1 Corinthians 12:4
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
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(4-6) NOW there are diversities of gifts.—Although conversion is identical in every case, yet afterwards there are spiritual gifts which vary according to individual capacity and character, but they all come from the one Spirit. There are varieties of ministration in which those spiritual gifts are employed, and (not “but” in the Greek) the same Lord is served by these varied ministries; there are varieties of operations resulting from these gifts and ministrations, but it is the same God who works them all in all cases. We have here a clear indication of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity—the HOLY SPIRIT, the direct source of spiritual gifts; the SON, the one in whose service these gifts are to be used as ministers; the FATHER, the one supreme origin of all powers thus bestowed in diverse manners by the one Spirit, and for diverse purposes in the ministering to the One Son. Thus, underlying this passage is the vivid realisation of the Trinity in unity, and unity in Trinity of the Divine Nature.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6. Now there are diversities of gifts — Χαρισματων, gifts of grace, both as to kind and degree; but the same Spirit — Divers streams, but all from one fountain. This verse speaks of the Holy Ghost, the next of Christ, the sixth of God the Father. And there are differences of administrations — Of offices or functions in the church, wherein those gifts are to be exercised, which are indeed but services, and therefore not fit fuel for pride; but the same Lord — Appoints them all. Christ, who, as King of his church, instituted all these offices, prescribes the manner of executing them all; and calls one person to one kind of ministry, and another to another. And there are diversities of operations — Ενεργηματων, of energies, or effects produced. The word is of a larger extent than either gifts or administrations, the two former words used: but it is the same God who worketh all these effects in all — The persons concerned.

12:1-11 Spiritual gifts were extraordinary powers bestowed in the first ages, to convince unbelievers, and to spread the gospel. Gifts and graces greatly differ. Both were freely given of God. But where grace is given, it is for the salvation of those who have it. Gifts are for the advantage and salvation of others; and there may be great gifts where there is no grace. The extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were chiefly exercised in the public assemblies, where the Corinthians seem to have made displays of them, wanting in the spirit of piety, and of Christian love. While heathens, they had not been influenced by the Spirit of Christ. No man can call Christ Lord, with believing dependence upon him, unless that faith is wrought by the Holy Ghost. No man could believe with his heart, or prove by a miracle, that Jesus was Christ, unless by the Holy Ghost. There are various gifts, and various offices to perform, but all proceed from one God, one Lord, one Spirit; that is, from the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the origin of all spiritual blessings. No man has them merely for himself. The more he profits others, the more will they turn to his own account. The gifts mentioned appear to mean exact understanding, and uttering the doctrines of the Christian religion; the knowledge of mysteries, and skill to give advice and counsel. Also the gift of healing the sick, the working of miracles, and to explain Scripture by a peculiar gift of the Spirit, and ability to speak and interpret languages. If we have any knowledge of the truth, or any power to make it known, we must give all the glory of God. The greater the gifts are, the more the possessor is exposed to temptations, and the larger is the measure of grace needed to keep him humble and spiritual; and he will meet with more painful experiences and humbling dispensations. We have little cause to glory in any gifts bestowed on us, or to despise those who have them not.Now there are diversities of gifts - There are different endowments conferred on Christians. For the meaning of the word "gifts," see the note at Romans 1:11; compare Romans 5:15-16; Romans 6:23; Romans 11:29; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 7:7.

But the same Spirit - Produced by the same Spirit - the Holy Spirit. What those diversities of gifts are, the apostle enumerates in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. The design for which he refers to these various endowments is evidently to show those whom he addressed, that since they are all produced by the same Holy Spirit, have all the same divine origin, and are all intended to answer some important purpose and end in the Christian church, that, therefore, none are to be despised; nor is one man to regard himself as authorized to treat another with contempt. The Spirit has divided and conferred those gifts according to his sovereign will; and his arrangements should be regarded with submission, and the favors which he confers should be received with thankfulness. That the Holy Spirit - the third person of the adorable Trinity - is here intended by the word "Spirit," seems to be manifest on the face of the passage, and has been the received interpretation of the church until it was called in question by some recent German commentators, at the head of whom was Eichhorn. It is not the design of these notes to go into an examination of questions of criticism, such as an inquiry like this would involve. Nor is it necessary. Some of the arguments by which the common interpretation is defended are the following:

(1) It is the obvious interpretation. It is that which occurs to the great mass of readers, as the true and correct exposition.

(2) it accords with the usual meaning of the word Spirit. No other intelligible sense can be given to the word here. To say, with Eichhorn, that it means "nature," that there are the same natural endowments, though cultivated in various measures by art and education, makes manifest nonsense, and is contrary to the whole structure and scope of the passage.

(3) it accords with all the other statements in the New Testament, where the endowments here referred to "wisdom," "knowledge," "faith," "working of miracles," etc., are traced to the Holy Spirit, and are regarded as his gift.

