Introduction to Chapter 12
Thoughts for Today:Throughout the first section of 1 Corinthians (Chapters One through Eleven), Paul has dealt with "carnalities" or our "worldly" natures. Now, beginning in Chapter Twelve (and for the next three chapters), he will discuss in detail the subject of spiritual gifts: In Chapter Twelve, the endowment of gifts; in Chapter 13, the energy of gifts; and in Chapter Fourteen, the exercise of gifts.
I think Paul must have been relieved to finally get through those first eleven chapters to a place where he could turn his instruction in a more positive direction. Remember, in 1 Corinthians 3:1, Paul said, "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ." The Corinthians' worldliness was exhibited by division, competing factions based upon leaders, adultery, court cases between church members, problems with lust, women's attire, men's haircuts, and gluttony and drunkenness at the Lord's Supper. Paul needed to first answer the questions they had asked of him, and then discuss and correct the problems they experienced. Now that he had addressed those issues -- he could begin to talk to them about spiritual matters.
As we begin this section, we must be careful that we do not place so much emphasis on the identification, description, use, or priority of individual gifts, that we lose the unifying purpose of the Holy Spirit in the distribution of those gifts. It is important to know that all spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit, and their sole purpose is to build up Christ's body, the church. There is no place for competition or pridefulness.
Questions to Ponder:Paul had to spend eleven chapters correcting the Corinthians' missteps before he could touch on other subjects. How much time would he need to spend with you, before you would be ready for "spiritual matters"? What needs to be corrected in your life? Will you begin today?