1 Corinthians 12:7
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with.
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(7) But the manifestation of the Spirit.—These gifts which flow from one source are intended to flow towards one object, viz., the benefit of the whole Church. If it were only for a man’s own benefit it would cease to be a “manifestation”—it would be sufficient for the person to possess the spirit consciously to himself. But the object of light is to give light to others. The object of the spiritual light is to make manifest to others.

1 Corinthians


1 Corinthians 12:7

The great fact which to-day 1 commemorates is too often regarded as if it were a transient gift, limited to those on whom it was first bestowed. We sometimes hear it said that the great need of the Christian world is a second Pentecost, a fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God and the like. Such a way of thinking and speaking misconceives the nature and significance of the first Pentecost, which had a transient element in it, but in essence was permanent. The rushing mighty wind and the cloven tongues of fire, and the strange speech in many languages, were all equally transient. The rushing wind swept on, and the house was no more filled with it. The tongues flickered into invisibility and disappeared from the heads. The hubbub of many languages was quickly silent. But that which these things but symbolised is permanent; and we are not to think of Pentecost as if it were a sudden gush from a great reservoir, and the sluice was let down again after it, but as if it were the entrance into a dry bed, of a rushing stream, whose first outgush was attended with noise, but which thereafter flows continuous and unbroken. If churches or individuals are scant of that gift, it is not because it has not been bestowed, but because it has not been accepted.

My text tells us two things: it unconditionally and broadly asserts that every Christian possesses this great gift-the manifestation is given to every man; and then it asserts that the gift of each is meant to be utilised for the good of all. ‘The manifestation is given to every man to profit withal.’

I. Let me, then, say a word or two, to begin with, about the universality of this gift.

Now, that is implied in our Lord’s own language, as commented upon by the Evangelist. For Jesus Christ declared that this was the standing law of His kingdom, to be universally applied to all its members, that ‘He that believeth on Him, out of him shall flow rivers of living water’; and the Evangelist’s comment goes on to say, ‘This spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive.’ There is the condition and the qualification. Wherever there is faith, there the Spirit of God is bestowed, and bestowed in the measure in which faith is exercised. So, then, in full accordance with such fundamental principles in reference to the gift of the Spirit of God, comes the language of my text, and of many another text to which I cannot do more than refer. But let me just quote one or two of them, in order that I may make more emphatic what I believe a great many Christian people do not realise as they ought-viz. that the gift of God’s Holy Spirit is not a thing to be desired, as if it were not possessed or confined to select individuals, or manifested by exceptional and lofty attainments, but is the universal heritage of the whole Christian Church. ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of the Holy Ghost?’ ‘We have all been made to drink into one Spirit,’ says Paul again, in the immediate context. ‘If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His,’ says he, unconditionally. And in many other places the same principle is laid down, a principle which I believe the Christian Church to-day needs to have recalled to its consciousness, that it may be quickened to realise it in its experience far more than is the case at present.

Let me remind you, too, that that universality of the gifts of the Divine Spirit is implied in the very conception of what Christ’s work, in its deepest and most precious aspects to us, is. For we are not to limit, as a great many so-called earnest evangelical teachers and believers do-we are not to limit His work to that which is effected when a man first becomes a Christian-viz. pardon and acceptance with God. God forbid that I should ever seem to underrate that great initial gift on which everything else must be built. But I am not underrating it when I say, ‘Let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith,’ and the ‘proportion of faith’ has been violated, and the perspective and completeness of Christian truth, and of Christ’s gifts, have been, alas! to a very large extent distorted because Christian people, trained in what we call the evangelical school, have laid far too little emphasis on the fact that the essential gift of Christ to His people is not pardon, nor acceptance, nor justification, but life; and that forgiveness, and altered relationship to God, and assurance of acceptance with Him, are all preliminaries. They are, if I may recur to a figure that I have already employed, the preparing of the channel, and the taking away of the obstacles that block its mouth, in order to the inrush of the flood of the river of the water of life.

This life that Christ gives is the result of the gift of the Spirit. So ‘If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.’ The life is the gift considered from our side, and the Spirit is the gift considered from the divine side. ‘Every man that hath the Son hath life’; because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has made him free from the law of sin and death. So you see if that is true-and I for my part am sure that it is-then all that vulgar way of looking at the influences of the Holy Spirit upon men, as if they were confined to certain exceptional people, or certain abnormal and extraordinary and elevated acts, is swept away. It is not the spasmodic, the exceptional, the rare, not the lofty or transcendentally Christlike acts or characters that are alone the manifestation of the Spirit.

