lay the first foundations of the gospel church, and upon whom a universal care lay over all the churches of Christ, having not only a power in all places to preach and administer the sacraments, but to give rules of order, and direct in matters of government; though particular churches had a power of government within themselves, otherwise the apostle would not have blamed this church for not casting out the incestuous person.

Prophets signify persons (as I have before noted) that revealed the mind and will of God to people, whether it were by an extraordinary impulse and revelations or in an ordinary course of teaching; whether they revealed things to come, or opened the mind and will of God already revealed. But in this text, and in Ephesians 4:11, prophets seem to signify, either such as from the Spirit of God foretold future contingencies, (such was Agabus, of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles, and others in the primitive church), or else such as interpreted Scripture by extraordinary and immediate revelation. Some think that prophets signify the ordinary pastors of churches; but they seem rather to be comprehended under the next term of teachers, unless we had better grounds than we have to distinguish between pastors and teachers, making the work of the teacher to speak by way of doctrine and explication, and the work of the pastor to speak practically.

Thirdly teachers: some by these understand governors of schools; others, such ministers whose work was only to expound the Scriptures, or the mysteries of salvation: but the apostle, in this enumeration, (which is the largest we have in Scripture), not mentioning pastors, it seemeth to me that he means the fixed and ordinary ministers of churches, or the elders, whom the apostles left in every city, which by their ministry had received the gospel.

After that miracles; after that such as he empowered to work miraculous operations, and those of more remarkable nature, for otherwise the healings next mentioned come under that notion also.

Then gifts of healings; then such persons as he gave a power to in an extraordinary way to heal the sick. Who the apostle means by helps, and by governments, is very hard to determine. Certain it is, that he doth not mean the civil magistrates; for the time was not yet come for kings to be nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers to the gospel church. But whether he meaneth deacons, or widows, elsewhere mentioned, as helpful in the case of the poor, or some that assisted the pastors in the government of the church, or some that were extraordinary helps to the apostles in the first plantation of the church, is very hard to determine.

Diversities of tongues; such as spake with divers tongues, that faculty being a gift, as we heard before, not given to all, but to some in the primitive church. The apostle, by this enumeration, showeth what he meant by those diversities of gifts, differences of administrations, and diversities of operations, of which he spake in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. And God hath set some in the church,.... As before the apostle gives an account of the various different gifts of the Spirit, qualifying men for service in the church of Christ, here he enumerates the several offices and officers:

first apostles; as were the twelve disciples, and Paul the apostle; men that were immediately sent by Christ himself, and had their commission and doctrine directly from him; and a power of working miracles, to confirm the truth of their mission and ministry; they were sent into all the world to preach the Gospel, to plant churches everywhere, and to ordain officers in them; they were not confined to any particular church, but had power and authority in all the churches, to preach the word, administer ordinances, advise, counsel, direct, reprove, and censure:

secondarily, prophets; who either had the gift of foretelling things to come, as Agabus and others; or who had a peculiar gift, by divine revelation, of explaining the prophecies of the sacred writings, and of preaching the Gospel:

thirdly, teachers; the same with pastors, elders, and overseers; the ordinary ministers of the word, who have a gift of expounding the Scriptures; not by extraordinary revelation, but by the ordinary gift of the Spirit, in the use of means, as reading, meditation, and prayer; and whose work is to preach the word, administer ordinances, feed and govern particular churches, over whom they are set: after that miracles; which is to be understood, not of some persons, as distinct from apostles, prophets, and teachers, who also had the power of working miracles; but from persons and officers in the church, the principal of which the apostle had mentioned, he passes to things, which belonged at least to some of them; unless it can be thought that there were in those times private Christians, who were neither apostles nor prophets, nor teachers, and yet had a power of doing miracles:

then gifts of healing; the sick, by anointing them with oil, which was only one species of doing miracles; and which was sometimes performed, not only by apostles, and such like extraordinary persons, but by the common elders and ordinary officers of the church:

helps: meaning either the ministers of the word in common, who are helpers of the faith and joy of the saints, and are means of increasing their knowledge and spiritual experience, and of establishing them in the truth; see Acts 18:27 or else such evangelists and ministers of the word as were assistants to the apostles, such as Mark, and Timothy, and Titus; or rather the deacons of churches, whose business it is to take care of tables; the Lord's table, the minister's, and the poor's, and all the secular affairs of the church; and so are helps to the minister, relieve him, and free him from all worldly concerns, that he may the better attend to prayer, and the ministry of the word. These, whether one or the other, are so called, in allusion to the priests and Levites, who were "helps", or assistants to the high priest, in the burning of the red heifer, and in other things (h):

