1 Corinthians 12:29
Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
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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.Are all apostles? ... - These questions imply, with strong emphasis, that it could not be, and ought not to be, that there should be perfect equality of endowment. It was not a matter of fact that all were equal, or that all were qualified for the offices which others sustained. Whether the arrangement was approved of or not, it was a simple matter of fact that some were qualified to perform offices which others were not; that some were endowed with the abilities requisite to the apostolic office, and others not; that some were endowed with prophetic gifts, and others were not; that some had the gift of healing, or the talent of speaking different languages, or of interpreting and that others had not. 29. Are all?—Surely not.Ver. 29,30. That is, all are not, nor can be, any more than all the body can be an ear, or an eye, or a hand, or a foot: you cannot expect, that in a governed body all should be governors; and you see by experience, that all cannot work miracles, prophesy, speak with tongues, or heal those that are sick. Are all apostles?.... No some are prophets, as distinct from apostles; and some are teachers, as distinct from them both, and some are neither:

are all prophets? no; some are apostles, above them, and some are teachers, inferior to them; and but very few there were who had that peculiar character and gift:

are all teachers? no; the far greater part of the members of churches are hearers, or persons that are taught in the word; are neither in the office of teaching, nor have they the qualifications for it.

Are all workers of miracles? no; in those early times, when the gift of doing miracles was bestowed, it was not given to all, only to some; and now there are none that are possessed of it.

Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
1 Corinthians 12:29-30. None of these functions and gifts is common property of all (all gifted persons). This Paul expresses in the animated queries: But all surely are not apostles? and so on; whereby, after the same thing had been done positively in 1 Corinthians 12:28, the ἐκ μέρους of 1 Corinthians 12:27 is now clearly elucidated afresh in a negative way—in order to make the readers duly sensible of the non omnia possumus omnes, and of the preposterousness of envy against other gifted persons.

δυνάμεις] Accusative depending on ἔχουσιν, not nominative, as if it denoted wonder-working persons (Bengel, Rückert, de Wette, Osiander, Hofmann, and others); see on 1 Corinthians 12:28.

Paul here passes over the ἀντιλήψ. and κυβερν., since it was of no importance to make a complete repetition.

With reference to the whole thought, comp Homer, Il. xiii. 730 f.1 Corinthians 12:29-30. In this string of rhetorical questions P. recapitulates once more the charisms, in the terms of 1 Corinthians 12:28. He adds now to the γλώσσαις λαλεῖν its complementary διερμηνεύειν (see 10, and 1 Corinthians 14:13, etc.: διὰ in this vb[1942] imports translation); and omits ἀντιλήμψεις and κυβερνήσεις, for these functions had not taken articulate shape at Cor[1943]: the eight are thus reduced to seven. The stress of these interrogations rests on the seven times repeated all; let prophet, teacher, healer, and the rest, fulfil each contentedly his μέρος in the commonwealth of grace, without trenching upon or envying the prerogative of another; “non omnia possumus omnes”. Thus by fit division of labour the efficiency of the whole body of Christ will be secured and all Church functions duly discharged.—δυνάμεις may be nom[1944] (Bg[1945], Hf[1946], Hn[1947], Al[1948], Bt[1949], Gd[1950], El[1951]), in the vein of the foregoing questions—“are all powers?” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24, Romans 8:38, etc., for the personification—applied elsewhere, however, to supernatural Powers); but these “powers” are in 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 12:8 ff. so decidedly separated from the teaching and associated with the healing gifts, that δυνάμεις appears to look forward, and to be obj[1952] (prospectively) to ἔχουσιν along with χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων: “do all possess powers? all grace-gifts of healings?” (so Bz[1953], Mr[1954], Ed[1955]). For δύναμιν ἔχω, see Revelation 3:8; also Luke 9:1, Acts 1:8, Matthew 14:2[1942] verb

[1943] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1944] nominative case.

[1945] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[1947] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[1948] Alford’s Greek Testament.

[1949] J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

[1950] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[1951] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[1952] grammatical object.

[1953] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1954] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1955] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.229. Are all apostles?] The common priesthood of every Christian (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9) no more precludes the existence of special offices of authority in the Christian Church than the common priesthood of the Jewish people (Exodus 19:6) precluded the existence of a special order of men appointed to minister to God in holy things. The Apostle appeals to it as a notorious fact that all were not apostles or prophets, but only those who were called to those offices. Accordingly there is scarcely any sect of Christians which has not set apart a body of men to minister in holy things and to expound the word of God. “Were all teachers,” says Estius, “where were the learners?” The question here, however, is, rather of gifts than of the offices to which those gifts lead.1 Corinthians 12:29. Μὴ πάντες, are all? [surely not]) i.e., not very many are.—δυνάμεις, powers) viz., are all? For if Paul referred the have all? of 1 Corinthians 12:30, to it, he would have expressed it here.Verse 29. - Are all apostles? etc. It is God's providence which "has appointed divers orders in his Church," and has "ordained and constituted the services of angels and of men in a wonderful order."
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