Nor is this gift a thing that a man can discover as distinct from his own consciousness. The point where the river of the water of life comes into the channel of our spirits lies away far up, near the sources, and long before the stream comes into sight in our own consciousness, the blended waters have been inseparably mingled, and flow on peacefully together. ‘The Spirit beareth witness with our spirits’; and you are not to expect that you can hear two voices speaking, but it is one voice and one only.

Now, that universality of this divine gift underlies the very constitution of the Christian Church. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty,’ said Paul. It is because each Christian man has access to the one Source of illumination and of truth and righteousness and holiness, that no Christian man is to become subject to the dominion of a brother. And it is because on the servants and on the handmaidens has been poured out, in these days, God’s Spirit and they prophesy, that all domination of classes or individuals, and all stiffening of the free life of God’s Church by man-made creeds, are contrary to the very basis of its existence, and an attack on the dignity of each individual member of the Church. ‘Ye have an unction from the Holy One’ is said to all Christian people-and ‘ye need not that any man teach you,’ still less that any man, or body of men, or document framed by men, should be set up as normal and authoritative over Christ’s free people.

Still further, and only one word-Let me remind you of what I have already said, and what is only too sadly true, that this grand universality of the Spirit’s gift to all Christian people does not fill, in the mind of the ordinary Christian man, the place that it ought, and it does not fill it, therefore, in his experience. I say no more upon that point.

II. And now let me say a word, secondly, about the many-sidedness of this universal gift.

One of the reasons why Christian people as a whole do not realise the universality as they ought is, as I have already suggested in a somewhat different connection, because they limit their notions far too much of what the gift of God’s Spirit is to do to men. We must take a wider view of what that Spirit is meant to effect than we ordinarily take, before we understand how real and how visible its universal manifestations are. Take a leaf out of the Old Testament. The man who made the brass-work for the Tabernacle was ‘full of the Spirit of God.’ The poets who sung the Psalms, in more than one place, declare of themselves that they, too, were but the harps upon which the divine finger played. Samson was capable of his rude feats of physical strength, because ‘the Spirit of God was upon him.’ Art, song, counsel, statesmanlike adaptation of means to ends, and discernment of proper courses for a nation, such as were exemplified in Joseph and in Daniel, are, in the Old Testament, ascribed to the Spirit of God, and even the rude physical strength of the simple-natured and sensuous athlete is traced up to the same source.

But again, we see another sphere of the Spirit’s working in the manifestations of it in the experience of the primitive Church. These are, as we all know, accompanied with miracles, speaking with tongues and working wonders. The signs of that Spirit in those days were visible and audible. As I said, when the river first came into its bed, it came like the tide in Morecambe Bay, breast-high, with a roar and a rush. But it was quiet after that. In the context we have a whole series of manifestations of this Divine Spirit, some of them miraculous and some being natural faculties heightened, but all concerned with the Church as a society, and being for the benefit of the community.

But there is another class. If you turn to the Epistle to the Galatians, you will find a wonderful list there of what the Apostle calls ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ beginning with ‘love, joy, peace.’ These are all moral and religious, bearing upon personal experience and the completeness of the individual character.

Now, let us include all these aspects in our conception of the fruit of the Spirit’s working on men-the secular, if we may use that word, as exhibited in the Old Testament; the miraculous, as seen in the first days of the Church; the ecclesiastical, if we may so designate the endowments mentioned in the context, and the purely personal, moral, and religious emotions and acts. The plain fact is that everything in a Christian’s life, except his sin, is the manifestation of that Divine Spirit, from whom all good thoughts, counsels, and works do proceed. He is the ‘Spirit of adoption,’ and whenever in my heart there rises warm and blessed the aspiration ‘Abba! Father!’ it is not my voice only, but the voice of that Divine Spirit. He is the Spirit of intercession; and whenever in my soul there move yearning desires after infinite good, child-like longings to be knit more closely to Him, that, too, is the voice of God’s Spirit; and our prayers are then ‘sweet, indeed, when He the Spirit gives by which we pray.’ In like manner, all the variety of Christian emotions and experiences is to be traced to the conjoint operation of that Divine Spirit as the source, and my own spirit as influenced by, and the organ of, the Spirit of God. If I may take a very rough illustration, there is a story in the Old Testament about a king, to whom were given a bow and arrow, with the command to shoot. The prophet’s hand was laid on the king’s weak hand, and the weak hand was strengthened by the touch of the other; and with one common pull they drew back the string and the arrow sped. The king drew the bow, but it was the prophet’s hand grasping his wrist that gave him strength to do it. And that is how the Spirit of God will work with us if we will.