governments; some by these understand the same with pastors and elders, who have the rule and government of the church; others lay elders, a sort of ruling elders in the church, as distinct from pastors. Dr. Lightfoot thinks such are intended, who had the gift of discerning spirits. I rather think with De Dieu, that the word designs counsellors; see the Septuagint in Proverbs 11:14 and here intends such as are men of wisdom and prudence, who are very proper persons to be consulted and advised with, by the pastor, elder, or overseer, in matters of moment and importance in the church:

diversities of tongues; such as have the gift of speaking with divers tongues; or of interpreting them, or both. The Vulgate Latin version and some copies add, "interpretations of tongues".

(h) Misn. Middot, c. 1. sect. 3. & Parah, c. 3. sect. 6.

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, {t} helps, {u} governments, diversities of tongues.

(t) The offices of deacons.

(u) He sets forth the order of elders, who were the maintainers of the church's discipline.

1 Corinthians 12:28. More precise elucidation of the ἐκ μέρους, and that in respect of those differently gifted and with extension of the view so as to take in the whole church; hence Paul adds ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, and thereby averts (against Hofmann’s objection) the misunderstanding of καί (which is to be taken as and indeed), as if there had been Corinthian apostles.

Regarding ἔθετο, comp Acts 20:28.

ΟὛς ΜΈΝ] certain ones. In beginning thus, Paul had it in mind to make οὓς δέ follow after; but in the act of writing there occurred to him the thought of the enumeration according to rank (comp Ephesians 4:11), and so ΟὛς ΜΈΝ was left without any continuation corresponding to it. Afterwards, too, from ἜΠΕΙΤΑ onwards, he again abandons this mode of enumeration. Comp Winer, p. 528 [E. T. 711]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 313 [E. T. 365]. According to Hofmann, μὴ πάντες Κ.Τ.Λ[2013], 1 Corinthians 12:29, is meant to form the apodosis of κ. οὓς μὲν κ.τ.λ[2014], so that the subject of ΠΆΝΤΕς is contained in ΟὝς: “Those, too, whom God has placed in the church firstly as apostles … are they all apostles, all prophets?” etc. But ΟὛς ΜΈΝ can be nothing else than the quite common distributive expression, and not equivalent to ΟὟΤΟΙ ΜῈΝ, ΟὝς, as Hofmann would have it (appealing inappropriately to Isocr., Paneg. 15); and the proposition itself, that those appointed by God to this or that specific function have not also collectively (?) all other functions, would be in fact so self-evident, and the opposite conception so monstrous, that the apostle’s discourse would resolve itself into an absurdity.

ἐν τῇ ἐκκλ.] The Christian church generally, not simply the Corinthian, is meant, as is proved by ἈΠΟΣΤ.; comp Ephesians 1:22; Php 3:6, al[2016]

ἈΠΟΣΤΌΛΟΥς] in the wider sense, not merely of the Twelve, but also of those messengers of the Messianic kingdom appointed immediately by Christ at a later time for all nations, such as Paul himself and probably Barnabas as well, likewise James the Lord’s brother. Comp on 1 Corinthians 15:7. The apostles had the whole fulness of the Spirit, and could therefore work as prophets, teachers, healers of the sick, etc., but not conversely could the prophets, teachers, etc., be also apostles, because they had only the special gifts for the offices in question.

προφῆτ.] See on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

ΔΙΔΑΣΚΆΛΟΥς] These had the gift of the Holy Spirit for preaching the gospel in the way of intellectual development of its teaching. Comp on 1 Corinthians 12:10 and Acts 13:1; Ephesians 4:11.[2019]

δυνάμεις] sc[2020] ἔθετο, i.e. He instituted a category of spiritual gifts, which consists of miraculous powers. Paul does not designate the persons endowed with such powers (Hofmann, who appeals for support to Acts 8:10, and compares the names of the orders of angels), but, as the following particulars show, his discourse passes here into the abstract form; by no means, however, because there were no concrete representatives of the things referred to (Billroth, Rückert), but probably because variations of this kind, even without any special occasion for them, are very natural to his vivid style of representation. Comp Romans 12:6-8, where, in the reverse way, he passes from abstracts to concretes.