(4) the harmony, the concinnity of the passage is destroyed by supposing that it refers to anything else than the Holy Spirit. In this verse the agency of the Spirit is recognized, and his operations on the mind referred to; in the next verse the agency of the Son of God (see the note on the verse) is referred to; and in the following verse, the agency of God - evidently the Father - is brought into view; and thus the entire passage 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 presents a connected view of the operations performed by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the work of redemption. To deny that this verse refers to the Holy Spirit is to break up the harmony of the whole passage, and to render it in no small degree unmeaning. But if this refers to the Holy Spirit, then it is an unanswerable argument for his personality, and for his being on an equality with the Father and the Son.

4. diversities of gifts—that is, varieties of spiritual endowments peculiar to the several members of the Church: compare "dividing to every man severally" (1Co 12:11).

same Spirit—The Holy Trinity appears here: the Holy Spirit in this verse; Christ in 1Co 12:5; and the Father in 1Co 12:6. The terms "gifts," "administrations," and "operations," respectively correspond to the Divine Three. The Spirit is treated of in 1Co 12:7, &c.; the Lord, in 1Co 12:12, &c.; God, in 1Co 12:28. (Compare Eph 4:4-6).

Gifts signifieth the same thing with habits, or powers, or abilities to actions; our actions being either natural, as eating, drinking, sleeping, &c., or moral, or spiritual. These powers are either natural, which are in an ordinary course of providence bred with us, as the infant hath a power to eat, drink, sleep, cry, &c.: or acquired, and that by imitation, or human learning, as the child gets a habit of speaking, or a power to write, understand languages, arts, and sciences: or infused; and those are either merely infused, as faith, love, and all habits truly spiritual are, and therefore called graces, or spiritual gifts of the highest natures; or else such as are obtained by the use of means on our parts, but yet not without the influence of the Holy Spirit of God; such are abilities to pray, preach, &c. There are some common powers, that is, such as those might have, who should never be saved, which might be merely infused, and were extraordinary in those first times of the gospel; such as the gift of tongues, prophecy, healing, &c. These powers, especially such as are not natural and common to all in an ordinary course of providence, nor acquired merely by imitation, or study, or the teaching of others, but infused either in whole or in part, are those which the apostle here calleth gifts: and he saith there is a diversity of them; there was the gift of prophecy, of healing, of tongues, &c.; but he tells them, this diversity of gifts flowed all from one and the same Spirit, the Spirit was not diverse, though his influences were divers.

Now there are diversities of gifts,.... Of spiritual ones, as in 1 Corinthians 12:1 which spring from the free grace, and good will and pleasure of God, and are not owing to the merits of men; and therefore such who have the largest share of them should not boast of them as acquired by themselves, or be puffed up on account of them; and those who have the smallest measure should be content and thankful; for though the gifts are different, some have greater, and others lesser, none have all, but all have some, yet not alike:

but the same Spirit; is the author and giver of all as he pleases; the lesser gifts, and the smallest degree of them, come from the Spirit of God, as well as the greater. Gifts here seem to be the general name for all that follow; and

administrations and

operations are the two species of them; and of these a particular account is afterwards given.

{4} Now there are diversities of gifts, but the {d} same Spirit.

(4) In the second place, he lays another foundation, that is, that these gifts are different, as the functions also are different and their offices different, but that one self same Spirit, Lord, and God is the giver of all these gifts, and that to one end, that is, for the profit of all.

(d) The Spirit is plainly distinguished from the gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:4. Although the fundamental character of all inspired speaking is not in any case different: there are, notwithstanding, distributions of grace-gifts (“divisiones gratiarum,” Vulg.), but it is the same Spirit (from whom they proceed). Comp Hebrews 2:4, and Lünemann upon that passage. Χάρισμα,[1932] a specifically N. T. word, foreign to ordinary Greek, is used here in the narrower sense (for in the wider sense, every manifestation of divine grace—in particular, every part of the Christian possession of salvation, and every activity of the Christian life—is a Χάρισμα). It means any extraordinary faculty, which operated for the furtherance of the welfare of the Christian community, and which was itself wrought by the grace of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in special individuals, in accordance, respectively, with the measure of their individual capacities, whether it were that the Spirit infused entirely new powers, or stimulated those already existing to higher power and activity, Romans 12:6 ff. Regarding ΔΙΑΙΡΕΣΙς, distribution, comp 1 Corinthians 12:11; Xen. Cyr. iv. 5. 55; Plat. Soph. p. 267 D, Phaedr. p. 266 B, Polit. p. 275 E; Polyb. ii. 43. 10; Sir 14:15; Jdt 9:4. The charismatic endowment is not something undivided; we do not find a unity and equality among the gifted, but there are distributiones donorum, so that one has this peculiar χάρισμα, and the other that, dealt out to him as his own appointed share. If we take ΔΙΑΙΡΈΣΕΙς to mean differences (Beza, and many others, including de Wette, Ewald), this is equally lawful so far as linguistic usage goes (Plat. Soph. p. 267 B, Prot. p. 358 A), but does not correspond to the correlative purposely chosen by the apostle in 1 Corinthians 12:11, διαιροῦν.