III. Finally, consider the purpose of all the diverse manifestations of the one universal gift.

‘To profit withal’-for his own good who possesses it, and for the good of all the rest of his brethren.

Now, that involves two plain things. There have been people in the Christian Church who have said, ‘We have all the Spirit, and therefore we do not need one another.’ There may be isolation, and self-sufficiency, and a host of other evils coming in, if we only grasp the thought, ‘The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man,’ but they are all corrected if we go on and say, ‘to profit withal.’ For every one of us has something, and no one of us has everything; so, on the one hand, we want each other, and, on the other hand, we are responsible for the use of what we have.

You get the life, not in order that you may plume yourself on its possession, nor in order that you may ostentatiously display it, still less in order that you may shut it up and do nothing with it; but you get the life in order that it may spread through you to others.

‘The least flower with a brimming cup may stand,

And share its dew-drop with another near.’

We each have the life that God’s grace may fructify through us to all. Power is duty; endowment is obligation; capacity prescribes work. ‘The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.’

You can regulate the flow. You have the sluice; you can shut it or open it. I have said that the condition, and the only condition, of possessing the fulness of God’s Spirit is faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the more you trust the more you have, and the less your faith the less the gift. You can get much or little, according to the greatness or the smallness, the fixity or the transiency, of your desires. If you hold the empty cup with a tremulous hand, the precious liquid will not be poured into it-for some of it will be spilt-in the same fulness as it would be if you held it steadily. It is the old story-the miraculous flow of the oil stopped when the widow had no more pots and vessels to bring. The reason why some of us have so little of that Divine Spirit is because we have not held out our vessels to be filled. You can diminish the flow by ignoring it, and that is what a host of so-called Christian people do nowadays. You can diminish it by neglecting to use the little that you have for the purpose for which it was given you. Does anybody profit by your spiritual life? Do you profit much by it yourselves? Has it ever been of the least good to anybody else in the world? ‘The manifestation of the Spirit is given to’ you, if you are a Christian man or woman, more or less. And if you shut it up, and do never an atom of good with it, either to yourselves or to anybody else, of course it will slip away; and, sometime or other, to your astonishment, you will find that the vessels are empty, and that the Spirit of the Lord has departed from you. ‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.’

1  Whitsunday.1 Corinthians 12:7-9. But the manifestation of the Spirit — That ability to exercise some spiritual gift, whereby the Spirit manifests his presence with the person possessed of the gift; is given to every man — That has it; to profit withal — For the profit of the whole body; to edify the different members of the church, and to be only thus used, and not for the purposes of pride and division. For to one is given, by the immediate influence of the Spirit, the word of wisdom — Ability to speak what is instructive and prudent, by way of information, counsel, caution, warning, encouragement, exhortation, &c., in any matters of duty or privilege: to another, the word of knowledge — An acquaintance with, and ability to expound, the Holy Scriptures aright, and to understand and explain the mysteries of redemption and salvation. To another, faith — Faith may here mean, 1st, An extraordinary trust in God, under the most difficult or dangerous circumstances; producing that supernatural courage which enabled our Lord’s apostles, and other disciples, to bear testimony to the gospel, not only in the presence of kings and magistrates, but before the most enraged enemies. In consequence of this gift, we find Peter and John speaking with such boldness before the chief priests and council, as astonished them, Acts 4:13; Acts 4:29. 2d, It signifies that firm persuasion of the power, love, and faithfulness of God, and confidence therein, which led the apostles to attempt and succeed in the performing of miraculous works, when they felt an inward impulse so to do. Of this faith Christ speaks Matthew 17:20; and Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:2. To another, the gifts of healing — Power to heal various bodily diseases in an extraordinary way. In the original it is ιαματων, healings; in the plural, denoting the variety of diseases that were healed. This gift was promised by Christ, not only to the apostles and public teachers in the first church, but generally to those who should believe, Mark 16:18. Accordingly, many of the first Christians possessed it; and by exercising it, they not only confirmed the gospel, but they conciliated the good-will of the more considerate heathen, who could not but esteem the Christians when, in these miracles, they discerned the beneficent nature of their religion. The apostles, however, possessed these gifts in a more eminent degree, and exercised them in a superior manner. See Acts 5:15; Acts 19:12. It must be observed, however, that, in the exercise of this gift, none endued with it, not even the apostles, were permitted to act according to their own pleasure; but were always directed to the exercise of it by an impression on their minds from God; otherwise Paul would not have left Trophimus sick at Miletus; nor have suffered his beloved Timothy to labour under his infirmities; nor Epaphroditus to be sick nigh unto death. This gift, however, need not be wholly confined to the healing of diseases by a word or touch. It may exert itself, also, though in a lower degree, where natural remedies are applied. And it may often be this, and not superior skill, which makes some physicians more successful than others. And thus it may be with regard to other gifts likewise. “As, after the golden shields were lost,” says Bengelius, “the king of Judah put brazen ones in their place, so, after the pure gifts of the Spirit were lost, the power of God exerted (and still exerts) itself in a more covert manner, under human studies and helps: and that the more plentifully, according as there is the more room given for it.”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.But the manifestation of the Spirit - The word "manifestation" (φανέρωτις fanerōtis) means properly that which makes manifest, conspicuous, or plain; that which illustrates, or makes any thing seen or known. Thus, conduct manifests the state of the heart; and the actions are a manifestation, or "showing forth" of the real feelings. The idea here is, that there is given to those referred to, such gifts. endowments, or graces as shall "manifest" the work and nature of the Spirit's operations on the mind; such endowments as the Spirit makes himself known by to people. All that he produces in the mind is a manifestation of his character and work, in the same way as the works of God in the visible creation are a manifestation of his perfections.