ἀντιλήψεις] services of help (2Ma 8:19; 3Ma 5:50; Sir 11:12; Sir 51:7; Ezra 8:27, al[2022]; not so in Greek writers), is most naturally taken, with Chrysostom and most interpreters, of the duties of the diaconate, the care of the poor and sick.

κυβερνήσεις] governments (Pind. Pyth. x. 112; Plut. Mor. p. 162 A; comp also Xen. Cyr. i. 1. 5; Polyb. vi. 4. 2; Hist. Susann. 5), is rightly understood by most commentators, according to the meaning of the word, of the work of the presbyters (bishops); it refers to their functions of rule and administration, in virtue of which they were the gubernatores ecclesiae. The (climactic) juxtaposition, too, of ἀντιλήψ. and κυβερν. points to this interpretation.

Regarding γένη γλωσσῶν, see on 1 Corinthians 12:10.

The classification of all the points adduced is as follows: (1) To the gift of teaching, the most important of all, belong ἀπόστ., προφ., διδάσκ.; (2) to the gift of miracles: δυναμ., χαρίσμ., ἰαματ.; (3) to the gift of practical administration (τὰς τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν οἰκονομίας, Theodoret): ἀντιλήψ. and κυβερν.; (4) to the ecstatic χάρισμα: the γένη γλωσσῶν (see on 1 Corinthians 12:10). This peculiar character of the last named gift naturally enough brought with it the position at the end of the list, without there being any design on Paul’s part thereby to oppose the overvaluing of the glossolalia (in opposition to Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, and many others). It is only the ἀπόστ., the προφῆτ., and the διδάσκ. which are expressly adduced in order of rank; the ἔπειτα and εἶτα which follow only mark a further succession, and thereafter the enumeration runs off asyndetically, which, as frequently also in classical writers (see Krüger, Xen. Anab. ii. 4. 28), takes for granted that completeness is not aimed at. The two enumerations, here and in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, supplement each other; and Romans 12:6 ff. also, although the most incomplete, has points peculiar to itself.

[2013] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[2014] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[2016] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[2019] As Ephesians 4:11 speaks only of the exercises of teaching activity, the remaining charismata which are named here found no place there. The evangelists specially mentioned, in addition, in that passage were assistants of the apostles, and therefore did not require to be specially adduced here, where the point of view extended further than to the departments of teaching merely. The ποιμένες καὶ διδάσκαλοι, Eph. l.c., are as ποιμένες included under the κυβερνήσεις.—Observe, further, that the divine appointment of the persons referred to took place in the case of the apostles, indeed, by an immediate call along with the endowment, but in the case of the rest by the endowment, the emergence of which, in the standing services of the church, regulated the choice of the churches under the influence and indication of the Holy Spirit (comp. on Acts 20:28). Comp. also Höfling, Kirchenverfassung, p. 272 f., ed. 2, and see on Ephesians 4:11.

[2020] c. scilicet.