[1932] Comp. Krumm, De notionib. psychol. Paulin., Gissae 1858, p. 35 ff. As regards the difference between the general Christian χαρίσματα and the extraordinary, see Constitt. ap. viii. 1. 1 ff.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6. “But,” while the Spirit prompts in all Christians the simultaneous confession Jesus is Lord, this unity of faith bears multiform fruit in “distributions of grace-gifts, services, workings”. These are not separate classes of πνευματικά, but varied designations of the πνευματικὰ collectively—a trinity of blessing associating its possessors in turn with the Spirit, the Lord, and God the fountain of all. What is a χάρισμα (see 1 Corinthians 1:7) in respect of its quality and ground, is a διακονία in view of its usefulness (see 1 Corinthians 12:21-25), and an ἐνέργημα in virtue of the power operative therein. The identity of the first and second of the syns. rests on that of “the Lord” and “the Spirit” (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:17 f.), and that of the second and third upon the relation of Christ to the Father (see John 5:17 ff; John 14:8-14). For the Trinitarian structure of the passage, cf. 2 Corinthians 13:13, Ephesians 4:4 ff.—Κύριος and διακονία are correlative; all Church-ministry is directed by “the Lord” and rendered primarily to Him (1 Corinthians 4:1, 1 Corinthians 7:12, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Romans 12:11; Romans 14:4-9, Matthew 25:40, etc.). διακονία embraces every “work of ministration” (Ephesians 4:12): gradually the term narrowed to official and esp. bodily ministrations, to the duties of the διάκονος (Php 1:1, etc.); see 1 Corinthians 16:15, and cf. Romans 15:31 with 1 Corinthians 11:13 for the twofold use.—ἐνέργημα (effectus, rather than operatio, Vg[1841])—the result of ἐνεργέω; this favourite Pauline vb[1842] signifies an effective, and with ἐν an immanent activity.—τὰ πάντα covers the whole sphere in which spiritual charisms operate: cf. Ephesians 4:6. 1 Corinthians 12:2 refers the same πάντα ἐνεργεῖν to “the Spirit,” who is God indwelling; Power, in its largest, ultimate sense, “belongeth unto God” cf. Ephesians 1:11, etc., Php 2:13)—“the same God, who works … in all” (Romans 3:29 f.), knowing no respect of persons and operative in the doings of every Christian man; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30 a, and note.—διαιρέσεις appears to be act[1843], dividings, distributings, rather than pass[1844], differences, varieties; see 1 Corinthians 12:11. The pl[1845] points to the constantly repeated dealings out of the Spirit’s store of gifts to the members of Christ’s body.

[1841] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[1842] verb

[1843] active voice.

[1844] passive voice.

[1845] plural.

1 Corinthians 12:4. Διαιρέσεις, divisions) The LXX. use this term to express the Hebrew word מחלקת, concerning the orders of the priests. Comp. dividing, 1 Corinthians 12:11.—δὲ, but) an antithesis between the one fountain and the many streams.—χαρισμάτων, of gifts) Those endowments which in ver, 1 he had called spiritual things, now, after mentioning Jesus, he calls gifts.—πνεῦμα, Spirit) The Holy Spirit is spoken of in this verse; Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:5; God the Father in 1 Corinthians 12:6 : and calling them gifts, ministrations, operations, agrees respectively with these names. The Spirit is treated of at 1 Corinthians 12:7, etc.: the Lord at 1 Corinthians 12:12, etc.: God at 1 Corinthians 12:28, etc.—[Comp. Ephesians 4:4-6.]

Verse 4. - Diversities. This word is used in each of these verses. Gifts; charismata; endowments imparted by the Holy Spirit. The word is rendered "free gift" in Romans 5:13. The same Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are not uniform, but display diversity in unity Just as the sunlight playing on different surfaces produces a multiplicity of gleams and colours, so the Holy Spirit manifests his presence variously, and even sometimes with sharp contrasts, in different individualities. 1 Corinthians 12:4Diversities (διαιρέσεις)

Only here in the New Testament. It may also be rendered distributions. There is no objection to combining both meanings, a distribution of gifts implying a diversity. 1 Corinthians 12:11, however, seems to favor distributions.

Gifts (χαρισμάτων)

See on Romans 1:11.

Administrations (διακονιῶν)

Rev., better, ministrations. Compare Ephesians 4:12. In the New Testament commonly of spiritual service of an official character. See Acts 1:25; Acts 6:4; Acts 20:24; Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 1:12; and on minister, Matthew 20:26.

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