Is given to every man - To every man whose case is here under consideration. The idea is not at all that the manifestation of the Spirit is given to all people indiscriminately, to pagans, and infidels, and scoffers as well as to Christians. The apostle is discoursing only of those who are Christians, and his declaration should be confined to them alone. Whatever may be true of other people, this statement should be confined wholly to Christians, and means simply that the Spirit of God gives to each Christian such graces and endowments as he pleases; that he distributes his gifts to all, not equally, but in a manner which he shall choose; and that the design of this is, that all Christians should use his endowments for the common good. This passage, therefore, is very improperly adduced to prove that the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are conferred alike on all people, and that pagans, and blasphemers, and sinners in general are under his enlightening influences. It has no reference to any such doctrine, but should be interpreted as referring solely to Christians, and the various endowments which are conferred on them.

To profit withal - (πρὸς τὸ συμθέρον pros to sumtheron). Unto profit; that is, for utility, or use; or to be an advantage to the church; for the common good of all. This does not mean that each one must cultivate and improve his graces and gifts, however true that may be, but that they are to be used for the common good of the church; they are bestowed "for utility," or "profit;" they are conferred in such measures and in such a manner as are best adapted to be useful, and to do good. They are bestowed not on all equally, but in such a manner as shall best subserve the interests of piety and the church, and as shall tend harmoniously to carry on the great interests of religion, and further the welfare of the whole Christian body. The doctrine of this verse is, therefore:

(1) That the Holy Spirit bestows such endowments on all Christians as he pleases; and,

(2) That the design is, in the best manner to promote the common welfare - the peace and edification of the whole church.

It follows from this:

(1) That no Christian should be unduly elated, as if he were more worthy than others, since his endowments are the simple gift of God;

(2) That no Christian should be depressed and disheartened, as if he occupied an inferior or unimportant station, since his place has also been assigned him by God;

(3) That all should be contented, and satisfied with their allotments in the church, and should strive only to make the best use of their talents and endowments; and,

(4) That all should employ their time and talents for the common utility; for the furtherance of the common welfare, and the advancement of the kingdom of Christ on earth.

7. But—Though all the gifts flow from the one God, Lord, and Spirit, the "manifestation" by which the Spirit acts (as He is hidden in Himself), varies in each individual.

to every man—to each of the members of the Church severally.

to profit withal—with a view to the profit of the whole body.