[2022] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.1 Corinthians 12:28 expounds the μέλη ἐκ μέρους.—οὓς μὲν (cf. 8 ff.) should be followed by οὒς δέ; but πρῶτον intervening suggests δεύτερον, τρίτον in the sequel—“instead of a mere enumeration P. prefers an arrangement in order of rank” (Wr[1939], pp. 710 f.); and this mode of distinction in turn gives place to ἔπειτα, at the point where with δυνάμεις abstract categories (as in 1 Corinthians 12:8 ff.) are substituted for the concrete—a striking instance of P.’s mobility of style; the last three of the series are appended asyndetically.—The nine functions of 1 Corinthians 12:8 ff. are replaced by eight, which may be thus classified: (1) three teaching orders, (2) two kinds of miraculous, and (3) two of administrative functions, with (4) the one notable ecstatic gift. Three are. identical in each list—viz., δυνάμεις, χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων, and γένη γλωσσῶν, taking much the same position in both enumerations (see the earlier notes). The apostles, prophets, teachers (ranged in order of the importance, rather than the affinity of their powers) exercise amongst them the word of wisdom, prophecy, and word of knowledge—“the Apostles” possessing a rich measure of many gifts; these three will be expanded into the five of Ephesians 4:2. The ἑρμηνία γλωσσῶν (1 Corinthians 12:10), omitted at this point, appears in the sequel (1 Corinthians 12:30); and the διάκρισις πνευμάτων (1 Corinthians 12:10) is tacitly understood as the companion of προφητεία, while the πίστις of 1 Corinthians 12:9 pervades other charisms. Nothing is really wanting here that belonged to the χαρίσματα of § 39. while ἀντιλήμψεις and κυβερνήσεις—“helpings, governings”—enrich that previous catalogue; “helpings” stands in apt connexion with “healings”. The two added offices became the special functions of the διάκονος. and ἐπίσκοπος of a somewhat later time (Php 1:1; cf. Romans 12:7 f.).—No trace as yet appears of definite Church organisation at Cor[1940]; but the charisms here introduced were necessary to the equipment of the Christian Society, and the appointment of officers charged with their systematic exercise was only a question of time (see Introd., chap, i., p. 732; ii. 2.4). A sort of unofficial ἀντίλημψις and κυβέρνησις is assigned to Stephanas and his family in 1 Corinthians 16:15 f. These vbl[1941] nouns, from ἀντιλαμβάνομαι and κυβερνάω, mean by etymology taking hold of (to help) and steering, piloting, respectively. The figurative use of the latter is rare outside of poetry; so κυβέρνησις πολίων in Pindar, Pyth., x., 112, and in the newly discovered Bacchylides, xiii., 152. “Government” of the Church implies a share of the “word of wisdom” and “knowledge” (1 Corinthians 12:8); see 1 Timothy 5:17, 2 Timothy 2:2, Titus 1:9.—For ἔθετο ὁ Θεός, cf. 1 Corinthians 12:18 : “God appointed (set for Himself) in the church”—meaning the entire Christian Society, with all its “apostles” and the rest. The earliest N.T. example of ἐκκλησία in its ecumenical sense; see however Matthew 16:18, and note on 1 Corinthians 1:2 above.

[1939] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[1940] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1941] verbal.28. God hath set] Literally, placed, i.e. when He founded the Church. See 1 Corinthians 12:18, of which this is the application.

first apostles] The Apostles, the founders and rulers of the Church, were first placed in their responsible office. St Matthew 10:1; St Mark 3:13-14; Mark 6:7; St Luke 9:1. The call of other disciples to a less responsible post is recorded in St Luke 10:1. Cf. also Ephesians 4:11.

secondarily prophets] Secondarily, i.e. in the second rank in the Church. It may however be translated secondly. Prophets were those who by special gifts of inspiration (see ch. 1 Corinthians 14:1, and note) enlightened the Church on the mysteries of the faith.

thirdly teachers] Those who with more ordinary gifts, by the exercise of the reason and judgment, expounded the oracles of God. St Chrysostom remarks that they taught with less authority than the prophets, because what they said was more their own, and less directly from God.

miracles] Literally, powers, or faculties (virtutes, Vulgate). See note on ch. 1 Corinthians 1:18. Here it no doubt includes miracles. See ch. 1 Corinthians 4:19-20, 1 Corinthians 5:4 and notes.

helps] Helpyngis, Wiclif; helpers, Tyndale. The best commentators are agreed in explaining this to mean the assistance of various kinds which Christians are able to render to each other, such as succouring the needy, tending the sick, teaching the ignorant, and the like. See Acts 20:35, where the verb from which this word is derived is rendered support (i.e. ‘the weak’). Stanley, however, would regard it as supplying the omission of words which occur in the similar list in 1 Corinthians 12:9-10, and refer it to the help given to him who speaks with tongues by interpretation. See 1 Corinthians 12:30.

governments] Governailis, Wiclif; governors, Tyndale; gubernationes, Vulgate. This would naturally mean the powers which fit a man for the higher positions in the Church. But Stanley (1) for the reason above assigned, as well as (2) from its position and (3) from the fact that it is employed in the Septuagint (Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 20:18; Proverbs 24:6), as the rendering of a Hebrew word signifying wise foresight, would refer it to the discerning of spirits. But the Hebrew word is derived from a word signifying a rope, and the proper signification of the word, as of the word here used, is the steersman’s art, the art of guiding aright the vessel of Church or State.