He here calleth gifts, the manifestation of the Spirit, partly to let them know, that these powers flowed from the Holy Spirit apparently, they having no such powers while they were heathens, and carried after dumb idols, as they were led; and partly to let all know, that these gifts and powers were evident proofs both of Christ’s ascension, and of the promise of the Father and of Christ in sending the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:4 16:7,8 Eph 4:8. These gifts he tells them were

given to every man; where every signifieth each one; for the same gifts or powers were not given to all, but to those to whom they were given, they were given not to puff them up, or to give them matter to boast of, but to do good withal to the church of Christ. No man hath any power or gift given him of God, either for his own hurt, or the hurt of others, but only for his own good, and the good of others. But the manifestation of the Spirit,.... Not that which the Spirit manifests, as the grace and love of God, an interest in Christ, the doctrines of the Gospel, and the things of another world; for he is a spirit of revelation, more or less, in the knowledge of these things; but that which manifests that a man has the Spirit of God; or rather the gifts of the Spirit, as the fruits and graces of the Spirit, the least measure of which, as being able to say that Jesus is Lord, shows that a man has the Spirit of God; or rather the gifts of the Spirit, ordinary or extraordinary, which are such as manifestly declare their author:

is given to every man; not that the special grace of the Spirit is given to every individual man in the world, nor to every member of a visible church, for some are sensual, not having the Spirit; but as the same graces of the Spirit are given to every regenerate man, for all receive the same spirit of faith, so the gifts of the Spirit, more or less, either ordinary or extraordinary, are given to all such persons;

to profit withal; not to make gain of, as Simon Magus intended, could he have been possessed of them; nor to encourage pride or envy, or to form and foment divisions and parties; but for profit and advantage, and that not merely private, or a man's own, but public, the good of the whole community or church, to which the least grace or gift, rightly used, may contribute.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is {f} given to every man to {g} profit withal.

(f) The Holy Spirit opens and shows himself freely in the giving of these gifts.

(g) To the use and benefit of the church.

1 Corinthians 12:7. Δέ] leading on to the like destination of all the gifts. The emphasis lies on πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον. This is the aim, which is the same in the case of every one who receives a gift. To each one is the manifestation of the Spirit (his making known the Holy Spirit to others by charismatic acts) given with a view to benefit (in order to be of use, see 1 Corinthians 14:12). The genitive is to be taken in this objective sense (with Billroth, Schulz, Geistesg. p. 164, and Hofmann), because there exists no reason here for departing from the similar meaning of φανέρ. τῆς ἄληθ. in 2 Corinthians 4:2; and we have no other instance of the use of the word except in the Fathers. Calvin, Rückert, de Wette, and most expositors understand it subjectively: the self-revelation of the Spirit. Even on the first interpretation there is not too much concession to independent human activity (in opposition to de Wette), as is plain from the very idea of the δίδοται.1 Corinthians 12:7. ἑκάστῳ δὲ κ.τ.λ.—distributive in contrast with the collective τ. πᾶσιν of 1 Corinthians 12:6; cf. Ephesians 4:6 f., and the emphatic ἕκαστος of 1 Corinthians 3:5-13 : “But to each there is being given the manifestation of the Spirit with a view to profiting”; cf. Ephesians 4:7-16, where the δωρεὰ τ. Χριστοῦ is similarly portioned out amongst the members of Christ, for manifold and reciprocal service to His body. The thought of mutual benefit, there amply expressed, is here slightly indicated by πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον (ad utilitatem, Vg[1846]): see 1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Corinthians 10:33, on this word.—δίδοται, datur (not datum est), indicates continuous bestowment; so in 1 Corinthians 12:8 ff.: these charisms, blossoming out in rich, changeful variety, disclose the potencies of the Spirit ever dwelling in the Church.—φανέρωσις (opp[1847] of κρύψις) governs τ. Πνεύματος in obj[1848] gen[1849]: to each is granted some personal gift in which he shows forth the Spirit by whose inspiration he calls Jesus Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3); for the constr[1850], cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2 For the general idea, Matthew 5:14 ff., Luke 12:1 f., 1 Peter 2:9.

[1846] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[1847] opposite, opposition.

[1848] grammatical object.

[1849] genitive case.

[1850] construction.7. to profit withal] God’s object is ever the well-being of man. If man is to become one spirit with God (ch. 1 Corinthians 6:17), his object must be the same. See notes on ch. 1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 8:9-13, 1 Corinthians 10:23.1 Corinthians 12:7. Φανέρωσις, manifestation) various, by which the Spirit manifests Himself, as He is hidden in Himself,—πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον, with a view to that which is profitable) This is treated of at 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.Verse 7. - To profit withal. With reference, that is, to the general profit.
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