diversities of tongues] See note on 1 Corinthians 12:10. “Seest thou where he hath set this gift, and how he everywhere assigns it the last rank?”—St Chrysostom.1 Corinthians 12:28. Ἐν, in) So, ἐν, in [the body], 1 Corinthians 12:18, occurs with the same verb set.—πρῶτον, first) The apostles, not Peter apart from them, are in the first degree; the others follow them, according to the nature of their office, their time, their dignity, their usefulness.—προφήτας, prophets) Acts 13:1.—τρίτον διδασκάλους, thirdly, teachers) Teachers hold a high place, and are preferred to those very persons, who work miracles. Under prophets and teachers are included also evangelists and pastors; comp. Ephesians 4:11.—ἔπειτα, then) The other classes are not distinguished by members [fourthly, etc., as first, secondarily].—δυνάμεις, powers) The abstract for the concrete, and also in the following terms.—ἀντιλήψεις, κυβερνήσεις, helps, governments [κυβέρνησις properly is the piloting of a ship]) They hold governments, who take the lead [the helm] in managing the church. Helps, are those who, though they are not governors, yet exercise a certain power and influence, by which the others are supported; comp. 1 Corinthians 13:3. These two offices are not again taken up at 1 Corinthians 12:30. Princes, as soon as they adopted the Christian faith, claimed for themselves the office of helps and governments; but at the beginning those who stood first in authority, prudence, and resources in the church, defended and governed it. Government is occupied with external things; therefore the Spirit reckons it as occupying an inferior place.—ἑρμηνείας γλωσσῶν, interpretations of tongues) The expression does not seem to be a gloss spuriously introduced from 1 Corinthians 12:10,[114] for ἑρμηνεία γλωσσῶν is there in the singular number, and it is repeated in 1 Corinthians 12:30. The want of the connecting particle [the asyndeton] is equivalent to the closing formula, etc., or et cetera.

[114] The margin of the second edition, with the Gnomon, is more favourable to the fuller reading, than the larger edition and the Germ. Ver.—E. B.

All the oldest MSS. and Versions read γένη γλωσσῶν only. Hilary 967 alone has “genera linguarum vel loquendi vel interpretandi.”—ED.Verse 28. - Hath set; rather, appointed. First apostles. Apart from the twelve (Luke 6:13) and Paul and Barnabas, the name was in a lower sense extended to leading and eminent Christians, especially to those who had taken part in founding or ruling Churches (Romans 16:7). Prophets. Wise spiritual preachers. It is instructive to note that St. Paul places the gifts of wisdom and knowledge which these preachers require above those which we are apt to regard as exclusively miraculous. The "wonders" stood in a lower, not in a higher, position when compared with the ordinary gifts of grace. Teachers. Those who have the minor gifts of instruction and exposition (Acts 13:1). Helps. All the services rendered by the power of active sympathy; by the work of deacons, sisters of mercy, etc. (Acts 6:3, 4). The word occurs in 2 Macc. 8:19; Ecclus. 11:12, and the corresponding verb in Acts 20:35; 1 Timothy 6:2; Luke 1:54; see Romans 16:3. Governments. Powers of leading and organization. Diversities [kinds] of tongues. Ranked as last in value. They are emotional gifts, which had only a very subordinate part in the work of edification, and are, therefore, placed below the gifts of knowledge, of power, and of practical life, which sum up the previous enumeration. Hath set (ἔθετο)

See on 1 Corinthians 12:18. The middle voice implies for His own use.


Note the change from endowed persons to abstract gifts, and compare the reverse order, Romans 12:6-8.

Helps (ἀντιλήμψεις)

Rendered to the poor and sick as by the deacons. See on hath holpen, Luke 1:54.

Governments (κυβερνήσεις)

Only here in the New Testament. From κυβερνάω to steer. The kindred κυβερνήτης shipmaster or steersman, occurs Acts 27:11; Revelation 18:17. Referring probably to administrators of church government, as presbyters. The marginal wise counsels (Rev.) is based on Septuagint usage, as Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 20:21. Compare Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 24:6. Ignatius, in his letter to Polycarp says: "The occasion demands thee, as pilots (κυβερνῆται) the winds." The reading is disputed, but the sense seems to be that the crisis demands Polycarp as a pilot. Lightfoot says that this is the earliest example of a simile which was afterward used largely by christian writers - the comparison of the Church to a ship. Hippolytus represents the mast as the cross; the two rudders the two covenants; the undergirding ropes the love of Christ. The ship is one of the ornaments which Clement of Alexandria allows a Christian to wear ("Apostolic Fathers," Part II., Ignatius to Polycarp, 2).

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